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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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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Top 10 Hidden Holidays You Need To Prepare For

We all know about how the winter holidays always lead to a profound uptick in the number of packages your residents are receiving. But as ecommerce continues to rise exponentially, there are so many other times throughout the year when package delivery may surge at your properties. Check out our list of “Top 10 Hidden Holidays” you need to be prepared for:

You can find anything you need on the world wide web for the hidden holidays.

  1. Super Bowl Sunday. Once your team is out, you frantically buy gear for your de facto team of choice (let’s just say my son now owns a Falcons sweatshirt). Besides, how else are you going to get all football themes napkins, bowls, plates, etc. the Super Bowl Party?!
  1. 100th Day of School. Yes, this is a thing and not something we made up. It’s mostly celebrated by younger students sometime in February, as schools have fun with the number 100. Many Pinterest-loving mothers are known to order craft items at this time, which can lead to a sneaky increase of packages in some circles.
  1. Valentine’s Day. That oversized Vermont Teddy Bear isn’t going to drive itself to your significant other’s home. And neither is that sparkling necklace or whatever else you’ve ordered to make sure you’re not the goat on the international day of love.
  1. Memorial Day. Everyone wants to get away for Memorial Day. But it’s even better to leave town with that new tent, new fishing supplies, new tarps and other camping accessories. Late May always leads to a package boom.
  1. Independence Day. Yes, it’s illegal to ship fireworks by mail, so we’re not even going to go that route. But it’s also the heart of barbecue season and summer house parties, which leads to an uptick in online ordering of wide-ranging supplies.
  1. Amazon Prime Day. The monster online retailer held its first holiday exclusively for its own “Prime” members in July 2015, predictably resulting in an online ordering frenzy. 2016’s Prime Day, which Amazon touted as “one-day-only global shopping event,” was even bigger. The retail giant has vowed to bring back Prime Day this year although an official date has not been announced. So what can we expect from this year’s Prime Day?! If it’s anything like last year when we saw more than a 30% increase in packages two days after Amazon Prime Day, it will be one of the biggest package delivery days EVER!
  1. Back to School. Mid- to late-August means back-to-school time. This can create a sizable package rush, particularly for student housing communities. College students are continuing to seek alternative methods to purchase textbooks, such as sites like Chegg and eCampus, rather than buying them for full price on campus.
  1. Labor Day. While Memorial Day unofficially signifies the beginning of summer, Labor Day serves as its end-of-summer counterpart. That means one last chance to escape the grind. It also means heavy discounts on outdoor merchandise as retailers look to make a push before camping season ends.
  1. Pre-Halloween. While it’s a given that packages will arrive in droves during the Christmas season, this holiday can creep up on you. Some even call it a pseudo-holiday because no one ever gets the day off for Halloween, but expect a full package room as people continually opt to purchase their costumes online.
  1. Home Events. As families convene, host homes don’t want to disappoint. While orders of kitchen and culinary supplies increase, families also commonly spruce up their homes to make a favorable impression on their visitors.

Visit our website here to help you manage these holidays to come.

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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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Amazon’s Forthcoming Addition of 100,000 Employees Underscores Package Boom

Warehouse worker taking package in the shelf in a large warehouse in a large warehouse

Warehouse workers search for their packages in an unorganized package room.

It is no secret that the trend is there. Package delivery is increasing on a daily basis, as millennials prefer the convenience of shopping from their phone.

Even older generations are beginning to resist shopping in stores, opting for the alternative of making a few clicks and waiting a few days for the package to arrive at their doorsteps. That’s why, despite strong industry-wide sales, prominent retailers such as Macy’s and Sears are closing many of their brick-and-mortar stores.

This trend is not a momentary blip. In fact, a recent proclamation by tech giant Amazon indicates package delivery will continue to steamroll in this direction for the foreseeable future. Amazon, widely known as the king of package delivery, has indicated that it will create 100,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2018, according to a recent article by USA Today.

Apartment operators should prepare accordingly, as this is not a knee-jerk move by Amazon. First Data reports that ecommerce’s share of retail sales in the holiday season was 21.3 percent, a hefty increase from the 15.4 percent of 2015. Expect the numbers to rise again in 2017, as the Internet now represents six percent of the total U.S. economy. And it’s not only going to grow during the holiday season. Package delivery is steadily increasing year around, with significant upticks around back to school, Halloween and even Mother’s Day.

If your apartment communities have not yet adopted a solution to combat the influx of packages – such as a smart room, package lockers or a package management team – now is the time. While many apartment owners/operators were ahead of the curve and enjoyed a much smoother 2016 holiday season, still a large number of the industry saw overflowing packages, leaving overburdened members of the leasing team with the cumbersome task of sorting through them.

