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Show Me The Money … Just Not in the Leasing Office!

apartment community operations

Community operations have evolved, offering technologies that not only deliver more convenience and a better living experience for residents, but also enhance customer service.  

Maintenance requests? Check. Residents can submit an online work order on their way to the office and rest assured the community is on the case. While they’re away, they can check the status and expect confirmation when the work’s complete. 

Renewing a lease?  Check. People love the sign anywhere-and-anytime flexibility e-signatures provide … and so does your staff.

Paying rent online? Check … literally.  Unfortunately, data show more residents pay rent with a check than pay online. Even though 61 percent of residents say they prefer to pay rent online or via smartphone, less than a quarter of residents actually take advantage of online payments when the community offers them. 

“Generating awareness and adoption for digital rent payments requires more than simply flipping a switch and turning the service on,” says Jamin Harkness, Vice President Property Operations, Wesley Apartment Homes, whose portfolio now receives nearly 95 percent of its monthly rent payments electronically. “Before you bolt the drop box closed, which we eventually did, it’s critical to train the staff on how to implement and manage online payments, how to provide resources in the leasing office for residents to pay using a community laptop or kiosk and more importantly how to answer resident questions and communicate the value to residents by pre-planning and setting up an implementation roll-out schedule.  In order to create buy-in, we used role playing techniques to demonstrate the stake team members had in the transition to online payments.” 

Resident education was also a critical step in the process of implementing an effective online payment system.  Wesley executed a comprehensive communication program to promote the rollout which included proactively distributing multiple resident emails through the community portal, dispatching multiple pre-recorded resident phone calls about online payments and posting signs on resident doors and common areas to generate awareness. 

“Once residents started using online payments it simplified our accounts receivable processes and significantly changed the composition of the leasing office,” Harkness says. “Since our leasing teams were no longer posting rent checks, we realized excess capacity to provide better customer service to our residents. Boosting online payments reduced theft in the leasing office and provided residents with a fast and easy means to pay rent.”  It all translated to more cash flow and a healthier bottom line. 

Want to learn more about how Wesley and other operators are incentivizing new residents at the point of lease and leveraging even more innovative strategies to increase online payment adoption?

Be sure to attend “Show Me the Money: Ten Proven Ways to Increase Online Payments,” at the 2014 NAA Education Conference & Exposition, June 18-21, 2014 in Denver. Harkness will be joined by Jennifer Staciokas, Vice President of Marketing & Training at Lincoln Property Company, Kathie Savage, Director of Property Management Operation at Cottonwood Residential and moderator Dennis Smillie, President, Multifamily Solutions, Inc. to present and discuss the top 10 strategies to boost online payments using creative tactics and existing community technologies.  

It’s a session you can’t afford to miss.

Blog courtesy of Property Solutions. For more official insights and trends from the people at Property Solutions, visit their blog.