Tiny House. Big Impact.

Tiny housing making big impact on combating homelessness in America

Affordable housing and providing access to quality housing is a vital social responsibility for the multifamily industry and something that is near and dear to the heart of Package Concierge, especially founder and CEO Georgianna W. Oliver. As such, we wanted to share with you this blog from Andy Helmer, CEO of Shelters to Shutters, a national non-profit working to help combat homelessness, on how our industry can make a difference.

The fight to end homelessness in this country is a massive undertaking. About 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness each year, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. Alleviating this problem in a meaningful way will surely require a multi-faceted effort involving federal, state and local governments, non-profits and the private sector.

Tiny homes have become a solution to homelessness. Here’s one possible component of the solution to this giant issue: tiny homes. Across the U.S., organizations are using tiny houses and apartment homes, which typically range from 100 square feet to 500 square feet, to provide shelter for the homeless.

For instance, the nonprofit American Family Housing recently opened Potter’s Lane, a 16-unit community in Midway City, Calif., to house homeless vets. The property features 480-square-foot apartment homes made from energy-efficient shipping containers.

Across the country, in Newfield, N.Y., the nonprofit Second Wind Cottages, relying heavily on donated materials and volunteer labor, built a community of 12 tiny homes that house homeless men. Residents pay rent as they are able to help defray the community’s operating expenses.

Other examples of similar communities include the Tiny House Village in Seattle and the Community First! Village in Austin, Texas.

Advocates of these developments note that they are comparatively cheap to build, and constructions costs often are further mitigated through the use of materials and labor supplied for free by area businesses and residents.

Can the multifamily industry incorporate tiny apartment homes for the homeless into their communities? It’s certainly something to think about. With its ample resources and vast supply of creative and intelligent people, the multifamily industry should not be shy about stepping up to the plate to help address this critical issue, and tiny apartment homes might be one way to do that.

Another Piece to the Puzzle

Shelters to Shutters (S2S), a Fairfax, Va.-based nonprofit, offers another way for the apartment industry to reduce homelessness. S2S currently works with 23 apartment management companies – including such large operators as

How tiny would your tiny home be?

AvalonBay Communities and Equity Residential – to place people experiencing homelessness in onsite, entry-level jobs and provide them with housing at the same communities at which they work.

Overall, these apartment companies have moved more than 100 people out of homelessness in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, South and Texas. And they’ve gained hardworking, loyal associates in the process. The job retention rate for S2S participants is 92 percent while the average industry turnover rate, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council, is 31 percent.

S2S provides its apartment management partners with pre-screened, job-trained candidates for entry-level positions such as maintenance technicians and leasing agents. The organization focuses on the 70 percent of the homeless population who are situationally homeless due to a life-altering event such as job loss, medical or health emergency, divorce, domestic abuse or the loss of a primary income earner.

Whether it’s through tiny homes, working with nonprofits like S2S or some other method, the multifamily industry can make a real difference in the fight against homelessness. I strongly urge you to consider how you and your apartment company can do just that.

Want to learn more about us? Click here to find out – Package Concierge

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Hardwire Internet has important edge over Wi-Fi for Apartments

The world is linked by wireless Internet, but even Wi-Fi can experience some connection tangles from time to time.

While, Wi-Fi is a more popular, widely used method of Internet connection these days, don’t be so quick to bail on the good ol’ Ethernet cord – at least for the backend of your apartment community. Wi-Fi is more convenient and tops the resident demand list, but a trusty hardwire connection is immensely more secure and challenging to hack.

Convenience is a great sell, and your property probably won’t meet its occupancy goals without wireless access for daily use in your resident’s apartment homes. You have to have it. Although, when it comes to operations, nothing beats top-notch security, especially digital security, which some residents don’t realize they actually need.

The Package Concierge Premier system is eye catching at Blair Tower.As more apartment communities begin to rely on Internet connection for day-to-day operational functions, like rent payment portal sites and electronic package locker systems, property managers should consider some of the pitfalls of a wireless connection before rolling up the Ethernet cables for good:

Wi-Fi signals commonly drop with interference

Wireless doesn’t have as stable an Internet connection as a hardwire because it only works within a certain range, and is more susceptible to interference and objects blocking the signal. Any wireless user can vouch a Wi-Fi signal can get pretty feisty.

