Before online payments and resident portals, the leasing office was guaranteed to see residents at least twelve times a year, specifically when rent was due. Today, the leasing office is seeing residents far less, and maintenance technicians are engaging with residents more. The introduction of technology has increased the importance of a highly skilled maintenance team and made their role crucial to successful property management.
Becoming a key player in the day-to-day management of a property makes personality skills just as necessary as the technical abilities of a maintenance technician. A maintenance team can either systemically enhance or quickly collapse the infrastructure and reputation of a property. Therefore, having a high performing maintenance team can improve residents’ living experience leading to higher resident retention and renewals.
However, most properties are short-staffed on maintenance and are getting further and further behind on property upkeep. It is imperative to have a maintenance team that can stay ahead of property functionality and resident work requests through effective communication.
What to look for in an excellent maintenance team
In today’s market, there are historically low unemployment rates making it a challenging environment for recruiting. The number one open position at a multifamily property is a maintenance technician. However, these skilled positions are becoming harder to fill as the nation’s job growth revolves around more lucrative positions, according to June’s U.S. Department of Labor job report. Additionally, the apartment industry is facing fierce competition from the construction industry for maintenance technicians. Construction jobs have accelerated over the years and are hiring people whose skill sets overlap with what the apartment industry is looking for in a maintenance technician. Year-over-year, employment in installation, maintenance and repair is growing at two percent.
When finding a maintenance technician for your property, it is essential to know your property’s needs and prepare for the interview. Property management needs to make educated decisions when filling these positions due to the interpersonal relationship between maintenance and residents. A resident is more likely to put a face with a community through contact with maintenance technicians rather than the leasing office. Therefore, maintenance technicians need to be on top of their game at all times and understand the role that they play in the community.
Five ways an excellent maintenance team can improve a residents’ living experience
An excellent maintenance team can streamline the parts and products used throughout each unit and the property. Saving both time and money, this will lead to a simplified service process and quicker resolution of maintenance issues and repairs.
2. Instill confidence in residents
It is important that the maintenance team has clean uniforms, and shows confidence, professionalism, and expertise. This outward appearance will secure residents confidence in the ability of both the technicians and the management company.
3. Increase Communication Within The Community
The most impressive maintenance teams consider themselves part of the leasing team. Everyone in the community must work together to create a great living environment. When residents feel comfortable with the staff in the community, they are more likely to express their concerns. It is important that maintenance technicians are able to communicate with residents to get the job done, especially when it’s resident error, a friendly and respectful maintenance technician will help keep residents happy.
4. Educate residents
Short videos of maintenance technicians correctly operating appliances in the units will further connect residents with the property’s maintenance technicians while also reducing service requests.
5. Preventative Maintenance
Long-term effectiveness is linked to effort. Proactively working to upkeep the community, not only ensures that systems are functioning correctly but also mitigates risk factors. An excellent maintenance team will do more than what is listed on the service ticket. For example, checking the standard safety features and asking residents what else can be done each time they are on a maintenance call or enter a unit. Often, they will find and correct unknown issues, taking every opportunity to fix the small problems before they become large-scale risks. Putting in the effort now will save time in the future.
Tips for hiring a great maintenance team member:
- Ask plenty of questions about their skills. A candidate, in addition to their mastery of technical skills, should also be competent and effective in their regular habits.
- Understand the basic certifications. It might be beneficial to bring in a professional who understands these certifications and can ask specific qualification questions to make sure the candidate has the necessary certifications to mitigate risk and insurance issues that arise from unskilled workers.
- Have the candidate complete a personality test. This test will help to determine if the candidate is a good communicator.
- Make sure the candidate is knowledgeable on recent innovations in apartment living. They should be willing to learn and be able to adapt to a changing environment.
- Are they familiar with using technology? It is necessary that they be familiar with cell phones, facilities applications, and online reporting.
- Provide a maintenance test. A hands-on maintenance test will reveal their knowledge base.
- Walk through the property and a vacant unit. The candidate should have a complete understanding of the properties needs before they are offered a job. They should be familiar with the systems in place and how to navigate unit features.
- Check vendor references. It is important to get independent insight into the applicant’s reputation in the community.
How to retain an exceptional maintenance team
Training on new processes
Highly effective maintenance teams should continue to learn more effective methods even after they are hired. The ability to continue sharpening their skills and keeping up with the latest regulations and processes is vital to the community’s safety and efficiency. Additionally, it provides them with the opportunity to grow professionally.
Educate office staff and maintenance technicians on the roles individuals play throughout the property. Invite the office staff to spend a day shadowing a maintenance technician, and vice versa. This activity will help the office staff to better understand what the technicians need in order to complete the job right the first time around. There needs to be good communication between offices. For example, if the office staff understands that the more information residents can provide about a maintenance problem, the better educated the maintenance team is to assist and correct the problem. It also teaches the right language for the office staff and maintenance technicians to use around residents, so there is a clear line of communication. Cross-training further improves resident confidence in management’s ability to resolve issues efficiently and effectively.
Properties always need more maintenance technicians. Consider offering a referral bonus to technicians and office staff. People want to work with people who are high-quality performers, have good work experience, and contribute to a positive work atmosphere.
An event hosted by the apartment complex is a great way to let residents mingle with technicians in a casual atmosphere. These type of events will allow the tenants to share their thoughts, communicate common service requests, and provide tips on how residents can run their apartments more efficiently.
It is the job of the property manager to make sure that the employees feel part of a larger team and are confident that communication is a two-way street. The maintenance team doesn’t want to feel like they are taking orders and need to understand the impactful role they play in the overall reputation of the community. Having regular meetings will help increase team mentality. When teams work together, they are able to build a community by doing what is needed when it is required.
Having a great team manager will motivate the team. The maintenance team manager should have the ability to mentor his crew and the community to make them feel like they are part of a team. Regular rewards and recognition programs can also go a long way towards making a maintenance technician feel appreciated.
Documentation should be well organized which will allow maintenance technicians to balance an ever-changing workload and finalize tasks in an orderly fashion. The maintenance team manager should also report to management regularly to make sure the team is completing all necessary forms and keeping up with their digital reporting.
In an industry that is continually renewing and upgrading itself, it is necessary to make sure that the resident’s needs are being met. By retaining high-performing maintenance technicians, the residents will feel confident that they are being taken care of.