READ TIME - 4 Minutes
(Author's note: As the CEO of ServusConnect, its my job to stay close to our clients; this is important to not only gauge satisfaction with our product, but also to inspire innovation in our platform by staying close to the operational trends, situations and experiences that multifamily operators deal with on a daily basis. A topic that surfaced during one such visit with a regional management team of a large multifamily owner-operator, was "the importance of repair documentation". Special thanks to Shannon Brummett of GSC and his NC-based regional management team for their insights on this topic.)
Maintenance operations is the lifeblood of apartment property management. Yes, leasing makes a great first impression and gets residents in the door, but maintenance retains them. One multifamily CEO recently expressed this during his interview on the Multifamily Matters radio show in Houston, TX when he indicated that "maintenance is the #1 reason why residents don't renew".
There are many variables (staffing, weather, age-of-property, etc.) that go into producing a maintenance offering that consistently exceeds your resident's expectations. But the glue that could help hold it together through the ebb-and-flow is having good repair documentation. Here are 5 Reasons how good repair documentation can benefit your multifamily property operations:
1. Staff Changes
As every regional and property manager knows, maintenance team staffing is extremely challenging in the current market. What's worse, when a team member leaves, they take with them institution knowledge of a property that can take new team members months or even years to re-acquire, and then they leave. Rinse, wash, repeat...
Having good repair documentation, along easy access to repair history, not only speeds up the institutional knowledge-transfer to new tech's, it also enables them to operate more efficiently on a day-to-day basis. Should they repair or replace? Good documentation on previous repairs aids mightily with decision making on current issues. On that note...
Un-budgeted expenses in the form of adhoc repairs and/or replacements of systems can move a good month or quarter to a bad one really fast! HVAC is one of the biggest culprits. It doesn't take a long time hanging out in the maintenance shop on a cold or hot day to see how this happens.
Having good categorization of previous repairs with time and dates stamps, not to mention good documentation in the form of technician notes, photos and videos can aid significantly in budgeting process and in repair vs. replace decision making. We talk more in depth on this topic in our blog post, 4 Ways to Use Maintenance Data During Multifamily Budget Season.
3. Resident Satisfaction (or not...)
It's well established that maintenance is a critical cog in the resident satisfaction machine for multifamily. When its good, residents are happy, which can convert to positive online sentiment which is critical for attracting new residents. When its bad, not only can it bleed out online and negatively impact the online reputation of your property and brand, it can lead to monetary concession or even lawsuits.
Good repair documentation (good technician notes, before/after pictures, videos), along with easy access to this documentation, is absolutely critical in the root-cause analysis of negative resident sentiment. Is there a quality issue, is the repair recurring, was there a mis-communication between the resident and the tech? Good documentation could be the difference between a simple misunderstanding and a monetary concession, a broken lease, or even a lawsuit.
4. Compliance & Legal
If you are provider of tax-credit or affordable housing, you are very familiar with routine and or complaint-based inspections by the governing authorities for the municipalities your serve.
Generally speaking, these inspections typically generate repair findings that require remediation by the management company. Well documented remediation and repair details are typically required to not only have on file and easily accessible, but may also be required to submit for review to meet compliance requirements.
From a legal perspective, nearly every multifamily professional with some tenure has dealt with lawsuits brought by a residents who took issue with the condition and upkeep of their apartment. In conversations with multifamily executives, rich documentation with photos and timestamps of efforts made to remediate the claim (and easy accessibility to said documentation) can be the difference between unnecessary legal expenses and a fast retraction or dismissal.*
5. Speed Up Repairs
Speed is an extremely important component when it comes to apartment repairs. In fact, in a study we conducted comparing total elapsed repair time against resident satisfaction survey results, speed-of-repair is the #1 influencer to resident satisfaction.
Arming technicians with data on previous repairs to a particular component (HVAC for example) speeds-up troubleshooting times and overall repair times on current issues. This will have a direct, positive impact on resident satisfaction and not to mention your properties online reputation.
If you'd like more information on ServusConnect and how our web and mobile apps can improve your multifamily repair documentation and make your maintenance teams more efficient, lets schedule a demo and talk!
*Please keep in mind that we are not attorneys and this is not legal advice. If you have questions concerning appropriate level of documentation you should retain, and for how long, please consult with appropriate legal counsel and/or compliance experts.