Package Management

Proptech: ‘Fees’ is Not a Four-Letter Word

by Joe Summers

When multifamily companies explore new technologies or services, upfront costs remain one of the most prohibitive hurdles standing in the way of implementation. Fee-based proptech often faces an even greater reluctance when it comes to adoption. After all, because budgets are carefully planned out a year in advance, apartment operators can’t just indiscriminately add line items to their monthly operating budgets to absorb the costs of a new service. 

Or can they? 

Consumers have grown accustomed to paying monthly subscription fees for everything from streaming platforms to food delivery services and exercise apps. So, why are apartment managers still hesitant to deploy solutions that include a similar pass-through fee to renters, especially if it’s for a service that improves the resident experience? 

Given consumer comfort levels with convenience fees, residents probably wouldn’t bat an eye.

One area of operations where property managers are turning to such fee-based solutions is package management. The benefits for operators are clear. Third-party package services offer off-site package storage and eliminate the burden and liability of package management from onsite teams. 

The hurdle facing many multifamily companies is the fact that they recently bit the proverbial bullet and paid for expensive package lockers, making them less than eager to pay for yet another package solution even when their existing systems prove inadequate. Operators have also been historically reluctant to ask residents to pay yet another fee. But the consumer culture is changing, and “fees” isn’t the four-letter word it once was. 

At progressive properties that have transitioned to third-party package management, onsite teams no longer receive resident packages, package lockers have been decommissioned and package rooms have typically been repurposed. The remaining package options are simple. The choice posed to residents is whether they want to travel to an off-site package facility to retrieve packages themselves or pay a nominal monthly fee to have their packages delivered directly to their doors. 

In this age of convenience, it’s not a difficult decision.

Oversight of Their Investment

Of course, if residents are asked to pay a fee for their package services, they should have at least a modicum of control over the process. Third-party, direct-to-door package management solutions provide renters with complete oversight of their deliveries. 

Depending on the particular market, as well as the day of the week, residents of communities that leverage a direct-to-door delivery service can choose between three to four different delivery windows to receive their packages. They can have their packages held while they are out of town. They can pre-order furniture and household items and schedule them for delivery on move-in day at their new community. They can order Christmas gifts and have them held off-site. And it’s all conveniently controlled through a mobile platform. 

Service Layers Don’t Lead to Delays

Savvy online shoppers may question why they pay for expedited delivery through services like Amazon Prime if their packages are ultimately couriered by another company. Residents may incorrectly assume that the layers of service represent a delay in delivery. The reality is that because third-party package storage facilities are considered commercial entities, they get advanced package arrivals and in larger batches. That priority status in turn enables third-party services to get packages to apartment communities often earlier than they would arrive through a traditional carrier identified as a residential address.

With third-party package management, operators are relieved of package responsibilities and get to provide their residents with a package solution that isn’t limited to leasing office hours and package locker capacity. And, through the use of pass-through fees, they don’t have to absorb the expense. Renters get their deliveries on time, on their selected schedules and at their discretion, leading to increased satisfaction and an improved resident experience. 

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