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With apartment maintenance and repairs, getting resident service requests completed correctly and in a timely manner is critical to consistently exceeding resident expectations.
Maintenance Operations, done right, can become a valuable component in the marketing of your brand. Conversely, it can be a scourge upon your online property reputation at influential rating sites such as Google Maps and ApartmentRatings.com.
The good news is that your service technicians carry an extremely valuable piece of technology, in the form of their smartphone, that can provide a massive assist in getting requests done fast and right!
But, with almost 4 million apps on Google Play and 2 million on Apple App Store, figuring out which are the most valuable to assist your maintenance technicians in keeping repair-completions moving, can seem overwhelming. That is why we went straight to the source, interviewing dozens of technology-embracing multifamily maintenance technicians to see what apps are critical to them!
Here are your 8 must-have apartment maintenance apps:
1. YouTube App
How do you troubleshoot an evaporator coil? What is the correct way to measure for bi-fold doors? Helpful how-to videos to answer these questions (and a million others!) are easily accessible in the field via a quick search on the YouTube app.
Youtube is the primary source for viewing how-to videos on the Internet. And it's not just individuals posting these videos; Youtube is the location of choice for many large brands that supply goods and services to the apartment industry to post helpful how-to content. (For example, HD Supply has over 500 how-to videos posted on their YouTube channel). According to the maintenance professionals we've spoken to, YouTube is at the top of their list for must-have apps.
*Tip from the Pros: YouTube is extremely helpful when training new technicians who may not know how to do everything!
2. Google Translate App
Fast, successful repairs are just part of the equation; communication is, in many instances, equally important! But let's face it, English is not a first language of many residents and maintenance technicians that live and work in our communities and/or buildings.
So how would a English or Spanish-speaking technician let a resident who only speaks Arabic know that they need to leave to get a part and that they'll be back shortly?
The Google Translate App is just the ticket. Just type or speak what you want to say in your native language and Translate will it into the desire target language. Turn the smartphone sideways and Translate will use the entire screen to display the translated text so your residents can read it! Super helpful on so many fronts...
3. ServusConnect App
Printing work orders, losing work orders, can't read work orders, selectively ignoring work orders, tracking work orders, logging-in completed work orders, etc, etc....
Paper work orders are a drag on so many fronts and are the number one bottleneck to getting resident service requests done in a timely manner. So much time is wasted in the manual shuffling of paper, not to mention capturing reliable, non-reputable repair data like timestamps, photos, videos, technician comments and putting all of this in one place is extremely difficult.
The ServusConnect Technician App changes all of that. This convenient app is extremely easy to use, even for the least technically-astute members of your staff! Digital work orders are delivered directly to your technician's smartphone and color-coded by severity, sorted by date-received.
When it's time to start the repair, your technicians simply click Accept and start the job - when they are done, they press Complete and move on to the next request. Photo & video-capture capabilities are built-in, allowing for more comprehensive repair documentation.
Timestamps of all of these actions are automatically captured in the app allowing managers to easily piece together the lifecycle of a repair along with actions taken. All of this data is actively synced to the ServusConnect Cloud and easily accessible for manager review and reporting.
ServusConnect also has the ability to integrate with existing Property Management Systems via API (including MRI Software), simplifying deployments and training for staff.
Interested in learning more? Click the button below to schedule a call.
4. HD Supply Easy Order App
Many multifamily maintenance shops maintain a small inventory of commonly used parts in an effort to speed up repairs. But it's very difficult to stock everything, parts need to be re-ordered and managing all of this requires a significant amount of time to keep up with. Wouldn't it be great if your technicians could just order a part from their smartphone while they are in the unit?
- view frequently purchased items
- part number and barcode scanning
- google-style catalog searches
- order history & status
- in-app ordering
It's easy to see why the HD Supply Easy Order App is high on the list of must have apps for multifamily maintenance supervisors.
View demo video here.
4. HappyCo's Happy Inspector App
Apartment operators are famous for having a million forms to document all sorts of inspections that are supposed to take place at all level of the business. Move-in/move-out inspections, periodic maintenance inspections, owner inspections, due-diligence inspections, safety inspections, pool/hot-tub/sauna inspections.... the list goes on-and-on.
The challenge for the average apartment technician is managing the paper, appropriately documenting findings, remediating findings and ultimately making sure these report get into the right hands.
HappyCo can help! They have oodles of pre-built, customizable inspection forms specifically tailored to the multifamily industry that makes the process of standardizing inspections across an individual property, portfolio or your entire company simple and seamless.
All of these inspections are neatly organized in the HappyCo Cloud and consolidated into intuitive reporting dashboards, giving managers 360° visibility into operations, findings and resolutions.
