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Bringing modern security to renovated apartments with smart locks

Published April 2021

 

Landscape:

 

Deylen Realty owns and operates seven residential properties, primarily in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. Their portfolio is comprised of everything from new construction to historic conversions, including one more than 100 years old with a previous life as a community center and which was a winner of the 2008 Indiana Landmarks Historic Preservation Adaptive Reuse Award.

 

Today, Deylen’s properties range in size with approximately 50 to 100 upstairs units per building, along with first-floor retail space. Located in urban, often historic, neighborhoods near cultural and arts districts, they are popular among young professionals. Due to demand, Deylen also offers short-term three- to six-month rentals for new employees at major downtown corporations.

 

Challenge 1: Gain competitive advantage with smart apartments

 

To remain competitive in the Midwestern market and directly have its renovated properties go up against newer buildings, Deylen needed to equip its renovated properties with features and amenities not found in comparable, urban properties. Upgrading with electronic locks on individual resident doors and shared access points was integral to their success in competitively securing market share.

 

Findings from one Entrata survey revealed that prospective residents are attracted to technology add-ons more than pools and similar, more traditional community features. Among the technology-based amenities, they’re most willing to pay more for security cameras and keyless entry. One can naturally assume then, that if prospective residents are willing to pay extra for smart and secure features, they’re also more likely to choose a property with those features over one without.

 

The increase in home package delivery, and the security concerns associated with unattended packages, created another challenge and opportunity for differentiation. Even before stay-at-home orders were enacted due to the coronavirus pandemic, Multifamily Executive projected that 2.14 billion people would be shopping online by 2021, up from 1.79 billion in 2018. And a national study conducted by Allegion found that 57 percent of millennials use delivery services and 63 percent receive an average of one or two packages a week.

 

Allegion’s study also reported that 39 percent of renting millennials surveyed had packages stolen. It’s no surprise then that Deylen sought to create secure package storage rooms that residents could access on their own. By adding electronic access control to these rooms, the goal was that it would not only add value to current residents, thereby improving retention, but also attract potential, security-minded renters.

 

Solution: Smart locks for apartment doors and common areas

 

Deylen uses a variety of Schlage’s electronic solutions across four properties:

 

  • Ardmore: a high-end property with 122,000 square feet of residences, private roof terrace and retail space, along with adjoining parking garage, built in 2020
  • Forte: a 64-unit building with public parking, built in the Fountain Square neighborhood of Indianapolis in 2017
  • Hinge: a 56-unit building on the edge of downtown Indianapolis, constructed in 2012
  • MARQ: a 99-unit building in downtown Lafayette, Indiana, built in 2017
 
The Schlage® Control lock is used to secure resident doors, while the Schlage CTE Single Door Controller with Multi-Technology Reader is used on main exterior entry doors on each of those properties. Additionally, the Schlage NDE wireless cylindrical lock is used on storage room doors at MARQ.
 

"I know there are a lot of options out there, but having newer technology is really valued, especially by younger professionals."

-Megan DiVello, assistant property manager at Deylen

Megan DiVello, assistant property manager at Deylen, said the use of electronic locks has drawn new residents to their apartments. “We will get asked specifically if we have electronic locks and electronic security. People feel more comfortable with it. They trust it over regular keyed locks. When we market apartments online, it’s an option to add as an amenity listing. Electronic locks will come on top in searches because people are searching for that.”

 

“I notice we get complimented a lot on our electronic locks,” she said. “I know there are a lot of options out there, but having newer technology is really valued, especially by younger professionals.”

 

In addition to key fobs, some Schlage CTE are also controlled via Bluetooth, allowing residents to enter their apartments using the Schlage ENGAGE™ mobile application on a Bluetooth-enabled smart phone. “(The Bluetooth system) went over really well,” said DiVello. “We had a lot of residents that wanted to participate in that.” The main reasons, DiVello cites, are: convenience, not needing to carry a key, and less worry about a building’s and unit’s security.

 

Deylen installed Schlage electronic locks in package rooms as well. As more residents shopped online for everything from office supplies and groceries to at-home gym equipment and entertainment, there was a greater demand for safe and streamlined package management. Package rooms with electronic locks gave residents a way to receive deliveries more securely than having them left unattended on a porch or in an unlocked mailroom.

 

While there are other options on the market like Amazon lockers, on-site electronically controlled package rooms are “nice and easy. We designate one room and have the electronic lock they can access any time,” said DiVello.

 

Challenge 2: Improve business efficiency with better apartment door security

 

With Schlage Control locks and other electronic access control throughout the properties, managing access simply and efficiently was a requirement, especially for a smaller company like Deylen. Locks on both resident unit doors and at community access points needed to be managed using the same technology or via compatible systems. Eliminating multiple data entry points, and therefore lost time and increased human error from duplicating work, was a priority.

 

Like many multifamily properties, Deylen also needed a better way to manage access control when residents lose a key, during move-in and -out, and when granting temporary access to service providers. Adopting electronic locks more widely across each property would only be part of the solution. Deylen also needed the technology to be easy and efficient for everyday use. Specifically for service providers, electronic locks needed to allow office staff to program limited access for certain areas and times of day. And it needed to do that without distributing physical keys or needing to change entire locks if a key was not returned.

 

Solution: Electronic door locks with interoperability

 

Interoperability was seamless because Deylen chose Schlage locks for all entry points. Locks on resident units and shared spaces integrated with Schlage’s ENGAGE platform. Not only did it eliminate duplicated data entry, but access could be updated quickly and conveniently across a range of scenarios. This saved both time and money, especially when compared to the hassle and expense of tracking physical keys and replacing mechanical locks.

 

“We are a small enough company that we can be really hands-on with it,” said Todd Von Deylen, vice president of Deylen. “We’re not technology people, we’re property managers. It’s a system we understand and can control. We can change it easily—the key fobs are easy to manage.”

 

When a building’s security is in question, tracking keys and running audits is easier to manage with electronic security solutions than with traditional mechanical locks. “If you’re comparing them to standard key locks, it’s a night-and-day difference,” said Von Deylen. “If you’re doing something with digital, residents prefer it too because it’s easier to track (the use of) a key fob than a key.”

 

In addition to the competitive advantage of electronic access to package rooms, electronic locks also proved to be an operational efficiency for property management. The properties are able to program credentials for mail carriers and vendors based on the areas they need access to—and to those areas only.

 

“It entirely streamlines the process. We don’t have to worry about packages being left out or distributing them,” said DiVello. “This is a huge selling point for us.”

 

Result:

 

By evolving the security from mechanical to electronic at four of its properties, Deylen Realty has solved for some of its primary business challenges. Not only are they more competitive in the market, offering residents the convenient and reliable security they expect, but they also have streamlined their own operational processes by reducing the time spent on data management and tracking keys, thus freeing staff to focus on other resident services.

 

Since participating in beta testing, Deylen plans to update two additional older properties from standard mechanical locks to Schlage electronic locks in the near future. One reason they work with Allegion is that it is “a company that’s still coming out with new features and updates,” DiVello explained. “We prefer to work with a company like Allegion because they are so hands-on and willing to help us solve our problems with solutions customized to our unique needs.” Future interoperability—compatibility even as new innovations come on the market and a property’s needs change—are integral to maintaining competitive advantage and business efficiencies for years to come.

 

Schlage has electronic solutions for every multifamily opening—from wired electronic locks for main entries to smart locks for apartments. Learn more about the right solution for your property.