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How Technology is Changing the Real Estate Industry

Webinar Transcription

Henry: I’m delighted to be joined by Tom Kiernan and Mr. Ian Marlow. Tom, can you introduce yourself?

Tom: Yeah, sure. I’ll be brief. My name is Tom Kiernan. I am the CEO and one of the founders here at ClickPay. In several short years, ClickPay, we’ve built up what’s now the leader in the real estate receivables side of things. So, we’re responsible for getting all of your tenants’ money into the right bank account and credit it on the right ledger. And, you know, just to…I think in a nutshell, you maybe think, ClickPay, we’re electronic payments and certainly, that’s our DNA. But I think what sets us out in the industry versus some of the others out there is that we consolidate all of your payments into one consolidated receivable solutions. So we handle, in a nutshell, all the paper checks as well through a combination of a traditional lock box services, remote scanning, as well as an online bill pay solution which we’ll talk a little bit about as well. Pleasure to be here.

Henry: Pleasure to have you, Tom. Ian, tell us a little bit about FITECH, and how you bring together process, people, and technologies for the real estate management operations?

Ian: Absolutely. Hi, everybody. It’s Ian Marlow, I’m the CEO, and founder of FITECH. And FITECH is really simply defined as the IT department for any real estate owner, operator, or a broker. What we’re able to do is actually empirically prove what the correct platform, including mix of platforms such as ClickPay and AvidXchange that will properly work for each individual company’s needs, while also being able to provide all full scale IT services: everything from their ERP implementation and long-term support of those systems, to the IT services that stand being supported by the FT hosting cloud, our private encrypted cloud technology that’s specifically designed to service both the centralized and decentralized real estate…

Henry: We are ready to rock and roll and get into our first question. So, what we’re gonna do today is we’re gonna ask some questions to our panelists, we’re gonna learn what trends they’re seeing, and along the way we’re gonna be taking your questions. So, if you think of something while we’re talking, go into your control panel, look for the questions tab, and type it in. We’re gonna take those at the end but you can type them in at any time.

So, Tom, let’s start with you. What technology trends are you seeing in the real estate industry?

Tom: I’m sure everybody knows there’s so many trends in technology that would be too much to cover in a 30-minute webinar. If I limit it to just kind of the ones that are mostly impacting the real estate receivable space. You know, what comes to mind is a few different things. One is that, you know, it’s been, you know, 10 years plus since the first real estate company started adopting electronic payments, and I think, probably many on this phone call could testify that after all this time, it’s still amazing that there’s still a tremendous amount of paper checks being used to pay the rent, or pay their monthly HOA or condo dues.

And so, I think the trend that we’ve seen over the last couple years and it’s certainly accelerated over the last six months or a year, is the original business model for payments has changed. The original model, and frankly it’s how we started as well, was we would go to a property manager and say, “Our solution is free. Let’s pass on a fee that the tenant can pay $3 to pay the rent on top of their rent.” And it’s not surprising that, that was a good way to get a lot of property managers to sign up. But I think the results of the number of people that actually paid online has been disappointing.

You know, traditionally, under that model, we see people with less than 10% adoption. Meaning 90% of the payments are still coming with a stamp, and an envelope, and a paper check, or somebody’s dropping off a check down at the property and the property’s having to scan all of them, which is not really the vision of electronic payments. So, you know, I think we’ve turned that on its head and we’ve gone out and sold the value of our solution and making it free to the residents to pay, at least by ACH, there shouldn’t be a fee. And, not surprisingly, they go from 10% or 30% if they go, you know, almost instantly up to 50% to 90% of electronic payments, and their life becomes infinitely better with all those paper checks out of the business.

I think the other, you know, trends, you know, we’re seeing and it ties to really our value proposition is companies that signed up with an electronic payment provider but they left all of their other solutions in place. They kind of created potentially, actually more work for themselves and the efficiencies they were seeking weren’t there. If they have four banks and four bank lock boxes, and an electronic payment provider, they’re now sending data out of MRI to all of these different bank solutions and as well as the electronic payments.

You know, what our clients really want is this consolidation of all their payments in one platform. So, no matter how the tenant chooses to pay, all the payments come through one place and they get automatically credited on the ledger and MRI without all the manual work that goes into billing and processing payments.

