When you think about ways to create a positive resident experience, what comes to mind? Is it adding great amenities to your communities? Making sure on-site staff is friendly and responsive? Hosting resident appreciation events?
Those are certainly fundamental aspects of a positive resident experience. But there’s another major component that shapes resident satisfaction, and it’s often overlooked: how residents pay their rent.
Think about it. Every month, your residents have an interaction with your company when they pay rent – which is typically their biggest expense. Handing over such a large chunk of hard-earned money can trigger some strong thoughts about your management company should there be any problems with the payment process. What’s worse is if any element about the payment process is confusing or inconvenient. Many residents can forgive a one-off error like a payment being lost. But when it’s a huge chore to make a payment, or residents don’t feel well-informed about what they owe, it impacts satisfaction since the situation is repeated month after month.
When it comes to accepting payments from residents, every touchpoint needs to be problem-free and convenient for everyone. Here are our tips for a seamless payment experience for residents.
Provide Residents with Clarity into Charges with Monthly Statements
An important part of being an apartment operator is generating revenue, and that sometimes means residents are billed for multiple items aside from rent (like utilities, parking, pet fees, etc.). If your property charges for multiple expenses, it’s a more seamless experience for residents to see everything laid out in one itemized statement. This is especially true when you are billing for variable expenses like utilities. Nobody likes feeling unsure about what they’re paying for, and itemized statements give residents clarity into each of their monthly expenses and when it is due.
If you partner with a resident billing provider, they will calculate each resident’s utility charges, and import those charges, along with other applicable line items into a singular statement. That will save property staff from doing the billing themselves and allow them to focus on other activities that promote resident retention.
The Fewer Steps Your Residents Have to Take to Pay, the Better
Thanks to their detailed statement, your residents know exactly how much they owe and are aware of the due date. Now it’s time for residents to make a payment, and there’s an important rule property management companies need to remember here: The less you ask your residents to do when paying their balance, the happier they’ll be.
Instead of dictating different due dates and payment instructions for each charge, make sure residents can pay their entire balance at once. Consolidating the payment process into one transaction makes it easier on residents who won’t have to remember what to pay and when. It’s also advantageous for your company because you’ll receive more on-time and complete payments when residents make a singular transaction. It also leaves property managers with fewer awkward collection calls, which, if not done tactfully, can lower a resident’s satisfaction with your property.
The best scenario for taking consolidated payments is for residents to pay their balance online so it’s paid instantly. This is another instance where the fewer steps there are for your resident, the better. Ideally, residents shouldn’t have to leave your site or have extra login credentials just to make a payment. Many payment and billing providers can integrate their services directly into your community’s portal. That allows residents to stay within your website and have a single sign on for viewing statements, making a payment, and to see announcements about their community. When they are ready to pay their balance, make sure you offer a variety of online payment choices, including PayPal and MasterPass, so residents can pick the most convenient payment option.
Reduce Delinquencies by Offering Recurring Payment Options
Some residents are happier when they don’t even have to think about paying their rent. Offering recurring payment options are great for residents because they can set it up once and forget it for their entire lease. Some payment providers have the ability to accommodate variable autopays, so even if you are billing for utilities, residents will have their entire balance automatically paid each month. Of course, this also works out well for your management company since it guarantees a timely and complete payment each month.
Allow Residents to Build their Credit Score by Paying Rent
You can make paying rent a positive experience (in more ways than one) by allowing residents to boost their credit score with every on-time rent payment. For instance, PayLease offers credit reporting as an incentive for residents to pay on time and online. Residents simply opt in and any on-time online rent payments automatically get reported to the credit bureaus. Plus, it’s free for both residents and property management companies, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
With these best practices in place, you can ensure that paying rent doesn’t detract from satisfaction with your management company. If you want more pointers about streamlining billing and payments, contact us.
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