ServusConnect Blog

Think your multifamily maintenance staff can't learn tech? Think again

May 10, 2018 4:35:39 PM / by Jamie Wohlschlegel

READ TIME - 3 Minutes

The thought of giving your multifamily maintenance technicians something new to learn, especially technology, is not a hill many apartment operators want to climb.

Why is this?

Our knee jerk reaction is to think about the tech who still has a flip-phone, or the one who doesn't speak English well, or the conspiracy theorist on your team that thinks you want to track their every move.

It seems there is a general stigma in multifamily that our maintenance team members are not capable of learning or using technology on a daily basis to do their job.

This could not be more wrong. In the 30-49 age group, which the majority-age maintenance technicians fall into, 89% own "smart" devices. The guy with the flip-phone - these are the outliers; the "1-in-20's".

The reality is that your maintenance staff are already using their smart phones and mobile apps to do their jobs.

Over the past several years, our team has trained hundreds of property-level personnel. Here are four ways your multifamily apartment service technicians and vendors are already power-users of mobile technology:

Text Messaging

If there is one app that is universal, it's text messaging. In fact, in three years of working-with, and training maintenance teams and make-ready vendors on technology for multifamily, we've only encountered one technician who had never sent or received a text message. And yes, he had a flip phone!

Texting is the most widely-used and frequently used app on a smartphone, with 97% of Americans using it at least once a day. (Pew Internet)

From texting photos & videos of issues to each other for collaborative troubleshooting, to coordinating make-ready tasks with vendors, text is the absolute killer app that your maintenance team members and vendors are already using. And they are using it to actually be useful!

Photos & Videos

Your technicians have a tough job - they spend more time with your residents on a daily basis than almost anyone else in your company. Sometimes things don't go as planned. Sometimes residents have unrealistic expectations.

In either case, the majority of technicians we've spoken with were already using their personal smart phones to take before-and-after photos or videos as a form of physical documentation to protect themselves and the company. They're also taking photos of other issues that may be of concern to their management and sharing those with the maintenance supervisor or property manager via text.

And yes, and sometimes they are gross :-)

Dropped-Pins (GPS Mapping)

Using GPS mapping apps like Google Maps for directions or traffic conditions from A-to-B is the obvious use-case and heavily used by tech's and vendors alike. But, in our travels we found that multifamily maintenance technicians were power-users of these mapping apps.

They were doing things like using zoomed-in satellite views of properties and dropped-pin functionality to lock in on things like irrigation or roof leaks and then sharing the maps with vendors via text so they know exactly where to go when they get onsite. No coaching or training - they just figured it out!

ServusConnect | Map Dropped Pin

Language Translation

Your residents and technicians can come from diverse backgrounds. They may not always speak the same language, or even the same accent or dialect in a common language. When it comes to describing where, what, and why something needs to be repaired in an apartment, translation can be a major issue.

The vast majority of non-English speaking maintenance technicians we encountered were already using a super-easy-to-use language translation app on their personal smartphones called Google Translate.

Google Translate supports over 100 languages at various levels and as of May 2017, serves over 500 million people daily. (Wikipedia)

If you are not already familiar with this nifty app, it allows you to type or even have a conversation between 2 languages. In fact, we now make sure this app is installed on all of the mobile devices we distribute for technicians. If you don’t already have this app on your smartphone, you should download it today! 

These are just a few of the ways we have experienced firsthand about how multifamily maintenance teams are already using mobile technologies on the job.

So give your maintenance staff the benefit of the doubt when it comes to technology. Deploying easy-to-use enterprise mobile apps to this user group is not that hard. Beside, there is a reason they are maintenance techs - they have a natural aptitude to figure things out!

In return, get the data you need from operations to make smarter and more informed decisions about your properties. Not only will your staff and residents benefit, but your bottom line will appreciate it too!

*If you are considering deploying a real-time apartment operations apps like ServusConnect for mobile work orders or mobile inspection apps like HappyCo, you should definitely check out our recent webinar slide-share on considerations for deploying mobile maintenance apps:

Get the Webinar Slides & Notes

 

Topics: maintenance, technology, multifamily, apartment, apartments, mobility

Jamie Wohlschlegel

Written by Jamie Wohlschlegel