And I think the other real, like, you know, probably most exciting trend is that having nothing to do with the real estate industry, the world of payments and technology is changing for consumers. Google and Amazon, and I think Google is gonna come first is about to launch this year an incredibly transformative thing that’s gonna kind of take over the world about how we as consumers get our bills and pay our bills. And if it works as well as Google believes it’s gonna work, and I think it will, we’ll have a lot of success. The way that people pay all their bills including their rent is gonna change, and I think that where the real estate industry is kind of, you know, you have to pay your rent.

So the real estate industry is kind of benefit of being able to say, “Oh, we don’t have to be the first to adopt new technologies.” I think some of the things that are coming out by some of these big internet giants are set to really transform the way people pay their rent, and they won’t be able to be ignored.

Henry: Wow, fascinating. I mean, you gave us a look back and then you tease us with what Google’s gonna do and is doing. So, let’s turn it to Ian. You know, Ian, from the technology standpoint of the platforms that real estate management companies are operating under, tell us what trends you’re seeing that’s really starting to shift and impacting the way you do business?

Ian: Well, you know, it’s very interesting because, you know, there’s general comment that real estate as a industry is nearly a decade behind where everybody else is. And, you know, what we’re really seeing in terms of those changes are things are starting to really catch up. One of the most impactful differences that we’ve seen technology-wise from a very big trend is the GL packages really starting to open themselves up to work with partners such as yourselves, AvidXchange and ClickPay, to have true API integrations and actually begin to move away from file-based transfers which, you know, were much more on a batch.

We’re really seeing a significant uptick in the number of partners across the platforms that are investing the time and the expense to offer that live connectivity that provides that data exchange immediately and instantaneously going back and forth. A few years ago those integrations were very, very limited. They were also significantly more difficult in order to create. MRI, for an example, today, is now actually offering a product that they have for their users to allow the end user to create APIs to products that are not part of the MRI products at our partner program.

So, being able to see that change in the flexibility and the vision of the main GL packages to connect to companies like yourselves and other people coming into the marketplace, truly makes, you know, the feeling, and of the look and feel of operating on a single platform much, much more smooth and much more integrated. And that really actually leads to other trends that we see coming out because of that extension and that integration.

The next is a return to decentralization. We’ve gone through a significant number of years in the past decade prior to any of the SaaS or cloud-based technologies where a lot people very much returned both with mainframe computing into that local server and operating environment. Today with the, basically, integration of the SaaS products for all of the different providers that’s allowing all of these different functions which are then integrated by the APIs to occur in a distributed environment.

So the accounts are no longer, again, back in the main office, many of them are, you know, throughout at the properties. And it’s changing it…then job roles as well, where a number of the roles that were typically handled by people at corporate are now changing the job descriptions of the people in the field. So, again, the technology is actually very, very heavily driving the changes to what people are doing day-to-day where they’re at the headquarters or in the field.

And that leads to the next major leap which is the mobile integration. And this is where we’re starting to see, you know, people actually really, really invest in the development of apps or truly browser neutral technology. That it doesn’t matter that finally, people in the field can operate truly on tablet devices, being a true mobile only user as opposed to what we even saw only two, three years ago that everybody was still operating on the laptop.

We’re seeing those people out in the field really very much embrace the mobile device and you’re starting to see where that need for the volume of data is now accountable to the telcos. The recent change for all of the telcos to bring us to unlimited data on the mobile devices has continued to allow us to fuel everything else that goes back and feeds up. So those are some of the trends that we’re really seeing.

Henry: Wow. There’s a lot there. Integration, mobile, we’re literally getting to some broad themes and I love to see that the industry is moving forward. From my perspective, prior to joining AvidXchange, I was working as an industry consultant, working with very large organizations, including large universities and companies like Philip Morris and T-Mobile. And a lot of them, as you had surmised, those guys had already automated a lot of their finance function.

What I see happening in real estate specifically, is building on your theme of integration but taking that integration and now collaborating with suppliers. A big trend I see, is that companies that are managing their AP operations, they don’t wanna do this, you know, process anymore on their own. They want partnerships and they wanna improve their collaboration too, so that they can connect with their suppliers and really hit on major points, reduce the calls that are coming into accounts payable and become more efficient in the back office. They can be more competitive with their pricing, and with the service levels that they’re giving to their tenants.

