Best Practices in Maintenance Follow-Up

Maintenance is an incredibly complex process that requires a team to build many controls and paths to ensure repairs don’t get lost along the way. Why? Happy renters renew leases and leave great reviews which affect your bottom line. We will cover the fundamentals of a quality follow-up process to ensure you get 5-star reviews and shed the 1-star reviews.

Outlining what defines a quality maintenance process

The steps of nearly every repair

A quality maintenance process is important because it directly correlates to resident retention and online reviews, which ultimately will result in money spent or saved. With a good process, the results of implementing a time and money-saving checklist will result in investor satisfaction and an excellent reputation.

  • Receipt/Submission
  • Troubleshooting
  • Dispatching
  • Approvals/Quotes
  • Execution of repair
  • Follow-up

What defines a “quality repair”?

Speed of Repair

  • Direct correlation to speed of repair and satisfaction of work request – there is no more powerful metric

Cost

  • Relationships and quality vendors with negotiated pricing
  • Emergency repairs cost exponentially more than planned
  • Lower costs mean less pressure on the property profit margin

Where do your repairs get lost?

If handled by an external vendor

Answers your process should provide:

  • Did they receive the order?
  • Are they intending on performing the repair?
  • Did they reach the resident?
  • Is it waiting on approval?
  • Was a time scheduled?
  • Is the repair complete?

If handling repairs internally

Answers your process should provide:

  • When is the repair occurring?
  • Did they reach the resident?
  • Is it waiting on approval?
  • Was a time scheduled?
  • Is the repair complete?

We have analyzed the internal vs. external processes and found them to be nearly identical. This means you can lose the repair in a similar fashion and neither system is immune to a repair “falling through.”

What can I do to execute a consistent and successful maintenance process?

Implement a system of checkpoints to ensure its progressing

A consistent system is critical to ensuring a quick and timely repair (that doesn’t fall through the cracks). Every process needs checkpoints, ensure your maintenance process includes the following:

Verification of receipt and acceptance of the job (by vendor)

  • After acceptance, 24-hour check-in rotation on open repairs (or automated follow-up process)

Verification of completion (must be somewhere within 24 hours of repair)

  • Some operations believe waiting for the invoice is verification – doesn’t work considering most invoices can take between 2-4 weeks for receipt
  • Negative resident experiences/frustrations won’t wait for your team to check – they will call and now a non-emergency becomes a staff emergency to address

Resident satisfaction!

  • This is the ultimate measure of how the steps preceding are functioning. This lagging indicator allows you to know if you’re follow-up process is effective.
  • Must measure everyone, not just the people you think are happy. Even the angry residents.

Measure time

We know that repair satisfaction has strong correlations to time (leading indicator). Repairs that take longer than 7 days have nearly zero chance of gaining a positive review based on our data.

Establish a more granular priority process for repairs

  • Emergencies < Immediately (water leaks, HVAC on very hot or cold days)
  • Medium Priority < 5 days (broken appliances, electrical issues)
  • Low Priority < 14 days (bathroom fans, internal door jam issues)
  • Don’t let any repair extend past 31 days. If it’s not going to get done, cancel it to keep a system clean.

Manage outliers 

  • Utilize filtering functions to keep the different repair priorities from exceeding a set number of days.
    • Medium work requests should be minimal over 5 days
    • Low priority should be minimal over 14 days
    • No repairs should go over 31 – even if it means canceling (it just convolutes the overall repair pool)

You don’t want to be consistently watching repair times and worried about the process not working correctly. With a good process, the outliers of work requests that exceed the number of days for their priority level will minimize.

If checkpoints are working effectively, set KPI’s (Key Performance Indicator) and targets to manage a certain % that go over the time periods allotted

  • Example – 200 open service issues (medium priority) = Target 10% over = 20 over 5 days (this are your indicators)
  • Build management structure to drive the right behavior

Measure resident satisfaction

This is the most important indicator that determines the health of your operation (lagging indicator)

Ensure 100% consistency

  • Do not allow selective reviewing
  • Must allow the opportunity for all renters to voice opinion to build your scale

Minimum 4 out of 5 on surveys (do not settle for 3/5 ratings – will hurt business)

Even though residents will be more willing to voice a complaint – a consistent and quick (immediately after repair) follow-up process will ensure accurate data

Prevent negative reviews from going online

  • Talk to them and work to resolve – negative online reviews hurt your checkbook

In conclusion, consider utilizing technology and software to automate many of these steps and ensure quality maintenance is happening at your operation. Changing your current maintenance process can seem daunting and a process of its own, but in the end, the actions you take will pay off exponentially saving time and money when those bad repairs are eliminated – and with automation, changing your process can be easier than ever before.

Leave bad reviews and messy maintenance in the past by streamlining your maintenance for happy tenants, happier investors, and stress-free property maintenance.

 

Learn more about how others have improved their follow up process.