Apartment locating can be quite lucrative if you are leasing enough. As an independent contractor, your income is virtually limitless. The problem with apartment locating is that getting the client into the apartment is only half of the work. Collecting on invoices can be time consuming and costly to your overall business. Especially, if you are fronting an incentive cost or agent commission for those who have agents working for them. Collections can take just as long if not longer than getting the client in the apartment in some cases. I have 7 tips that are sure to get you paid quicker and with less hassle.
Tip 1 SEND THE INVOICE MULTIPLE WAYS. There is no more sure way to get an invoice to the property than by multiple avenues. I email, fax, and snail mail every invoice. No, you will not upset anyone by covering your basis. Besides, if they would let you know that you received it then you needn’t send any more.
Tip 2 MAKE SURE THEY RECEIVED THE INVOICE. A follow up call a day or two later to ask if they received the invoice is vital. If you wait for 30 days just expecting them to have it and find out later they didn’t get it somehow, then you have to send over a new one and then follow up again later, so frustrating.
Tip 3 PERSISTENCE IS KEY. When you call a property, there are typically only 1 or 2 people that can answer questions about locator invoices, the manager, and maybe an assistant manager. If you do not reach them then leave a message with whomever you speak with and ask for an email for that person. Email them asking for confirmation of receipt and/or status of the payment for your invoice, then follow up in a few days to a week. I try not to pester them too much because after all, they are paying my bills. I will follow up with the property on day 31 if they are a 30 day pay, or 61 if they are a 60 day pay, etc… If I leave a voicemail and/or send an email I will follow up anywhere between 3 to 7 days. If I speak with them then I will give them a couple weeks to later depending on what was communicated.
Tip 4 FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. If they tell you they do not pay for 60 days and you know they have the invoice and have submitted it to corporate, there is no need to bother them before day 61. If they tell you to submit an invoice to a specific system using a specific font, at a specific time then do it. Don’t give them any reason to kick back your invoice. Some of the properties have very specific guidelines that were set up by upper management. It will only hurt you if you do not follow directions.
Tip 5 BE KIND. Always be kind to whomever you speak with at the property regardless if it is your 20th time to call about getting paid. The person you are speaking with most often is not the one paying your invoice, and they could be useful allies when it takes a long time to be paid. Even if you are frustrated with the property, getting agitated or angry will only cause more problems and result in your getting paid slower. You know that saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”? In this case the NICE squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Tip 6 KNOW WHEN IT IS TIME TO CALL CORPORATE. If you have done everything above and you are sitting at 90 – 120 days and not able to get the manager to answer or respond then it is time to go to corporate. If they do not pay until 90 days do not call corporate at day 91. Give the company’s system a chance to do what it is designed to do. With that said, there are times when you know you are not getting anywhere with the property and it is time to call corporate. You can find the corporate number online, do not ask the property for that information. Ask for the accounts payable department, and they will often time have someone who deals specifically with the property you are trying to collect from. Once you are able to speak with them always remember to follow tip #5.
Tip 7 KEEP GOOD NOTES. It is extremely important to write yourself notes on properties in order to remember how long it took to get paid and who you had to speak with in order to get it done. Keeping a blacklist of properties and managements that don’t pay is a huge time saver by itself. Having experience and being able to remember certain management companies will allow you to shave significant time off the next collection.
Take these tips and make your own system that works best for you. With it, you should be collecting on your invoices much faster and more effectively in no time. Here at Spirit Real Estate Group we offer to do the invoicing for you through our apartment locator sponsorship program. If you really just want to focus on leasing apartments then please allow us to work for you. There is just a $25 invoicing fee that is deducted once payment is received and all parties are paid out including incentives if you happen to do those. If you have more questions please head on over to the home page or give us a call at the number posted above.