Property Management

Redefining Efficiency for Maintenance Associates

by Terry Danner

Current labor shortages have impacted multifamily across the board, but the industry has particularly struggled to hire and retain maintenance associates. As apartment operators attempt to conduct the same amount of work with smaller teams or even shared, consolidated maintenance teams, workflow efficiency has become paramount.

Whereas maintenance efficiency once meant simply completing work orders in a timely fashion, it has assumed a different definition in the current climate. Efficiency is at a premium, and operators are taking new steps to maximize the productivity of their maintenance teams.

Going Mobile

Previously, when a technician finished one service request, they would return to the maintenance office to pick up other paper work orders before heading out once again. That back and forth is no longer an acceptable use of time. Depending on the size and layout of the community, technicians often lose more than an hour out of their day just coming and going. Today, residents can submit service requests through a mobile app, and maintenance technicians manage their daily workflow from the field via the same digital platform.

Because maintenance team members always have their workflow platform with them, they no longer have to backtrack to pick up their next work order. They can remain in the field and save valuable time since their daily stops are plotted via the most efficient route, and assigned by task type and skill set. Purely through logistical improvements, maintenance teams are completing more work in less time.

Resident Communication

Maintenance teams can use the same mobile maintenance platform to stay in contact with residents. Real-time messaging capabilities mean technicians can update residents on anticipated response times, and receive cancellation notices and reschedule requests from the field. No more missed emails. No more arriving at a resident’s door with no one home at the scheduled time. Mobile workflow platforms also maintain a communication log for each service request, allowing both residents and technicians to revisit conversations and locate pertinent information.

Mobile communication capabilities not only make technicians more efficient, they improve the resident experience.

Inspection and Asset Visibility

From a corporate perspective, maintenance efficiency has evolved to include real-time access to information, enabling swift and cost-saving decisions. Through the use of mobile inspection technology, multifamily companies are generating far more comprehensive and consistent inspection reports in a fraction of the time. The efficiencies afforded through mobile platforms save time and money, and the real-time visibility into the process allows operators to respond quickly to property needs.

It used to be that during acquisitions, purchasing organizations had to wait until due diligence inspections were completed and reports filed before they even got a glimpse of potential assets. Now, acquisitions teams can monitor home-by-home inspections as they are being completed. That transparency enables purchasers to identify potential issues early on or even back out of deals if needed, saving time and empowering purchasing negotiations.

Throughout routine mobile inspections, teams can also construct a detailed asset inventory of every appliance, fixture and product installed in homes and at the community. When property assets are tagged with information such as warranties and expiration dates, searchable asset lists represent a wealth of valuable data-driven information. Property teams can use that asset data to optimize procurement and preventive maintenance, sourcing materials in advance at lower costs and avoiding costly repairs.

In multifamily, the definition of efficiency has evolved from doing things quickly to responding in real-time or even proactively. Maintenance associates have always been miracle workers, but their powers grow exponentially through technology. With the right tools, maintenance and inspection teams can stay on top of physical property needs and even prevent larger issues from ever occurring.

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