Making Self Storage Payments Safe and Easy (for You AND Your Tenants)

March 15, 2022

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7 min

There are plenty of ways you can have your self storage tenants pay their bills.

Some of us may be happy just to get paid (anyway a tenant would like to), but there are some payment methods that are better than others – payments that be more secure, easier to track, or more convenient for both parties involved.

Let’s take a look at the common payment methods, billing software solutions that can help, and ways you can encourage customers to pay how you want them to.


The Big 3 Payment Methods

Pop quiz: What three payment methods are we talking about, here?

The chances are that almost all of you can guess them right off the bat:

  1. Online payments
  2. In-person payments
  3. Mail-in payments

Did you get them all?

There are some other payment methods that may have popped into your mind, but they probably fall under one of those three umbrellas in some way. For example, a self-service kiosk is essentially another way for people to make their self storage payment online.

Each common method of paying for a self storage unit’s rent is acceptable as far as meaning you’re getting paid by your tenant.

Are they all made equally, though? How do you make sure your payment processes are easy and safe for you and your customers? How can you utilize modern software to improve the billing process?

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1. Online Self Storage Payments

In today’s world, if you aren’t accepting online payments—we know there are still some of you out there!—then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

According to the 2019 Consumer Payments Trend Analysis, 83% of consumers would prefer to pay bills online.

Preferred Payment Methods

Considering that 2019 was before the global pandemic that pushed even more consumers to online shopping than ever before, that is a significant statement that is likely only going to increase as time passes.

These days, many services don’t even give you the option to pay any other way. If there is an option, it’s one a customer needs to go out of their way to hunt down. Even online bill pay through a customer’s bank is typically an electronic payment to the business owner.

Your customers—yes, even the older tenants—are used to paying online.

On top of that, it’s just easier for you as a business owner. Payments are easily handled in your self storage PMS, so you don’t even need to worry about paying for another billing software. You already have self-storage-specific payment software!

Many billing software solutions—including most property management software—will automatically track payment history and user trends as well. This allows you to easily pull up a customer and see their payment history without needing to sort through physical paperwork or secondary spreadsheets and databases.

Want to up your game with the latest software? Learn more about software with  our Self Storage Software Playbook.

These records are especially important for your own business’s account purposes, and online self storage payments are certainly the easiest to track in this way.

Self storage credit card processing will typically cost you a small portion of each payment, so don't be surprised when you get the bill!

Let’s take this a step further and talk about the benefits of automation.

There are two facets of automation directly related to online self storage bill pay: automated invoices and automated payments.

Automated invoices and late notices are an effective means of cutting down on potential late payments. You can find some best practices for payment reminders here!

Automated payments (or autopay) are similarly effective at reducing how many late payments there are each month. If you’ve got tenants that are often paying late, encouraging them to start autopay will help make everyone happier in the long run.

Pug Pro Tip: If you want more people on autopay, you can encourage this by offering discounts on their monthly rent if they’re successfully signed up for autopay! Even a small discount can make a huge difference in getting tenants to opt in!

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2. In-Person (Cash, Card, and Check) Payments

Most of you still do this, don’t you?

And if you do, you probably still have tenants that choose this route to pay.

That’s fine, of course—some people legitimately prefer in-person payments, and if you have someone in the office anyway then why not allow tenants to pay in person?

Some states may even still require you to have a cash payment option, and this is a matter you can learn more about by consulting an attorney or your state’s self storage association.

The advantage of this payment method is pretty clear-cut, of course: Some people want to pay in person, and offering the option might make those customers happier.

There are ways that you can improve your payment processes using self storage software even if you’re accepting an in-person payment.

5 ways ebook

The most obvious way to do this is by logging transactions—even cash transactions—in your software under the tenant’s information. This way you at least have a record of the customer’s payment in the same place where you can find records of online payments.

Another way that software solutions come into play for in-person payments is by accepting card payments. You’re going to need to run the card somehow, and you may be able to use a software—or credit card terminal (or EMV reader)—that integrates with your existing self storage software.

One example is SiteLink, which has launched an entire product under the name of SiteLink Merchant Services to facilitate payment processing in its property management software.

Whatever you do, the important part is to make sure you have a well-defined process for how to handle (and track) self storage payments made in person.

Pug Pro Tip: Here’s a pro tip from AJ Osborne during one of our monthly Gabfocus sessions: If you want to encourage tenants to pay online and ditch cash or in-person payments, apply a service charge to payments made this way. This will convince many people to start paying online—and they’ll probably end up realizing they like it!

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3. Mail-In Payments

I was having lunch with a friend a few months ago, and he told me about his experience with a self storage facility.

This facility only accepted cash or check payments.

Since he no longer lived in the town where he was storing his property, he had to mail in a physical check each month to make his payments.

Eventually, he moved again and lost the facility’s address in the process. To make matters worse, this self storage facility had no online presence whatsoever.

He could not pay his bill.

Now, thankfully my friend came back a year later—after he moved back in-state—and found out the belongings were still stored away in his storage unit. He paid his due rent, and all is well again.

Check Payment StatSome people might prefer check payments, especially some older tenants that are used to paying this way.

If you want to accept check payments through the mail, make sure you have a good method for keeping track of these payments at the very least! Log it in your billing software, keep in constant touch with your tenant through other means, and maybe make sure all your tenants know how to file changes of address with you so that you can log the new information in your self storage property management software.

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The Don’ts of Self Storage Payments

There are a few things you absolutely shouldn’t do when accepting payments from your customers and tenants.

Whether you’re accepting payments for rent, selling some boxes, or renting out a truck, these are things that you should definitely avoid:

  • Writing down/saving card information
  • Print out statements or receipts with sensitive payment information
  • Sending customers to a third-party payment portal online
  • Process a payment without keeping a clear record of the transaction

Ultimately, you want payments to be as seamless and hassle-free as possible for both yourself and your tenants. You also want to ensure that they are secure to protect your customers and their information.

Check out these other great posts for advice and resources that will make running your self storage business easier!

At StoragePug, we build self storage websites that make it easy for new customers to find you and easy for them to rent from you.

Software makes running your business easier.

Download our Self Storage Software playbook to learn what's out there and how to use it!

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