April 17, 2018

Top 5 Strategies for Improving Maintenance Operations

Managing maintenance calls is one of the biggest headaches faced by property owners and managers, no matter the size or age of a building.

 

The challenge of handling maintenance requests coincides with an inconvenient truth: the #1 complaint made by tenants, in survey after survey, is failure to communicate effectively about the progress of a request.

 

The largest contributor to this issue is lack of transparency. The logistical path of information gets caught up at so many crossing points that it can take weeks or months for a tenant to get their issue resolved, without any status updates along the way.

 

Failure to both handle maintenance requests efficiently and communicate about them effectively can greatly impact a property’s bottom line. Use this simple outline to create a clear process for tackling maintenance requests, leading to a smoother run operation.

 

 

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1. Automate Preventive Maintenance:

The best time to fix something is before it breaks. Preventive maintenance is the practice of regularly maintaining and repairing your property to reduce the severity of system failures in the future. The best way to create a proactive preventive maintenance operation is through constant feedback: develop an efficient process for organizing requests and find time in your schedule to review which require the most attention.

 

2. Use Building Maintenance Software:

Management technology concepts are still new to the real estate industry, but many of them have become commonplace in other sectors. Task management software and workflow apps have grown popular as offices and workplaces strive for productivity and efficiency. Platforms like Slack drive team communication and apps like Evernote and Basecamp enable teams to manage tasks effectively. This type of software is now revolutionizing real estate by creating a single portal for all property management activities.

 

There are a variety of technology options in the market with differing levels of complexity and you’ll need to do a little research to figure out which ones are right for your business. Here are a few options that will help you better manage both the built environment and the tenants inside of it:

  • Trello – Simple, tag-based project management tool for all types of teams and processes. Highly flexible, but lacks functionality specific to property management.
  • Workorder.es –  Work-order ticketing service for property owners and managers. Create, assign, complete. Simple and free.
  • UpKeep - Group collaboration and maintenance application for facility management teams. Create work orders on-the-go, get notifications when tasks are updated, and receive alerts straight from the app. Great for industrial warehouses and mechanical engineering teams.
  • Enertiv – Deploy advanced submeters and a range of IoT sensors to deliver a central nervous system for building operations. This is the future of preventative maintenance for engineering teams.
  • Bixby – Designed specifically for the real estate industry, Bixby is a web and mobile platform that facilitates communication between building management teams and their tenants. One of many features is a work-order management tool for collecting, organizing, and dispatching maintenance requests with the ability to send status updates, schedule repairs, assign staff or vendors, and more.

3. Prioritize Requests by Importance:

Property managers are usually responsible for organizing and delegating maintenance calls and repairs. One of the best ways to stay organized and avoid inefficiencies is by handling maintenance requests in order of importance. Try cutting out the clutter through organizing requests by priority:

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  • High importance (address immediately):
    • Structural issues
    • Smell of gas
    • No hot water
    • Doors that do not lock properly/missing locks
    • Infestations
    • Any issue that affects more than 50% of the building
  • Moderate importance (timely manner):
    • Clogged/slow shower or sink drain
    • Appliances not working
    • Holes that require filling
  •  Low importance (time is not of the essence):
    • Cracked tile/grout
    • Running toilet
    • Small shower/faucet leak
    • Molding/trim repair

4. ALWAYS Acknowledge the Request Immediately:

Even if you are unable to immediately handle the request, acknowledging your tenant and providing them with a time frame lets them know you are on the case. Even if the answer isn’t apparent, or if the tenant needs to be redirected to a different channel, it’s important to let them know that you’ve gotten the request and are working towards

a solution.

  

5. Consolidate Communication to a Single Channel:

There will be times when conversations should be handled offline, but it’s not always necessary. Having an electronic trail can eliminate discrepancies and provide the opportunity to analyze historical data to better prepare for the future. Keeping a direct line of communication between you and your tenants is the best way to stay on top of your property. Your tenants are your eyes and ears, so being attentive to their needs means being attentive to your buildings’ needs.

 

Managing maintenance need not be a headache. Choosing the right tools and setting up replicable processes will make your life easier and your property more successful.

 

Bixby's innovative property management software can help building owners and managers reduce costs, improve efficiencies, attract and retain tenants, and create new revenue streams.

 

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