So that means improving sort of the next level of integration to the supplier community. I think that’s pretty strategic shift that we’re seeing. We’re also seeing that more and more of our clients are willing to partner with us in different ways than they wouldn’t have been before. For instance, customers would let us open the mail for them and manage their invoices and key them in, and getting them into their accounting systems. Many of them are saying, “Okay, we also want you to make payments for us as well.” Well, that’s a trust thing, that they’ve trusted AvidXchange to manage the payment of their suppliers through our industry payment engine.

Okay. Well, we’ve got the first question off, let’s take…let’s dig in a little bit more. So, thinking more broadly, how do these trends impact the companies and the teams? What does it mean for you? And let’s go back to Ian and then we’ll take Tom.

Ian: Sure, you know, as part of the first question I was kind of highlighting some of these things about decentralization and things being moved to field operations. You know, this really is a very, very powerful trend that, you know, from a cross-training perspective, we are seeing, you know, opportunities and needs for people both at the headquarters as they push things out to the field to learn how to do those things. And these apps and applications that are becoming…that are being allowed to be used because of the decentralization and the availability to handle it on mobile devices and tablets is changing those job descriptions.

So, you know, from an impact to the management companies and their teams, the impacts are their job descriptions are changing. We’re becoming more comprehensive in what we do and how we’re able to respond. And I think there’s also an even better closeness that’s occurring with the changes, generationally, that we’re seeing in the tenancy base. So, we’re also getting to a point that as, you know, everybody and that’s just general population is getting more comfortable in dealing with things from, like, electronic payments, you know, on Tom’s side.

I think you’re gonna continue to see, you know, an uptick in adoption of the technology. And as you see that uptick in the adoption of the technology it’s gonna become less manual. And as we become less manual the communication is going to increase from the people in the field to the tenant, on an electronic basis. And these things were really predicted nearly 15 years ago, but it’s taken a quite a bit of time for the technology, the platforms, and the platforms are being not only the services such as, you know, Avid, or ClickPay, or MRI, any of those products, nut the platforms such as Android, and iPhones, and iPads, and the apps themselves and the ability to run all of these in our pocket.

And those changes have really allowed us to interact with every facet of the business faster. On the work order basis, we communicate directly and much faster with all of our vendors. On the tenant basis, we interact faster, we collect money faster, we pay bills faster. So all of these things I think change things out for the teams in the field because there’s a higher request for instant gratification now, because the technology also requires it and the capability for that is there. We’re touching everybody on a regular basis, whether it’d be physical, digitally, or even by phone. I think all of those things together dramatically are continuing to change the business model of management and how those interact. So, it’s both their vendors as well as the tenant base.

Henry: Terrific. So, Tom, when you think about this…you’re gonna also think about this on the side of a impact to cost, or revenue, or collections. All right, tell us what you’re seeing from ClickPay’s perspective?

Tom: Yeah. I mean, I think that the things that both Avid and ClickPay do have some obvious benefits for both the bottom line and the top line, and we could touch on some of them. But I think that the more interesting thing, from my perspective, when we’re out in the market and, you know, we’ve been at some shows lately, and when our existing customers come up and meet with us, and they say, “You know, we love ClickPay, you know, what…” I ask them, “What do you love about it? You know, why are you happy?” And they don’t…you know, usually, the first thing that they cite are not just improvement to the bottom line or give them the ability to scale the business with less people, or… The things that they talk about are more like people issues, and, specifically, the role of their function within the finance function, within the real state organization, you know, shifts to not just being somebody who’s just, you know, responsible for stuffing all the money in the bank and making sure all the ledgers are as accurate as possible, and dealing with the exceptions and mistakes. If that process is handled in a more automated way as any of our, you know, more automated software-driven solutions provide and the payments happen electronically, it kind of changes what people do every day when they come to work.

And the things that we hear is that they’re able to do more analytics, they feel, you know, more value in what they’re doing is providing insights that actually drive how to operate the business or how to grow the business. And that they’re becoming more of an advisor to the other operational executives and people in the organization, as opposed to just doing the kind of day-to-day manual tedious tasks of opening envelopes, or scanning checks, or filling out bank deposit slips, or doing, you know, on Avid side, doing the payables.

