It’s almost 2020. At this point we can customize almost every tool we rely on to run our lives: our smartphones, our cars, our subscription-based services, our insurance policies, our Starbucks order (yes, I’ll have an iced double tall soy latte, please). As a property management professional, you need software solutions that work for your business, not the other way around. You’ve got to be able to customize your tools to fit the needs of your staff, your properties, and your residents. We’ve compiled a list of PropTech hacks to help you tailor your payment software to increase operational efficiencies and reduce manual tasks and roadblocks.
Hack #1: Tailor your Staff’s Interface to Optimize Efficiency
How to manage your team’s access
Hopefully you aren’t running your property management company solo. If you are, godspeed my friend! But if you have staff members, you’ll first need to customize who can access what properties and what data within your system. Community managers, accountants, property managers, and assistant managers need unique account set-ups depending on their responsibilities. It’s risky to allow all of your registered users to have equal, open permissions to edit company bank account information, add new properties, and request sensitive information.
A customizable payment platform gives the administrator the ability to control the property and data limitations on each individual staff member’s account. For example, if one of your managers is only responsible for 3 out of your 50 properties, their payment portal dashboard should reflect that. Narrowing down the permissions for each account increases efficiency and lowers the risk of error.
Common privilege settings include limiting their ability to:
- Pay out vendors and owners
- Re-integrate failed transactions
- Refund resident payments
- Access transaction receipts
Edit notification settings to avoid information overload
You should also be able to control the frequency and nature of the reports each staff member receives, so they don’t suffer from unnecessary information overload. For example, your accountants typically need different financial reports than your community managers do. Your staff wants to receive the relevant information they need to do their job and nothing more. Customized email notifications deliver that data to them daily on a silver platter.
You’re receiving more than just rental payments every month. In your current payment portal, are you able to create additional payment fields for ancillary charges such as pool fees, pet fees, security deposit, etc? And are each of those payment fields linked to different bank accounts? This is a no-brainer solution that saves your staff hours of reconciliation effort. At PayLease, we call this split-banking, and our clients love it. But not every solution has it. If you’re using with a solution that doesn’t, your accounting staff is also probably bogged down with the arduous task of sorting through and allocating every payment to the right bank account.
Hack #2: Configure Property-level Settings To Simplify Accounting
Every property has a unique set of residents, amenities, and operations. Don’t let your payment processor cookie-cutter your solution. You should be able to turn on/off each of the following functions per property.
Set black out dates for autopays
At one of your properties, you may want to accept payments from the 25th up until the 5th of the next month. At another property, you might not want to accept any payments before the 1st or after the 3rd. No matter the length of your online payment window, it shouldn’t be a portfolio-wide setting. The best payment solutions let you set unique autopay blackout dates for each property.
Turn on/off certain payment types
Maybe you’ve recently experienced an increase in chargebacks at one of your properties and no longer want to accept credit card payments at that community. You shouldn’t have to turn credit card payments off for your entire portfolio. This setting should be property (and even resident) specific.
Automating the accounting month-end process with a property lock feature allows bookkeepers and accountants to draw a proverbial line in the sand. Customize the exact date and time that determines what revenue belongs in the previous month and the following month. This flexible, schedulable feature allows you to essentially “pause” the integration of payments and deposits while you close out your books for the month. But even while your integration is paused, your online payment portal is open. Residents can keep making payments none the wiser, and the integration of those transactions will be delayed until accounting month end has concluded.
Incurring vs passed fees
Many online payment solutions give you the choice to incur the processing fees or pass them along to your residents. But what if you want to pass the fees at one property and incur them at another. Do you have that option?
Locking & unlocking balances
Some property management companies with integrated payment systems lock their resident balances to avoid partial payments. But a few payment solutions have an automatic feature that unlocks a $0 balance. Once the resident has paid their balance in full, they can make an additional payment for an amount of their choice. This allows them to prepay next month’s rent or take care of any additional fees that are not reflected in their balance.
Hack #3: Customize Your Resident Engagement Channels
Simple branding, like adding your community logo or management company logo to your payment portal, makes an impact on your residents. It gives them a sense of security knowing they’ve paid the right company when they see your logo on their payment receipts. To take your brand recognition a step further, iFrame your payment portal into your website. You don’t want to confuse your residents with a bunch of different vendor portals. You want their online experience with you (especially paying you) to be a straightforward and seamless process.
If you have a property-wide announcement, how do you notify your residents? Do you stick fliers on your community bulletin boards, laundry rooms, mail boxes, and elevators? Your online payment portal is a much easier (and eco-friendly) way to get the word out. You should be able to customize the messaging within the payment portal to communicate important announcements like, “please be aware that your rent payment will be considered late if received on or after the 5th of the month…” Customize your messaging on the one-time payment page, the autopay page, and the resident portal homepage for the best visibility and reach.
Do all of your residents know they have the option to make their payments online? If not, how do you get the word out? Email blasts are the quickest, cheapest and most effective method of communication. The best payment providers will help you market your online payment portal to your residents. If you utilize your payment provider to facilitate email marketing blasts, make sure they are able to customize with your logo and verbiage to avoid any confusion for your residents.
Hack #4: Plan for the Future of PropTech
“Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection”Olympian, Kim Collins
No software will ever be perfect, but stagnation is failure. Because your business is constantly changing and evolving to meet your customers’ needs, you need a payment solution that can evolve with you. Are you able to submit development requests to your current provider, and have those requests delivered upon? At PayLease, we see it as a ‘two birds, one stone’ situation. The clients who submitted the request are happy that we are customizing our solution to fit their needs, and we benefit by using these developments to improve our product for our other clients as well. Choose a proptech provider on the cutting edge of industry trends and use their expertise to your advantage.
Choose the best players for your team
If you are highly technical, you want the best of the best in every niche of the market. All-in-one solutions can’t give you this flexibility. Also, if you are using one solution for every aspect of your business, and they raise their rates, you’re stuck. All of your eggs are in one basket. Give yourself the freedom to customize your vendors, and choose the innovators who do less, but are the best at what they do.
So how do you hack your way to a custom solution? Talk to your community. Figure out the needs of your staff, residents, and property operations. Tweak, and tailor your software to work for you not against you. Your workflows and processes may never be perfect, but they certainly won’t fail if you keep striving for continuous improvement and a customized experience.
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