Student Housing Business

JAN-FEB 2018

Student Housing Business is the voice of the student housing industry.

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PACKAGE MANAGEMENT January/February 2018 68 tions when it comes to this issue." Petersen says. Also hotly debated is whether to pass on the cost of package man- agement and delivery to students. The Preiss Company is rolling out a new beta package delivery ser- vice in the first quarter of 2018. The service will notify residents that they have a package through The Preiss Company's mobile app, then prompt them to choose whether they would like the pack- age delivered to their door for a small fee. "This will allow residents who may not be able to pick up their package during business hours to ensure their package is deliv- ered to them on demand," Byrley says. "This service will also drive ancillary revenue for our prop- erties and provide an additional concierge type service for our resi- dents. We've yet to see anyone else in the industry offer this, and we're excited to be on the cutting edge of package technology." Byrley says The Preiss Company, which views its role in the chain of delivery as a conduit between the carrier and the resident, includes its packages policies as an adden- dum in every resident's lease agreement. Scott Duckett, chief operat- ing officer of Campus Advan- tage, says his company's role and responsibility to get packages into the hands of residents has evolved exponentially in the past couple of years. At a handful of proper- ties, Campus Advantage has intro- duced automated package rooms where carriers access and leave packages, and students come and pick them up themselves at any hour of the day. Duckett says the goal is to have this service at all of its properties within the next six to 12 months. "We view this as an amenity we offer because it is such a big part of our resident-staff interaction," he says. "It's something that we can tout to our residents and have it be part of a sales process." Duckett says Campus Advan- tage is currently evaluating the viability of a package or mail ser- vice fee. Storage space is another concern in the package-delivery lifecycle — all these incoming parcels have to be placed somewhere until resi- dents can pick them up. Whether that's a locker, a room or the front office, package storage eats up square footage. "Having enough physical space to accommodate the large volume of packages remains an issue at some properties," Petersen says. "Most newer communities take into account the need for a des- ignated storage area for mail and packages, but many older com- munities did not plan for the same considerations. For new builds, this means thinking about the physical space that a communi- ty will need to store packages, as well as underwriting that staffing and software costs are factored into the budgeting process." "We have really had to change how we feel about storage and how we divide our staff in the buildings to best meet the needs of the students more efficiently," Callison adds. "For example, we try to build a receptionist desk in our lobbies so tenants can request their package there as opposed to entering our leasing office and dis- turbing our leasing staff." He offers others faced with package holding and distribut- ing issues the following advice: "Ensure you are maximizing stor- age in your leasing offices and treating this challenge like the customer service opportunity it is. Many students don't think of package systems as an amenity, but with so many packages being delivered daily, finding an elegant solution could not only free up your staff but also deliver an ame- nity that will be used by 100 per- cent of your tenants." Solutions to ease the burden of that final phase of delivery — the last mile — are being explored in many industries today, not just student and multifamily housing. Oliver anticipates the future will bring about more last-mile tech- nologies. She also foresees a time when there's a conscientious shift in buying behavior. "I think we're going to see more cultural changes because of the environmental side of this," she says. "How can you justify having so many things delivered? Do you really need an Amazon delivery for an ink pen? All those pack- ing materials and driving several miles to get it to you? I think there's going to be a lot of light shined on that in the next few years." SHB Latch provides keyless access systems and promotes its products as tools to help managers more easily allow package deliveries. GREYSTAR PARTNERS WITH AMAZON In July 2017, Amazon announced a new service called The Hub, a package locker system aimed at multifamily communities. Owner- operators using the lockers include AvalonBay Communities, Bozzuto Group, Equity Residential and Greystar. Greystar says Amazon will install The Hub systems at both its conventional and student proper- ties. The locker systems are already operational at several properties. Modular lockers engineered to fit specifically into apartment spaces, Hub holds packages delivered by any carrier (and from any sender — not just Amazon) and sends residents a message with an access code once the package is delivered. Greystar says it will install the lockers at approximately 125 conven- tional and student sites over the next few months. New, ground-up projects and renovations are typically easiest, says Greystar's Michelle Fuller, managing director of real estate, but she adds there are ample opportunities at existing properties as well. From the apartment management perspective, Hub is self-sufficient. It excuses Greystar staff from the package acceptance and distribution process and offers 24/7 customer support, which will allow residents and on-site teams to contact Amazon directly with any delivery con- cerns. Fuller says Amazon has a carrier management team to work through any issues, including failure to pick up packages or damages to lockers. Amazon provides consultation and recommendations regarding proposed locations on property, prior to installation. The lockers have to be placed in an area that is accessible 24/7, and they must include Braille keypads. Locker sizes are customized based on the size of the property and its volume and typical weight and size of packages. "Amazon conducted a study and indicated that an average apart- ment community receives about 15 packages per 100 units," Fuller says. "This volume can take a staff up to three hours a day in manag- ing their package-management system. Student communities are see- ing even more efficiencies since the package volume can be consider- ably higher." Fuller says Greystar likes Amazon's offering because it allows site teams to focus on customer service and other core needs and not spend all day sorting and delivering packages. "There are also intangible benefits, such as providing package ser- vice 24/7, improved customer relations and overall operational effi- ciencies." —Lynn Peisner

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