Any of those things, you know, not that they’re not meaningful and important but that people generally derive less pleasure in life from some of those manual tasks and get more value out of it. So, I think that’s something we hear over and over again. In terms of bottom line results, and there…you know, nobody would move forward with ClickPay if there wasn’t a clear ROI strategy and, you know, there’s obviously a cost to all the labor that goes into processing payments and handling all the exception management that comes with real estate. And so, our solution is, you know, designed to automate all of those tasks.

And then some of the things that maybe people don’t think about is the service side of things. You know some of our larger clients have actually measured the amount of calls that they get pre and post-ClickPay. So they’ve got kind of good before and after results and, you know, not surprisingly 40% or more of the calls that come to a property management office are billing and payment related, that people having a question about their balance or whether they got a payment, or whether they…you know, the payment was received, or was the payment credited properly?

When they’re on ClickPay, the consumer, the tenant in this case, has…as long as they have a mobile phone they can answer all those questions for themselves, or if they need to they can do live chat, phone, and email, with our team. And our team’s got all of that information at their fingertips to efficiently handle those calls instead of just going to kind of the receptionist at a property management office. So, there’s a lot of bottom line results.

And then, again, the other thing I think we hear from a top-line perspective is more and more companies are looking to scale their operation up but, you know, they’re taking on management of twice as many properties. They don’t wanna have to hire twice as many back-office people. So, you know, hey, and in the 2017, what a lot of times ownership will do is they just take on the buildings but they don’t make those additional hires. So, it’s kind of unbearable burden on the back office and without a solution, like ClickPay, it really…you know, it wouldn’t be able to scale the way it could with automating your receivables or automating your payables.

Henry: Hey, wow. Thanks for that. You know, I wanna just add on some of the tight labor markets with unemployment rate now reaching pre-recession levels. What we’re hearing from some of the many, many companies that we recently won, that they’re joining…they’re realizing that they need to have help with their accounts payable function because they can’t hire the people to replace the folks that are retiring from finance operations, and they don’t want to hire an accounting grad and the accounting grads don’t want those jobs.

So, for instance, when we talk to the folks like Scott Billbe, from Leisure Care, one of our long-term clients, he’s saying, “Okay, yeah. You can help us with our SG&A cost, our internal cost, but even more than that we can generate a benefit from our payables operations in the form of a cost lowering rebate that comes from the payment operation.” So, we’re actually paying them a fee to manage their payables for them. And that’s really powerful.

So that kind of trend, if we think about hyper competition, tight labor markets, and the need to be more efficient and utilize resources in a different way, that seems to be a big trend that’s going to impact. I think it’ll make the industry, even more, a hyper-competitive in the next years ahead. All righty. Let’s move onto our next question. Tell us how your organization specifically helps real estate companies, and I’ll let you guys decide who wants to go first.

Ian: Tom, feel free.

Tom: All right. So, you know, I think how do we help the organizations that…I think we have all different types of customers, we have, for example, FirstService Residential is the largest property manager in the United States. It’s like 2% of the U.S. population. The benefits to them are a little different than some of our customers who only have, you know, a few hundred units and we’re happy with, you know, to serve customers of all. So some of these benefits I think are how we help them all, but some of them are more relevant for the larger customer.

So the ones that have lots of different receivables processes for like a large national company, if you have multiple banks with multiple bank lock boxes, and a scanning solution from one software vendor, and another electronic payment vendor, your vision of making your life more efficient really hasn’t happened because you’ve got either multiple APIs or you’re pushing out files from all these different systems, Stop files, DNA files, rent rolls, pushing all that information out and then taking payment data out of all these different systems every day and trying to bring them back into MRI and, you know, it doesn’t always work so reliably.

So, you know, again, our value is you can kind of turn all those solutions off. You just connect ClickPay to MRI and every payment, no matter how it’s made, is gonna be consolidated. And, you know, you can just trust that as long as we maintain that connection, that API connection, that the money is going to go to the right bank account, credited to the right ledger and it’s really simplifying the whole experience.

We talked a little bit about the time-intensive manual entries. So, another large Florida property manager we went to, you know, around the first month we were looking at these large bricks. There were about 8,000 paper checks that come from banks. So, as many, you probably know, if somebody goes onto Bank of America’s website and pays 60 Main Street LLC, the bank sends that check out to be printed and mailed to the property or mailed to the property management office, and all those payments have to be processed by hand and they don’t have remittance information.