In an apartment community, if the wireless were to go out, it could disable an entire system that operates via Internet. If Wi-Fi loses a signal during a streamed video or game, it’s an annoyance. If the signal goes out at an apartment community running package lockers or a security gate system, it potentially puts residents’ safety and possessions at risk.

Wireless offers easier setup, less return on investment

A downfall of hardwired Internet is the setup and connection takes a bit more time and work to configure than Wi-Fi. However, hardwire is a vastly more consistent, and even faster, connection once it’s up and running. Property managers will get back what they put into setting up a more secure connection system for residents.

The return on investment from a hardwire connection is worth the initial time. Residents are more likely to use something that works efficiently, without many issues. Wi-Fi is quicker and easier, but will likely have more problems down the road, draining management’s time and energy and taking associates away from other important community tasks.

Not as much data protection

Since hardwired Internet is more difficult to hack, it is also better equipped to guard data than a password-protected, private Wi-Fi connection. When overseeing many different residents in an apartment community, data protection is crucial not only for the management’s sensitive and private information, but also for the protection of residents’ personal information and privacy.

Wireless encryption standards are always being changed because the connection is just not safe. With a hardwire everything is contained.

Of course, we are not suggesting to move to hardwire.

Smartphones have drastically changed the way we must think about cyber security and wi-fi capabilities.

Cell phones use wireless connection, so different resident and community apps are exclusively Wi-Fi driven. However, keep in mind, some community amenities that utilize Internet can benefit from connection via hardwire, like [Package Concierge’s] electronic package locker systems.

Wi-Fi is definitely convenient and a must-have amenity that residents demand in their homes. However, for an apartment community on an operational level, it’s not necessarily offering residents the security and reliability they need, which hardwire provides.

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“Made in the USA” Making a Strong Comeback

The “Made in the USA” label is less common these days but it still packs significant selling power in America.

Blue lockers at Berkshire TerminusYes, America has increased its overseas outsourcing of work – namely manufacturing and IT jobs – over the years. Since the late 1990’s, those manufacturing jobs have steadily declined.

While outsourcing jobs can help American companies stay globally competitive and create cost-reducing benefits for U.S. consumers, extensive reasons still exist to purchase American-made goods and services. These reasons go beyond the well-apparent benefits of job security and economy stimulation.

Package Delivery that’s Made In USA

Package Concierge® takes great pride in helping address the demand for U.S.-made goods by offering only American-manufactured locker systems.

Wilson, the maker of every football used in NFL games along with Harley Davidson, Gibson, Duraflame, Zippo and KitchenAid are big-name companies with iconic products that continue to stay true to homeland production.

General Electric and Wal-MartRed Premier Lockers made recent efforts to address the increasing demand for American-made. GE has started to produce some of its water heaters and refrigerators at U.S. factories. Wal-Mart, meanwhile, announced plans in April to purchase an additional $50 billion of American products over the next decade.

Despite so many cheaper foreign-made goods being utilized in the U.S., there are still many goods and services produced locally. Investing in a “Made in the USA” label encompasses wide-ranging benefits for U.S. companies and consumers, who prefer U.S.-made goods for reasons like patriotism, quality and economic benefits.

However, it can be a slippery slope as many companies and consumers aren’t as conscious of the concept as they believe. According to a 2015 survey by Consumer Reports, 80 percent of Americans say they prefer to purchase American-made goods. However, American spending habits show otherwise.

Here are a few reasons why we believe the “Made in USA” label is important:

  • Faster repair for broken parts

If an American-made product requires repair, it is much easier to get fixed. It will take less time to find the needed part as many parts are produced locally and those parts that are made outside the country are often stored nearby.

  • More environmentally friendly

Locally made products and services benefit the environment in a few different ways. Products made overseas, such as in popular U.S. manufacturing and IT hubs China or India, must be shipped across the ocean to America. This overseas transportation leaves a much bigger carbon footprint than shipping within the U.S.

Additionally, many countries don’t have the air and environment protection regulations that America does. Foreign-made products exported to the U.S. pollute the environment more, and many of these countries contain lax health statutes.

  • Health reasons

Weaker health regulations in foreign production facilities can eventually harm U.S. consumers. There have been instances of unsafe goods being recalled for containing dangerous chemicals. Many of these are toys for children. Our government, naturally, cannot control foreign labor standards.

