By: Dallas Jensen
In your mind’s eye, go back to the year 1994. What was going on in pop culture? Forrest Gump was sitting on a bench talking about how life was like a box of chocolates and Simba was pulling a Hamlet in The Lion King. The original Playstation was released and we pulled all nighters playing Final Fantasy VI. Yikes! We’ve come a long way since ‘94, and so has property management software.
Most communities are instituting online leasing; no more paper in the leasing office! Drop boxes are being sealed at communities nationwide and many discourage payments by cash, paper checks, and money orders. Adoption of online rent payments are way up so onsite staff are now focusing more on delinquency and occupancy. However, there is still one major gap in technology at most properties: Maintenance technicians still think it’s 1994 and the industry isn’t providing them with the technology to bring them up to date.
Admittedly, maintenance positions within our industry can be tricky to manage. They are typically lower paying hourly positions with high levels of employee turnover. We set a high standard for corporate and leasing staff to be trained on the best technology but still allow maintenance staff to use sticky notes and flip phones. The majority don’t even have access to software to manage their own tasks. Their jobs are to know heaters and toilets, not technology… right? Wrong. It’s time to make a change. Here’s a few tips to move your maintenance policies out of 1994:
Some may gasp at this request: Buy your teams smartphones and iPads. Don’t let them carry around an old flip phone anymore! Smartphones are tools that can be used to manage work orders, inspections, and your make ready board all in one spot. Save your staff time by eliminating the countless trips made in the golf cart looking for parts and tools or filling out and keeping track of the paper work order. It can all be tracked on their mobile device allowing your maintenance staff to fulfill your residents’ requests quicker.
Encourage the Paperless Movement
At lease signing, implement a paperless program that will free up your maintenance staff’s time. Encourage your residents to submit all work orders online through your resident portal. Residents must be conditioned and rewarded to go paperless. If they walk into your office with a note about a broken sink, allow them to use your iPad kiosk to submit the service request instead. Going paperless allows your site staff to easily assign the work order electronically. Subsequently, maintenance will be able to view, manage, and close the request.
Invest in a training program for your maintenance staff. They don’t need to understand the backend coding PHP or HTML, but they should be able to comfortably navigate the maintenance functions of the system. In addition, they should be taught and empowered to encourage residents to submit maintenance requests and inquiries online. Once they are adequately trained on the software, you will find that operations will be streamlined and mistakes will be delineated.
In order to leverage your tools better, focus on your maintenance strategy along with the software tools you have. 1994 was a fantastic year, don’t get me wrong—it’s just time to start using 2016’s tools. Train and encourage your staff, prospects, and residents to use tools that can be leveraged to maximize your NOI, decrease turn times, and increase resident satisfaction through a renewed maintenance strategy.
Want to find out more about the ResidentPortal app and how to train your site staff to use it to its fullest potential? Join us for our Base Camp training event March 29-30 at the Gaylord Texan in Dallas, TX.