Domuso’s VP of Strategic Accounts, Terri Nicholson, sat down to have an honest conversation about the process of transitioning client properties to 100% paperless payments. Find out what’s worked and what typical stumbling blocks clients run into. Here’s what she had to say on the subject:
- In a few words, describe the process of converting to 100% paperless rent payments
All of our properties are provided with the tools to convert to 100% paperless payments as soon as they start using Domuso. Our account management team works hand-in-hand to help, taking portfolio by portfolio, setting in-person meetings with the VPs or regional managers and training with their team on how to leverage all the tools Domuso has, as well as tips to help encourage your residents to switch to making paperless payments.
- Why do Domuso users typically opt to convert to a 100% touchless payments system?
The most common pain points involved in accepting paper money are the administrative burden and the risk involved. Money orders in particular are more susceptible to fraud and theft from lock boxes. Money orders dropped off without names or apartment numbers are a huge problem. The only thing the manager can do then is set the unidentified money order aside, post their late notices and then sit back and wait for the offending resident to come into the office to dispute the late notice.
- About how long does it take to make the full transition to 100% paperless digital payments?
For property management companies, typically 60-90 days to fully transition. At the end of the transition period, most properties go from being around 30-40 percent paperless to over 80 percent paperless. Most want to have a paperless initiative where it’s going to take them 60/90/120 days to get to the point where they’re only scanning less than 10 checks a month– and when you get to that point you can rip out that scanner and go to only using tools like Domuso’s Mobile Check Pay.
- What are the best things a client can do to prepare for going paperless?
Always check lease language, as well as local legislation, and make changes as needed. For example, in California there is language that requires property management companies to accept paper payments. Fortunately, with Domuso’s Mobile Check Pay, properties can remain compliant while still going paperless by having residents submit their paper check payment via the Mobile Check Pay option in the mobile app. It's also vital to have a formal plan with a deadline for being paperless. A plan without a deadline is just a dream!
- What are some of the tools that work the best to ease the transition?
Mobile Check Pay and the ability to convert cash and money orders into digitally certified funds through our partnership with MoneyGram, which has over 34,000 locations across the country.
We give properties 4 months to ramp up using our Mobile Check Pay to the point they’re comfortable pulling out their check scanner. Mobile Check Pay isn’t only for residents, there’s also the Manager’s App, which is essentially a mobile scanner that allows property staff to transmit those payments digitally. The manager simply downloads the Domuso app and can use their phone or tablet to take a picture of a check or paper money order. This is very useful when properties have residents who are reluctant to use electronic payment methods, or for housing or vendor checks– which properties still need a way to process even if they don’t have a scanner.
Most residents that are underbanked or unbanked pay rent with money orders, subject to maximum limits. It’s also very cumbersome to have to physically go buy a money order, fill out and tear off your section, keep the receipt and drop the money order off at the rental office yourself. Our partnership with MoneyGram allows them to easily convert cash payments to a digital money order instead. Just take the payer code and resident payer code to your nearest MoneyGram cashier or kiosk, receive a digital receipt by email, and the payment is electronically transferred to the property.
But the biggest part of the Domuso toolkit that sets us apart from everybody else is our dedicated account management team. We don't onboard properties and then walk away. We want to learn what your goals are and help you attain those goals. No other payment provider has an account management team as focused on helping clients reach their goals.
- What are some of the typical stumbling blocks clients run into?
Besides lease agreement and renewal language, definitely local and state legislation– especially during COVID. The other major stumbling block is ‘teaching old dogs new tricks,’ i.e., trying to get residents who are less apt or fearful of changing their payment habits to go paperless. A similar mindset can also exist on the property manager side. But with the advanced tools and technology Domuso offers, we can easily help our clients overcome those barriers.
- What are some common questions that clients have asked along the way?
Question: What do I do when someone walks in with a paper check?
Answer: Most management companies would say to take that payment. But then to also help that person set up the Domuso app on their phone so that next month it is easy for them to make that payment digitally... It’s that simple!
Question: What if my residents don’t feel comfortable paying online?
Answer: Take a look around your office. How many Amazon packages do you have waiting to be picked up? Even the most stalwart check writers started shopping online when covid hit. There really isn’t much of a difference. An online payment is an online payment.
- What are some other ways to get residents to change their payment behavior?
The challenge is that the status quo is more comfortable; it’s easier than changing your behavior. There are ways to make it inconvenient. Some properties go as far as adding an administrative fee for accepting paper payments. They’ll allow residents to pay by paper check or money order, but may charge extra to process those payments. That’s certainly one way to change behavior, but we caution clients to check with legal counsel and local legislation before implementing that type of policy.
Another option is to require residents paying with paper to mail their payment to a lock box or P.O. box– but who even has envelopes or stamps anymore!?
- What are some of the benefits for residents, and how receptive have they been to change?
Residents love it! Most residents are on board month one, as soon as you implement and have digital payments available. And the ones that take more getting used to changing their payment habits still come to love it within a few months. I often use the analogy of how 70 years ago, everyone thought the ice-box was fabulous and they didn’t need a refrigerator, at least until they got one. Or how you didn’t think you needed a camera in your mobile phone, but now most people couldn’t imagine life without it!
- What are some of the “hidden” or lesser known benefits of going paperless?
One benefit of the improved resident communication that comes with implementing our system and becoming a paperless property is that it helps flatten the curve on work orders and maintenance requests. It also reduces the tendency residents have of waiting to bring up maintenance issues until they’re in the office paying rent.
- How do property managers feel about the transition? What kind of client feedback have you received?
They are usually very excited about it. Property managers understand the administrative burden of accepting and manually processing paper payments that comes with the 1st through the 5th of the month, and are super happy to not have to process rent payments themselves.
- What advice would you give clients considering transitioning to 100% paperless?
Have a plan and work the plan. It will not happen unless you have a game plan, and work it. When you are communicating with the team, it’s important to communicate that this is not just the management company putting another burden on the site. This is realizing they’re working too hard, and taking steps to remove that administrative burden. When we talk to the properties, the manager and regional manager it is important to disseminate that same positive message throughout the team. This should be seen internally and externally as a very positive thing, because it truly is all about the mindset.
Interested in making the switch to 100% digital payments?
Domuso would love to be of service. To get started, schedule a time to speak with us.