Payment Problems: Should Your Self-Storage Facility Still Accept Cash?

Many businesses, including some self-storage operators, are moving to a "cashless" business model. The following presents several reasons why this idea has merit.

Amy Campbell, Senior Editor

June 22, 2018

4 Min Read
Payment Problems: Should Your Self-Storage Facility Still Accept Cash?

I’m one of those people who rarely carries cash. In fact, whenever I’ll need actual bills to pay for something, such as a tip, I always plan ahead. I use my trusty debit card for pretty much everything. That includes purchasing a soda at the gas station, hitting up a drive-thru and at the grocery store. I also don’t use personal checks, and I pay all my bills online. While my payment methods are certainly not considered the “norm,” more people are living like me. And more businesses, including some self-storage operators, are no longer accepting cash for payments. It’s debit or credit for these folks.

Conversely, there are still many businesses that operate as cash-only. In fact, there’s a fast-food place near my house that only accepts real bills. Obviously, taking cash payments from your customers allows you to service more people. Not every customer will have a bank account or credit/debit card, so they pay for items with cash. In addition, some people just prefer to use real money. Even so, I’m going to make a pitch for why you should come to the cashless-side.

When a tenant hands you crumpled, dirty bills. Customers will sometimes pull money from various pockets, even a bra or a sock. Sure, a debit or credit card can carry germs, too, but there’s just something really gross about money in general. Let’s be honest, it’s been passed around. They can be ripped, written on and sometimes smell funky.

No more bank deposits! How much time do you and your managers spend standing in line at the bank to make a deposit? Don’t forget you always must have cash on hand so you can make change for customers. When was the last time someone handed you $200 for a $125 bill?

No more cash on site! When you don’t have cash in the office—and everyone knows it—it could lower your chances of being robbed. I suggest adding a big sign outside your office!

Employee theft. It also minimizes the chances of staff pocketing money. While they may be able to find other ways to swindle you, it won’t be through stealing bills.

Better reporting of your business’ finances. There’s no cash to count at the end of the day. No receipt comparisons. Rather, your accounting software will update everything in real time.

Drop-box problems. Many operators have a drop-box, allowing tenants to drop off their payments when the office is closed. But allowing cash to be deposited into this box is just a bad idea. What if the tenant puts the bills in an envelope or sheet of paper and doesn’t add any identifying info? You’ll have to spend hours figuring out whose unit should be credited. Or, worse, what if someone else sticks his skinny hand into the box and extracts the dough? The tenant says he made the payment, but you have no cash … what now?

One word: autopay. Nixing cash payments can have a positive effect on your efforts to get tenants signed up on autopay. You’ll still have our check-writers and those who prefer to come in and pay (via a card), but many will see the benefits of this payment option.

To be fair, I’ll address the flipside. As I mentioned above, not accepting cash could limit your tenant pool. In addition, your site might not be equipped to handle card sales. You’ll need to 100 percent protect you tenants’ valuable payment information from cyber-attacks, and your company could be on the line for charge-backs. Finally, there are those pesky fees from banks for digital payments. All of these are valid points and should be considered in your decision.

In fact, moving to a cashless payment system might not work for every business. But if the idea intrigues you, consider the following:

  • How do the majority of your customers currently pay?

  • What will it cost you to go cashless?

  • What do your employees and customers think about it?

  • How will your business benefit in the long term?

As digital payments continue to evolve, you may find more customers handing over plastic instead of dollar bills. In fact, several countries are already moving to become “cashless” societies. Maybe it sounds like an idea from the future. In truth, it’s already here.

Are you thinking about going cashless at your self-storage business? Add a comment below or join the discussion on Self-Storage Talk.

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Senior Editor, Inside Self Storage

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