Property Management Becomes Easier Through Payment Facilitation

Buildium is one of the top property management software companies in the industry. Dimitris Georgeakopoulos and Michael Monteiro started Buildium in 2004 having realized, as property managers themselves, that keeping track of multiple properties could quickly become time consuming and hard to control.

A series of innovations to improve their customer experience lead them to embedding payments into their software. But after years of success and thousands of customers, they still didn’t feel like the experience they were providing was as smooth as it could be.

Why Payment Facilitation

As a property manager, collecting and keeping track of payments is a huge logistical undertaking, especially with multiple locations. Embedding payment into their software allowed Buildium to streamline operations for their customers.

Online payments created a more convenient way for renters to pay their rent, so Buildium customers (property managers) had an easier time keeping track of their accounts.

But this added convenience still left a hurdle: because Buildium was using a payments partner, they still didn’t own the entire customer experience. That meant their customers weren’t always getting the best service. There was still room to improve.

Buildium explored the possibility of becoming a payment facilitator for two reasons:

  1. They wanted to gain full control over the customer experience so that they could elevate their service to customers. Using a third party made on-boarding new merchants (their property management customers) harder than it had to be. Buildium also wanted to be able to support merchants when problems arose, which they couldn’t do with the third party payments relationship.
  2. Buildium also wanted to increase their profit margins. Their platform now had over a billion dollars in transactions per year, which meant they had more than enough processing volume to make becoming a payments facilitator a worthy investment.

The Confusing Payments Journey

Buildium had known that payment facilitation was a likely goal for them but they knew the logistics were going to be tough. There’s no single way to become a payment facilitator. It depends on your business strategy, appetite for risk, and preference for control.

For Buildium, there were a lot of unknowns:

  • Which vendors would best fit their needs?
    Some payments vendors are better suited for certain business models than others. Buildium’s software sees a lot of yearly transactions, so they needed partners who could support their size and volume, while providing them the functionality to better serve their customers.
  • How should they negotiate their relationships with vendors?
    Certain aspects in your agreements are negotiable, while others are out of your control. The more knowledge you have at the beginning of the relationship the more power you’ll have to negotiate better rates.
  • What didn’t they already know about the process that could hurt them later?
    There are smart and not-as-smart ways to prioritize the many steps it takes to become a payment facilitator. If done out of order, the process can become longer and more expensive than it needs to be.

How Using a Payment Facilitator Guide Paid Off

The road to becoming a payment facilitator can be very confusing and misleading. But thanks to an experienced guide, Buildium felt confident in the decisions they were making. Again, there aren’t right and wrong answers, per say, but there are steeper tradeoffs with some decisions. Having a guide be able to outline the pros and cons of potential decisions allows you to make faster, more strategic decisions.

Additionally, Buildium appeared to be much more prepared as a payment facilitator throughout negotiations with their future partners. This allowed them to negotiate better rates at an accelerated pace, setting themselves up for a productive relationship with these partners.

Benefits for Buildium:

  1. Stronger payments strategy for their business:
    Every business’ approach to payment facilitation is unique, based upon the industry they’re in and the control they wish to have over the customer experience. In order to get the best agreements with your partners, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re going to be able to support the business you’re establishing as a payment facilitator.
  2. Better mix of vendors and tech tools:
    Since every business requires a unique approach to payments, that means that certain agreements and technologies will work better for your approach than others. Buildium found the right combination of vendors and technology support through Wells Fargo and Forte Payments.
  3. Shorter time to processing payments, with a smaller investment:
    Ultimately, because they went with a guide that had gone through this process hundreds of times, they were able to navigate the process in the correct order, with better preparation along the way. This means less money and time spent building, and more time servicing their customers exactly the way they want.

Using an experienced payment facilitator guide could mean accelerating your time to processing payments by up to four-times faster than going this route alone, without any prior payments experience. Additionally, the less time you spend building and negotiating, the less money you’ll spend prior to beginning to process payments.

Payments may not be your core business, but it may present a strategic opportunity for you to better serve your customers. Is it the right decision for you?

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