Packages Everywhere! You need a plan.

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By Georgianna W. Oliver, CEO

Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of media focused on the question of whether properties should continue to accept package deliveries – a task that requires time, energy, and resources that could be spent more effectively in other areas of the business. Laura Kusisto, reporter for the Wall Street Journal, has analyzed the rise of online shopping and writes “U.S. online retail sales are expected to swell to $334 billion in 2015, up from $263 billion in 2013, according to Forrester Research Inc., a research and advisory firm. The increase is proving to be problematic with properties scrambling to figure out where exactly to safeguard these packages.” This is where Package Concierge comes in (as featured recently on the Today Show on NBC). I founded Package Concierge 3 years ago with the belief that we can help to solve the package management dilemma in multifamily housing.   Now, with installations across 24 states, a growing list of very satisfied customers, and a knowledge base about what works and what doesn’t across a range of property types, we are finding ourselves in the role of consultants on this issue. So, which Package Concierge solution would best meet your property’s needs based on your property type?

Garden Style Apartments – Should we even be accepting packages?

Are delivery carriers attempting delivery to the resident door? If so, a leasing office at a garden style property may reasonably refuse to accept packages. Camden Property Trust received a lot of press that made it sound like they were refusing all package deliveries at their communities — which is not the case. They are simply saying: let the delivery carriers do their job and we don’t want to be liable for those packages.

If you do accept deliveries at a garden style community, then use your lease addendum to define the weight and size of the packages you will handle. To track and store these packages, you may choose to purchase a Package Concierge.

Only purchase a size that you will need for non-delivered, overflow packages. Based on the fact that the average 200-unit property receives 30-40 packages a day, and only a limited percentage (non-delivered) should be received in the leasing office, approximately 54 lockers of varying size will meet this demand. Keep in mind that for garden style communities you will need an indoor or covered space for a Package Concierge.

Mid-Rise Buildings – What a great amenity!

Mid-rise communities offer some of the most attractive communities for city-dwellers, many with Starbucks cafes, theatre rooms, dog parks, and swimming pools. These communities still have to deal with the untidy issue of packages. Based on whether the community has exterior doors or security gates, property management may or may not allow delivery carriers to deliver to the units. If you do not allow carrier access, then you should consider offering Package Concierge as a value added amenity. Our system can be installed in all kinds of locations such as: vestibules, hallways, exterior breezeways, parking garages, gyms, cyber cafes, or in areas adjacent to another amenity in the community.

The most important things to keep in mind in mid-rise buildings:

  • Delivery carrier access – If is not accessible to the drivers, then you may receive pushback from individual carriers. While we can help to solve that problem, we strongly recommend making access easy.
  • Resident convenience – When a package locker is located in a convenient location, residents will stop by on their way home from work/school.

For a 200-unit mid-rise building we would typically recommend our standard 66- locker system (which requires just over 13 lineal feet of wall space).

High Rise Buildings – Do we have space?

Unless you are willing to hire a full time person to handle packages, high-rise buildings must have a solution to address the inflow of packages.

For security purposes, most high rise managers do not want delivery carriers roaming the halls to attempt resident delivery— especially now that Amazon is subcontracting to practically anyone to deliver packages. Packages are arriving to high-rise apartments in all types of vehicles with non-descript delivery carriers. Imagine Keith the bartender from the local pub whose side jobs include being an Uber driver and delivering packages for Amazon!

Many urban buildings are seeing an average of 60+ packages a day in 200 units, with packages often cluttering up common areas. So, high-rise buildings are great candidates for Package Concierge.

For high-rise communities, space constraints are often an issue in determining whether you can invest in Package Concierge. The number one question to ask before even talking to any locker provider is: Do we have space? For a 200-unit high-rise building, you will need a minimum of 13 lineal feet to make a dent in the package load.  The good news is that Package Concierge is modular and we can install the system in an “L” or “U” configuration if necessary.   And for high-rise properties, dry cleaning and oversize lockers are a great add-on.

Based on all of our client feedback, Package Concierge is offering a value added solution that is helping properties to address the package management dilemma. Ultimately, you have to be thoughtful regarding what will actually work for your community. Contact us for statistics, recommendations, and space requirements as you consider investing in this exciting new amenity!