Most importantly, the Happy Inspector App makes it extremely easy for staff to perform these inspections and digitally document their finding...without a bunch of paperwork!
For more information on Happy Inspector, click here.
5. Centriq App
Sometimes complex repairs require schematics, owners manuals, manufacturer parts lists, etc. Anyone who has gone out to a manufacturer's website and tried to find this information can vouch for how time-consuming this can be, especially on equipment that is older than a few years old.
The Centriq App changes all of this - and it's super-cool!
Simply take a picture of a model#/serial# badge on almost anything in an apartment with a power cord. The app uses character-recognition to pull the model#/serial# out of the photo, then cross-references it with their database of almost every major appliance and mechanical manufacturer's product catalog - past & present.
Behind the scenes, the Centriq App gathers product manuals, parts lists, specification sheets, etc. from respective manufacturers; along with any other documentation the Centriq user community many have added to a specific model. All of this information is neatly organizing it in the app, conveniently accessible while in the field.
Centriq primarily markets their app to home-owners, allowing them to catalog their appliances, organize documents, order parts from Amazon.com, or make connections to repair technicians in their area.
That being said, creative apartment maintenance technicians have found this app highly effective in creating & maintaining a common catalog of manufacturer documents, owners manuals, specification sheets and parts lists for appliance & mechanical equipment on their property.
6. Zello Push-To-Talk App
Two-way radios and walkie-talkies have been staples of maintenance teams for 20 years. They are easy to use and the team-wide broadcast is helpful when a resident has an emergency and needs help from the closest/available team member.
The team-wide voice communication is definitely handy, but with staff also being required to carry smartphones to run business-critical apps, they'd rather get of the extra device on their belt. That is where the Zello Push-to-Talk App comes in super-handy!
This free app allows property teams to setup up a group push-to-talk channel for their property, allowing one-to-one and one-to-many communication within the group. Photo and location sharing are also features, and Zello works seamlessly with your bluetooth accessories - they even have a Microsoft Windows client! If you need advanced features like live GPS mapping of team members, definitely check out Zello For Work
*Authors note: We came across this app while working with maintenance teams in Florida, where hurricanes, power outages & jammed phone networks are part of life. Zello plays a critical role in helping onsite, regional & national resources stay connected and keep residents safe when the only thing that seems to work are the cellular data networks. Here is a link to tips on using Zello for communications during a disaster event.
7. HVAC Check & Charge
There are a number of HVAC utility apps on the Google Play and Apple App Store, but the one that keep coming up from multifamily maintenance technicians we've spoken to is Emerson Climate Technologies HVAC Check & Charge App.
Gone are the days of laminated cross-reference charts - this simple-to-use app allows HVAC technicians to easily calculate correct system refrigerant charge for R-22 or R-410A coolants using their Android or Apple-based smartphones.
Technicians can simply choose Subcooling, Superheat, or Airflow and enter the specified system temperatures along with a couple of other parameters. The app calculates the proper system charge and whether the charge amount needs to be changed based on these conditions.
Click here to view a demo of the app.
8. MSDSOnline eBinder Safety Data Sheet (SDS) App
Spend any time in a multifamily maintenance shop and you'll find plenty of household and industrial chemicals used for all sorts of things. From cleaning products, to pool chemicals, to pesticides and herbicides - the maintenance shop is a cornucopia of chemicals.
OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) (29 CFR 1910.1200(g)), revised in 2012, requires that the chemical manufacturers, distributors, or importers provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) (formerly MSDSs or Material Safety Data Sheets) for each hazardous chemical to downstream users to communicate information on these hazards. What's more, employers must ensure that the SDSs are readily accessible to employees for all hazardous chemicals in their workplace.
It's typically the job of the maintenance supervisor to maintain a collection of SDSs, typically a three-ring binder, and have them easily accessible for all employees in case of emergency. This is a tedious task at best and often not maintained upto par, even at the most organized shops.
This is why MSDSOnline, a digital Environment Health & Safety vendor, developed an app-based "electronic-binder", or eBinder for SDSs - allowing simple and fast access to this critical information, all from your technician's smartphone. The system can be centrally managed and organized on a property-by-property basis, as some sites may use different chemicals than others. This is also great from a corporate compliance and regulatory governance perspective.
In the event there is an emergency onsite and the applicable SDS is not listed in the corporate or site-level repository - no worries with eBinder - just scan the barcode or UPC code on the label, and the app will pull down SDS on the fly and add it to your repository. eBinder can also digitally share an SDS with others (like first-responders), even if they don't have the app.
Click here for MSDSOnline Datasheet
Final Point: This is by no means an exhaustive list, so if you or your maintenance team has a must-have app they use on the job, by all means, let us know! Just send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.