Not all apartment management offices will be happily declaring “Season’s Greetings” during the winter holidays when the e-commerce package crush comes to their communities.
The process of receiving, logging, storing and contacting residents about delivered packages is certain to become more hectic because of the steadily increasing volume of e-commerce.
To deal with the process, the apartment industry continues to welcome innovation in the form of upgraded package lockers, notification software, concierge solutions and extra efforts to keep residents satisfied.
The Bridge at Heritage Creekside, a 326-unit Class A property Carbon Thompson Multi-Family Management, in Plano, Texas, is eager to see how its in-unit package delivery service will perform.
Early last December, the property outsourced package delivery and offered it as an optional amenity for residents. Managed through its programmable locks, packages are hand-delivered by a third-party team to the doorstep or are placed inside the apartment home of its residents. Residents are notified when a package arrives or a delivery has made. Residents can choose to pick up the package themselves.
This delivery is part of a suite of services included in the Resident Services package, along with doorstep trash pick-up, a Starbucks coffee bar, customer service courtesy calls and many other common area luxuries.
Residents who initially moved in around a year ago paid $39 per month for the entire suite of amenities. Renewing and first-time residents today are charged $67 per month. The two-building community completed lease-up at approximately this time last year after first opening January 2017.
“Originally, we handled packages and organized them in a storage closet,” Deirdre Morton, Property Manager, The Bridge at Heritage Creekside, says. “We dreaded it. There was stress and anxiety, and a chance for human error. Our staff did not like all of the interruptions that came with the process.”
The outsourced amenity service manages the community’s staffing needs, based on anticipated work volume. Collectively, they perform all of the concierge-type services in the program, working 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Tuesday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
“It’s the same crew every week,” Morton says. “The familiarity with them has created trust in the minds of our residents.”
Heritage Creekside received 1,200 packages in December and the volume has fluctuated each month since. The most recent month in which data were available was August, when a record 1,292 packages were delivered, topping March (1,272). Morton tracks deliveries based on carrier. Amazon has been the No. 1 carrier each month and August marked the first time the e-commerce giant exceeded 500 packages.
Urgent: Your Package Is Ready for Pickup
The Heights at Old Peachtree, managed by The Worthing Companies, has no trouble handling 10 packages per day, but when it began to receive 20 to 50 packages during the holidays, it struggled to store them and alert residents about their arrival.
“As a smaller community, we don’t have room for package lockers and were trying to make due with our small office closet to house the influx of packages,” Joni Brantley, Community Director, says. “So we opted to source a product that would not only notify our residents when their packages arrived but create a sense of urgency for them to retrieve them.”
The Heights chose a custom-branded resident mobile app that includes package push notifications.
“Since this technology is mobile-based, our staff can quickly and easily scan the packages when they arrive and residents are notified directly on their mobile devices either via push notification or text message but always in real time,” Brantley says. “We are already seeing packages picked-up in a timely manner, usually now within the same day. As a result, we have found new office space because we have been able to decrease our package storage room needs.”
Ultra-Automation Delivers Operations Efficiencies
Many apartment communities are taking the ultra-automated route as much as possible in an effort to reduce their operational effort and maximize resident satisfaction. They have a combination package locker and package room system (so any oversized or overflow items go to the secure package room), plus refrigerators for perishables that they don’t have to bother with at the leasing office and dry cleaning lockers for residents.
Welcome Wagon Rolls On in Houston
Vargos on the Lake in Houston is planning a festive effort this winter, says Kate Good, Senior Vice President of Multifamily Development, Hunington Residential.
“We’ve ordered red wagons that we are going to decorate with holiday fun and team members will stay later to deliver packages door to door two nights a week,” Good says. “The delivery companies do not go door to door anymore, so we have to. This is a plan to keep our package room to a level we can deal with knowing every day more and more packages will arrive.”