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Package Concierge makes life easier for residents and workers at Observer Park in Hoboken, N.J.

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Observer Park, Hoboken, N.J.

115 units – PC7-70

Overview

Observer Park gives residents the ability to enjoy the perks of New York from the perspective of a tree-lined street across the Hudson River. Its 115 units receive an average of 150 packages a week, with that number climbing higher during peak delivery times. With only a small office to store and sort deliveries, the community’s two-person leasing staff dealt with space constraints for package storage and spent too many staff hours receiving, logging, storing and retrieving packages.

The residents, principally working professionals who commute daily to the city, grew increasingly frustrated by the inconvenient package delivery process. Leasing staff tested many strategies to ease the last mile of delivery, including an unstaffed package room, an outsourced part-time concierge professional and a full-time employee to alleviate the administrative burden of handling packages. However, leaving packages unattended wasn’t a secure option and manual package management limited pick-up times to office hours, preventing many residents from receiving their packages before the office closed.

Our solution

Observer Park needed a package management solution that simplified package delivery for residents without requiring staff maintenance. The solution also needed to be secure and compatible with all delivery and mail carriers.

The Package Concierge system’s convenience, security and ability to complement the community’s existing amenities attracted the property owner and leasing staff. Since the Observer Park team previously considered the addition of a full-time staff member, it became clear that redirecting budget to cover Package Concierge’s upfront installation costs would prove more valuable over time.

Observer Park worked with Package Concierge to install a 7-foot, 70-compartment locker system in the secured lobby that connects the community’s two buildings. After the installation was complete and Package Concierge was ready to launch, the leasing team hosted a party for the residents to introduce the new amenity and to build excitement around the new system for handling packages.

 Results

For Observer Park’s leasing team, Package Concierge has practically eliminated the distraction of package management and has resulted in more time for daily responsibilities. Team members have saved an average of 90 minutes per day and are now spending this time planning community events, following up with prospective renters and improving the daily operations of the property.

Residents don’t have to rush home on a crowded train to make sure their packages aren’t sitting in the lobby or left outside the building, leading to increased satisfaction and fewer complaints. Every resident at Observer Park uses an automatic key fob to enter the building, and the exact same fob is used to collect packages from the Package Concierge system, further adding to the system’s convenience and security.

Automated delivery lockers from Package Concierge are helping to increase current residents’ renewal rates at Observer Park, as well as incoming tour requests and leases signed by new prospects. On multiple occasions, prospective residents have extended their initial visits to the building in order to see the process when a package is delivered or picked up. Observer Park includes Package Concierge in each unit’s amenity fee, allowing the community to recover the initial cost of the system.

Testimonial

“Package Concierge is a definite plus, and it helps us stand out,” said Michelle Gallagher, property manager at Observer Park. “Residents love knowing their deliveries have arrived safely, and that they can retrieve packages at the times most convenient for them. Prospective and current residents find great value in the system, giving it an important role in renewal decisions and new leases.”

The Importance of the USPS to Apartment Developers & Leasing Agents

By Georgianna W. Oliver, CEO

Did you know that according to statistics analyzed by Package Concierge almost 40% of packages are delivered by the United States Postal Service? As the sheer number of packages being delivered to apartments continues to grow, an apartment manager’s relationship with their local Postmaster has become more and more important. And now the USPS is delivering packages for Amazon on Sundays! A day when most leasing offices are not even open…

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From the beginning of construction where it is necessary to obtain local USPS Delivery Operations approval to use Package Concierge as an alternative to traditional parcel lockers for handling packages – to ongoing daily package delivery operations – it is essential to establish and maintain a cooperative relationship with your local Postal Service and all delivery carriers. This is not a one-sided relationship though…it is important to remember that as multifamily residential providers, you are a high density USPS customer. If you have specific delivery requirements for your property, they will make every attempt to honor your requests. Postal regulations governing the delivery of mail are not all applicable to packages – so local USPS Delivery Operations can be more creative in the delivery of packages.

