Apartment-Based Retirement Community Increases Efficiency & Safety with Savance Visitor Management Solution
- A Savance EIOBoard Client Case Study
"We were using EasyLobby, and it was incredibly archaic and clunky."
Kerry Bell, Director of Resident Services, Holladay Park Plaza
Holladay Park Plaza is a non-profit, apartment-based retirement community that has been serving Portland area seniors since 1967. Holladay's vision is to be a premier community that enriches people's lives, and where residents can enjoy life, while they age with dignity.
Since 1999, Holladay has been a part of Pacific Retirement Services, an Oregon-based organization that develops, operates, and manages a growing family of more than 50 retirement communities in multiple states.
For a large retirement community such as Holladay Park Plaza, having a system to properly account for all visitors is imperative; however, Holladay was less than thrilled with its current solution. "We were using EasyLobby, and it was incredibly archaic and clunky," says Kerry Bell, Director of Resident Services at Holladay. "We were looking for a better, cloud-based solution, with the option to allow or restrict access to certain areas using customizable visitor groups." The latter was a big pain point for Holladay when it comes to EasyLobby. The system did not allow them to create groups in order to control which areas certain visitors should have access to. "With EasyLobby, we had to use one and the same card for the whole building, which was a big problem to us," explains Bell. Alexandra Amber, former Facility Services Coordinator at Holladay, agrees. "Since the expansion of our access control system throughout the building, EasyLobby failed to be a functional visitor management software," she says.
"Since the expansion of our access control system throughout the building, EasyLobby failed to be a functional visitor management software"
When it comes to visitor management, expanding the access control system meant moving beyond a basic system with date-stamped name tags. Instead, visitors would be issued a badge upon arrival to the building, something that EasyLobby did not handle well. "Because EasyLobby was so clunky with tracking, our night shift actually had to keep an Excel spreadsheet with badge numbers," says Kerry Bell. "At the end of the day, the night shift had to reconcile and figure out which badge numbers had been returned, and which badges were missing - and in turn who did not bring theirs back."
Finally, Holladay had a huge issue with the lack of support provided by EasyLobby, and the vendor's inability to solve the problems Holladay kept running into with the software. "One issue we experienced was that the EasyLobby program would constantly freeze, sometimes multiple times in a one hour period," says Alexandra Amber. "Support was contacted and no solution could be found."
"In general, support for the EasyLobby software was lacking and ineffective throughout the years we used it."
Poor support was a recurring issue. "In general, support for the EasyLobby software was lacking and ineffective throughout the years we used it," explains Amber. "A typical experience with their support team involved waiting on hold for an hour, at which point their system would time out and hang up from reaching the maximum hold time."
When EasyLobby was up for renewal, Holladay Park Plaza made the decision not to renew, and instead began the hunt for a replacement. Holladay had a few criteria for the solution they had in mind. They were looking for:
- A cloud-based visitor management system that allowed for speed and efficiency.
- Integration with the organization's PDK access control system for visitor access, badge printing, and activation.
- A way to contain visitor groups for security purposes.
- A point of record of when and how often people were visiting.
- Great support from the software provider.
"The most important goal was speed and efficiency for front staff when it comes to the check-in process," says Kerry Bell. "We wanted to make sure the check-in process was as short and as efficient as possible."
"It was the best product we found that was able to capture all the features we were looking for. Savance's partnership and direct collaboration with PDK was also a big benefit to us."
Thanks to a recommendation from Holladay's access control company, PDK, Holladay's search soon led them to Savance. "After watching a demo, as well as some extensive questioning, we determined that the Savance system would be a good fit for the security of our community, and to improve the productivity of the front desk," says Alexandra Amber. "It was the best product we found that was able to capture all the features we were looking for," Kerry Bell adds. "Savance's partnership and direct collaboration with PDK was also a big benefit to us."
Holladay also liked the future-ready aspect of the Savance system. "Most of the solutions we found were very basic and would be outdated pretty quickly," says Bell. "Savance felt more current as far as technology goes."
A final piece of the Holladay puzzle that Savance was able to solve was the ability to better control access to various parts of the building, something that had not been possible with the organization's previous visitor management solution. "With the Savance system, we can create a specific visitor group that allows us to control what doors they will have access to," Bell explains. "This solved a huge problem for us."
"Most of the solutions we found were very basic and would be outdated pretty quickly. Savance felt more current as far as technology goes."
Solution & Implementation
Although Savance's self service visitor check-in system is a popular choice for many customers, Holladay Park Plaza chose to go with a staff-attended Visitor Management solution. What the organization needed was basically a way for employees to personally greet and sign in visitors through an easy-to-use, cloud-based interface that would guide them through gathering relevant visitor information.
