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Amy Campbell

Amy Campbell
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acampbell@vpico.com

The Benefits of Converting Your Self-Storage Customers to Automatic Bill Pay

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By Amy Campbell

While you won’t see me standing in line outside a retailer to grab the latest gadget, I do appreciate the convenience technology has ushered into my life. Yes, glitches, viruses and frozen screens are aggravating, but the benefits far outweigh the hassles.

One major benefit technology has brought to my life is the ability to pay my bills online and even set text or e-mail reminders for bill due dates. Not only do I relish these capabilities, I also appreciate companies that allow me to set up payments on automatic bill pay, commonly called auto-pay. Talk about the ultimate convenience. It’s easy, saves time, helps my credit score (because I’m never late), and even saves money since I’m not buying stamps or envelopes. It’s also eco-friendly because I elect to receive “paperless” statements.

For self-storage operators, auto-pay is, by far, their best source for obtaining on-time payments. It helps alleviate many of the biggest hassles that go along with operating a storage facility—namely late payments, collection calls and lien sales. Plus, customers on auto-pay generally don’t think about paying that bill every month or scrutinize the dollar amount they’re paying too closely. Because it becomes “just another bill,” many will also stay longer. Adding a rental increase also becomes easier for tenants enrolled in an automatic-payment system.

Self-Storage Talk Member GNCS Liz asked fellow operators if it was appropriate to tell customers they must sign up for auto-pay if renting a unit for more than one month. She also suggested offering a small discount of 5 percent to entice customers to the service. While some operators didn’t think forcing tenants to sign up for auto-pay would be a good policy to institute, a few liked her notion of offering a discount to encourage participation. Several community members said they tell their customers participating in auto-pay is a “no late-fee guarantee” and it seems to be working for them!

So how can you take advantage of auto-pay at your storage business? First, make sure you know how to set it up in our management software. Most programs include this feature. If you don’t know how to use it, ask your software provider.

Next, tell every one of your tenants, not just those who are new to your storage business. You could even kick off a mini-marketing event: “Sign up for auto-pay and get 5 percent off this month’s rent!” To sell the service, tell your customers the benefits. Use the “no late-fee guarantee” speech. Tell them how convenient it is to enroll. Also, be sure to alleviate their fears about any risks by letting them know your software program meets Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). You can read more about protecting your customers’ data in this article.

Offering and promoting auto-pay to your tenants will take a little work up front, but will lead to big payoffs in the long run. Ultimately, the service should reduce your collection calls and lien sales, as customers on auto-pay will always make their payments on time. Plus, it’s another great service and a wonderful convenience you can offer your tenants.

Do you offer automatic bill pay at your facility? Share your insight below or on Self-Storage Talk.

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