Have you ever had your maintenance team members trained on the maintenance of the residents at your property? While it is critically important that your staff be able to correctly repair items like dishwashers, stoves and disposals, it’s also essential that they be able to repair and maintain relationships with your residents. And sadly, this is an area of training where our maintenance teams are lacking.
Your maintenance staff should be able to talk to residents who are angry or upset with the status of their repair. Let’s look at our current weather situation as an example – this record setting heat has been tough on everyone. We’ve all had a resident who’s unhappy that their air conditioning isn’t functioning properly, especially in this weather. Have you made sure your team can cool down an upset resident as effectively as they can cool down an apartment? The last thing you want to do is have a staff member who gets upset with a resident whose anger is really more directed towards the weather and the non-functioning AC then the individual. And it takes training – for anyone – to react properly in a stressful situation such as that. Think about it – the apartment is HOT, the temper of the resident is HOT and your maintenance team member has to keep their cool. Not an easy scenario.
Since you may not be able to get your staff trained immediately, give them a short lesson today on helping to stay calm in a hot situation. Teach them the LAST technique. LAST stands for:
L – Listen’
A – Apologize
S – Solve
T – Thank.
Listen: Let the resident vent, yell, complain and more. People in a difficult customer service situation believe they have earned the right to speak their mind, so let them, Your staff can calmly listen while the resident gets their anger off of their chest. This is more effective than you can imagine. The resident will feel much better after they have ‘had their say’.
Apologize – Apologize for the situation. This lets the resident know that you, more or less, feel their pain. An example would be, ‘I’m really sorry this has happened” OR “I’m really sorry your AC went down on the hottest day of the year.”. This let’s you move onto the next step, where you solve the problem for the customer.
Solve: Let the customer know you intend to solve the problem for them. Tell them what you intend to do. People who feel informed about the situation don’t feel quite so helpless. An example would be, “I’m going to take a look at your air conditioner and see what the problem is.” Make sure you don’t promise something you can’t deliver. For example, if the resident asks you how soon it will be before the repair is completed, let them know you need to diagnose the issue first – “I need to see what we’re dealing with here, and then I’ll be better able to give you a time frame” is a good answer.
Thank – Make sure you thank the resident for their promptness at letting you know there was a maintenance issue in the apartment, for allowing you to come in to facilitate the repair, etc. Thank them for their time in answering any diagnostic questions you may have regarding the repair.
Whether or not you’re able to complete the repair, leave your work area cleaner and neater than you found it. And if you need to return to do additional work, make sure the resident knows when you will be back. If the office has to schedule your return, be clear that the office will be in touch with them.
It’s an essential part of your maintenance teams’ job to be able to communicate with residents effectively. But if they have not been trained in how to conduct that communication, the problem lies with you – the manager. Make sure your maintenance team has all the tools they need – especially the ones NOT found in their toolbox.