Encouraging Residents to Switch to Electronic Payments is Critical in the Time of COVID-19
COVID-19’s greatest continuity challenge for payments is the handling and processing of paper checks. Whether residents drop checks at on-site offices or mail checks to lockboxes for processing, multiple systems and people are needed to physically handle the paper payments – some or all of which could be delayed with COVID-19 due to client responses and government requirements.
Clients are adapting their businesses to protect their staff while maintaining operations. Normally, residents drop rent and utility checks in the property drop box or with staff at the site office. Site managers – and leasing agents processing application fees and holding deposits – often spend many days per month focused solely on manually processing payments. COVID-19’s shelter-in-place orders may require site staff to work from home, where they do not have access to check-scanning hardware and systems to complete the processing of rent payment checks to the bank.
Similarly, checks processed at lockbox facilities could also be at risk for delayed payment processing. All lockboxes rely on U.S. Postal systems, couriers, and people working inside a secure processing center. Checks are extracted and scanned using very advanced, large equipment. However, in the worst-case scenarios, U.S. Postal Offices could shut down a processing center to protect workers or a legal mandate could close all lockboxes. Even if not closed, lower density requirements could result in a reduction of check processing throughput and affect the flow of funds.
Electronic payments are more critical now than ever to ensure the continuity of cash flow. ClickPay enables safe, contactless remote payment options—like ACH, credit & debit card, and bank bill pay, which are received quicker, reducing the potential for late fees. Our bilingual resident call center is available 24/7 to help any resident who may need extra support making their first online rent payment. In addition, ClickPay’s real estate-specific lockbox migrates all resident payments out of the office and into our check scanning facilities. By removing all checks from on-site processing, property managers eliminate any potential risk of fraud.
Best practices from Property Managers who successfully drove electronic adoption include:
- Require residents to pay electronically (i.e., do not allow checks to be dropped off at offices)
- Communicate continually through various channels, including email, flyers, and posters
- Provide community welcome packages that include online payment and Resident eMoney Order instructions that can be used at move-in and recertification
- Text message reminders to sign up for online payments
- Remove drop boxes from the property
- Help residents who drop off or mail in checks to setup online recurring payments
- Fee absorption or crediting after the fact
- Temporarily removing fees associated with late payments
- Leverage on-site human resources to guide residents through ClickPay (specifically, Invitation Wizard)
- Utilize fee collection pages for the one-off payments that typically come through
- Take the opportunity to collect emails from residents in a time where digital communication is key
The tactics listed above have helped many ClickPay clients achieve above industry average payment collections, even in areas affected the most by COVID-19, such as New York City and Florida. Roscoe Property Management, Texas’ third largest PMC and ClickPay client, reported that 95% of its 38,000 apartments under management made online payments through ClickPay by mid-April. By providing their renters with the option to pay online and waiving all late fees and credit card transaction fees, Roscoe exceeded the industry average reported for April rent collection. Please contact your account manager to discuss which best practices can improve your electronic adoption and help you achieve full rent payment collection.
The complete platform for automating 100% of real estate payments.
As the industry-leading platform for automating real estate receivables, ClickPay accepts all payment methods, including paper checks, e-checks (ACH), cash, and credit & debit cards. ClickPay delivers integrated print and e-bill presentment and payment services to increase operational efficiencies and enable profitable growth. Shaping the future of real estate billing and payments with innovative products and services, ClickPay provides property management companies with customizable solutions to connect with their tenants, residents, and homeowners. To learn more, go to www.clickpay.com.