“This year, when we sent the contracts out with the AR Automation solution, within 24 hours, we had every single one signed and converted for our University of Michigan chapter, and the house was full. It's awesome — there are huge benefits.”
Who Is Gamma Phi Beta's Facilities Management Company?
Gamma Phi Beta is an international sorority with 140 chapters in the US and Canada. Gamma Phi Beta’s Facilities Management Company (FMC) is responsible for managing the housing for 64 of those chapters. And that number is growing as the sorority has begun to transition to an international housing model, moving away from locally owned and managed housing for its members.
When the FMC began, they used the same billing platform the sorority used for everything else by default. Collecting contracts and payments from members was difficult and oftentimes inefficient. Communicating with members was touch-and-go, late fees often went unpaid, and filling the available housing spots could take months. This original process also resulted in many billing errors, which they obviously wanted to avoid.
Initially, Gamma Phi Beta’s FMC wasn’t looking for a billing platform; they were tasked with finding property management software, but then, as happens with projects, the needs evolved, and requirements for billing software became a part of the project as well. The local chapters wanted to be able to send out electronic housing agreements and collect signatures, rather than work exclusively with hard copies.
The FMC considered several different options, finding them to either be cost prohibitive or unable to meet all their needs. While some providers promised to build solutions for them down the road, others flat out could not provide what they needed. They originally found BlueSnap to integrate with another solution that eventually fell short of the scope of the overall project. And that’s when they found out about BlueSnap Accounts Receivable Automation.
When they learned about BlueSnap’s AR Automation solution, Gamma Phi Beta’s FMC discovered it provided the intersection of capabilities they needed: the ability to automatically send and collect agreements, automated invoicing, and simple, effective payment collection. It also allows them to set up their housing in such a way that the data is accessible and helpful in running the FMC. Using AR Automation, the FMC is able to fill their available spots quickly and collect late fees at a much higher rate than previously.
When the FMC begins filling up their chapter facilities, members submit housing applications. The agreements are sent out through the AR automation solution, which collects signatures electronically and automatically bills the students and their families at the appropriate times. The FMC can classify each member in the system so they are charged the correct amount, and they have the ability to set the cadence for their invoices and send them out 30 days before collection begins. Bills, reminders and late fees are all automated and collected through the solution.
When the members receive their invoices, they can set up a payment plan that works for them: they can pay all at once, set up a monthly payment plan, or even have the invoice forwarded to their parents for payment. This is a unique solution other providers weren’t able to offer Gamma Phi Beta’s FMC despite it being something many of their members use. Members and their parents can easily pay the invoices with a payment link, set up automatic payments or receive payment reminders. Everything in the system works to make payments as easy as possible for members so the FMC can easily collect the funds.
These features also benefit members who fall behind on their payments; they can schedule a payment plan and set up automatic payments or payment reminders to avoid missing required payments.
Another solution that makes life much easier for the FMC is adding one-off charges for things like damages, lost keys, visitor meals and more. It’s surprisingly common for property management and billing software not to offer a simple option for tacking these small charges onto residents’ existing invoices. BlueSnap’s AR Automation makes it easy to account for these charges and ensure they’re charged to the student and collected. The FMC can invoice the student and set the cadence they want for the payment; it can be due upon receipt, added to a monthly charge or set up as a basic net-30 invoice.
In the future, Gamma Phi Beta will implement the AR Automation solution’s expiration date feature; they’ll be able to set an expiration date on each agreement so that if a member doesn’t complete and return it within a certain amount of time, the agreement will be withdrawn.
Since implementing BlueSnap’s AR Automation tool, Gamma Phi Beta’s FMC has been able to become more efficient and more personal with membership communications. “Previously, I sent out hard copy contracts in September, and I couldn’t get the house filled by January,” says Jessica Young, Gamma Phi Beta FMC Housing and Facilities Manager. “This year, when we sent the contracts out with the AR Automation solution, within 24 hours, we had every single one signed and converted for our University of Michigan chapter, and the house was full. It’s awesome — there are huge benefits.”
Young attributes the success to the communication enabled by the solution. Before, communication with members was inconsistent, and it resulted in members sometimes not even seeing their invoices and ultimately not paying them. The FMC is no longer a faceless organization and instead has an open channel of communication with members. The result has made collecting payments and agreements easier and more successful. In fact, the FMC’s late payment collection rate has increased so much since implementing AR Automation that they have been able to completely pay for the program just with the late fees they are now able to collect.
Beyond the benefits they’ve seen in their agreement and invoicing processes, Gamma Phi Beta’s FMC now has a partner that is willing to collaborate with them to find a solution for any challenge they face. “Anytime we bring challenges about our industry to BlueSnap, I don’t feel like I’m bringing problems,” says Young. “I feel like I’m bringing things that we can talk through together and brainstorm. It feels very collaborative, and I appreciate that.”