ClickPay is connected to all the banks in the United States. They don’t wanna print those checks. They look to ClickPay, we sweep those payments electronically so that, not just people who go to your website and make a payment by ACH but people who go to their own bank’s website. They go to Chase, or Bank of America, or Wells Fargo and they initiate a payment over there. We’re able to capture those payments electronically and keep them electronic from end-to-end. And that just, you know, reduces…instantly you save dozens if not hundreds of hours a work of manual labor with just automating those electronic payments.

And all this, everything we do is trying to drive electronic payment adoption, we handle the paper checks but, obviously, we would prefer not to. We’ve seen, you know, customers we’ve got literally hundreds of case studies where we’ve converted somebody from another competitive solution and we’ll triple the adoption in month one and get it up to 70%, 80% or 90% in just a short period of time. And I think that part of it just has to do with the platform we have as well as the different business model that we offer.

But, you know, when customers switch to our side, I think that’s what they’re looking for. And we’ve talked about the resource side of things, so, being able to scale profitably is critical to every company, especially a real estate company. Yeah, I think that those are the main things that our customers are asking for of our system.

Henry: Thanks, Tom. I’m gonna go next slide. But…oh, actually we’re gonna let Ian come up next, tell us about FITECH. You know, a big question, I always have, “Why companies would wanna use a consultant?” Ian then can bring it in the house.

Ian: Well, sure. You know, that’s a very typical question. You know, the first is to say, you know, if you’re a company that’s considering a change in technology, most companies don’t understand all of the right questions to ask from the internal experiences so that they can put together all of those thoughts and all of those gaps and be able to empirically prove what the right platforms are for them.

So, you know, with the experience that we have in installing the different platforms and the workflows that are created with our client base, managing, you know, hundreds of millions of square feet and hundreds of thousands of units. Basically, when you look at your organization and begin to think of, “What really isn’t working?” People always start and simply say, things aren’t working because the computer system is not working right. When, in fact, and you mentioned this earlier and it’s kind of we always say corny but it is the slogan of our company, “People, process, and technology.”

You know, the fact is that technology is number three on that list. It really starts with people and process. And we’ve talked today about changing job descriptions, changing how the processes are complete, and how the technology enables that. It’s those examples from soup to nuts of how things are handled from the corporate HQ, from accounting, through marketing, through construction, and flowing that to what’s happening in operations of the properties that become the big questions. And you need to decide where to put that flag in the sand and say, “We’re going to start here.”

So, when you talk about, you know, how does our organization help real estate companies? On the top level, we really help them make decisions. We may help them make informed decisions about what makes up their ERP system. And there’s a very common misconception that an ERP system is the accounting system or the general ledger system. And that’s a very, very big misconception. In reality, the average real estate company uses six to eight different products to make up their ERP system, and that includes both as examples, we’ve mentioned MRI as a GL, AvidXchange for AP, and ClickPay on the AR side, and throw into that everything from payroll to work orders.

It’s quite daunting for the average company to understand what all of the different options are and how those options also match appropriately with the culture of their company, not just from a technology perspective. So, you know, when you go through, and we look at it…on our slide we have here examples of system selection and assessment, upgrades, and then creating, once you’ve made those decisions, understanding, “How do I connect them?” Those are the API integrations that we talked about earlier.

And once you’re also complete, so you’ve been through your system selection, now you’ve actually implemented your system, “We also support the organization’s long-term.” Perfect example, is real estate companies actively acquire and dispose off of assets. So, very often, we are simply involved as part of the due diligence teams looking at the information and the systems, where that information is coming from or going to.

If a real estate company is acquiring a large portfolio and they’re on one ERP system, and now that data at closing needs to be migrated from the seller to the buyer, we’re there for them for the entire lifecycle of that. This then leads to…we had highlighted earlier when we first did introductions about some of the end-to-end services that we’re able to provide. FITECH’s platform allows you to have a single helpdesk to go to for all of your ERP system related problems, as well as all of your technology requirements.

