Can Package Solutions Help Property Managers Deliver What Residents Want?
Reducing operating costs has always been a top priority for property managers and building operators. A proven way to do this is to focus on resident retention. A survey by Avail showed that when residents renew their leases, landlords can save up to $2,500 that would otherwise be allocated toward finding new renters and making updates to units for rent.
The No. 1 factor residents use to determine whether they will renew their lease is how much value they are getting for the rent they are paying, a 2011-2021 Biennial Online Renter study found. Now, property managers are working hard to provide that value by offering unique amenities and services that make residents’ lives easier. These include smart home technologies to operate thermostats and light switches from their smart devices as well as on-site pet care and grooming. Additionally, one service that has emerged as a “must-have” in the last few years is reliable package management.
A 2022 National Multifamily Housing Council survey showed that the percentage of multifamily occupants who received at least three packages monthly increased from 55% to 76% in the past two years. This is why it has become such a priority for residents that their buildings offer package management solutions that can help ensure that these packages reach their doors safely.
Roxann Bacchus, vice president of asset management at CityStreet Residential in Houston, said when bringing in ancillary services to enhance the resident experience, it’s important for property managers to assess the market trends and demographics.
“With residents working from home, Amazon is one company that has seen a huge uptick in orders,” Bacchus said. “From an owner’s perspective, we know that the trend is for more people to order online, so there will be an influx of packages coming into the community. We want to make sure we’re not bogging down staff with package delivery while providing a service that our residents can participate in.”
While package rooms and storage lockers are options to streamline the flow of deliveries, Bacchus said that for her properties, she wanted to bring in a service that could provide a direct hand-off of packages to residents and better avoid the issues of lost or stolen packages.
She collaborated with Fetch, a package management service where residents can use an app to schedule package delivery. Once they get a notification that their package has arrived, they can use the app to schedule their delivery within a selection of two-hour delivery windows to receive their packages.
She said that from an operations standpoint, these types of ancillary services can allow building staff to spend less time sorting packages and more time meeting renters’ needs.
“The way to measure the importance of a service is whether it enables property managers and building staff to be able to focus on what they’re there for, which is managing the property,” Bacchus said. “The residents are happy when the team is able to do what they were hired to do — to ensure that they have a great experience when they walk through the door or are calling on the phone.”
Keri Denson, regional manager at property management company ZRS Management, said that bringing in Fetch allowed one of the company's properties, a multifamily development with 364 units, to save $54K within the first year.
“Before Fetch, all week long, we had one person dealing with questions and searching for and delivering packages, even staying late to meet someone at the door for a delivery,” Denson said.
Once Denson’s building started using Fetch, however, it was able to reallocate that team member’s time to focus on leasing, customer service and resident engagement.
Denson said among the metrics property managers and landlords can use to address residents’ needs are online reviews of the building. When she implemented Fetch, she saw more positive reviews appear on the property’s site, which may have led to a number of lease renewals.
“It was due to us promoting it and us believing in it,” Denson said. “We started feeling more like a community and less like an apartment.”
Denson said property managers can also look to adoption rates to assess the effectiveness of ancillary services.
She said that at one ZRS Management property, Fetch was introduced in Q4 2018 and in the first few months, 85% of residents were actively using the service. Within four months, the resident retention for this property increased by 22%. For ZRS Management, adoption efforts are the most successful when the community believes in the service and helps encourage residents to use it.
Bacchus offered some additional advice about searching for the right ancillary services to retain renters. She said that the popularity will be based on the type of property as well as the location and resident demographics. Overall, however, it’s about helping residents feel comfortable with where they live.
“It’s really important for residents to feel that community aspect whenever they're looking for a multifamily site,” Bacchus said. “Providing services to the residents that they can participate in is what helps them feel like they’re at home.”
This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Fetch Package. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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