Managing property maintenance!

Four steps to improving 
maintenance service and  
decreasing make ready time.

Your primary responsibilities as a residential property manager are to control costs and to increase revenue. It's a big job. Handling maintenance more efficiently can help. Efficient maintenance controls costs, turns units more quickly and generates income faster. Anything you can do to better handle make ready maintenance shows up on the bottom line. To help you, Great American Business Products has put together these few tips on how you can take better control over maintenance and speed your apartment make ready turnaround:

1. Use a make ready board to mark the status of every leased and unleased unit at your property.

Every day an apartment remains empty increases lost revenue. Having at-a-glance insight into the status of the apartment make ready process for every leased and unleased unit makes a huge contribution to efficient turnover. Make ready boards help you do just that. Having a make ready maintenance board on the wall of your leasing office gives every employee the ability to answer questions from new incoming residents and maintenance personnel. An erasable make ready board also helps you coordinate outside contractors with inside workers so everyone knows instantly what's happening with every unit, including when it is ready for move-in. 

A good make ready board typically separates the listings for unleased vacant and leased vacant units and provides boxes to track the following:

•    Apt #
•    Move Out Date
•    Trash Out Date
•    Paint Date
•    Make Ready Status
•    Carpet Status
•    Maid Status
•    Countertop Status
•    Tile Status
•    Inspected Date
•    Comments

2. Train employees on filling out maintenance work orders and use them.

It's important to respond to each report of maintenance problems quickly and efficiently, because a slow response to maintenance issues can contribute to resident dissatisfaction and turnover. Using maintenance work orders that come in triplicate form is a proven way to better manage the repair process and keep your residents happy.

You'll want to spend a few minutes showing employees how to properly complete a work order so it provides the information needed by the office and maintenance personnel and to answer any resident inquiry. Here is the typical process for using maintenance work orders:

  1. Manager or leasing agent in the office takes down request from the resident and fills out maintenance work orders.

  2. The triplicate form goes into a designated place to be picked up by maintenance. Always keep one copy in your office so you know the work that has been assigned.

  3. Maintenance completes the repair in 24 hours or less, if possible.

  4. Maintenance leaves one copy of the work order in the unit to show resident that the work has been completed.

  5. Maintenance brings one copy back to the office to show that the work has been completed.

  6. One copy is then placed in that unit's file and is retained for two reasons:
    >> Maintain a record of that repair in case there is a charge to the resident and/or a dispute about the deposit refund.
    >> Keep a history of the unit to spot any recurring problems, such as the needed replacement of an appliance or other issue.

  7. Work orders are numbered instantly alerting you if a repair has been missed or forgotten. 

3. Follow up on every service request to improve resident retention.

There's no better way to build resident loyalty than to show you care about their comfort and satisfaction. There are two excellent ways to let them know that you are responding to their repair request -- one is a phone call and the other is by using maintenance door hangers.

  1. Use maintenance door hangers to keep the resident informed about your response to their repair request. Use a two-sided door hanger to hang outside their door showing that someone is inside the resident's apartment working on their request. This notice lets the resident know not to be startled that someone is inside. Once the repair is done, Then flip the door hanger over to notify the resident that the work has been completed.  If time permits while maintenance is in the apartment, have them check for leaky faucets and toilets flushing properly.  These few extra minutes may avoid future service calls and increase resident retention, which is time well spent.

  2. Call the resident after any repairs have been made in their unit to find out if they are satisfied or not. These calls are especially valuable because they can alert you to any problem before it results in an unhappy resident. It's also a great way to keep tabs on general resident satisfaction. There's no better form of customer service.

4. Set up a preventive maintenance schedule.

Surprise breakdowns are far more costly than conducting preventive maintenance. That's why it's so important to set up a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual schedule of preventive maintenance tasks and stick to it. These tasks can include scheduling routine pest control, changing A/C filters, checking for lights out in the corridors, checking sprinkler systems for leaks, and much more. This practice also reduces needed repairs and lets your maintenance staff better manage their workload.  The proper management of maintenance and apartment make ready tasks can have a huge impact on costs, revenue, and the quality of life for your residents. We hope these few tips will help you more easily build an effective maintenance process at your property.