We’ve all been there when working for Amazon Flex. You roll up to the dock, start scanning, and you notice apartment addresses one right after the other.
As you scan and see more apartments, your blood pressure rises and your find yourself clenching your jaw. You know you’re in for a bumpy ride.
What is it that makes Amazon Flex apartment routes such a pain in the rear? I’m sure we all have our stories of horrible apartment routes but they don’t have to be so terrible.
The Problems with Apartment Deliveries
Most of the time, when we see multiple packages for the same delivery address, it makes our job easier. With apartments, nothing could be further from the truth.
There may be twelve packages in your route that have the same address, but each package has a different apartment number. The computer counts these twelve packages as one delivery and the time calculated in the block reflects that. What the computer thinks to be one delivery is actually twelve separate deliveries.
After making the first delivery, you’re already behind schedule.
2. Locating the Apartment
When we roll into an unfamiliar apartment complex, the worst part is determining the layout. There are some complexes where you have to wonder if the layout was designed by a 7-year-old child. There’s very little logic and seemingly no pattern.
For instance, I was looking for building L, I found building K and then the next building was building N. I had almost given up locating the building when I discovered the building was outside the gate and across the street.
If you expect every complex to make sense logistically speaking, you’re going to be disappointed.
Some complexes have so many buildings, the building letters have to start over with building AA, BB, CC, etc. Navigating these complexes is enough to frustrate even the most seasoned of Flex drivers.
These complexes can be large and the GPS pin radius can be a problem. When you see the orange circle appear on the map telling you that you’re in the wrong location for the delivery, screaming seems like an appropriate response.
You’ve spent an additional 15 minutes trying to locate an apartment in the back of a complex and now the Amazon Flex delivery app wants you to call support before you can make the delivery.
In some cases, a complex is separated by a major thoroughfare.
The apartments all have the same street address because the mail boxes are located near the leasing office but you might find yourself driving all over Timbuktu trying to find building S and wasting fifteen minutes in the process.
It isn’t until you call the customer for assistance in locating the building that you learn building S is across the street from the main entrance to the complex.
Older complexes present many different problems too. These complexes were built well before the on-demand services era. The buildings are not labeled. They’re not lit well. They’re often not well kept either. Some older complexes are in the process of upgrading but it’s definitely not something you can count on.
In some cases, it’s just as effective to go building to building until you find the correct apartment. This is also one of those scenarios a friend riding with you can help scout apartment numbers.
3. Secure Access
Gated apartment complexes are a thing nowadays. A good majority of new complexes have gates up and some even have taken some extreme security measures.
For gates, there are usually call boxes. In some cases, you get lucky and the customer has provided an access code but they don’t always work.
Some complexes don’t bother with gates, they just make sure their buildings are secure. These complexes are usually more difficult to access.
Every door is secure but they often have call boxes at the main entrances, but not always. A few complexes here in Nashville don’t have call boxes at all and access is managed with key cards.
Deliveries to these buildings can only be made to the leasing offices during office hours unless you are able to contact the customer and they meet you outside.
4. Apartment Complex Staff
Some Amazon Flex apartment deliveries are made more difficult by apartment complex staff.
In most cases, you will encounter friendly and helpful people while delivering in different complexes. However, there are those complexes where you will learn not to count on any assistance from those employed by the complex.
We usually learn the hard way which complexes are package friendly, and which are not.
Often, when encountering complex staff in these complexes, we’re met with rudeness and attitude. The staff will often tell you that they cannot accept packages on behalf of their tenants because of liability issues or something similar.
In some cases, they’ll provide you with a monologue of their policy regarding the issue and all you want to do is deliver the package.
The most laughable part of these interactions include the leasing agent claiming it is safe and the package would never go missing in their complex. Often this occurs in front of prospective tenants.
Be well aware that the leasing agent is blowing smoke because package theft is a problem with every complex that doesn’t provide additional security.
I’ve had a similar interaction with a leasing office. The agent talked up the safety of the complex but when I called the customer, he reported previous stolen packages and thanked me for contacting him.
The customer was about take his lunch and come get the package from a specific hiding location agreed upon by both him and me.
5. Parcel Pending
When complexes report that they have a package locker, it usually makes our job much easier. That is, unless they use Parcel Pending.
This is a pay service package locker available to tenants within a complex. Subscribers are given a security code to provide delivery services and we simply leave the package there.
The problem is that Parcel Pending rarely maintains their lockers well and their technical support is virtually non-existent. The software associated with these lockers is glitchy and crashes frequently.
Many leasing agents have more negative things to say about the service than they do positive things. If this company is going to survive, they will seriously need to rethink their business strategy.
