Technology Implementations Today, Avoid Budget Busters in 2018

Overwhelmed leasing team members were creatively dealing with package management by stacking packages to clear out enough space to get to their desks and start the day.

Sound familiar?

It’s a plight many in the multifamily industry have become privy to. There has been a spike in online ordering but a lack of space to store the overabundance of packages. Currently, Americans spend more than $300 billion annually on online retailers. Community managers, leasing agents and team members burn several hours a week organizing these packages. That organization is just so they’ll have some idea where to look when residents come to pick them up.

To end the madness, communities are adopting package management technologies as a brisk, effective solution. However, communities shouldn’t wait until panic-mode sets in to make the call. Rather than grasping at contingency funds, planning ahead by adding a line item into the 2018 budget to implement a technology that best suits community needs will be a true life saver.

There are five options available to create more efficient package management. When evaluating which is the most appropriate solution for your community, keep in mind factors like your community size, accessibility, possible locations and even your renter demographic.

  1. Package Logging Software: Through this service, residents receive text and email reminders that a package has arrived. This eliminates the steps in which residents call to check if a package has arrived, or a community team member calls the resident to notify them that it’s in. This is a solid option for smaller and midsize communities. It is cost-effective and allows for near-immediate implementation. However, some of the existing hurdles will remain. This solution still requires some staff involvement and doesn’t allow for round-the-clock package retrieval.
  2. Software-Driven Package Rooms: This service remains cost-effective, further reduces staff involvement and allows residents round-the-clock access to retrieve their packages. Residents receive a text and email with a one-time code and their signature is required for entry into the package room. However, privacy and security isn’t as thorough with the packages on shelves rather than in lockers.
  3. Smart Package Room Systems: This is a more technologically savvy version of the software-driven package room and features similar benefits.  Camera footage of those retrieving packages is available to assist with accountability. Licensing fees might also be a little higher. While it offers a high level of security, it still isn’t quite as secure as a package locker system.  Technology innovations are moving towards greater security.
  4. Digital Package Locker Systems: The most convenient solution. It has the highest level of security, greatest privacy and the least amount of staff involvement. It also serves as a 24/7 amenity. This solution is also a future-proof solution, with the capability to incorporate any technological updates into the existing framework. While this solution has the highest upfront capital expenditure, the ROI in staff time saved and resident satisfaction can cover the cost within the first year.
  5. The Full Package Package Management Solution: eCommerce trends are shifting. Residents are ordering more, bigger items and looking to ship items to their friends or family and want an easy way to return items. A key solution is combining the convenience and security of locker systems with the flexibility and size of smart rooms. With lockers installations that can be customized to fit any aesthetic or configured in a variety of ways, this comprehensive solution is primed to meet any future package management needs a community may have. Consider a new comprehensive package center for your residents with secure, easy-to-use lockers next to a smart room with a commercial grade freezer for all possible shipments that need refrigeration, custom shelving units to fit packages of any size or even tables equipped with packaging materials for every carrier. With this solution, the options are truly limitless.

Online package ordering is increasing nearly 10% each year and the trend, if anything, is increasing. If your community team can handle the influx, that’s fantastic. If not, we recommend budgeting now and planning ahead for one of the above solutions.

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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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Avoid a Package Tower! A Recap of Fun Shared During the NAA Learning Zone

The multifamily industry is constantly spawning fresh innovations year after year. What’s a better way to learn about some of the cool, pain-reducing apartment technology than with a little friendly competition?

At this year’s NAA Conference and Expo in Atlanta, we explored package management advancements in our Learning Zone. Participants played “Avoid the Tower of Boxes,” a hands-on experience of the common package management pain-point plaguing our industry today. We hoped to deliver that “ah-ha” moment about why things don’t have to be that way anymore.

Allison Blair discusses the importance of having a package management system in place.With the rise of online shopping, packages are towering up daily in leasing offices, and it’s only going to get worse. Leasing professionals face a daily average of 30 resident packages delivered on-site requiring significant time management. Onsite team members must stop what they’re doing to process packages, which can take at least 5 minutes per package. Add to that the struggle of finding a place to store all those packages and you’re bound to fall victim to a tumbling tower.

And so, the tower begins

Our Learning Zone attendees were challenged in a cordial tower-building battle to simulate manual package processing vs. managing packages with a package locker system. It was truly an eye-opening experience.

Teams were each given 20 boxes separated into five daily operational activities, such as maintenance requests, tours and calls. Each box had entertaining icebreaker questions written on them. Participants discussed things like “where was your favorite vacation?” and “what is one thing on your bucket list?”

Once everyone in the group answered each question, that team could start building their tower. The faster they talked, the faster they could start building. Needless to say, things got a little loud (isn’t funny how when people talk faster they tend to get louder?).

But there was a catch. One of the teams had three boxes that read: “Stop. You get five packages.” These three boxes represented the interruption caused when a package is delivered to the office. Obviously, this team took much longer to build the tower, and inevitably finished last. This exhibits how much of a drain manually processing packages truly is on overall time management.

