In Multifamily, far too often, we focus on the resident experience in areas like leasing and office staff. Years ago, it may have been true that residents interacted regularly with office staff, now, with digital rent payments, that interaction is drastically decreased. Residents’ happiness will always be directly proportional to their overall opinion of the community and now, it may true that residents are judging your community based solely on their interaction (or lack thereof) with your maintenance team! So, today we are giving you some maintenance improvement tips for enhancing the resident experience.
Appearance is EVERYTHING to some residents.
Not because your residents are particularly shallow but because, if you have a great community, the ONLY interaction that your residents may have with your maintenance team may be from afar. Their appearances may end up being everything to some residents.
Maintenance Improvement Tips: Appearance
- Consider providing a uniform and cleaning services for your maintenance team. This ensures that they are living up to the expectations of your community. The cost of laundry may be nominal compared to bad perception by your residents.
- Be sure that your maintenance team has clearly defined uniform expectations. Even if you do not provide “uniforms”, you CAN set standards for your team that helps improve the image of the community. It is easy to say that you expect your team to wear a black polo and khaki pants as well as black shoes and a nametag. Other “uniform” stipulations could include that clothing be free of logos, wording, slang and any kind of offensive language. You could also consider asking your team to only wear accessories that indicate the company logo, rather than that of sports teams or popular brands.
- Expectations should be that your team is clean, with neat looking clothing that clearly identify the maintenance workers as themselves. A cleaner maintenance team member will always be perceived as more professional!
- You may consider putting in a clause that maintenance team members keep any tattoos covered (if possible) and that they keep body piercings to a minimum (this also helps for risk management purposes).
- From the very beginning of their tenure, always reiterate that the most important thing your maintenance team can wear, is a smile! A friendly face and a smile can mitigate lots of woes inside your community.
When defining dress code expectations, be sure that you are being consistent from day one. Include uniform standards in your employee contract and clearly outline penalties for any infractions.
Preparation makes for happy residents!
Maintenance needs require adequate preparation both on the part of the community and the residents. Having clearly defined expectations during the prep process will make everyone much happier in the end!
Maintenance Improvement Tips: Preparation
- Consider doing a “prep” run through on bigger issues. If you are going to need several hours and a large space to work, warn your residents that they may want to take the afternoon and shop or visit a park while you work.
- Prepare residents for the process. Let them know if they need to protect their furniture or belongings from the intermediate mess that may occur.
- Ask kindly, if your resident has animals, that they be secured AWAY from the job site. This protects both your maintenance worker and the animals!
- Also let them know that you plan to cleanup.
- Clearly define what the problem is and how long you expect the repair to take.
- Always OVER-estimate the time it may take. If you finish faster, it will leave the residents impressed instead of upset.
- Arrive at the unit prepared. Be sure to take all the tools and materials that you could possibly need so that you do not have to run in and out of the unit many times. This can easily aggravate residents especially in extreme temperatures.
Communication is KEY.
Beyond looking the part, your maintenance teams need to truly BE great. Clients will give a much higher approval rating to any maintenance personnel who are friendly and neat. It is proven that a lesser experienced cordial person is more highly rate than a person who is disheveled and grumpy. Teach your maintenance teams to communicate properly with both staff and residents. Quite often, they are the bridge between the two!
In addition to fixing problems, a primary function of a maintenance team is to educate your community of residents. Ensure that they are doing so in a friendly and helpful manner that is not overly bossy, brazen or in a condescending way. According to the 2016 SatisFacts Index, only 34% of residents say they were notified that their service request was delayed and given a time frame for completion.
Maintenance Improvement Tips: Communication
- When responding to a maintenance call ensure that the maintenance team understands and abides by time constraints. Often residents will be taking time away from family or work to be on site at their unit. Value their time as well as your own.
- If there is another pressing emergency, communicate with the residents in a clear, concise and timely fashion. Leave a note for the residents and staff both that provides written verification of the delay and an estimated time for completion.
- When you are on the way to the unit it may be prudent to call ahead and inform the owner. Especially if your resident was given a larger window of time for maintenance arrival, letting them know you are 10-15 minutes out will allow them time to rearrange their current status. You certainly don’t want to walk in on a resident in compromising position such as the bathroom!
Consideration goes a long way!
Maintenance teams who respond to calls with a resident on site should be extra cautious to take their feelings into account.
Maintenance Improvement Tips: Consideration
- Are you needing to change the appointment time due to an emergency? Contact the client in their preferred method.
- Do they work from home? Try to be considerate and let them know that your work may interfere with their work and ask if you should come back another time.
- Wear booties into their home or offer to take your shoes off so as not to soil their floors / carpeting.
- When a job requires climbing into their attic or other dirty areas, forewarn the resident that it may get messy and that you plan to clean up afterward.
- If you use any caulk, grease, paint etc., be sure to be NEAT in the process and clean up any spills.
- While working with a leak or other potentially damaging situation, inform the residents Ask them, kindly, to move their belongings so that you do not harm them. They WILL appreciate it even if they seem inconvenienced by the task.
- Be sure that your hands / gloves are clean / removed before shaking hands… no one wants soiled plumber handshakes! (ICK!)
- Try to leave the unit in BETTER shape than before. If you notice a burnt out lightbulb, change it. You see a dripping faucet, tighten it! If you hear a running toilet, check it!
- Go the extra mile and that will bring you leaps and bounds closer to resident happiness!
Access is necessity.
One of the most frustrating issues surrounding maintenance in multifamily, is access. Having a voicemail is NOT enough. In the year 2017, we can do pretty much everything online. Consider adding an online maintenance request form that is monitored through a ready action system. Your community may want to employ a 24-7 phone line with an operator to ensure that each resident can contact you at their convenience. There are also text systems that can handle service requests for you to consider.
However your community chooses to handle maintenance requests, remember resident- centric systems are best. Always try to employ methods that allow all residents to communicate with you, in their preferred method.
All in all, maintenance teams appearance and efforts can make or break a mulitfamily community’s repuatation. That is why these maintenance improvement tips are so important! Looking for a better way to improve day to day operations in your maintenance team? Leonardo247 can show you how! Get a FREE DEMO today!