  • Job security and economic benefits

When U.S. consumers invest in American-made products, they also invest in the workers who produce them. The money spent on American-made goods and services goes back to those U.S. companies and local workers, thus stimulating the American economy even more. Keeping money in the U.S. economy helps preserve jobs for future generations, boosts American investment opportunities and helps reduce the trade deficit.

Aside from the outlined reasons, there are numerous other benefits to utilizing American-made goods and services that extend into our industry.

Many property managers insist they’d like to exclusively partner with U.S. companies and stay true to American-made products. But like your neighbor who claims the same and purchases a Toyota, not many vehemently stick to the cause.

That leaves room for apartment operators to create a competitive differentiator by proudly touting their loyalty to American-made products. While it might not make a difference to everyone, it will to some.

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Package Concierge Launches Express® & Package Room

Our solutions provide greater accessibility of innovative package management to the entire industry.

Atlanta, GA., June 22nd, 2017 – Today we are proud to announce the availability of two new products designed to further expand package management capabilities industry-wide: Package Concierge Express® and Package Concierge Package Room®.

The new Express® lockers are a more cost-effective option for apartment owner/operators seeking a comprehensive answer to their package management issues. The streamlined, all-steel construction, double-column locker modules are made in the USA by Package Concierge’s manufacturing partner, Florence Corporation, and a fellow subsidiary of Gibraltar Industries (Nasdaq: ROCK), and offer secure, 24/7 self-service, automated package lockers.

The Package Concierge Express in action. A recent study conducted by the National Multifamily Housing Council indicated that package management is now a must-have amenity in the multifamily industry, with 72 percent of residents wanting a package delivery/holding area readily accessible.

“New construction and luxury communities have embraced package lockers,” said Georgianna W. Oliver, chief executive officer of Package Concierge. “However, the upfront investment and locker size have hindered installations at smaller and older properties, as well as at Class B and C assets. The Express product line addresses the need for those communities that might not have the financial means for a significant investment – nor the space for a large installation – but are still dealing with the pains of high-volume packages. Now all properties have the same opportunity to streamline operations and provide their residents with a convenience-focused amenity.”

The new Express lockers are:

  • Built of the same high quality, all-steel construction
  • Made in the USA
  • The kiosk which includes 12 lockers can be used as a standalone system
  • Easier to install with its shorter stack and double column design
  • ADA compliant for height and reach
  • ETL Certified for Fire and Safety

Further expanding the accessibility of innovated and proven The Package Concierge Express is the same quality as our Premier System.package management solutions, Package Concierge also now offers a Package Room Access Control System®. The Package Room® combines the best of both worlds utilizing the Express Locker kiosk, which includes 12 lockers, as well as a small room on a property to serve as an overflow solution. This combination can completely eliminate the management burden of handling packages, as it provides a designated space for larger packages that don’t fit into the lockers. Additionally, it offers the ability to use the room specifically for carrier pick-up of resident shipping and returns.

“As package delivery continues to escalate, it’s more important than ever to provide a timely, convenient service for residents,” said Oliver. “With the installation of the Package Concierge Express® system, owner/operators are ensuring residents have immediate access to their package deliveries on the day they arrive. As an added benefit, the leasing teams will have the time they need to focus on customer service instead of package management.”

Want to learn more? Click here to inquire for more details on how our two new systems can alleviate the stress of package management.

 

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All Encompassing: Package Concierge Offers Package Shipping and Returns

One in three.

That’s right: 30 percent of every online purchase is returned.

Did you know around 49% of retailers offer free return shipping now? Package concierge is here to help.

According to invespcro.com, 30% of all products ordered online are returned as compared to 8.89% in brick-and-mortar stores.

We already know that ecommerce is bigger than ever with people spending more than a $200 billion annually – a steadily rising number. It is estimated that online shopping has grown more than 17 percent over the last decade. And as more and more brick-and-mortar stores close their doors ecommerce is projected to further skyrocket.

While online shopping offers a greater convenience with the ability to shop 24/7 and from various devices, it still lacks the sensory appeal that comes with shopping at a brick-and-mortar retailer. As such, 60 percent of returned packages are due to either damaged goods, the product looks different than what was online or it was simply the wrong item.