Then the “ah-ha” moment…

While our little competition was friendly, it did showcase how innovative package management solutions can profoundly impact daily operations. Without interruption, leasing teams can focus more on customer service for both prospects and residents.

This is what package lockers and package rooms deliver – continuance. For both your operations but more importantly, your residents. With a package management solution in place, they have access to their packages 24/7. They no longer have to wait for the leasing office to open or for a staff member to retrieve their package. They can come home, retrieve their own package and get back to their life, uninterrupted.

The Package Concierge Premier and Express System compliment one another at NAA 2017.We hope our competitors enjoyed the game and got a sense of what it’s like for leasing team members at communities with – and without – a package management solution.

Visit us at www.packageconcierge.com for more details.

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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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Package Concierge and MTEC 2016

MTEC: Shape Your Future

MTEC Not all conferences are created equal. They come in many different shapes and sizes while staying true to a central idea. Package Concierge tries to attend as many as possible and we’re excited for our next one: The Multifamily Technology and Entrepreneurship Conference (MTEC for short). This exciting event has a lot to offer to those working on a new product or company idea in multifamily.

Held at the InterContinental San Francisco, MTEC is not a technology show despite the name. The conference’s main focus is education and networking for the industry’s entrepreneurs. If you’re a startup in multifamily, this conference is where you need to be. This isn’t just a social hangout; attendees are CEOs and private equity investors alike. On the conference’s website, MTEC states, “Conference speakers and advisors include some of the most successful multifamily entrepreneurs of the last decade.” Anyone has a great chance at making the right connections through MTEC.

The broad range of the conference is also another reason why MTEC is so exciting. From lead generation to energy management solutions, you’re going to learn something new. Panel discussions will be running throughout both days and led by the best of our industry. Our founder and CEO, Georgianna Oliver, will be participating in a panel about the Internet of Things (IoT) and multifamily. New business opportunities are popping up for the industry since connectivity is everything. Others joining the discussion are Felicite Moorman, CEO of StratISDavid Taylor, Senior Vice President and Chief of Operations of WaterSignal; and Ron Reed, SVP, Utility Management of RealPage, Inc. serves as moderator.

MTEC 2016 promises to deliver a networking and educational event to remember. Full of insights and opportunities, everyone in attendance will take away something. Whether it’s a few connections or new ideas, it’s a win either way. Interested in attending? See below for details and we hope to see you in San Francisco.

Register here

MTEC 2016

June 14 & 15

12:00pm – 12:00pm

InterContinental San Francisco

888 Howard Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

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How to Make Your Community More Social

Make Community SocialBecause a Community CAN Stick Together!

In today’s world of thriving technology, it’s hard to peel a cell phone out of someone’s fingers. It’s even harder to get them logged out of their preferred social media platform. With over 2.3 billion active social media users around the world, it can be hard to find others wanting to spend time in person. The scenario presents a catch-22: being social without actually being social. This can prove to be a problem in multifamily communities, where residents can be shy living amongst strangers. Luckily, we have a few tips that can help residents meet new friends within the community. Think about it: it will be hard to move out if all their friends live next door!

  • Community Layout – A building’s architecture can’t change, but certain features can. Does the game room have a billiard table? Can residents get coffee on site, and if so, is it in a high foot traffic area? When strategically placed, these examples can turn into social beacons for residents. These small changes can have a huge impact; common interests are the key to a fruitful friendship.
  • On-Site Events – Want to get your community together in the same place? You may want to consider throwing a monthly event. No, not the hotdog and hamburger socials we’ve had since middle school. Think something upscale like a mixer. You can turn things up a notch with cocktails and formal attire (age restrictions apply). If the property can accommodate, maybe community movie nights during the summer would be a good fit. You may even have a small theater already on site; use it to your advantage.
  • Social Media – We know what you’re thinking, but let us explain. Social media (social media monitoring in particular) can be a great way to engage in conversations with residents. Get in on the conversations your residents and market are having. You can even use social media to rally residents together to discuss upcoming developments. What can be better? What can make your lives easier? These are great questions to ask residents and they’ll feel appreciated. They’ll even come together with feedback, which is what every successful community needs. Focus your efforts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Since the release of Instagram’s video feature, Vine has started to become barren.

Making your community more social doesn’t have to be scary. All it takes is a bit of creativity and initiative to transform our community into a bunch of socialites.  They just need someone to lead the charge for them. By creating an environment where social interaction takes place, happy residents will have a hard time leaving the friends they’ve made. It’s unpredictable where one will meet a new friend, but you can make a few educated guesses on where it can happen!

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Leap for Free Rent Day!

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What are you going to do with this extra day of the year? We have arrived at another intercalary year; better known as leap year. But when you think about it, this year renters receive an extra day in their properties for FREE! That’s right! So whom do we need to thank for this extra day of multifamily living? That answer goes back farther than you may realize.

Around 46 B.C., Julius Caesar decided that every four years we get an extra day added to the year to balance out the 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds that accompanies the 365 days it takes the earth to orbit the sun. Now, Mr. Caesar didn’t quite get leap year right the first time. That’s why over 1,500 years later Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar to better regulate the bonus time of a year. His calendar added centuries to the equation, thus making years that are divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400.

