In an age when many young people have never signed a paper check in their lives, property managers are starting to follow the lead of commercial banks by handling transactions digitally. Just as one example, Concord Management of NY in Huntington Station, has adopted ClickPay, a new fast-growing online processor, and so far the management firm has found the promises of faster, more streamlined transactions to be holding up.
“It's all about volume,” says Maryann Marty, Concord's director of management. “When you automate, it speeds up processes, makes us more efficient, and allows our payments to be processed faster.”
Mary Pat Landa, accounts receivable representative with Mastercare Building Services, Inc, in the Chicagoland area, says Mastercare's owner, Bill Planek, is always trying to go as paperless as possible. “Having an online payment processing option for our clients is nice because it takes out the middleman in the situation,” says Landa. “There's less room for error.” Mastercare, which manages 54 condo associations, chose Yardi Payment Processing as their online payment service before paperless was part of the lexicon. “We've been with Yardi for all of our property management needs for over 20 years, starting with a DOS system, and now in the cloud,” remarks Landa. “Their system is quite comprehensive and integrates well with the way we run things.”
It's All About the SSL
Condo owners access the Yardi Payment Processing tool through a section on Mastercare's website called the CONDOCafe. “It's nice because we can utilize this one section as both an informational piece and a payment piece of the system,” remarks Landa. “Owners can get their meeting minutes off of there, view lists of their board members, and access information on their accounts in addition to making payments.”
Concord chose ClickPay because ClickPay allowed them flexibility with the financial institutions they could use for the service. “If a board wants to continue to use [their] bank, we'll open up accounts there,” explains Marty. “ClickPay was the only service we found that would deposit into any bank account. The rest of them required that I use their bank. And that's just not going to work for us. We want to be able to serve our clients and use whatever bank they want. We're trying to make it as seamless as possible. Not to mention all that's involved with opening up a new bank account and things like that. If our boards or owners are happy with their financial institution, we don't want to insist that they change.”
Matthew Rooney, chief financial officer at Concord Management says, “Management is a service industry. You want to spend as much time being available to the tenants whether it's a maintenance need, billing question, or whatever comes up.” Rooney says online processing has allowed the Concord team to manage their time better so that they're more available for their clients. “We don't feel like we're swamped with calls all day, with everyone fighting to get to all their duties. We benefit because it helps us with our organization. Our clients benefit because we're able to spend more time doing what management should be about, paying attention to the clients and their needs.”
Both Concord and Mastecare have presented the online payment processing tool as one of many payment options available to clients, and both say that about half of their owners have switched over to electronic payments. Even with only 50 percent of their users adopting the online option, Landa has noticed a significant reduction in her workload. “When somebody sends in a check, we need to go through the process of scanning the check and making sure it's applied to the correct account. There's more room for error,” remarks Landa. “When somebody processes their payment through Yardi, it goes straight into their account and I don't need to touch it.”
Both systems keep records of all payments, allowing the management companies to provide extensive reporting for their clients and to be more responsive if a dispute over a payment comes up. Marty notes, “Every client is special, but you want your boards to feel that you're really behind them and that you're available. If there's ever a payment dispute, we now have quick access to all of the info they might need, and since it's all online, I don't have to have a thousand filing cabinets. You can't even put a price tag on that.”
Jenn Welch is a staff writer at The Cooperator.