Consider this scenario: One of your best tenants comes into the office frantic. Her ceiling is leaking and has damaged her expensive stereo system. Your maintenance person writes up the requisition, but somehow it gets lost on her fairly unorganized desk. Meanwhile, several other tenants have called in with problems that she is jotting down on pieces of paper. A few of those jobs actually get done; the majority are left on her desk. Of course eventually everything does get taken care of, but come renewal time, the majority of those tenants whose problems didn’t get fixed for days are gone…and they’re not holding back when telling you why.
Of all of the reasons why tenants leave, (other than relocating in another area or buying a house) inadequate maintenance is right at the top. There aren’t many people that would put up with a ceiling leaking for days, or a toilet that won’t work, or a faucet that constantly drips. Realistic or not, tenants believe that their problem is the most important, and by not having the problem taken care of in a reasonable amount of time, the message that you’re conveying is that they are not important. And tenants who do not feel important, leave.
So how do you go about organizing your maintenance department so that repairs and other requests don’t get buried on someone’s desk?
- Hire a maintenance supervisor. While larger properties generally have a maintenance supervisor, it’s an important enough position for even smaller properties to consider.
- Switch to an Internet driven maintenance solution. While this may not be practical for all properties, at least consider upgrading your software to include maintenance management.
- Have a computer driven work schedule/dispatch board. All maintenance calls and requests are automatically entered at the time they are received and assigned a level of importance as well as a time. Maintenance orders can then be sent electronically to maintenance personnel, who can update the work order when complete.
- Provide tenants with a time and date that they can expert the work to be done. This should be done within an hour of their initial request. Tenants should never have to call the office more than once to request maintenance, no matter how ‘unimportant’ the work is.
- Make sure that you have adequate resources on hand to deal with the true emergencies. A leaking roof may not be able to be repaired immediately, but moving your tenant to a vacant unit until the roof can be repaired will demonstrate that their problem is your problem, and you’re actively working on a solution.
- Follow up with tenants after any work is done to get feedback and see if there is anything you can improve.
Maintenance is an important part of managing any kind of property, and a quick response and solid maintenance skills will keep your complex running smoothly and your tenants happy.