Few issues frustrate residents more than needing to make a maintenance request. How quickly and efficiently those requests are handled can be the difference between a satisfied resident and a very unhappy one. It can be easy for office teams to consider service requests to be primarily the responsibility of the maintenance team but working together to get those requests handled leads to significant gains for everyone. Knowing the steps of the process in advance sets the stage for success and ultimately for happier residents. Give these 3 best practices for better maintenance efficiency a try.
- Understand and Utilize the Diagnostic Tree
The diagnostic tree is a step-by-step set of instructions on looking at and repairing a problem. A diagnostic tree is a set of yes and no questions related to the problem but can be expanded to include the office staff as part of the service request process. Office leadership and maintenance leadership must work together to create work orders. Asking clear questions of the resident to gain details on the problem more often results in a “first visit fix.” That results in cost savings, fewer return trips, and ultimately better maintenance efficiency.
The steps in the diagnostic tree are:
- Listen – listen to the resident to understand what the problem is and when it started.
- Observe – What does the problem sound like? What does it look like? What does it smell like?
- Access and Test – Take a look!
- Research – If the problem happens AGAIN, what was done the first time?
- Document – Be specific on the actions taken for similar problems in the future to improve maintenance efficiency. Make sure someone who reviews those notes in the future will know what was done and what was the result.
2. Seize the Power of Early and Correct Diagnosis
Train to diagnose and repair issues. When teams are properly and thoroughly trained, the problem can be diagnosed quickly and correctly, resulting in cost savings from better maintenance efficiency and happier residents. Onsite leadership needs to be visibly excited about training on service issues and emphasize the importance of partnership with maintenance leadership for better maintenance efficiency.
One of the top issues influencing resident survey feedback is not just if the problem was fixed by maintenance but how fast it was fixed. Misdiagnosis results in delays and callbacks and detracts from maintenance efficiency. Finding ways to minimize callbacks results in cost savings, happier residents, and less stress on the office staff.
Utilizing past experiences with maintenance requests, you can determine if this same problem was resolved and leverage that experience for early and correct diagnosis and expedited resolution! It may be possible to simply answer the resident’s question based on past experience if there has been good communication between onsite teams and especially within the maintenance team.
3. Achieve Better Maintenance Efficiency Through Improved Maintenance Training
The best way to get employees excited about training is to BE excited about training. Show your team that you believe in the benefits of training!
Here are some tips and tricks for best practices in handling service requests:
- Have verified sources for good information. Bad information is costly.
- Have a method for relocating the information if the problem happens again.
- Take notes. It never hurts to write something down. Take notes on what was effective as well as unsuccessful.
- Starting the entire process again for recurring problems is costly and causes time delays.
- Utilize technology to communicate in modern ways. Gone are the days of filing away pieces of paper that can’t be quickly and efficiently accessed. Being able to put precise notes in a work order on the job in real-time and have that information trackable, readable, and manageable by leadership is extremely important.
- There is a financial cost to training, but if you can save a couple of calls to an outside vendor each year, you can afford training to ensure better maintenance efficiency. It is an investment that much more than pays for itself, not only in real cost savings but in resident satisfaction.
- Understand that resolution of maintenance issues affects resident renewals. Good training is worth the investment.
Happier residents mean less stress for office and maintenance teams. Having a good spirit of cooperation between office and maintenance teams is key. Knowing the steps to handle a maintenance request, following those steps, and documenting the action taken leads to better maintenance efficiency and satisfaction for everyone.