The benefit of that extra day in February every four years is a “rent free day.” Most leases are based on 365 days in a year, which means renters score an extra day in their homes for free! This is definitely a reason for celebration and the last time we welcomed an extra day in the year, Package Concierge was just gearing up as a company.

In the leap year of 2012 Package Concierge was founded. And after only a few years we are in 26 states providing our services to multifamily and student housing properties. In 2015, we received the Customer Experience Innovation Award, a crowning achievement for a company less than 5 years old. Package Concierge believes in making the most of the time we have, and that’s why we are committed to providing our customers with the latest technological advancements in package management.

Package Concierge is serious about security and convenience all year long, whether its 365 days or 366. So, what are you going to do with your “rent free” day this year? Maybe, host a “rent free day” party? Whatever you do, make sure you and your friends thank Julius Caesar for the extra time we have in 2016!

 

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Client Spotlight: Central Park at Whisman Station

Whisman_SceneicOur latest client spotlight is host to some of the most scenic views of any property we’ve featured. Central Park at Whisman Station is located in Mountain View, California. The vistas of the Santa Cruz Mountains compliment this luxurious multifamily property and create a beautiful landscape of the surrounding area

Managed by Alliance Residential, Whisman Station is just one example of their dedication to multifamily living done right. They also are advocates for luxurious living with a reduced carbon footprint. Alliance’s “Focus Green” program seeks to reduce the consumption of energy and natural resources at each community, as well as educate and encourage residents to participate in eco-friendly lifestyles. As they celebrate their management leadership this week, Alliance Residential truly has the best interests of their residents in mind.

Whisman_Lobby

After taking in all of the glorious scenery, you can explore even more of Mountain View on the bike path, or one of the numerous jogging/walking trails of the Whisman Station community. Other amenities include a fitness center, a relaxation spa, and a resort inspired swimming pool. And for members of the “green” team, there are new energy efficient appliance packages and electric vehicle charging stations.

Whisman_PoolIn an area where technology companies thrive and innovation is around every corner, Central Park at Whisman Station also provides its residents with a technologically advanced Package Concierge. The system is cozily tucked away in a convenient alcove, but don’t be fooled by its discreet location; this system has received more than 2,000 packages since it’s installation this past November!

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Package Concierge provides secure storage for items intended for Whisman Station’s residents. Brittany, a Sales Associate at the property, mentioned how the system has improved the lives of the residents. “The Package Concierge system works well, everyone likes it.” Brittany also said, “The notification that Package Concierge sends to residents when packages have been received are very convenient.” When we asked Brittany how often the Package Concierge system was utilized, her response was, “It is used quite often; we’re actually considering ordering another one!”

Not too long ago, Mountain View was just a stagecoach stop in the newly settled west. Now, it’s the home of “tech giants” like Google, Mozilla and Symantec. And for those that call Central Park at Whisman Station home, Package Concierge is the package management “giant” that they can depend on for convenience and security.

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Client Spotlight: Alexan on Krog

Krog1As we continue to showcase the multifamily properties of our clients, this spotlight blog is all about a “peachy” location; the Alexan on Krog, a Greystar property located in Atlanta, Georgia introduces itself by inviting you to, “Live Where the Beltway Meets Badass Restaurants and More-Than-Mainstream Merchants at the Market.”

Krog 4Brimming with a vast assortment of food choices, shops, vendors and artistic creations, the community around Alexan on Krog satisfies the most diverse palate. The property amenities include a clubroom with 12 HDTVs accompanied by multiple gaming stations, community bike share, and a 24-hour fitness studio. Don’t feel like going out to the movies? No problem! Residents at the Alexan can simply go up to the rooftop cinema and enjoy a film as they say goodnight to the closing Atlanta skyline; a major differentiator in the market. With so much to see and do, Package Concierge is on call 24/7 to provide peace of mind to those concerned about residential deliveries.

Krog 3Upon speaking with Ashley, the leasing specialist at Alexan on Krog, her first comments about Package Concierge were: “We’ve only received positive feedback from our residents about the Package Concierge system. It keeps things organized and is very convenient. Our residents, who are Amazon Prime customers, think it’s great!”

Krog 2Alexan on Krog gets its fair share of packages, making the Package Concierge system an essential amenity. Ashley said, “I observe constant use of the Package Concierge up until the time we close.” Ashley also made note of how fast and easy the system was to use, which helps everyone get back to working and playing hard in the many boroughs of Atlanta.

Krog 5Living in one of the busiest cities in America doesn’t have to be a stressful situation. Alexan on Krog is an oasis close to the beltline but far from the discomforts of big city living. Ashley says, “It’s wonderful to see this area grow and very exciting to be a part of the process.” We feel the same way and are proud to contribute with our Package Concierge system.

Alexan on Krog Information:

LEASING CENTER: 44 Krog Street; Atlanta, GA 30307

EMAIL: leasing@alexanonkrog.com

CALL: 404.331.0620

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