So, imagine, you know, one world where your network, your email, your mobile device management, digital war room, file-sharing, all of those things were able to be provided to you as a single platform with the same support groups that are handling your ERP system. It’s a one-stop shopping scenario that our clients find is extraordinarily helpful to them. You know, one of the more common issues that we all see is, you know, there are updates done when check scanners are out, and suddenly the check scanners don’t work and you actually have the IT people pointing fingers at the ERP people as they need to work together. Our team has the core understandings of those together. And it allows, we’ve touched on decentralization earlier, so this scenario of the products that we’re able to provide, along with the great partners that we work with, like, companies like yourself, we have the understanding of the core product and we have the understanding of the technical needs, all the way down to the hardware. So, bringing those together in a simple scenario with one point of contact brings a lot of value to the client.

Henry: I appreciate that, Ian. We’re almost ready for the audience questions. I’m just gonna highlight a little bit about AvidXchange and what we do. We had our annual users’ conference last year where we had over 300 of our nearly 5,000 customers come, learn about the latest tools and techniques that we are developing. And this is what we’re doing today, essentially, opening the mail for our clients, eliminating data entry, and take care of some of these basic challenges so that our controllers and CFOs, or our clients can be more efficient in what they do and meet the needs of their customers more effectively.

Where we see it going is increasingly, as I mentioned earlier, connecting better to the suppliers and moving a little more into the procurement function and improving visibility to the overall process. So, AvidXchange likes to say that we give our clients power over their payables, because we make it transparent, simple, and provide them the visibility to where those invoices are at any time.

All righty. We’re gonna turn it over to our audience questions now. And our first question comes from Julia. And she wants to know, “How fast are commercial tenants moving to electronic payments, if at all?” Tom, what are you seeing?

Tom: You know, there’s, obviously commercial’s a very broad description, right? There’s…some of our commercial tenants are, you know, large big-box. You know, we get payments from Home Depot. But the typical commercial client that has people who are paying, you know, $5,000 or $10,000 rents, that segment is doing phenomenally well. That not much different than the residential side. I think, as you move to $100,000 or even larger payments, there’s still a preference for other electronic payment methods. Like some of those customers just wire money and do other things there outside of the ClickPay solution, so.

But I would say it’s definitely up until about a year and a half, two years ago, we really didn’t have much demand for our services among the commercial segment. But I would say we’ve probably signed up, you know, 20 fairly sizable commercial customers in the past 6 months. And so, it’s definitely growing and, I think, you know, what we’ve seen is, it’s growing from tenant demand. I think even within our commercial clients they have certain properties and certain tenants that lend themselves well towards an electronic payment method and others that don’t.

But I think that one of the things to note is that we don’t just do electronic payments, right? So for most of our commercial clients, you know, even the paper checks, we’re providing a value. You know, some of them we’ve seen where they have, you know, they have…say they have 20 properties or 50 properties. Just having 50 P.O. Boxes at $1,200 a year, they’re spending $50,000 just to keep P.O. Boxes open. And they switch to ClickPay and basically just one P.O. Box, all the payments come here. All the electronic payments come through us, and, you know, it saves a lot of money almost overnight just by moving to, you know, a consolidated centralized process for payments.

Henry: Wow. Interesting. If you would like to ask a question to our panelists, look at the questions tab in your control panel in the GoToMeeting and type it in and we’ll get to it. Our next question comes from Ethan. Ethan wanted to know, why would a company work with AvidXchange instead of a bank to process payments? That’s a great question, and it really speaks to the heart of what AvidXchange is able to do.

AvidXchange is able to pay upwards of 45% to 50% of supplier payments electronically, with its very specialized payments decision engine and onboarding process. We call this continuing onboarding, at AvidXchnage there’s not a campaign, rather, it happens every day. And we have over 250 payment specialists who reach out to the suppliers to let them know that a payment is on the way and determine how they would like to be paid, and that’s an ongoing process. As well as then educating the supplier about the supplier portal, so they can find out payment status. Thank you for that question, Ethan.

Our next question for Ian, wants to…I think it was Charlie here. He’s asking about, “What parts of the market…where do you cover? U.S., Canada?” Where are you covering?

Ian: We cover the entire U.S. and Canada, as well as Mexico, and Europe, and parts of Asia. We actually do quite a bit of work over in Korea and to China.

Henry: Wow. That’s quite a broad coverage. Congratulations Ian for building that company to that scale. We’re gonna turn now to a poll question. And I would like to hear from the audience, and then we’re gonna just go back to the questions that have been coming in here. I’d appreciate everyone completing that.

