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Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

ARCHIVE ARTICLE

Package Problem: Virtues of a Virtual Doorman

Before the pandemic hit, we had a few clients who were having problems with the rising volume of package deliveries. There were issues about access at the front door, access in the package room and the security level. During the pandemic, we certainly saw that increase, and our buildings had added costs from additional security, increased insurance, increased materials and increased costs from vendors.

 

Given that we’re a dedicated customer of a specific virtual security doorman company, we approached them and explained what was happening with our clients. The company, without much negotiating, reduced the price. The clients that we did this for were very, very happy. Moving forward, we are indebted to this one specific vendor, which is good, because even though in the short term they were hurt a little bit from a revenue standpoint, in the future we are more inclined to refer that business to our clients. I think it’s a win-win for everyone. 

 

All of our buildings need to control the flow of packages coming in. Some have the appropriate space for storage and can build one out. But again, this is a service that is here to stay, and we’re hearing more and more of our clients looking for a package delivery system that works, whether they’re at home or whether they’re in the office. It’s really just added convenience. At the height of the pandemic, there were packages, multiple packages per day, per unit. For example, in one of our buildings, we created a package room under the stairwell. Then we installed a virtual doorman package system in that building. 

 

The need for this service isn’t going away. There really aren’t that many solutions for packages and security – either a live concierge person or as an add-on to a part-time doorman. There are a few vendors out there that are very, very good, and I’m sure there are going to be more to come. Plenty of our clients have 24/7 doormen and typically don’t have the virtual doorman system, but the ones that have part-time doormen can certainly utilize this and in upcoming proposals, they’re all asking about this kind of service.

 

In a way, this story is also about relationships with vendors. We have a lot of vendors that we work with and a lot of preferred vendors. We manage over 8,000 units with over 17,000 residents. We have good relationships with insurance, with plumbers and electricians, with any type of maintenance related to our buildings. Given our dedication, given that we’re able to pay invoices on time, and we’re responsive and we communicate, we’re able to go to these type of vendors and say, “Hey, we’re in a little bit of a bind,” or “we need someone at the last minute, can you help us?” For the most part, I would say 99% of the time, our vendors say, “Hey, no problem. We’ll do whatever you ask.”

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