Thoughts and Ideas from OpTech

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(Image Source: National Multifamily Housing Council Flickr)

Knowing what’s happening currently within your industry is incredibly important, but knowing what the future may hold is just as valuable. For us, the opportunity to learn more about both came in the form of NMHC OpTech – the premiere conference and expo showcasing the next big things in multifamily. The hot topic of the conference this year was package management, which further solidifies Package Concierge as a necessity, not just an amenity. However, it wasn’t all about our side of the industry. Other talking points during the conference included the expansion of properties going green, laundry pick up, waste removal, and even properties housing restaurants and grocery stores (imagine telecommuting and never needing to leave!). There are a few points that stood out to us because they were subtle in discussions but can change the lives of residents:

  • Fitness/Wellness: We’re beginning to see a steeper incline in how fitness and wellness are delivered as an amenity. Virtual fitness classes eliminate the need for communities to hire actual instructors to teach fitness classes on-site.  Instead, the communities subscribe to a virtual fitness package. Some communities have already begun to roll this out and with the simple flip of a channel on a television; the resident can join an actual fitness class anywhere in the country. Pretty amazing stuff!
  • Millennials vs. Baby Boomers:  As new technology enters the multifamily industry, we must make sure no one’s getting left behind. The million-dollar question: how do we incorporate innovation that services and spans the vast renter market? Are we creating technologies based on the millennial market and forgetting about other demographics? As we know, a happy resident is a loyal resident and keeping the community happy keeps revenue high. Developing newer and more efficient ways of delivering amenities is one thing, but they must provide accessibility for all, not just the young and hip.
  • Smart Lock Systems:  We attended one of the first sessions at OpTech (DIY 24/7 Apartments).  This session was the most relevant to us because the panel addressed current innovations and where they think the industry is headed.  Smart Lock Systems, or locking systems controlled through a user’s smartphone, proved a big topic of conversation. This idea wasn’t limited to locking up the apartment when the user is away, but also some discussion about the ability to install smart systems where residents could control their lights/thermostats for energy-saving purposes. Similar products exist on the market today which are relatively affordable but don’t be surprised if you see them pop up in units near you very soon.
  • Online Leasing:  In an effort to purge paper, everyone was also talking about leasing apartments completely online, streamlining the entire process from start to finish without a drop of ink. This certainly isn’t a new technology or a new idea, but it’s imperfect and something that everyone is trying to get right. We think this concept is on the horizon, though, and should make the process of renting easier than it’s ever been once implemented correctly. For now, it’s a race to see who gets there first.

These topics may not have been at the forefront of discussion, but they were heard on the conference floor and we feel that these talking points will become major features very soon. Every industry is focused on how to make things easier and we’re no exception to the rule. But our key takeaway from the event was that package management is here to stay and we’re leading the charge on making it as efficient as possible. In just 3 years, Package Concierge is leading the way in our section of the multifamily industry. We saw the problem and solution back then and who knows, we might just be right about these points as well!

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Packages Everywhere! You need a plan.

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By Georgianna W. Oliver, CEO

Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of media focused on the question of whether properties should continue to accept package deliveries – a task that requires time, energy, and resources that could be spent more effectively in other areas of the business. Laura Kusisto, reporter for the Wall Street Journal, has analyzed the rise of online shopping and writes “U.S. online retail sales are expected to swell to $334 billion in 2015, up from $263 billion in 2013, according to Forrester Research Inc., a research and advisory firm. The increase is proving to be problematic with properties scrambling to figure out where exactly to safeguard these packages.” This is where Package Concierge comes in (as featured recently on the Today Show on NBC). I founded Package Concierge 3 years ago with the belief that we can help to solve the package management dilemma in multifamily housing.   Now, with installations across 24 states, a growing list of very satisfied customers, and a knowledge base about what works and what doesn’t across a range of property types, we are finding ourselves in the role of consultants on this issue. So, which Package Concierge solution would best meet your property’s needs based on your property type?

Garden Style Apartments – Should we even be accepting packages?

Are delivery carriers attempting delivery to the resident door? If so, a leasing office at a garden style property may reasonably refuse to accept packages. Camden Property Trust received a lot of press that made it sound like they were refusing all package deliveries at their communities — which is not the case. They are simply saying: let the delivery carriers do their job and we don’t want to be liable for those packages.

If you do accept deliveries at a garden style community, then use your lease addendum to define the weight and size of the packages you will handle. To track and store these packages, you may choose to purchase a Package Concierge.

Only purchase a size that you will need for non-delivered, overflow packages. Based on the fact that the average 200-unit property receives 30-40 packages a day, and only a limited percentage (non-delivered) should be received in the leasing office, approximately 54 lockers of varying size will meet this demand. Keep in mind that for garden style communities you will need an indoor or covered space for a Package Concierge.

Mid-Rise Buildings – What a great amenity!

Mid-rise communities offer some of the most attractive communities for city-dwellers, many with Starbucks cafes, theatre rooms, dog parks, and swimming pools. These communities still have to deal with the untidy issue of packages. Based on whether the community has exterior doors or security gates, property management may or may not allow delivery carriers to deliver to the units. If you do not allow carrier access, then you should consider offering Package Concierge as a value added amenity. Our system can be installed in all kinds of locations such as: vestibules, hallways, exterior breezeways, parking garages, gyms, cyber cafes, or in areas adjacent to another amenity in the community.

The most important things to keep in mind in mid-rise buildings:

  • Delivery carrier access – If is not accessible to the drivers, then you may receive pushback from individual carriers. While we can help to solve that problem, we strongly recommend making access easy.
  • Resident convenience – When a package locker is located in a convenient location, residents will stop by on their way home from work/school.

For a 200-unit mid-rise building we would typically recommend our standard 66- locker system (which requires just over 13 lineal feet of wall space).

High Rise Buildings – Do we have space?

Unless you are willing to hire a full time person to handle packages, high-rise buildings must have a solution to address the inflow of packages.

For security purposes, most high rise managers do not want delivery carriers roaming the halls to attempt resident delivery— especially now that Amazon is subcontracting to practically anyone to deliver packages. Packages are arriving to high-rise apartments in all types of vehicles with non-descript delivery carriers. Imagine Keith the bartender from the local pub whose side jobs include being an Uber driver and delivering packages for Amazon!

Many urban buildings are seeing an average of 60+ packages a day in 200 units, with packages often cluttering up common areas. So, high-rise buildings are great candidates for Package Concierge.

For high-rise communities, space constraints are often an issue in determining whether you can invest in Package Concierge. The number one question to ask before even talking to any locker provider is: Do we have space? For a 200-unit high-rise building, you will need a minimum of 13 lineal feet to make a dent in the package load.  The good news is that Package Concierge is modular and we can install the system in an “L” or “U” configuration if necessary.   And for high-rise properties, dry cleaning and oversize lockers are a great add-on.

Based on all of our client feedback, Package Concierge is offering a value added solution that is helping properties to address the package management dilemma. Ultimately, you have to be thoughtful regarding what will actually work for your community. Contact us for statistics, recommendations, and space requirements as you consider investing in this exciting new amenity!

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