As stated by Megan J. Brennan in her inaugural news release as Postmaster General, her strategy is to …”encompass better use of data and technology, speed the pace of product and service innovations, and continue process improvements throughout the organization”. Postmaster General Brennan added, “We can reinvigorate the way we serve our customers and the public by constantly looking forward as an organization, anticipating the changing needs of our customers, and adapting as quickly as we can to a competitive and evolving marketplace”. Package Concierge has experienced this cooperation first-hand with the U.S. Postal Service. The USPS has embraced delivering packages to this new electronic parcel locker product in apartment communities across the United States. We are all in this together with the shared goal of meeting end-user / consumer / resident needs by providing timely, secure and convenient package deliveries. We look forward to continuing to work together with you and with the USPS to achieve the highest level of service possible.

A Case Study for Student Housing

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Cambridge Oxford of New Haven, CT

84 units – PC7-70 L Shaped System

Overview

Cambridge Oxford is adjacent to Yale University and caters to a large student population. Because many students don’t have vehicles, they shop online for even basic necessities. As a result, property management was challenged by an inordinately high number of package deliveries on a daily basis. This influx required more than two hours a day just to log and deliver packages to residents.

Packages that could not be delivered had to be stored in the office or a common area, but that left items either inaccessible to students returning home at all hours, or unattended and unsecured. At times, packages went missing and Cambridge Oxford was liable for those costs. With residents’ trust at risk, Cambridge Oxford sought a more efficient and secure solution.

Our Solution

Cambridge Oxford wanted a solution that required no oversight or manual application. Initially, the management team looked into a package logging application, but determined it would require too much time and still not address the security issue. After seeing a locker system in an area gym, the property manager, Jessica Molson, thought a similar solution would fit Cambridge Oxford’s needs. She considered the Package Concierge locker system.

Cambridge Oxford had several criteria in mind when evaluating the system. One important consideration was experience with the residential market. Package Concierge is exclusively focused on the residential, multifamily industry and understands the unique needs of residents and property managers.

Impressed by the technology behind the Package Concierge system, as well as the high quality, attractive lockers, Cambridge Oxford’s decision ultimately came down to the user experience. The system had to be easy to use and reliable to ensure adoption by both residents and carriers. After seeing another Package Concierge system in action in nearby Stamford, the property manager felt confident that Package Concierge was the best solution for the Cambridge Oxford community.

Decision made, the property management team worked closely with Package Concierge to customize a 7ft x 13ft 70 compartment locker system in a L shape that provides residents with a secure, convenient package delivery experience.

Results

Cambridge Oxford receives 60 packages per day all of which are delivered without a hitch via the Package Concierge system. Leasing managers are able to focus on managing the property and ensuring resident services are running smoothly, while its student residents appreciate the convenience and security of this modern amenity. Most important, residents enjoy the peace of mind knowing that their packages – from toothpaste to textbooks – are there when they get home.

 Testimonial

“Students get a lot of packages. Not every package contains expensive items, but every package is valuable to the recipient. It’s important that they get the packages sent to them. Package Concierge allows us to deliver on our goal to provide convenient, reliable delivery of residents’ packages, with no manual oversight. It benefits everyone.” – Jessica Molson, property manager

Built To Last

Package Concierge, Inc. raises $1.3m

By: Georgianna W. Oliver, CEO

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Since inception, the team at Package Concierge has worked to develop the most comprehensive, high quality solution for our customers.

We know our customers are concerned about the bottom line, so when we first started, we sought out a low cost manufacturing option.

We began with manufacturing our lockers overseas in China. This low-end approach was quickly rejected by our customers due to the poor quality and the high cost of repairs, so we set about to develop a higher end domestic product manufactured in the United States.

Today, the Package Concierge locker system is built by Florence Manufacturing of Manhattan KS.

Our system is manufactured to the highest possible quality with enhanced and sophisticated technology.This technology allows us to receive and manage data from any software application, and has advanced reporting capabilities for tracking every delivery carrier and package from drop-off to pick up. We are able to remotely connect to any system to perform health checks and provide comprehensive customer service.

The current and future products developed by Package Concierge are built to last, but the investment we had to make to insure the long-term viability of our lockers and our software was a significant investment. The funds we raised help to cover the cost of the investment, and to build an experienced team to manage the day-to-day operations of the business. From installation to customer service, we have it all handled.

