Are you ready for the winter holidays!? December is an exciting, but equally chaotic time of year for most of us. If you’re a condo manager or board member, the holidays can be twice as stressful. Not only do you have to buy gifts and coordinate dinners, but you have to prepare for the influx of packages, complaints, and emergencies in your building.
We understand what it’s like caring for others during this time, and we want to help simplify the holidays for you and your community.
“The onslaught of package deliveries was bad before the pandemic, but it’s been exacerbated in the past year as people started ordering everything online, from dish soap to dresses. Add to the mix typical holiday shopping and extraordinary shipping delays, and you have a recipe for a very confused and cluttered package room,” writes The New York Times.
In one recent article, a co-op tenant expresses their frustration about the building’s current setup. The doorman, who attends to the lobby, must also retrieve packages from the storage area when a resident comes to collect a delivery. The package room is often overloaded, making it hard for him to find items, and some people don’t pick up their boxes for days. As a result, there’s no one watching the lobby for long periods of time, and this problem will only get worse as Christmas purchases increase.
This problem is not unique. But it is one that does need to be addressed. Some lobbies are bombarded with all types of boxes and envelopes. They simply don’t have the space to store everything, so they get left out around the front desk. It wouldn’t be hard to steal an item or two if someone wanted to.
Based on our own data, we see that there is a noticeable increase in package deliveries between November and January. In 2020, one building received 3,944 packages in November, 5,221 packages in December, and 4,188 packages in January. Items were dropped off less frequently in February and March (3,529 and 3,445 packages respectively), but we can see that deliveries are continuing to rise, regardless of the month.
To add to the problem, not all residents get their items right away. We analyzed the data from the same condo building and found that while 43% of people do collect their items in a day or less, 11% leave their packages sitting for over a week. Hundreds of packages are sitting unclaimed in the storage room during the holidays. Can you imagine how challenging it will be for concierge to find one of those items after a couple of weeks?
Building staff can’t be expected to care for packages and attend to their other duties as well. But there are some options that management can consider. While there probably isn’t enough time to implement these solutions this year, you can take steps now so that you’re ready for the rush next year.
Start by creating a new policy for packages. Give owners a deadline for package pickup. It may be possible to charge a fee to residents if items are left with the front desk for more than a week.
Second, make sure residents know that their packages have arrived. You can do this using a package management system. Condo Control has a feature that allows staff to scan packages using just their smartphone and Condo Control app. The app will recognize the recipient’s details on the package and sync with the unit file to quickly log the package. Then, an automatic alert is sent to the resident letting them know their item is ready to be picked up. Security or concierge can also make notes about where in the storage room the package has been placed if it needs to be put away.
Finally, storage lockers are excellent package management solutions. They are secure, keep buildings clean and organized, and they free up a lot of time for building staff. Couriers are responsible for logging package details as opposed to concierge. Lockers are an investment, but residents may be willing to pay for such a useful item.
The holidays are for celebrating, which means there are tons of parties going on. As a result, condo buildings may see (and hear) more visitors.
Amenities like party and game rooms are in higher demand during December. But if residents aren’t able to secure a space, then they might decide to cram their celebration into their 1-bedroom unit. The noise gets louder and louder as the clock approaches midnight, and neighbors become angry.
Our clients received an exceptionally high number of noise complaints last January, likely because Covid restrictions made it hard to have a party anywhere else. 53 noise complaints were logged in January 2021. Conversely, only 16 complaints were logged in January 2020.
The amenity booking process needs to be easy; if you’re asking residents to get a certified check before they can book the party room, you may have already discouraged some residents from pursuing this option. Instead, explore the possibility of accepting online payments in combination with online amenity bookings.
Residents can easily request bookings based on calendar availability. The manager or admin has complete control over costs, time slots, capacity, etc. They also have the option to review, approve, and track bookings.
Not everyone will want or need the party room; but that doesn’t mean small parties can’t be disruptive. Send out a friendly reminder to all residents before the holidays reminding them of any noise and nuisance rules.
If complaints do come in, neighbors will still expect the condo to take action. Follow any violation processes required by the association or corporation as soon as an incident occurs. Depending on the steps required and actions allowed in your building, a violation tracking system may come in handy. A formal but fair warning letter may be enough to correct rowdy behavior.
And, if there is a tenant who has caused problems throughout the holiday, it will be easier to implement stricter repercussions if you’ve taken the proper steps to correct the issue from the beginning.
Keep the person who submitted the complaint informed as well about what was done, and what the next steps are if the issue continues. This way, they know management has done something to help them.
Don’t forget about the décor
Many buildings take pride in adding a little holiday cheer to the lobby, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But management must remember that even decorations pose some potential issues. Trees and lights must be placed strategically to minimize injuries and accidents.
- Always choose decorations that are flame-retardant, non-combustible and non-conductive. Never hang anything from sprinkler heads or pipes
- Some Christmas plants (holly, mistletoe and poinsettias) can seriously harm children and pets if ingested. If you have real plants, make sure they are placed high off the ground
- Christmas trees, real and fake, should not be close to heat sources such as radiators, TVs, and heating ducts. Artificial trees should clearly state that they are fire-retardant before you purchase them. Metal and aluminum trees conduct electricity very easily, so don’t decorate them with lights or any other electrical products
- Indoor and outdoor lights are not the same. Make sure you have the right lights for the job. And, inspect lights each year to make sure there are no frayed wires or defects
- Open flames should be avoided. Use LED candles instead
- Don’t forget to inspect carbon monoxide and smoke alarms to ensure they are working properly before the holidays begin
The winter holidays are supposed to be a joyous time, but they don’t always feel that way. Management has a lot to do before they can celebrate the season. We hope that we’ve given you some ideas about what you can do to stay ahead of the holiday rush and keep everyone (including yourself) happy and merry.
Finally, on behalf of everyone at Condo Control, we wish you a memorable and safe holiday season, and a prosperous new year.