In September, Amazon announced intentions to deliver its own packages, eschewing traditional delivery services UPS, FedEx and USPS by building its own delivery service. Now comes news of Amazon’s hefty six-figure addition of employees, with many of the positions slated for four soon-to-come fulfillment centers.

The additions of fulfillment centers in California, Florida, New Jersey and Texas have clear objective in mind: Get packages out more quickly. Amazon went from 56,200 employees in 2011 to 306,800 last year. Now 100,000 more are on the way to keep up with the country’s propensity to shop online.

The packages are coming at a historic rate and, as indicated by the actions of one of the nation’s premier tech giants, the breakneck pace will continue. Make sure you’re proactive rather than reactive, or you might end up beneath the pile.

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Package Deliveries Doubled Last Week!

package deliveriesGeorgianna W. Oliver, CEO

Package Deliveries Are on the Rise!

Everything just exploded for packages for 2016 holiday season. Last week, Package Concierge saw an increase in package deliveries from 87,500 packages to 151,000 in just one week! This includes carry over from Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, but the numbers are still impressive. The package load has doubled and will continue at this pace for the next two full weeks.

What Can Property Managers Do to Tame the Package Beast?

1. Keep the Lockers Moving. Send out mass notifications to all residents about their package deliveries. Packages sitting in the lockers can create storage issues. Space is a premium and the failure to pick up their packages can impact future package deliveries. There is only so much space to go around and package deliveries won’t wait!

2. Implement Daily Storage Fees for Packages Left 3-5 Days. Contact your salesperson or client services manager for help with turning on the daily storage fee feature.

3. Turn off Shipping and Returns until January 1st. If your property is currently using the function that allows residents to ship/return packages through the lockers, it’s taking up valuable space for deliveries during this high peak time.

4. Increase the Number or Frequency of Notifications. You can increase the number of notifications residents receive about their packages in a day. How? Through the Package Concierge management portal! More frequent notifications will help expedite pick up times.

5. Double Check All Lockers Are Available. Remember, the Package Concierge automatically takes a single locker offline if there are any issues. An example is an open locker for an extended period of time.

This is a busy time of year for property managers in apartment buildings! Package Concierge is here to help ease the pressure of all your package delivery needs.

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Living out of a Box: The Rise of Subcom

subcom

Subcom in a Box

Mail carriers across the globe are feeling the strain of increased package deliveries. If you’ve been keeping up to date on our blog posts, we’ve discussed this online retail boom. There are the obvious contributors such as Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, Apple and Staples, but a new category is making waves. It’s not the newest concept, but since 2010, this category has made a huge impact in how people shop. That category is subscription box services or “subcom” for short.

Birchbox. Dollar Shave Club. Plated. These subcom services differ in their products but offer a central idea. They deliver goods to millions of Americans alone on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. A customer simply enters their payment information, and like clockwork, boxes appear at the door. They only stop if the customer cancels or changes the subscription. It allows a “set and forget” type of shopping. Instead of going to the local drug store for razors, why not just pay a flat fee to have them delivered to your door once a month? And the category isn’t only limited to toiletries and food; if you can dream it, there’s a service for it.

Subcom Offers Life in a Box

Ranging from $10 and up, the subcom model was born out of convenience. No longer does one have to spend hours grocery shopping; just sign up for Blue Apron and have 3 meals delivered to your door once a week. Hate shopping for new clothes? Try Trunk Club, where clothing is handpicked by stylists for your size and tastes. Like what’s inside? They just charge your card for what you keep after mailing back the rest. No stores. No lines. No hassle.

So what does this mean for multifamily? We think the subcom model will only gain in popularity, meaning more deliveries to communities. Properties are already seeing 15% to 50% increases in deliveries with no signs of slowing down. Not all subscription box services will last but the idea is here to stay. The Blue Aprons (valued at $500 million) and Birchboxes ($96 million in sales) of the world aren’t going anywhere. Convenience is king and it doesn’t get any easier. A Millennial alone already gets 22 to 24 packages per year and being the most tech-savvy group the world has ever seen, subcom will continue to grow. If you haven’t future proofed your property yet, now might be the best time to do so.

 

 

 

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Future Proofing for Packages

future By Georgianna W. Oliver, Founder & CEO of Package Concierge

The Future Is Just Around The Corner.

To use a term I credit to Jennifer Coogan at Avalon Bay, “future proofing” your community is essential to assure you are not only meeting the resident demands of today but also preparing for future demands. Can you imagine your current holiday-season package rush becoming the year-round norm for your property?