A report released by Sanford C. Bernstein indicates that Amazon ships an average of 608 million packages each year, or 1.66 million daily. According to UPS, they deliver approximately 18 million packages daily during typical non-peak shipping periods while FedEx boasts 13 millions daily packages.

So what does this mean?

While these figures don’t take into account the massive upswing in package deliveries during the holiday season (think double the volume), we are looking at roughly 9 million packages returned every single day.

Package Concierge is further improving your package management solutions, and ensuring your leasing office and leasing team no longer have to deal with mountains of packages.

Shipping and Returns is now available from Package Concierge and operates through its package locker system. Similar to package pickup, residents have access to shipping and returns capabilities 24/7.

With Shipping and Returns available from Package Concierge, apartment owners and operators:

  • Provide even greater convenience for your residents by allowing them to returns items they are unhappy with, as well as ship packages to their friends and family.
    • Satisfied residents are more likely to renew their leases – more than 80 percent indicate that effective package management positively impacted their renewal decision.
  • Offer efficiencies to burdened delivery carriers
    • By taking advantage of their regular stops, carriers no longer have to make extra trips to pick up outbound shipments or returns.
  • Generate ancillary revenue
    • Whether or not you chose to charge residents for this service, you garner improved ROI through enhanced resident satisfaction.

Contact us today to learn more about how Shipping and Returns can further improve your package management!

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I-85 Bridge Collapse Could Impact Package Delivery Scene in Atlanta

After our initial shock when we saw the unprecedented traffic jam and bridge collapse on Atlanta’s major thoroughfare Interstate 85, the first thing we thought was: How is that going to affect package delivery?

When you’re in this business, those are the connections you make.

Atlanta features notoriously heavy traffic to begin with – the fourth-worst in the nation, according to INRIX – and the bizarre I-85 incident clearly won’t help. The bridge collapse on March 30 reportedly was due to a homeless man starting an accidental fire beneath an overpass. If that wasn’t enough to compound things, a portion of Interstate 20 buckled on April 17 due to an underground gas leak, which sent a biker airborne.

We’re not here to criticize traffic situations in particular towns, and we’re eager to see the vibrant city for the Atlanta Apartment Association’s 2017 Trade Show. But this spurred thoughts as to how much package delivery could increase in Atlanta, considering two of its major vessels have endured significant setbacks. Will the city’s residents be less eager to commute to brick-and-mortar stores when they can simply order items online? Will lunch-break shopping trips decline as residents are foregoing the traffic challenges and opting to work from home?

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, freight traffic traveling through the city is now being directed to I-285 to bypass the city until the projected June 15 reopening of the bridge on I-85. As more vehicles use the alternate route, times will slow for commuters and logistics firms alike. Toby Jorgensen, a senior analyst at CBRE research told the newspaper: “The hardest part is the last-mile consumer and business delivery.”

It will be compelling to see how consumers, businesses and apartment communities adapt to the newfound challenges.

In the tech-savvy city, perhaps drone delivery will start to become a larger part of things as well. Drones have the capability to bypass heavily congested freeways and drop off packages at an apartment community much more efficiently. Residents will have their shipments in their package lockers right on schedule. In the future, this might even advance a step further. Imagine living on the 18th floor of a swanky urban high-rise and having your package drone-delivered to your balcony.

Perhaps we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves here, but these are the things we think about when we’re heading to a new city for a conference.  We’re excited for Atlanta and the opportunity to learn more about how different regions utilize package management. We’re just hoping we don’t have to spend too much time on the freeways.

P.S. We will be back in Atlanta for the National Apartment Association Education Conference and Expo starting on June 21st – wonder how the package situation will be different then? Either way, be sure to stop by and see us!

Meet Tim and Alexis on Wednesday, April 26th 2017!

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Flawlessly Deliver the Gift of Love

Has this ever happened to you?

You spent hours researching and planning the perfect gift for your special someone. You went so far to make your purchase with a prepaid gift card online so they wouldn’t see what your ordered on the bank account. You had it all planned – nothing could ruin it. Or so you thought.

Valentine's Day packages

The package arrived but you weren’t home when it arrived so your special someone picked it up. They mindlessly open it and that perfect gift you spent so much time trying to surprise them with is staring them directly in the face.