So, we wanna know, what’s your next step? Are you interested in more information about any of our panelists today? You wanna know a little bit more or you’re just here to learn? And we’ll see where that goes. Our next question while you’re voting on that came from Susan. And Susan wanted to know, what’s the range of electronic adoption, Tom, specifically for multifamily?

Tom: So, you know, you used a good word in your question, “range.” I would love to be able to tell you we get everybody to 100%. I can tell you that whatever results people have had, whenever we’ve switched over from another solution to ClickPay, I can’t think of any solution where we haven’t tripled it, so. But you mentioned…so there’s…student housing is always gonna do phenomenal, right? We can get, you know, well into the upper 90s if not 100%. In luxury high-rises in New York City, the same thing, well, over 90%.

In kind of mid-market, you know, garden-style apartments, it’s, you know, usually in the 60% to 75% is where we get it. And, I should mention, with all these numbers, that they continue to grow month over month, but they reach…you know, you go from a low number, you get up to kind of the norm for that portfolio and then you, you know, you continue to try to move the needle incrementally month over month. So, it never stops growing. It always gets more this month than it was the prior month. But there, you know, there are some reasonable, if you’ve got low-income, Section 8 housing in a large urban center, and many of your tenants don’t have bank accounts, not surprising you’re not gonna have great adoption of electronic payments, we’ll handle the processing of money order payments and all that, for you. But, you know, electronic payments are gonna definitely lag in that sector. So, it is a range, but I think some of the other things we’ve got kind of like a marketing automation engine, and this is something we’re investing a lot of our energy in improving.

So instead of just sending out an email when you launch with us that says, “Welcome to the new online payment system. Click our one-click activation email below,” is basically doing all the science around that. So, we could send that email but when a new bill gets added, sending them a text or an email saying, “Activate your account to view your bill and pay online.” Or a new tenant moves in and the second they move into MRI, the data is feeding us by API, and it is instantly sending out an email or text. So he doesn’t have to register and type in their name and fill out forms. They literally just get a link that says, “Activate your account,” and they just choose a password to get it on their phone [inaudible 00:40:58] they’re doing… There’s a lot more to it but that’s just, you know, in the minute or two we have here, those are some of the things that we do to try to drive the adoption as high as possible.

Henry: Excellent. Our next question is from Justine, and she wanted to know how long it takes to implement Avid pay services for their vendors. Because of a deep integration, Justine, that you have with MRI, through the MRI tool it’s developed on a…we always mention an API, which…it stands for an Application Interface, and it’s already Avid [SP] inside. So, it happens…sorry, with MRI vendor pay, it happens with only just…we have a 45-day implementation guarantee, but it’s actually usually much faster than that because there’s, essentially, very little technical integration to make it work.

Let’s see. We want you all to vote, if you would, on the…before you leave. So far we’ve got a lot of you voting. We’re gonna take our next question. Ian, “What kind of projects are you seeing more frequently in the last six months?” And that comes from Bob. He wanted to know because he’s trying to get a look at what trends are happening in the industry.

Ian: Well, you know, one of the things to understand is that this is actually a very cyclical type of business, meaning that it’s very much driven by needs during the year. And, you know, when I look at really the last six months it’s gonna be very different than the latter part of the year. In the last six months, going from, really December through, you know, basically, through tax time. The uptick that there is right now is honestly in system selection.

This is the time when it’s coming into the new year, that budgets have been set which usually start in October and end in December. And then there is the first kickoff of really many companies in January, February, and March to really look at the rest of their projects for the year. So, you know, the big part of this year is very much various companies looking at their different technology needs and beginning to make those decisions which go through mid-year. And then there’s huge volumes of implementations of the various products that go into the later part of the year.

Henry: Thanks for sharing that. We’ve reached the end of our time. And if we haven’t gotten to your questions, we’ll respond to them offline. Before you leave we’d love for you to tell us what your level of interest was, and follow up with us so we don’t bother you if you’re not interested. But we do wanna send out some case studies and other materials so that you can take a better look at what AvidXchange, FITECH, and ClickPay can offer.

We’ve been joined today by Tom Kiernan, CEO with ClickPay, Ian from FITECH, and Henry, my name is Henry Ijams from AvidXchange. We look forward to seeing you all on a future event. Thank you for joining us today.

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Henry Ijams
Henry Ijams, Vice President of Supplier Solutions at AvidXchange