Package Management Solutions for Multifamily Properties: A Guide for Property Managers

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Black Friday online sales get longer and longer each year. 2022 is going to be no exception. Black Friday trends this year show more and more stores starting their super-sales earlier and ending them later, possibly through December. In addition to the extension of this shopping season, shipping carriers like USPS and FedEx are still struggling with logistics challenges. In 2021, demand for shipping exceeded its capacity by 7.2 million packages, resulting in more demand for last-mile package management, tracking, and updates from third parties like property managers, who accept packages on behalf of shoppers.

 

What does this mean for property managers? A higher package volume to manage for longer, and more questions to answer.

Over the last two years, many solutions have become available for the multifamily space to manage package volumes all year. The Notifii team put together a list of the most popular package management solutions, who they are for, and how much they cost to help prepare your property for this upcoming shopping season.

 

Key decision-making factors

When evaluating a mail room management software, property managers should answer four questions. These will help determine what kind of tool would be ideal for their property.

  1. How much space do you have available?
  2. What sort of package volume do you handle at your property?
  3. How much time does your team have to manage packages? 
  4. What volume of miscellaneous deliveries do you manage?

 

Space Available

Where does your team store packages? Do you have a dedicated space within your leasing office? Do you have the real estate to dedicate an outdoor space to lockers? What sized space do you have for over-sized packages?

 

 

Package Volumes

Man-drinking-coffee-looking-at-phone

The average resident orders 2-4 packages per month in the United States. This varies by income level, region, and gender. With this in mind, come prepared with the number of packages you see on average per month. (Pro-tip: plan for 2x this volume for November & December).

If you can, consider how many oversized packages you receive a year. You can assume more of these oversized packages are likely to be ordered within a month of a resident first moving in. On average, this would be 3-4 oversized packages per year per unit.

 

Your Team Preferences

This is possibly the most important consideration. The workload of property management can quickly become unmanageable. Your team is juggling so many duties. In the past year, churn for property managers has increased to 70%. According to a Swift Bunny Study, 30% of property managers say their workload is unmanageable, and 27% say they do not have the tools to adequately complete their work. 

Your solution should address these issues. If your package volumes are average and your on-site team prefers not to touch the packages at all - consider lockers. If you have high volumes, and your team would like to simply just save some time, consider software. Automations are available in nearly all the solutions on the market today. Balance your budget, space, and employee sentiments to find the right solution to lower workload.

 

Miscellaneous Delivery Volumes

Apps like DoorDash, Uber Eats, Instacart, and more have increased the number of miscellaneous same-day deliveries of food, groceries, and goods. If your community has many residents who frequently receive these sorts of deliveries, factor them into the equation. Porch pirates do not only steal boxed packages. If a resident receives a same-day order from a local retailer or restaurant, they expect the same level of security they expect for their packages.

 

 

Solution Types

woman-smiling-and-looking-at-laptopPackage Lockers

Average Cost:

$6,000 -$20,000 total (Varies by # of units + monthly service fees of $1.50-$6.00 per compartment) 

Best For: 150-200 units

Pros:

Package lockers have grown in popularity in the multifamily space since the pandemic lockdowns in 2020. Since package lockers are nearly entirely hands-off for property managers, they reduce the workload for on-site teams and allow residents access to their deliveries 24/7. Most locker systems include instant text and email notifications to residents as well as reminders to ensure lockers do not stay full for an extended period of time. Properties that have taken this approach typically have ample real estate to dedicate to lockers, an average of 2 packages per unit per month, a team that prefers not to manage packages at all, and little to no miscellaneous deliveries.

Cons:

While there are significant labor cost savings from utilizing package lockers, management companies incur high initial setup costs, real estate costs, and continuing monthly fees that vary based on package volume that may not offset the original labor cost. For example, in peak delivery months like November and December, your property would need to pay more to manage more packages on behalf of your residents. You are also limited to the number of lockers you initially purchased and would still need additional real estate (and possibly additional software) to manage overflow or oversized packages. Lockers also generally require third-party support and maintenance for the hardware in addition to cloud software. If lockers jam or the software is unresponsive, your team is reliant on an off-site team to resolve the issues.

