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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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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Delivery Madness: Are you ready for Prime time?

MThere are so many items to purchase on Amazon Prime day!any who deal with package management on a daily basis breathed a hefty sigh of relief in January. The holiday season had passed, which presumably meant it’d be another 12 months before another rush of that magnitude.

Well, hold on a minute. We know there are a few hidden holidays that impact the number of packages delivered but what about “self-created” holidays?

Prime Day is Prime Time

One wouldn’t think a self-created holiday would create such mayhem. Well, unless that holiday is all about packages. Introducing the third annual Amazon Prime Day, which absolutely fits that billing.

Delivery carriers and managers are advised to gear up for this one, which begins at 9 p.m. ET on July 10. Amazon hypes the event as a “one-day only global shopping event for Prime members.” It’s essentially an online version of Black Friday, and you better believe it makes an impact.

The e-Commerce giant launched its second ever Amazon Prime Day on July 12, 2016, and it resulted in the biggest sales day ever for the online retail giant, according to CNBC.

Amazon declined to disclose how many people signed up for Prime to participate in the sale, but U.S. orders rose by more than 50 percent compared to the first Prime Day a year earlier.

Package Concierge is the best way to organize all of your packages coming in from Amazon Prime day.Now that Prime Day is fairly established, it’s a reasonable expectation that the numbers will continue to rise. Last year, Package Concierge’s lockers experienced a 30-percent increase of package deliveries two days after Prime Day. Here’s hypothesizing that the increase will be even sharper this year. With Business Insider predicting Amazon could rake in $1 billion in 30 hours, we’re guessing our lockers will experience a 40- to 45-percent spike this time.

More Prime Opportunities than Ever

As Prime Day increases in popularity, other businesses are teaming up with the retail giant. Jet Blue, for instance, is offering 3,000 TrueBlue points (the airline’s equivalent to mileage points) for those who sign up for a yearly subscription to Amazon Prime ahead of Prime Day.

As July 10 approaches, several publications have created their own spin about the day. Tom’s Guide, for instance, put together a checklist of items to buy and avoid on Prime Day.  The guide claims it’s an excellent time to purchase Amazon devices at a discounted rate, including Kindle, Echo and Fire Tablets. But you might have a harder time finding discounts for Apple devices, laptops and HDTVs.

The Wirecutter published an article outlining what to expect and how to find the best deals. PCMag, meanwhile, composed a story outlining what you need to know for the holiday.

Translation: Amazon Prime Day has become a big deal. It can rival the holiday season with regard to volume of packages, and we can’t wait to see the numbers for 2017.

With that in mind, here’s a list of five items we believe will be hot on Prime Day:

  1. Alexa-Enabled Portable Bluetooth Speakers: Just tap it and ask for music from Spotify, Pandora and other music services.
  2. Huawel Mate9 Smartphone: These tech-savvy devices typically retail for about $600.
  3. Everyday Essentials: Stock up on Prime Day or take advantage of Prime subscription services on all your everyday living needs.
  4. Sneakers: Prime Day isn’t solely about tech products. Shoe brands such as Adidas and New Balance are known to dish out the discounts as well.
  5. MacBook Pro: Even though Tom warned us there might not be many discounts on Apple products, according to Techradar, you might be able to save $100-$200 on one of these laptops.

And here’s another Prime Day Bonus for you: all of these items will fit in your Package Concierge® locker! Happy Shopping!

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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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Holiday Package Preparation

christmasYes, it isn’t even Halloween yet. And yes, you should be thinking about the upcoming holiday season. Especially if you plan to ship gifts to your loved ones across the country or across the world. Given the way the calendar falls this year, the holiday season is compressed by one week. You can thank a late Thanksgiving and early Hanukah for that (Did you know they’re on the same day this year?). With one less weekend to shop for deals, that’s one less weekend to prepare your gift packages.

Don’t think it’s a big deal? Well, some of the biggest names in shipping sure do. Amazon plans to hire 70,000 season workers to handle the increased load this year.  That’s up 20,000 from 2012.

Fedex expects an 11% rise in Cyber Monday sales, thanks to the increase in online shopping, making December 2nd their anticipated busiest day of the year with 22 million packages shipped.

