by Jennifer Chestnutt
The leasing office phone rings and the leasing associate already knows who it is. Karen in Apt. 204, who is anxiously awaiting a package, and this is her third call of the morning to see whether the delivery truck has arrived. She is growing more impatient by the minute and imposing that frustration on the leasing team.
Promises have been made to contact Karen as soon as the package arrives, which only leaves the office team beholden to the resident, and subject to her rapidly escalating impatience. In her fourth phone call to the office, Karen shares her suspicion that the leasing agent is just lazy and disorganized, and failed to notify her of the arrival of her package – which most surely has been delivered by now. In her fifth phone call, Karen claims that she has received a delivery confirmation, and contends that the office team’s inability to locate her package can only mean that the package was either lost by an incompetent staff member or stolen by an unscrupulous associate.
It’s not even noon, yet.
Welcome to the world of package management for on-site associates in the apartment industry. Karen’s story is an all-too-common occurrence for office teams, and she is only one resident. The stress, culpability, and even abuse that associates are subjected to while simply attempting to accommodate residents’ package needs is substantial. Package management already accounts for a considerable portion of their workday, and the volume is only increasing.
It’s not the job they signed up for, and over time it takes a toll not only on employee productivity but also morale.
Unfortunately, package rooms and parcel lockers don’t provide an adequate solution. Often, they simply add a step to the process, an unnecessary opportunity for stress, and cause more problems than they resolve. Unless on-site teams are removed from the package equation entirely, package management will continue to be a source of friction between associates and residents and an unnecessary source of strife for team members.
Replace the Middleman
Office teams have historically served as the intermediaries between delivery services and residents, receiving packages on behalf of residents, submitting arrival notifications, and facilitating distribution. It was a time-consuming job 10 years ago, but the emergence of e-commerce over the past decade has turned the task into a liability.
Most multifamily communities lack the dedicated storage space to adequately manage the current package volume. Package arrivals overflow package rooms and locker systems, which means packages arriving at full storage facilities are left in the open and subject to damage or theft. And that means office teams are going to hear from Karen.
But what if on-site teams weren’t involved in package management at all? Many operators have turned to a third-party package management system that receives and stores packages off-site and schedules delivery to residents’ doors. Office teams are no longer involved in the process, so they no longer field package questions or resident complaints. By outsourcing package management and separating that service from the purview of on-site teams, operators can simultaneously improve employee productivity and reputation management.
Outsourcing Leads to Happier Associates
With the burden of package management lifted, on-site team members can focus on their primary responsibilities of caring for residents and leasing apartment homes. Imagine eliminating a primary source of complaints about your work, while simultaneously freeing up time to do your job better.
The result is a renewed focus on customer service that obviously benefits residents, but also drastically improves the job satisfaction and productivity of employees. When associates can engage with residents in a positive context, resolve resident concerns and have the time to devote to high levels of customer care, they generally see greater value in their work. In turn, they view their careers, as well as their roles in the resident experience, in a more positive light.
The focus for operators is typically on resident satisfaction, but the resident experience is a direct reflection of the job satisfaction of on-site teams. By shifting that focus to the happiness of associates, and eliminating no-win responsibilities like on-site package management, property managers can retain employees and create a more positive environment for everyone.
Editor Note: No Karens were harmed or meme’d in the writing of this blog.