Currently, one of our clients receives over 600 packages per day on one property. They currently have the package situation under control, but will it be enough in future years? Smaller properties with less than 250 units can probably handle the influx of packages more easily, as they currently average 40 package deliveries a day. But larger properties are more complicated and will require a more robust future proofing plan.

For the Package Concierge team, that means arming you with the innovations and technologies to manage the escalation of packages in the future. We accept the challenge of continually innovating our technology to address all of a community’s package-handling needs, now and in the future.

A Solution That Matters

Our high-quality lockers are designed to resist wear and tear. Our advancing technology handles all aspects of delivery and provides a secure method of communication between the locker system and residents. It also features the industry’s only mobile app.

We offer all the tools and reporting needed for the management of packages. Returns and shipping capabilities are coming soon as well. But, it is not enough. Today, we are addressing overflow options and developing a Package Concierge Smart RoomTM solution to meet the needs of tomorrow.

We understand package management solutions are more than locker systems or smart rooms. To that end, we are in constant communication with communities to improve our training for UPS, Fedex, and USPS carriers, discuss data management and advise about how to handle Uber and Lyft drivers showing up on-site to deliver more and more packages.

The solutions for handling packages will continue to evolve and so will the engineers at Package Concierge. We are working to stay ahead of the curve. You can count on that.

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The Art of the Install

package locker systemsEvery amenity in a multifamily community should add value and make life enjoyable. Amenities shouldn’t be an eyesore; they should be inviting, exciting, and easy to use. Each Package Concierge we deliver is both an asset and accent for communities. We don’t just drop off an assembled locker system and drive away. We’ve created a dedicated installation process, which complements the community’s surroundings. Since every community is different, every Package Concierge is unique and tailor-made. This bespoke approach to package management isn’t the easiest, but every community deserves it and the installation is what makes the difference.

For a Package Concierge to be an anchor of the community, we have to think outside the box. No two communities are exactly the same and different configurations compliment architectural features, foot traffic, space, and even line of sight. Because we’ll visit the community beforehand to ensure the proper placement of the new system, we’ve become the top package locker system for architects and designers alike. The installation is where all points blend together.package locker systemsAn installation is an exercise in design thinking. It requires custom solutions for every inquiry and sale that comes in. This divergent approach has helped solve the package management problems of our customers. A Package Concierge never interferes with the lives of residents when not in use and the experience is naturally fluid when it is. Every installed system achieves both of these principles.package locker systemsYour package management problem is our solution. Our solution happens to be an installed amenity. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word amenity as “something that makes life easier or more pleasant.” This definition is the core of Package Concierge. Our goal as a company is to make lives easier. Whether you’re a resident, property manager, or delivery carrier, our system serves everyone in different ways. We’re going to take the time to not only deliver a system but ensure its seamless integration into the community. That’s the Package Concierge difference, the art of the install.

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Package Concierge and PMEXPO 2016

PCblog2-2Putting your expertise on display is a great way to spread awareness. For us, we try to attend as many events as possible to not only spread the name of Package Concierge but to show the world what we have to offer. We’ve attended many events in the past, but we’re especially excited for our next event coming up. On April 6th, Package Concierge will be attending PMEXPO 2016 in Washington D.C.

Held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the PMEXPO is the nation’s largest one-day property management event. Filled with exhibitors from across the multifamily spectrum, PMEXPO allows property management attendees to explore product demos and new technologies. We’re proud to be an exhibitor and a sponsor of the event, but we’re also excited to learn more about the latest and greatest in our industry. And with over 250 exhibitors, it’s safe to say we’ll be learning, meeting, and greeting with many people!

On top of catching up with the newest innovations, PMEXPO offers an extensive educational program featuring acclaimed speakers, discipline-specific tracks, and continuing education credits. Everything from successful social media practices to HVAC management is up for discussion, making the event educational for all areas of multifamily. Combined with the networking aspect of the event, PMEXPO is an incredible resource for the industry. While we’ll be out on the floor taking in the sights and sounds, we’ll be at our booth showing everyone what we bring to the table.

At booth 710, we’ll have our small model Package Concierge for demonstrations. John Doyle and Andrew Robertson will be more than happy to show you how our system works and why it’s the best package management solution available. If you haven’t seen a Package Concierge in action before, PMEXPO will be a great opportunity to see what one can do for you and your property. Make sure you stop by and say hello.

If you’re attending PMEXPO 2016, we look forward to meeting you and learning with you. Rarely our industry can find the time to get together under one roof. So when there’s a chance to do so, you can count Package Concierge in. Ready to go? See below for details and we’ll see you on April 6th!

PMEXPO 2016

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

9:00am – 4:00pm

Walter E. Washington Convention Center

801 Mount Vernon Place NW

Washington, DC 20001

Package Concierge: Booth 710

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