6. Labor Intensive
Apartment complexes also include additional legwork, especially when a parking lot is full and you have to park in the visitor’s area two blocks away. The energy and effort expended in apartment complexes often exceeds normal house deliveries three to one.
In some cases it’s even more than that.
Some complexes have several floors and no elevators, leaving you to ascend many flights of stairs while carrying whatever packages you have to deliver. It’s quite often that customers order dog food from Amazon so it’s frequent that you’ll be carrying Fido’s 50lb bag of food up three flights of stairs.
Some customers order numerous cases of bottled water and you’re left to bring it to the door.
Tips to Make Amazon Flex Apartment Deliveries Bearable
1. Contact Amazon Flex Customer
Your best bet to make apartment deliveries easier is to contact the customer prior to making the delivery.
Before you roll your eyes, hear this out. I’m not suggesting you call the customer through the Flex app, because we all know how that usually goes. (They don’t answer.)
So how do you contact the customer directly?
The most likely and successful way to contact the customer is via text message but how is that possible if you don’t have the customer’s phone number?
Well, actually you do have the customer’s direct phone number. It’s printed right on the delivery label. If you look at the label below, the numbers in the red box are the customer’s phone number.
Now that you know the customer’s direct phone number, what do you say?
I send a generic message to each apartment delivery but use the recipient’s first name so I can differentiate between deliveries.
For instance, if I were delivering to John Smith, I would send a text similar to this:
- Hello John, this is Amazon Flex delivery informing you that your…
- Package will arrive shortly. If you have additional instructions…
- Such as access codes or safe locations for the delivery, please…
- Provide them at this time. Thank you.
This may seem like it takes additional time but the result saves you time in many cases, such as if a customer isn’t home and wants the delivery to go to the leasing office, you won’t have to stop by that specific apartment at all, not even to leave a “We missed you” notice.
If the customer says they’re not home and want the delivery the next day, that eliminates another stop entirely. They may send an access code or meet you at the gate, all of which saves a tremendous amount of time and effort.
It’s amazing how much stress a simple text message can alleviate.
2. Get a Cart
Carts are very helpful tool for any package delivery professional.
It’s not uncommon for high rise apartments building to have more than ten packages in one building. If you have the correct cart, you will be able to travel from apartment to apartment easily and with much less effort.
Considering package sizes vary, it’s best to get a cart that allows a way to secure packages using a bungee cord.
You’ll also want to find a milk crate or similar container to put your smaller bubble mailer (jiffy) packages in for stability otherwise it’s likely they could fall off the cart as you make your way through the building.
3. Determine the Correct Complex
Addresses on main roads are assessed by street number. Many times have I found myself hitting the GPS pin two blocks past the entrance to the apartment complex.
Again, it’s a waste of time and gas to do a U-turn at the next safest location. To prevent this from happening to you, simply take the street address and look it up on Google.
The first listing you find will usually tell you the name of the complex. When you know the name, it’s much easier to find the correct entrance. Never trust the final GPS pin as the actual delivery location.
In many cases, the delivery is marked on the navigation map rather close to the correct building but the GPS pin is out on the main street.
Some apartment complexes are nestled behind other complexes.
In one circumstance, the entrance to the complex was in the corner of a shopping center parking lot. The GPS pin for that particular complex sat in the middle of an overpass above a train yard.
I saw the sign for the complex well past the entrance of the shopping center but if I had not taken then time to determine the name of the complex prior to delivering, it would have taken much longer to find.
Once you have determined the complex, you may also find it helpful to call ahead and ask a few questions regarding their delivery procedures.
Some complexes prefer all deliveries go straight to the leasing office and that would be good to know before you go traipsing around doing each delivery, one by one.
A few good questions to ask are:
- Do you accept packages on behalf of tenants?
- Do you have package concierge services for your tenants?
- Is there a package locker available for tenants?
Additional Amazon Flex Apartment Delivery Tips
For the older complexes that are not well lit or noticeably labeled, a flashlight with a strong beam is very helpful, just do your best not to shine it into open windows.
You also might want to keep an address book in your vehicle where you can write access codes. If you come to a complex and do not have a working access code, you can look up a previous access code to gain entry.
There are times where you will have no choice but to determine the package to be undeliverable.
- Customers don’t always respond.
- Leasing offices are not always cooperative.
- There’s just not a safe place to leave a package.
In many cases you can judge if the package will be safe or not. Heavy packages on the third floor are safer as no thief wants to climb several flights of stairs and lug something heavy back down. Use your best judgement.
Remember, it’s always best to err on the side of caution so you can protect your status as a Flex delivery partner.
What do you like and dislike about Amazon Flex apartment delivery routes? Are they as bad as drivers think they are? Let us know in the comments below!