Personal Checks, Still Popular at Senior Living Communities, Finally Giving Way to Online Payments
Personal checks have long been the bane of property managers. They are time-consuming to process and prone to exceptions, returns and fraud.
To everyone’s benefit, paper checks have been steadily eclipsed by online payments over the past decade. As late as 2012, 70% of renters were paying their rent with checks. But by 2019, 76% were paying online.
Senior Living properties, however, tend to be more conservative and slower about adopting new technologies. There are also peculiarities about invoicing and payments in the Senior sector that standard online payment systems have been unable to address. As a result, Seniors, or commonly their children or proxies, continue to write personal checks to pay the bill.
The challenges of collecting paper checks
Paper checks present all sorts of challenges. Checks flood the front office during a short period at the end of every month. This means that staff designed to handle a somewhat steady allotment of duties are faced with a spike of check processing for one week of every month, taking time away from more valuable tasks for residents.
Checks must be manually recorded and entered into the accounting system, and often physically driven to a bank.
Scanners tied to software reduce the burden to some extent, but still involve manual processing and are error prone. Then there is the problem of the checks that are “hot”, discovered days later. Collecting checks in the office creates multiple manual touchpoints that provide opportunities for fraud risk.
Online payments by credit card or ACH solve these problems. However, in Senior Living communities, conservatism towards adopting new technology has combined with particularities unique to the sector to slow down the movement to web-based payments.
Why Senior Living is different
Often, it’s not the Seniors themselves reviewing and paying the bills. It might be one or more children, or perhaps a lawyer or accountant with power of attorney. There is an increasing need for multiple people to have log-in access to the resident’s account – something most online payment systems don’t feature.
Unique to Senior Living, all kinds of charges are added to the bill at random times for ancillary services. It is not as simple as a monthly bill with rent and perhaps utilities on it. This means that the balance can change constantly, preventing a clear understanding of the bill.
Online payment systems often do not centralize all types of payments in a single system – or even integrate with the property’s accounting software—leaving resident financial information dispersed throughout various software systems and files.
ClickPay collects and manages the checks that were once arriving at the office or bank and makes it extremely easy for Seniors, their children, or designated proxies to access their account and pay invoices online by allowing multiple log-ins. ClickPay enables automatic recurring payments, a “set it and forget it” option that gives site staff their week of payment processing back.
ClickPay centralizes all payment methods into a single, streamlined system, and delineates line item charges that otherwise can confuse payers. This creates operational efficiencies by eliminating disparate systems that waste time when trying to pin down payment information about a specific resident and provides a centralized view of all property payments in a single dashboard. ClickPay is platform-agnostic, integrating seamlessly with the most popular multifamily accounting systems.
Finally, there’s the advantage of self-service. ClickPay’s Emily Kramer, VP of Marketing and Business Development, says: “The phone calls, visits to the front office, and other customer service burden mostly disappear when payments are submitted online. You can even enable a ChatBot to handle most of the common questions that might arise. So ClickPay removes a huge burden from the front office.”
Kramer adds that the benefits aren’t realized only by the properties. Payers love the system too. “Almost all the younger generation, but even some of the Seniors, are accustomed to and prefer paying bills online,” she says. “It’s the norm now. It’s not considered an amenity – it’s more of an expectation these days.”
“When you’re competing with other properties, you want to give residents and their caretakers every reason to choose yours. A great online payment system is an easy choice because it’s saving your staff valuable time while it’s also pleasing your customers.”
While online payments continue to be the preferred payment method for younger generations, paper payments are likely not going anywhere. Therefore, using a paper payment solution that eliminates the risk of fraud associated with manual check processing is imperative. ClickPay’s electronic check scanning software enables checks to be scanned to the bank while updating the resident ledger automatically, so there is no double entry or risk of human error. To remove paper checks from the property altogether, payees can send checks to ClickPay’s lockboxes where professional-grade machines open, scan, and enter them into the system for real-time posting to the ledger.
Providing Seniors and their families a premium contact center to support residents with all payment related questions is another key method to improve the success of your payment system. ClickPay offers a 24/7 white-glove, bilingual English/Spanish resident Call Center to register new residents, set up payment methods, and answer any questions. Instead of staff fielding questions, ClickPay’s Call Center enables site staff to focus on other important operational tasks.
To find out more about transforming your receivables with ClickPay, click here.
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.