UPS also knows that because of the compressed holiday season, that they will be busier than ever. December 16th, UPS’s peak pick-up day will likely see 34 million packages and they’re hiring additional works to handle the load.

If you want to get ahead of the curve, what should you do?

Shop Early. Instead of waiting for December to roll around, head out to the stores now and get your shopping done to beat the rush.

Ship Early. If you’re packing a gift yourself, or buying on the web, it would be best to do it early. The sooner you get your presents out, the shorter the lines and the shorter the wait.

If you’re like most people and wait until the last minute, what should you do?

cyber mondayCyber Monday Deals. Given the short shopping season, the online deals on Cyber Monday (December 2nd) will be worth the wait.

Last Minute Deals. Some companies offer last minute deals if you purchase much closer to Christmas (December 20th or later) such as 75% off the full price you might pay in November.

Whichever route you take, this holiday season is sure to be one of the busiest yet.

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Myths About Packages

packagesBetween FedEx and UPS, nearly 25 Million packages were shipped each day in 2012. That’s half a million going to each state—day in and day out. With that many packages traveling across the country and even more internationally, it’s no wonder myths about shipping packages pop up everywhere. We’ve collected some of the biggest package myths and have put the rumors to rest. Here’s the truth:

Shipping in More Boxes Saves Money: If you have several items to ship, the myth is that packaging them separately will save you money. Unfortunately that’s not true. Since delivery carriers charge the most for your first pound, you would end up spending more by splitting up what could be in a single package.

Mail Doesn’t Move on Sunday: If you mail something at the end of the week, or on Saturday, people assume their package will take an extra day or so to ship. In reality, mail never stops moving. Sunday is a work day for package carriers and what you send at the end of the week, will be there Monday morning.

Smaller is Cheaper: Since weight is a factor in shipments, it makes sense that the lighter the object, the cheaper the package. However, because the first pound is the most expensive pound (as previously mentioned), a small package can set you back just as easily.

 Insurance Isn’t Worth It: When sending packages, people think paying for insurance is a waste of money. Where in fact, it is best for you to ensure the safety of your shipment no matter where you send it. Also some food for thought, UPS and FedEx cover the first $100 value of your package free.

Go Big or Go Home: If you need to ship something, the rumor says that it’s best to use the big companies—that they’re bigger, better and all around more trustworthy. You can certainly use the big brand name locations, but the hometown shipping companies are just as cost effective.

With this brand new knowledge, you can go about your shipping needs feeling confident that you can add as many packages to that 25 Million a day as you want.

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Shipping Do’s and Don’ts

For anyone sending a package to a friend, relative or client, the do’s and don’ts of this process might seem confusing because shipping companies don’t often have a definitive list. Because they’re focused on mailing safety, as they should be, this creates a gap in the information consumers are seeking out. Never fear, we’re here to help solve that problem. Here is a surefire list of do’s and don’ts for anyone sending packages:

DO

Do make the package secure – Be sure to use proper packing tape and seal all possible entry points. A single or double piece of tape should secure the opening—any more can be excessive and challenging to open later.

Do print your own labels – When possible, print your labels instead of writing them on a piece of paper. This prevents potential damage to the paper and also gives your shipping a level of professionalism.

Do use enough postage – Different areas of the country / world require various amounts of postage, and this can be skewed by the weight of your package. To ensure delivery, add additional postage just in case.

Do use reliable carriers – Research pricing and options from the carrier companies out there and cross reference these facts with the details of your package. Some carriers are better for small packages while others are best for refrigerated shipping. Inform yourself before shipping.

DON’T

Don’t use packing peanuts – Although these once were a staple of shipping products, it can be messy and doesn’t fully support the package contents. Instead, use air puffed packing bags for a more secure fit.

Don’t ship a box that’s half full – Leaving out packing material can create spaces in your package that could create a void where damage can happen. Pack your items to the top of the box to minimize damage potential.

Don’t reuse materials – This is in response to popped bubble wrap, deflated air bags or weakened boxes. So long as the materials are pristine, you can reuse them. But as a general rule, try to use new materials.

Don’t mishandle the package – It goes without saying that you shouldn’t abuse the packaged item or the box it’s contained within. Treat the package with the gentle care of a newborn baby.

With all this information, you should be able to ship with confidence as you please around the block or around the globe.

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