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The Franklin Johnston Group Achieves 100% Digital Rent Payments with Zego’s MRI Software Integration

The Franklin Johnston Group

Location: East Coast
Units: ~20,000
Industry: Multifamily
Zego Solutions: Zego Pay
Accounting Software & Zego Integration: MRI Software Integration

The Franklin Johnston Group is a developer and manager of multifamily residences in the conventional, senior, luxury, and affordable housing sectors. They operate properties in VA, NC, FL, GA, MD, and RI. By prioritizing resident satisfaction, and frontline technology in their day-to-day operations, they’ve grown tremendously since their inception in 2013. Tired of using a subpar digital payment solution, they switched to Zego Pay in 2016. Zego Pay proved to be such a valuable asset that Franklin Johnston eventually mandated digital rent payments across their portfolio. As a result, they achieved the following key benefits:

  • Improved payment experience: Seamless MRI Software integration provides a frictionless rent payment experience for residents and more convenience for community managers
  • Trusted technology support: A solid relationship between Zego and Franklin Johnston’s associates helps their business succeed
  • Maximized efficiency from fully-digital rent cycles: After they stopped accepting paper-based rent payments, administrative work for community managers drops

The Goals

  1. Replace their existing digital payment solution with one offering flawless MRI Software integration
  2. Find a collaborative and service-oriented digital payments partner
  3. Offer residents flexible digital rent payment options so they could move to a 100% digital payment process

When associates at The Franklin Johnston Group headed to the 2015 MRI User Conference, they were determined to find a new digital payment partner. At that time, their existing digital payment solution was falling terribly short of their expectations. The most glaring problem was a poor integration with their property management software, MRI. This meant on-site managers were dealing with a hefty amount of manual data entry during rent week. And when they needed help resolving problems (which was often the case) it was difficult to get assistance from their vendor’s customer support team.

The shortcomings would not help them fulfill a long term business goal – moving to a completely paperless rent collection process. Stephanie Bertucci, Portfolio Manager at Franklin Johnston explains why: “The integration and functionality of the solution we were using created a poor user experience for both residents and our on-site staff. If we were going to mandate digital rent payments portfolio-wide, we’d need a better platform than what we had in place.”

When they had an avenue to meet face-to-face with digital payment partners that were recommended by MRI, they welcomed the opportunity. “We’re very particular and intentional when we choose a technology partner,” said Melissa Pullin, Franklin Johnston’s Operations Manager. “We like to come to a solution collectively with our vendors instead of being told, “this is how it’s done.” We were looking for a partner that believes in this approach and would work in tandem with us to accomplish our goals.”

The Solution

Franklin Johnston met several payment vendors at the MRI User Conference, including Zego. “Right off the bat we felt connected with Zego’s associates. They listened to us explain our current situation, what we were looking for, and our goals for the future.”

After demoing Zego’s digital payment solution, Franklin Johnston’s team was able to see the full functionality of the platform’s MRI integration. “Zego’s integration with MRI is great. There were some minor things we wanted to have customized and Zego worked with MRI on our behalf to get the job done. In the end, it was everything we needed for both our market-rate properties and our affordable ones, too.”

Zego’s support team was also a better fit for Franklin Johnston’s collaborative ideology. “It’s comforting to know we can always reach out to someone and receive a response and a resolution in a timely manner. One thing I find valuable is that I actually have a relationship with someone on the Zego team. Having people who know our situation and business goals is great. Then I’m not having to provide a backstory each time I reach out.”

Franklin Johnston implemented Zego portfolio-wide, and after months of smooth rent cycles, decided they were ready to implement a paperless rent rule. Thanks to Zego’s wide variety of payment options, residents would have several convenient ways to pay rent digitally. “We felt confident in the Zego system. So we gave residents notice five months in advance that we were only going to accept digital rent payments beginning July 1.”

The Result

  • Seamless MRI integration finally frees on-site managers from manually entering payment data
  • Franklin Johnston moves to a digital-only payment model, saving on-site managers a week’s worth of work each month.
  • Franklin Johnston is impressed by Zego’s platform and willingness to go the extra mile

After deploying Zego portfolio-wide, Franklin Johnston’s rent collection process is now dramatically improved. Prospects submit application fees online and residents pay rent digitally. Some residents enjoy the convenience of the AutoPay feature while others take advantage of CashPay, a secure alternative to cash and money orders. Thanks to Zego’s wide offering of payment options, no matter how residents choose to pay, every transaction is integrated seamlessly with MRI.

“Before Zego, our community managers were manually entering resident payments into our system because there were so many problems with the integration. Now it’s fully automated and integrated with MRI. Without the manual processes and the potential for human error, our on-site teams focus on important things like resident satisfaction,” says Pullin.

A year after requiring all residents to pay rent digitally rather than with paper-based payments, Bertucci says they are pleased with the switch. “I’d estimate every community has a week’s worth of work saved by going paperless. The majority of our residents supported the change because, in the end, it’s easier for them. Those who were hesitant came around after we showed them how to use the system and made them comfortable with the process.”

Finally, Franklin Johnston appreciates the customer-first approach that is standard at Zego. “Zego has always been there for us when other software systems have failed us,” says Pullin. “We have many technology partners in our stack, but only Zego is willing to go the extra step to put it all together. A pillar of our business is to make things seamless for our residents. To find a partner like Zego who works with you to make it happen is rare.”


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