 The team at Package Concierge is proud that our brand is considered the highest quality in the industry. Not only do our customers require it, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Let the Apartment Search Commence

By: Chris Lowell

College ends with commencement. Huh? Isn’t college graduation the dramatic conclusion to a challenging academic career? The moment literally builds from the first day of preschool through the last day of finals. It is the end, not the beginning. Or so I thought. But now I understand why they call it commencement.

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Since graduating in May, I’ve begun a lot: graduate school, a part-time job, and a job hunt. It has been a busy, exciting time full of homework assignments, job expectations, networking events, and interviews. Having applied to eleven accounting firms, I attended multiple interviews each week for a month. Some interviews led to second round interviews and others did not, but eventually I received a job offer. All my hard work paid of in an instant. However, I quickly learned that finding a job pales in comparison to finding the right apartment.

I couldn’t wait to start looking for a place. Living at home was never an option. I began by narrowing down my search based on location. At first, I was interested in living downtown—somewhere near the heart of the city—but I changed my mind after realizing how little space lots of money buys. I was hopeful to find an apartment with sufficient space for small gatherings. Yet, there are places in the North End that couldn’t fit three guys around a TV to watch a football game. Needless to say, those were not an option. So I expanded my search to the surrounding burrows.

Most of these areas offered the space I wanted, and still featured a commute under thirty-minutes. With that being said, I was never hoping to find a luxurious bedroom with an en-suite bathroom. I just wanted to find an apartment that didn’t make me feel trapped inside a cave. Having a private entrance sounded nice, too.

I envisioned hardwood and exposed brick. Surprisingly, I found quite a few apartments with both. However, hardwood was more important to me—I learned how much dirt and beer ends up on the ground during college. I also wanted it to be plain and normally shaped. I saw quite a few apartments with annoying half-walls or built in shelves. The simpler, the better. I was eager to put my creativity to work.

My thoughts about the bedroom were similar. Closet space was never a priority, but having a closet sounded nice. I needed somewhere to hang my half dozen dress shirts and a couple suits. Mostly, I was interested in peace and quite. Thin walls were a definite concern.

Next, I focused on the amenities. I expected working appliances in the kitchen. Otherwise, I wasn’t too picky. I was more concerned with the available countertop space because I like to cook. I also hoped to find enough space for a breakfast bar or a high top table because I’m not ready to commit to a more traditional dining set.

In terms of shared amenities, I didn’t have an opinion until I saw some apartments. Living in a complex with a pool sounded cool, but the prices reflected these luxuries like the water reflects the sun on a hot day. It made me uncomfortable. The same goes for fitness centers, function rooms, and trash collection. I am willing to walk my trash to the dumpster if it saves me some money. I didn’t need to live somewhere with a fitness center, either. There happens to be one in my new office building. However, off-street parking was hugely important to me. I didn’t look anywhere without a parking space. Even if I didn’t need a car to get to work, I wanted one for the weekends.

Finally, I considered pulling in some roommates. I debated, “Do the pros outweigh the cons?” Roommates reduce rent and initial expenses related to buying furniture. In fact, some of my friends knew relatives who were willing to give away old couches and tables. Roommates also help to dilute the cable and Internet bill. But do these benefits outweigh nuisances like sharing a bathroom? And how do I feel about their friends coming over? These questions deserve serious consideration. I decided in favor of a roommate. I enjoy having someone to hang out with and talk to. Any financial benefits are just icing on the cake. Though I wish I had decided on this earlier. Having to restart my search with a roommate in mind created twice the work.

Searching for an apartment is tough mudding and equally exciting. I was exuberant to finally sign a lease for a place that met all of my requirements. It’s important to be picky. There’s nothing worse than paying for an apartment that you do not like. Try to balance open-mindedness and reason. This brings me to my final point: do not overspend!

I thought that I could spend a small fortune each month and still get by. Upon further consideration, I realized how important it is to save as much money as comfortably possible. First, life has a habit of not going according to plan. You never know when your car, computer, phone, etc. might break. Thus, it is important to maintain a flexible budget. Second, it is important to save up and buy a home. Investing in a house usually makes more sense than paying rent. Unfortunately, it can take years of saving to accumulate enough money to secure a mortgage.

THE MYTHS BEHIND PACKAGES!

Between FedEx and UPS, millions of packages are delivered each and every year. We are talking 20,30,40 million! That’s more than 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. 

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.

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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.