This week I learned the hard way that I was completely unprepared for a dead-of-winter cold front. I walked out the door, ready to return to work following a nice holiday break, only to find that my car wouldn’t start after sitting unused in my garage for a week. January is officially here folks, and with it comes the icy sting of freezing temperatures.
Much like with my car, the bitter cold can also wreak havoc at apartment communities. Winter’s harsh conditions inevitably bring reports of frozen pipes, leaky windows, icy parking lots, and broken heating systems. It’s easy for maintenance teams to quickly become overwhelmed by an endless list of work orders. With an increased number of maintenance requests, it’s more important than ever to make sure that you’re prepared to effectively respond to residents’ needs. It may be time to evaluate if there are inefficiencies that are putting a freeze on your maintenance workflows. Here are a few tips to keep your maintenance efforts moving:
Plan and Prepare with Inspections
A little preparation goes a long way. Get ahead of the game by pre-scheduling seasonal maintenance work with your landscapers, HVAC specialists, or other vendors. New online inspection tools make it easy to record inspections and get an overview of every unit, building and amenity. If something requires service during the inspection process, you can automatically create work orders that go directly to the maintenance staff. By inspecting and addressing any issues early on, you’ll clear up more time to deal with the unexpected issues that inclement weather may cause.
Even with the best of preparations, there will always be issues that pop up. As a property manager, you want to be notified of any problems as soon as possible to prevent extensive damage. Empower your residents to communicate by making it easy for them to submit a maintenance request. Online request forms are a must in today’s world, but there are applications that go beyond that by allowing residents to take a picture of a problem and submit it directly through the app. By giving residents tools to efficiently send information, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect and can prepare maintenance teams to quickly handle the situation.
Organized and Efficient Responses
Collecting maintenance requests is important, but the speed of response to those requests is what really matters to residents. In many offices, work orders are printed out, pinned on a board and assigned out to maintenance teams. After a request is completed, the worker must return to the office to file the report and to pick up the next work order. With all of the technology available today, it’s time to mobilize maintenance teams! Arm your maintenance staff with tablets or send work orders straight to their phones. With online maintenance portals, they can submit updates or make notes right from their mobile devices. Once a job has been finished, it can be digitally marked as completed and the maintenance tech can look at the next open job and head straight to that unit. Additionally, automatic notifications can be sent to residents as soon as a repair has been made. The time savings gained from implementing a mobile maintenance process can make a big impression on residents who are anxious to be done with the inconvenience of a frozen pipe or a drafty bedroom.
Fortunately for me, the inconvenience of a car that wouldn’t turn on was easily remedied by a quick jumpstart. Within a few minutes, I was back out on the road. Similarly, making some small efforts to improve maintenance processes will spark new levels of resident satisfaction, so you don’t end up left out in the cold when it’s time for lease renewal.