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April 28, 2022
Who doesn’t know what autopay is these days?
Whether it’s your bills, your rent, an online service, or a loan, pretty much everyone is faced with the option to sign up for automatic billing. Your self storage customers know what autopay is, and they’re sure to have an opinion on it.
But why is autopay inherently better for you—as a self storage operator—than other payment methods? How can you encourage your tenants to sign up without risking alienating them?
Don’t worry: we’ve got you covered.
Automatic payments have a wide range of benefits for self storage operators.
In fact, these days, having an effective autopay function and a way to get your customers to sign up is an important part of how to run a self storage facility.
The way your self storage facility’s autopay works will vary depending on your self storage software (or PMS). Some property management software truly automates payments, while others require additional steps on the backend, such as confirming the payment so it will process.
Choosing your self storage payment processor is also a key part of making sure your business is properly set up for autopay. This is a step that you will need to do regardless, though, for your self storage credit card processing and online payment needs.
The way your self storage software handles autopay should not be the determining factor of whether or not you prioritize it, though!
Here are just a few of the reasons having as many self storage tenants on autopay as possible is best for you:
It sounds pretty obvious, right?
If your self storage tenants are on automatic billing, then they are much less likely to miss a payment. After all, many missed payments are due to failure to remember the deadline. Even online payments on your site can lead to the same human error of simply forgetting to make the payment.
If there are fewer missed payments, then that means you’re going to be spending less time chasing down the customer to get their payment.
Even better? All of this extra time means you can spend more time on improving other aspects of your business, such as customer service. It means you’ll have more time and freedom to work with customers who are legitimately having trouble paying, or to stay on top of them if need be.
It’s pretty obvious that more tenants being signed up for self storage autopayments is a better deal for the operator.
But what about the tenants?
It may surprise you to hear that, in general, autopay is also superior for your customers! But why is that?
The reasoning is simple: it’s one less thing for them to keep track of in their already overburdened schedule.
When I first got out of school, my bills were limited. I hated the idea of being on autopay because I wanted more control of the money coming in and out of my accounts, and as a result, I kept track of all of my due dates in my head or on my calendar.
That went great until I started having more and more due dates to keep track of.
Very likely, many of your self storage tenants are dealing with the same kind of internal struggle. They are juggling the desire to control their bank account with the ever-growing cluttering of their schedule and memory banks.
Recurring payments are the solution to this, whether tenants realize it yet or not.
Of course, it’s essential to hear and care about your customers’ concerns. When you are a local business that thrives on local customers, you could be forgiven for worrying about your decisions' impact on customers and their experience.
But that’s just it: you’re the expert.
You know what they don’t: self storage autopay makes their lives easier, and it keeps them from missing payments.
When you approach the topic, always do it from the angle of how it benefits them.
Now that you know you’re helping both yourself and your tenants by convincing them to sign up for self storage autopayments, what can you do to encourage them to do it?
If there’s one thing that’s common across all industries, it’s that an opt-in service is going to be adopted less than an opt-out service.
That said, you can use some other common consumer traits to your advantage here. Consumers, in general, prefer convenience and cost savings.
Adding processing fees on manual self storage payments leans on the fact that your tenants probably want to keep their bills lower.
Forcing your customers onto autopay might be too heavy-handed for your market. But by adding a processing fee to manual payments, you create the opportunity for them to save money by opting into your self storage autopay system. You also financially cover the additional work it takes you or your manager to undertake the task of processing individual payments.
You've also effectively raised rates for those who still refuse to sign up, and they would seem to be alright with that fact!
By waiving late fees on missed payments if they sign up for autopay, you are creating a win for both the customer and your storage facility. Your customer gets to skip out on paying a late fee, and you get that customer on automatic payments.
Emails and texts that remind tenants about the existence of autopay can help tremendously.
Just like your customers may forget to make their monthly self storage payment, they may also let the fact that autopay exists slip their minds.
Remind them every so often.
The frequency of those reminders will depend greatly on your business and your tenants. Maybe you send a reminder with every bill, or maybe you space it out more. The most important part is to do it.
Specials linked to automatic self storage payments can also encourage your tenants to get signed up for autopay. After all, many consumers like an opportunity to save a bit of money.
And, of course, make signing up as easy as possible!
You should probably make signing up possible right when they begin—the rental form. It should also be easy to figure out how to sign up after the fact, though.
You may feel like pushing your tenants to get on self storage autopay is a selfish want.
If you’re a local self storage business that thrives on reputation and your excellent customer service especially, then maybe you’re afraid of encouraging your tenants to sign up for automatic self storage billing.
Recurring payments are better for both the self storage operator and tenant, and it’s easier than ever to set up with modern self storage software.
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