All of that planning ruined with a misstep in the package delivery process. It is probably safe to say a lot people can relate to some part of this shipping mishap, and that’s unfortunate.

What is fortunate though, there is a solution for apartment dwellers: a package locker system.

Package Concierge® offers a robust and innovative interface for our locker installations providing every resident a unique, individual access code. That’s right, each person, not a code for the apartment home, ensuring there is no longer a potential the wrong person will pick up the package.

This practice in individuality will certainly come in handy this Valentine’s season when residents are really hoping to surprise their special someone with something they will love. In the last 3 years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of packages delivered the week before and the week of Valentine’s Day – some communities are receiving 50 percent more packages in these two weeks and seeing their package volume return to normal the week after.

How heartbreaking would it be if any of these packages were discovered before they were given? Show your residents some love and contact Package Concierge® today to set up an installation!

Still looking for that perfect gift? Check out these 5 online sites still offering 2-day shipping:

  1. Amazon.com – This is a no brainer if you are an Amazon Prime member. With access to hundred of thousands of gifts, you are sure to find exactly what you are looking for. And if you aren’t a Prime member, you can sign up for a 30-day trial to make sure your package arrives in time.
  2. Walmart.com – Now this may not evoke the spirit of Valentine’s Day but the major retailer has recently announced free 2-day shipping for any purchase more than $35. If your loved one is looking for something like a FitBit Charge, new camping gear or even the uber popular InstaPot, this might be a new go-to shopping site for you.
  3. Sharperimage.com – For those who enjoy a tech-savvy treat, Sharper Image has unique high-end gifts such as a light and massage therapy hair brush or heated indoor-outdoor slippers. Use promo code VDAY99 to get free 2-day shipping for orders over $99 till February 10th!
  4. MichaelKors.com – Speaking of high-end, this top designer ensures that amazing purse, luxurious wallet or killer pair of sunglasses will arrive on time if ordered by February 9th. Just be sure to use the code VDay for free 2-day shipping.
  5. Apple.com – For the tech lover in your life, order any Apple product by 5pm today to receive free 2-day shipping. Apple Watch for all!
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Client Spotlight: Via Denver

Via_1Let’s take a trip to the Centennial State, also known as Colorado. Known for its stunning mountains and fresh air, Denver, Colorado is a booming tech center. Whether it’s taking a stroll down the Denver Beer Trail or chasing an adrenaline buzz in the man-made kayak chutes of Confluence Park, there’s something for everyone in the mile high city. With so much to see and do in the bustling metropolis, it makes sense for anyone interested in experiencing all Denver has to offer should live in the heart of the city so all is easily accessible. One community offers the mountain views and downtown city lights in one package: Via Denver.

Via_4Developed by world-renowned real estate investment and development juggernaut The Pauls Corporation, Via sits in the buzzing epicenter of Denver’s Golden Triangle. As stated on the homepage: “Come Experience a luxury apartment community that lets you move freely within the dynamic action of downtown Denver.” Via has every right to state this as their apartment homes contain opulent features such as quartz countertops with glass and stone backsplash, plank flooring, and the ever-elusive walk in closet. The community amenities are equally impressive: professional grade fitness facility; spa quality wellness center; social lounge with WiFi cafe, TV and gaming area; and even wine storage! That’s being said, we were excited to add a brand new Package Concierge system into this lively community.

Via_2Package Concierge recently installed an L-shaped system of 49 lockers, including dry cleaning. Via’s property manager, Sarah Weekes, took the time to provide feedback about the onsite Package Concierge and said: “The system is extremely helpful in streamlining the package process for our residents, office team and the carriers. Since residents get notification of their package being delivered, it cuts down on the amount of calls we get asking if there was a package delivered. It is also convenient for the residents to be able to access their packages 24 hours a day, not just during office hours.” We feel it can be safely said that the Package Concierge system has blended in well with the active lives of both residents and the employees of Via.

Via_5Via isn’t just a property, it’s a lifestyle in luxury living and convenience. Being located in the middle of everything is fast paced and residents need the right mixture of amenities to take advantage of their surroundings. They need the tools to work hard and play hard within the cityscape. When the perfect match is made, all things are possible. This is Via’s top priority and we’re proud to be a part of the equation. Ms. Weekes sums it up best: “When our residents are happy we are happy.” We couldn’t agree more with her; when our clients are happy, so are we.

