Holiday packages can create headaches for property managers and property teams so some are turning to other solutions to handle the package volume.
By Doug Pike
The holiday season is known for its hustle and bustle, but for multifamily property teams trying to keep pace with the deluge of package deliveries, hustle doesn’t begin to describe it.
As e-commerce growth continues, the seasonal package surge easily overwhelms onsite associates tasked with package management. Entire workdays are consistently consumed with receiving, logging, storing and distributing resident deliveries.
For property teams, the annual timing of the package spike couldn’t be worse. Package volume soars just as team members start taking time off to be with their families and the onsite presence is limited. The situation leaves management companies with limited options. Due to current labor challenges and multi-industry competition for seasonal help, increasing manpower isn’t a quick and easy solution.
Physical solutions like package lockers and package rooms take time to install, as well, and prove no match for holiday package volume. But multifamily communities are finding success with third-party, offsite package management solutions that coordinate with residents to schedule delivery direct-to-door. And, unlike hiring and physical package system installs, third-party management systems can be implemented almost instantly.
The team at Bridge at Waters Park, a 442-home multifamily community in Austin, Texas, experienced instant relief when it deployed a third-party package management solution.
“It definitely opened up more time for us to be able to do our jobs and also to plan events and do the things that we need to do. We experienced the relief right away, not having to check in 100 packages a day,” said Liz Derouen, Community manager at Bridge at Waters Park. “It was mainly leasing that took care of package management, but we would bring in everyone to help when it got really busy. We had to dedicate team members to just checking in and organizing packages, and then getting them for the resident when they would come in to retrieve them. That really took up a lot of our time.”
Derouen said Bridge at Waters Park briefly considered installing package lockers but quickly identified the scalability shortcomings of onsite package infrastructure.
“We opted not to go the package locker route because we had heard so many nightmares about that, too. They get full, then packages get left in the open for someone to take,” Derouen said. “Our teams would have to go out and collect, log and sort those overflow packages anyway. It wasn’t a solution that would take the burden away from our teams.”
Multifamily operators are opting for third-party package management not only for its immediate implementation, but also due to its scalability. Organizations are looking to avoid the impact of seasonal online consumerism spikes, which include consumer-centric events like Prime Day and post-holiday gift card spending. But they’re also seeking to future-proof themselves against current and projected e-commerce increases. The offsite storage aspect of third-party package management effectively erases the storage capacity issues and clutter created by untenable package volume levels.
According to a report from Insider Intelligence, overall e-commerce growth is projected at 9.3% for 2023. In 2022, clients for third-party package management company Fetch saw a nearly 20% increase in package volume during November and December, compared to the same period in 2021.
“Seasonal shopping surges have always presented a challenge for the industry at the property level, but e-commerce trends aren’t slowing and increasing package volume is now an everyday reality,” said Michael Patton, Fetch CEO. “Package management responsibilities are taxing on onsite associates who weren’t hired to deal with residents’ deliveries. That’s not what they signed up for. But the growing package volume commands an inordinate amount of their time. We’re already at a breaking point for the industry, where operators choosing to handle packages onsite must decide whether to throw more people and square footage at the problem, or sacrifice resident services.”
Empowering residents to coordinate their delivery creates invaluable autonomy within a largely dependent living experience while freeing up significant time for team members and enabling them to focus on their primary responsibilities. The move has shown to increase satisfaction and retention rates for residents and associates alike, but also has ancillary benefits. The transition from onsite package management to third-party solutions also creates the opportunity to repurpose and leverage former storage spaces. Derouen said her property reclaimed leasing office space previously dedicated to package storage, making her team more efficient.
“There was kind of a domino effect when we made the switch. It wasn’t just a matter of convenience for our team, it also provided us with a better working space,” Derouen said. “It’s the little things that make an overall difference at the community level.”
During the holiday season, it’s the little things that alleviate stress and lift spirits that can make all the difference.
About the author:
Doug Pike is the content manager at LinnellTaylor Marketing.