Holladay's new Savance system was also set up to integrate with the organization's existing PDK access control system, providing an option to print and assign badges and to grant access to appropriate parts of the building.
The implementation did not come without challenges and issues to be resolved, something that led Savance to step up its level of customer service even more than usual. "The main challenge was basically that we were trying to create speed and efficiency, and we initially had problems reaching those goals with how many people we have checking in using just remote training," Kerry Bell explains.
Expectations not being met as quickly and as easily as Holladay had hoped resulted in a rather strained relationship between the two parties. In an effort to repair that relationship, as well as to show good faith in delivering the caliber of solution Holladay had paid for, Savance made the decision to send Software Architect Travis Fleenor to Portland, in order to train Holladay staff, get a better understanding of the organization's particular use case, and - ultimately - make sure they were happy. "It's rare for a Software Architect to be placed in this situation," says Travis Fleenor. "However, it was very important to us to leave Holladay with something they could be extremely satisfied with. We wanted them to feel that they had a solution far superior to the EasyLobby system that had previously been installed."
"It was very important to us to leave Holladay with something they could be extremely satisfied with, [...] a solution far superior to the EasyLobby system."
As it turns out, this decision made all the difference. While on site, Fleenor discovered that Holladay's front desk was busier, and had more influx of different types of traffic (visitors, contractors, employees, vendors, etc.) than Savance could possibly have imagined. "I would estimate that they were processing upwards of 200 people per day," says Fleenor. "The Savance system was already handling this fairly well; however, there were still some small issues to work out and some special features that they needed."
Most importantly, a great deal of training was required for the Holladay front desk staff to sign people in and for the administrative staff to understand how to manage the solution. Remote training simply wasn't cutting it in this case. "The very friendly and capable people working Holladay's front desk were unfortunately not very tech savvy and had difficulties adopting a new solution," Travis Fleenor explains. "The environment at their front desk is so fast-paced and so surprisingly high-pressure, it is no mystery to me that the staff would be a bit averse to changes from what they were used to."
"The biggest thing to us has been how incredibly receptive and supportive the Savance team has been."
Understandably, the Holladay front desk staff had become rather wary of new technology, and although the managers at Holladay could see how the new Savance system would make their jobs a great deal easier, it was up to Fleenor to listen to their concerns and train them in such a way that they would be able to see this benefit as well. "They needed to know that the temporary challenges presented by the learning curve would be worth it," he says.
"Once we worked through the initial frustrations, the biggest thing to us has been how incredibly receptive and supportive the Savance team has been," says Kerry Bell. "Travis' attention to support was fantastic, and to this day, he and our team member Gloria have a great working relationship, where she's able to just shoot him an email or call him. It's been really helpful."
Results & Benefits
Since implementing its Savance solution, Holladay has seen improvements in a number of areas. Specific results include:
- Controlled security
- Better reliability
- Better user acceptance
- Improved image through updated badge design
- Improved overall customer service
- Time-savings and increased efficiency
Out of these, reliability has been the most important, particularly since reliability relates closely to other areas, for example efficiency and overall customer and visitor satisfaction. "The most important outcome so far has been the reliability of the product," says Kerry Bell. "We don't have issues where it's suddenly offline and not working. It's consistent all the time." In addition to the freezing issues Holladay experienced with EasyLobby, Bell mentions that systems from other vendors that Holladay works with are down at least once a month, and how frustrating this is. "This is an essential need, and how we get people in and out of the building," she continues. "If it was down, we're out of luck. At that point, we're manually walking people to the elevators, and getting them to where they need to go."
"The most important outcome so far has been the reliability of the product. [...] It's consistent all the time."
Employee onboarding and training has also been greatly improved. "It's very easy for us to onboard new staff," says Bell. "In fact, one of our team members has become a training machine, where we now have staff all over the building trained to jump in if they need to cover a shift or a break or something like that."
Finally, the night shift is happy. "They probably spent 1-2 hours each night shift going through the Excel spreadsheet," says Kerry Bell. "Now that spreadsheet is a thing of the past."
"I'm particularly happy with how quickly we were able to help them add COVID-19 screening abilities to [Holladay's] current system"
Savance's Travis Fleenor is very satisfied with how far the relationship between Holladay Park Plaza and Savance has come. "The folks at Holladay are a wonderful group of people. It's good to know that they are satisfied with the solution, and that they're continuing to expand its capabilities," he says. "I'm particularly happy with how quickly we were able to help them add COVID-19 screening abilities to their current system, providing the organization with an easy way to screen both staff and visitors upon entering the building."