The Fine ART of Taking a Service Request


One of the most important services of the leasing staff is coordinating the onsite professional response to a maintenance request. This can be a key indicator in how long you keep a resident.

These days, most service requests are submitted through an online format, which can present a challenge in providing a personalized response. Therefore, our goal is to figure out how to turn an online service request into a memorable and unique experience for the resident. Consider every service request you receive an opportunity to showcase your strengths as a community.

A service request provides these 5 key opportunities:

  1. Show “REAL” service
  2. Promote goodwill
  3. Save on costs
  4. View the apartment home (impromptu inspection)
  5. Create additional value

Fulfilling a service request saves the residents the cost of paying for the repair themselves. Use this information to your advantage when conveying value to the resident.

A service request is NOT a complaint, it is a request.  Remember, the monthly maintenance warranty comes free with renting an apartment home within your community. As mentioned before, fulfilling a service request is an opportunity to perform and provide the resident with a service they have already purchased from the apartment community by paying their monthly rent.

Great maintenance service is FEPP: Friendly, Enthusiastic, Prompt and Professional.

Be friendly with a resident who is submitting a maintenance request. Be enthusiastic to receive their request and be of assistance and exude a professional nature. Also, make sure you address their request promptly and follow up when you have an expected completion time.

Be more excited to hear from them than the day they first leased from your apartment community.

Always make sure to take a complete service request. This should include the following information:

  • Resident’s name
  • Date and time the call is received (This can be important for the manager to monitor the response times.)
  • Apartment address/number
  • Cell phone and work phone numbers
  • Detailed explanation of maintenance requested

Below is an example phone script for taking a service request:

On-Site Professional: “Thank you for calling the Barrington Apartments.”

Resident: “Oh, hello. Listen, I live here and I have a leak in the bathroom.”

OP: (Very sincerely) “Oh, I am sorry to hear that. I’ll be happy to help you. This is Phillip. May I get your name?”

Resident: “This is Mrs. Pace, Mimi Pace. I have lived here for seven years.”

OP: (Again, very friendly and genuine) “Yes, mam! How are you Mrs. Pace?”

Resident: “I’m okay, but I have this water leak.”

OP: “Don’t worry! We’ll take care of it. Now if I recall, you are in apartment home #142. Is that leak in the hall bathroom or the one in your master bedroom?”

Resident: “Well, it’s in the bedroom, and it’s very annoying.”

OP: So that we can take care of it quickly, let me make sure I understand the details. Is it a sink faucet leak or something else?”

Resident: “No, it’s not the sink. It’s on the floor around the commode.”

OP: “Okay. Is the water clean or is it kind of dirty?”

Resident: “I think it’s clean. It doesn’t smell or anything.”

OP: “So, it’s probably not a sewage problem. Is it coming from the back of the commode, perhaps where the water tank is connected to the commode bowl?”

Resident: “Oh, hold on . . . let me look. (a few moments pass) Yes, that’s what’s happening. It’s leaking from the thing that holds the water, the tank.”

OP: “How fast is it dripping?”

Resident: “Not real fast. There is a little puddle of water each morning when I get up. But after I wipe it up, I don’t’ notice any water for several hours. But I slipped on the water this morning and almost fell.”

OP: “Mrs. Pace, you stay at home most of the day, don’t you?”

Resident: “Oh, yes. I don’t get out much since my husband passed away. And at my age, it’s hard getting out in this heat!”

OP: “Mrs. Pace, we don’t want you to slip and fall, so please be careful. I’m going to schedule Jimmy to come over this afternoon between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Is that okay?”

Resident: “Yes, that would be fine.”

OP: “While he’s in your apartment, I’m also going to have him check your air-conditioner and change the filter, so we can keep you nice and cool.”

Resident: “Oh that will be nice. Thank you.”

OP: “You’re very welcome. That’s what we’re here for! Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Resident: “No that will do it.”

OP: “Before you go, let me get your telephone number in case something comes up.”

Resident: “Okay, my mobile. It’s still (469) 692-4913.”

OP: “Great! Thanks for calling, Mrs. Pace. We’re glad to help and to have you as a resident. Do not hesitate to call if you have any more service needs.”

Resident: “Okay, thank you, Phillip. Goodbye.”

Don’t Forget These Extras – In addition to the resident’s name, date and time of request, apartment number and address, mobile and work phone numbers, and a detailed explanation of the maintenance requested, include the two items below:

Comments or promises made to the resident – Record any significant comments made to the resident, especially any promises or timeframe mentioned for completing the service request. Again, the more detail, the better.

Name of on-site person taking the service request – Finally, the individual who takes and writes the request should sign their name in case anyone has questions.

Does taking this much detail sound too time consuming?

Remember, it takes much less time than the time wasted if the maintenance tech cannot understand the problem and has to make several trips back and forth from the apartment to get the right tools or parts. Instead, doing it right the first time will save time compared to the “hours” you will spend with an angry resident whose request for service was overlooked, incorrectly prioritized, or just not fully completed.

Presented by:

Rick Ellis, CPM
Ellis Consulting Group