It’s National Maintenance Month. This week we want to highlight a few ways that you can improve the resident / maintenance team relationship. No matter what satisfaction survey results you find, one common thread is that maintenance response matters! When you work to improve maintenance standards you can equally increase resident renewals.
Residents generally rank “Quality of Maintenance” as more important than other considerable factors such as amenities, parking or even unit size/condition. Amazingly, far too many multifamily communities overlook the importance of building and master the resident/ maintenance relationship!
So, as a property manager you have done your best to hire skilled and competent maintenance team members but what next?
Q: How to improve maintenance perception?
A: Look the Part!
Residents are far more likely to respond to a with LESS experience if they are clean, well dressed in uniform and smiling over a master maintenance team member who is frumpy, stained uniform and has an irritated mannerism. The more professional your maintenance team “appears” the more your residents will trust them and approve of their work. Appearance isn’t everything but it accounts for a lot.
Q: How to improve maintenance effectiveness?
A: Know what needs to be done and do it right.
Ensure that every member of your maintenance team have the proper training and certifications. Beyond that, when your community upgrades to new technologies, do NOT assume that your maintenance crew will automatically know the specifics. Give them time to acclimate to the new technologies prior to installation. Put less pressure on how fast
Q: How to improve maintenance competence?
A: Bridge the knowledge gap.
The single BEST way to improve a resident’s satisfaction with maintenance is to NOT have them call maintenance at all! Educating your residents is one of the most powerful improvement tools that you can use. Just because you have an appliance manual in the apartment when your resident moves in, does not guarantee that they will read it. Try offering your residents alternatives to reading the manuals such as online learning libraries with video tutorials, or even have your maintenance crew stop by within the first 24 hours, introduce themselves to the new residents and show them a few common issues and how to fix them. Empowering your residents to do simple things such as the resetting the garbage disposal, and defrosting a freezer, will save your team a ton of time and headache!
Q: How to improve maintenance efficiency?
A: Standardize your systems.
While it may be tempting to just replace appliances, fixtures etc as they breakdown, but it is best to keep the SAME sets of fixtures in every apartment. Using a standard item will allow you to keep only a few parts in stock. This will save both time and money and will prevent your team from having to learn many different appliances, lock systems etc.
Q: How to improve maintenance influence?
A: Foster a relationship.
Beyond just having your maintenance team “doing their job”, schedule times for the team to be visible in the community. Always introduce maintenance team members to your residents and do so by name. Give them a compliment to start building rapport such as: “This is our maintenance supervisor, Bob. Bob has been with us for more than 10 years and generally answers maintenance requests within 24 hours! This will go a long way toward fostering a sense of community and comfort.
Q: How to improve maintenance relationships?
A: Ensure that the “office” and “maintenance” staff are a TEAM!
We constantly hear that you need to “improve communication” and it is true. In a multifamily community, you need each other. There are so many daily tasks and issues, that you need to have each other’s backs! Make sure your office staff understand the general layout of your maintenance team’s daily tasks. Equip the office staff with a standard set of answer for the Top 10 Maintenance Complaints that are not emergencies and allow them to talk residents through the simple fixes without interrupting the maintenance team’s already busy schedule. If there is a team member who feels uncomfortable communicating with the public, allow that person to work behind the scenes on regular nested action cycle items like preventative maintenance. Teach your office staff to take detailed notes and ask leading questions that can direct them to a better understanding of the situation BEFORE involving the maintenance team. The more information you can provide to maintenance, the quicker they can resolve the issue! Help them, help the residents!
Q: How to improve maintenance perception?
A: Follow Up.
Even if a resident was able to utilize a video or advice of the office staff to fix their issue, you should follow up on every call, every time. Residents will feel valued and appreciated simply by receiving a call or a note to ensure that everything is going ok for them after they have an issue.
Q: How to improve maintenance communication?
A: Discuss everything!
Meeting are not just for people in suits! Maintenance teams should have meetings too! Meet with your team individually as a unit and together with the entire community staff, REGULARLY. This encourages staff to be comfortable with each other and with management. It gives an open forum to ask questions and make sure that everyone is on the same page. Most “problems” start with mis-communication.
Maintenance team members must understand their own influence on customer service satisfaction which is directly related to resident retention. Often, they are perceived as the face of the company. Their appearance and actions can make the difference between a 5-star review or a resident who is looking for another community come renewal time. Make sure that you are stressing their importance to the maintenance team themselves and to your entire staff and celebrate their great efforts when appropriate!