Apartment maintenance teams can boost resident satisfaction significantly by preparing for the unexpected. Timely response to maintenance requests is consistently at the top of the list of resident concerns, so being equipped with the right technology to provide emergency repairs is critical to retention, referrals and good reviews.
When unforeseen issues arise, residents need both answers and action. The first line of defense is giving key personnel the tools to respond to residents in a timely manner and get repairs under way.
At the recent RealPage Maintenance Summit, maintenance leaders from Olympus Property and Maxus Properties shared their strategies for managing emergency calls as quickly and efficiently as possible. Both companies work hard to respond within five to ten minutes when an emergency service request is made, even after business hours.
Each is leveraging the RealPage Facilities Maintenance contact center, which, in addition to fielding apartment maintenance requests during regular hours, helps properties identify true emergency calls so that workloads are prioritized, and residents are better served. When emergency calls are received, the automated system dials until someone at the property accepts and acknowledges the concern.
Requests – via phone, email, or text – are routed to the appropriate personnel so someone can speak directly with the resident and a work order can be created. The solution also provides valuable reporting to help monitor maintenance efforts and response times.
Reaching maintenance techs fast
Olympus Property Management employs an on-call emergency response system that tracks down a designated technician for any resident making a request. In the event the technician is not immediately available, the call is routed to the next available representative.
“(The technician) can speak with resident and ask them what the issue is and give them a time frame when they will be there,” says Jarvis Johnson, Olympus Properties’ regional maintenance technician, who has been in the business since 1984.
The call center’s protocol to dial until it gets an answer mitigates the potential for long delays that can add to resident stress and complicate repairs. The difference between an immediate response and one taking 30 minutes, or an hour can seem huge for residents in a true emergency. It can also lead to further damage to the property and increase the cost of repairs.
The response system ensures that Olympus Property can respond in a timely manner.
“Not every. apartment maintenance person lives on the property,” Johnson says. “So our system calls the next maintenance person if that (first) person doesn’t pick up. Then it goes to a third. We have backups.”
Leveraging phone, email, text and in-person communications
Maxus Properties Regional Maintenance Supervisor Jim Roth oversees ten properties in five states, and has seen a variety of emergencies caused by fire, power outages and loss of cooling/heating during extreme temperatures. Because properties are spread out across the U.S., emergencies at Maxus Properties can result from a broad variety of weather events or disasters.
Roth has led restoration operations through tornadoes, hurricanes and significant winter weather. Some have been pretty severe.
“We’ve dealt with a couple of storms in Alabama that went from hurricanes to tornados,” he says. “It was very eye-opening.”
The ability to connect with residents through the Facilities Maintenance platform’s multiple communication modes has helped expedite response times. Roth has relied on phone, email, text and in-person communication to support residents during emergencies.
“I’ve found all three to be effective,” he says. “If they can’t answer their phone or can’t get the email, we pick up the phone and call them. And if need be, we make a visit to their home and make sure they are taken care of.”
Connected through apartment maintenance mobile app
Roth says Maxus relies on RealPage’s Mobile Facilities app to stay in contact with residents and technicians and push through work orders around the clock.
The app allows property management maintenance teams to prioritize requests from highest to lowest so residents with the most pressing needs can be addressed first. Technicians and supervisors can track the progress of the requests, including the times the residents were contacted and job completion time.
To further ensure a streamlined emergency response, a push notification system for use only on emergency requests is debuting soon on the app. Technicians will be able to quickly distinguish true emergency calls from regular maintenance requests.
RealPage Facilities Management allows properties to raise service levels, slash response times and lower costs. You can learn top tips here for taking your apartment maintenance to the next level.