Popular Suppliers: Luxor One, Package Concierge, Amazon Lockers

 

Built-In Property Management

Average Cost: Varies by # of Units & Software Used

Best for # units: 200-400

Pros

Using your existing property management software has one obvious benefit - you get to use fewer tools to get more tasks done. Many of the most popular property management software tools, such as Yardi, MRI, Appfolio, and Entrada have a “light” version of a package management tool built in. If your version of the software includes SMS messaging, you can type in or scan in packages from the software and send instant notifications to your residents via SMS and email to notify them of packages arriving. Your resident roster will already be available and up-to-date so matching packages to the right residents should be easy, along with reporting.

Cons

The package management tools included in Lease Management Software generally a “Software Lite” version of a dedicated package management software. They often lack the features to tackle packages that require special handling, unique deliveries, or self-service log-outs. If your community receives higher volumes of packages, this may become tedious. Property Management Software generally bills per user in addition to per month as well, adding costs to your existing system. Not all property management software plans include SMS messaging. To send out these types of notifications you may need to transition what plan of the software you are utilizing or add costs per notification you send out to your residents. Be sure to check if your property management software supports customizing your package notifications, as well. Many use a default message that lacks clear instructions on pick-up times, locations, and procedures.

Popular Suppliers:  Yardi, MRI, Entrada

 

Security Software

Average Cost: $300-400 per month, per property

Best for # units: 300+

Pros

Security software and front desk programs generally include package acceptance tools within them. While these tools are generally used in corporate settings, they offer a variety of features that work well for multifamily. The information gathered upon acceptance and distribution captures a decent amount of information to establish a clear chain of custody of packages. They typically also include features that note package drop-offs in addition to log-outs in the event that your on-site team delivers packages to residents’ front door. Unlike many of the other tools, security software also notifies your team about packages awaiting pick up along with your residents. 

Cons

A clear issue with security software is wasted costs. Many of the features of security software do not apply to all types of multifamily properties. These work best in high rises, where traffic flow throughout the building is heavily regulated or in student housing scenarios. They often do not include automated SMS reminders to your residents, slowing down package pick-up times. These tools generally do not support OCR and require additional hardware for logging packages in and logging packages out, such as barcode scanners, smart locks, and signature pads.

Popular Suppliers: Envoy, Butterfly MX

Notifii-Track-setting-options-and-alerts

 

Package Management Software

Average Cost: $99-300 per month (Varies by # of Units)

Best for # units: 250-600

Pros

Dedicated package management software, like Notifii Track, offers the most user-friendly approach to mail room management. These tools generally do not require additional hardware. Package logging can be done right from any mobile device using the app. Track’s OCR tool will detect all pertinent package information such as tracking number, resident name, unit number, and carrier and save it to a record in the cloud. As soon as the log is captured and submitted, your residents receive notifications to come pick up their packages. These sorts of tools also allow you to customize more of the resident experience. Customize notification templates, notification send times, what information is required to log each package, and even add nicknames to your resident list. Our time studies for Notifii Track show a 72% decrease in time spent logging packages for our customers who switch from manual package management. Track also offers integrations with popular property management software tools.

Cons

Package management software does require a team member to scan packages in or for you to turn on kiosk mode so carriers can do so. If you plan to use package management software in addition to your existing property management software you do incur an additional cost to add on Notifii, or any other package too. 

Popular Suppliers:  Notifii Track, PackageX Receive, Qtrak

Get Started with Notifii Track →

 

 

The Bottom Line: How to Prepare for the Holiday Season

We only have a few weeks left until “Extended Black Friday” aka “Shop Early” season begins. According to a study done by 2nd Kitchen, package management is no longer amenity residents consider “nice to have” but now a necessity and expected service. 

Evaluate your properties’ needs and prepare your package room for the upcoming season with “Holiday Season Package Room Checklist”!