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Handle Texas Condominium Holiday Package OverloadThe most wonderful time of the year is around the corner. Online shopping has become a popular way to find the perfect gift, a trend that is also true among Texas residents in your high-rise condominium building. It saves time, money and lets shoppers avoid crowded malls – all from the comfort of their couch. The biggest question people have about online shopping is, of course, “Will it get there on time, and will it get there safely?”
That’s where the front desk staff at your high-rise building comes in. “Buildings that used to get 20 packages a day may now get 70 to 80 packages through the front desk each day, thanks to the success of Amazon, especially Amazon Prime,” explains Jeff Edelstein, director of residential hospitality at FirstService Residential. “During the holidays, that may increase by 150 to 200 packages a day. Logging in packages and ensuring signed delivery can become a full-time job. Every building is unique, but they all follow a standard practice regarding packages: Log them in, store them securely, and get them delivered.”
The delivery companies’ processes can also further complicate package management and tracking within a high-rise. “The United States Postal Service will generally only make one delivery within a building, and that tends to be to the mailroom,” says Edelstein. “Amazon also uses UPS. Other companies use DHL or FedEx. So they all arrive at different times and areas if your building has a mailroom and a loading dock.”
How can your condo association manage all of that volume?
Sometimes, you need to bring in extra help. “The front desk needs to be vigilant at all times by standing, greeting and engaging guests. They can’t be looking down to enter packages for hours on end,” Edelstein says. “So the answer may be to engage your concierge to help log in packages, if you have a concierge.”
Another option is to bring in a temporary worker. “You really need to bring in someone as a swing shift person. Most front desks have an 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift and a 4 p.m. to midnight shift. The swing shift worker would overlap both, usually working 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. or 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. They can assist with other front desk functions like answering the phone, but they will primarily manage package login and pickup during that extra busy period,” Edelstein explains. An experienced property management company will help you find the right people for your high-rise condominium’s staffing needs.

How can we help?
As just one example, FirstService Residential worked with Sunset Harbor Condo to temporarily bring in an extra person from November 1 to January 1 to help log in holiday packages since they were already having trouble with increased volume. For example, Edelstein estimates that about 35% of the buildings he works with need additional help. Another 45% need help sourcing a full-time receiving person who handles packages and deliveries to the building.
Where will you store packages?
So you may have the staff for package overload in place, but what about storage space? Most buildings have secure rooms for packages, but they can fill up on regular days, especially with extra holiday traffic. Edelstein says his associates often come up with new, creative ways to handle holiday overflow.
“One team built a wooden box with a padlock – on wheels to assist in delivery. In smaller, higher-end buildings, we can drop them securely in lobbies or via private elevators, provided the residents have signed a waiver that there’s no liability on the part of the association or management,” he says. He estimates that 90% of high-rises require people to come to the front desk to pick up packages. They are usually required to show ID and sign for them. 
How will residents know they have a package?
Communication is critical during this process. You need to have a fail-proof communication plan that allows you to reach out directly to residents. For example, FirstService Residential Connect allows your front desk staff to send alerts to residents via email or text (for those who opt in) to let them know their packages are waiting to be picked up. This is more efficient than leaving voicemails or notices in mailboxes, or knocking on doors to let residents know they have packages waiting.
Aside from proper staffing, secure storage and smooth communication to facilitate pickups, Edelstein says that organization is the most critical component of proper package management, and that is true year round. “Take a step back and look at the process. Is the best person logging the packages? Are they detail oriented and getting the tracking numbers right? Are they making the right phone calls so people know they are waiting?” He adds, “We provide that technology for a reason. Technology helps with accountability and tracking of what happens with every package. Just like cashiers do with their drawers, we conduct a package reconciliation at the beginning and end of every shift to help us keep track of what we have. It’s all about organization.”

As more Americans rely on two-day delivery for everything from groceries to prescriptions, package management is going to become a more critical task for your high-rise building, especially during the holiday season. Let us partner with you to make sure you have the right people on your team, that your process is organized and you are clearly communicating expectations about package pickup.

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Monday November 26, 2018