Via_3

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Self-Serve Dry Cleaning Lockers & Seamless Integration

IMG3726The world moves faster than ever since the rapid evolution of technology. From the rise of artificial intelligence to sneakers that can finally self-lace, we don’t have the time to complete the tasks we once took time to do. For Package Concierge, our streamlining life solution lies in our locker systems. Taking the stress out of package delivery is what we’re known for and what we’ve delivered nationwide. However, Package Concierge isn’t just about packages deliveries. We’re regularly pursuing ways to make our high quality lockers more utilitarian, lockers that support dry cleaning delivery is another step towards making life easier.

Let’s face it; picking up dry-cleaning is just another addition on the laundry list (no pun intended) of daily tasks. Because we feel your pain, we decided to create a solution. The steps mirror the package delivery and receiving process! The dry cleaning service delivers the cleaned items directly into the system using our touch screen. As soon as the locker door is shut, the resident receives notification that their dry cleaning has been delivered and they can retrieve their clothing at their convenience.

The Package Concierge dry cleaning lockers are slimmer in design and include hooks. The units come in two configurations as well. They’re designed with clothing in mind and can accommodate everything from suits to long dresses, ensuring your valuables are kept wrinkle free once delivered. If the facility already has a Package Concierge, the dry cleaning lockers can be simply added on and fully integrate with the preexisting system.

There are also revenue opportunities. Many of our clients explore leasing the lockers to a local dry cleaner on an exclusive basis in return for getting the property’s business. It’s truly a “win-win” for all involved.interior_picMoving soon and quickly realizing this is an essential amenity? In addition to the amazing Harbor Pointe community (shown above) in Bayonne, NJ, the Package Concierge dry cleaning lockers can been seen in communities in the following cities:

Los Angeles, CA

Denver, CO

Miami, FL

Atlanta, GA

Boston, MA

Cambridge, MA

Watertown, MA

Ardmore, PA

King of Prussia, PA

Package Concierge strives to make life easier for every person using one of our locker systems. We will continue to push our hardware and software forward and be the drivers of innovation within our space. After all, deliveries and packages come in many shape and sizes. Package Concierge plans on playing a major part in all things delivered.

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More than Half Way There!

Red_Gray_Map_NEW315-01Recently, Package Concierge entered a thrilling chapter in our company’s story. We’re excited to let all of our friends and partners know that we’re now in 26 states across America! This is big news for us, especially since we’ve only been a company since December 2012. Even though our expansion across the country has been fast, we’d like to let everyone know that the credit goes to our amazing clients who believed in us early on such as Alliance Residential, The Bozzuto Group and The JBG Companies, and partners like Florence Manufacturing and The Container Store. When you think about it, our growth is great for everyone. Here are a few reasons why.

  • Expanding Technology: As we receive feedback from system users, we alter and tailor the user experience to truly reflect their wants and needs. In previous blogs, we mentioned examples of this such as our mobile app, systems with dry cleaning pick up, and even resident shipping and returns from Package Concierge lockers. These ideas stemmed from our expansion and user feedback. As this grows, so will the possibilities.
  • Secure and Safe Deliveries: Our expansion hasn’t been by accident; our clients and partners know that the name Package Concierge is synonymous with the words security and safety. This is a big driver in our growth and the more Package Concierge systems are out in the world; the more deliveries reach their final destinations instead of ending in the hands of unintended recipients.
  • Organization and Value for All: A Package Concierge system doesn’t just provide a delivery point for packages; it stimulates growth in other areas as well. For example, our customers see an increase in resident satisfaction, the end of untidy/messy package rooms, organized storage of packages on-site, and most importantly the saving of staff time. Also, because of the quality of our system, it is considered a valuable property asset, not just an amenity that is in high demand. These attributes help keep both residents and leasing agents happy, which in turn can keep a community thriving and growing.

As you can see, growth can be a very good thing. We’re not about to lose sight of what’s important to us, which is all who have helped guide us into this position. We assure you, we’re going to maximize upon our growth to make Package Concierge the best it has ever been. And soon enough, we’ll be crossing our 27th state line.

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