The final piece to the maintenance puzzle is of course your relationship with the tenant, and their maintenance requests. I touched on this in yesterday’s article. Being able to handle the requests from tenants in a timely and efficient manner is key to their satisfaction – and as we know, tenant satisfaction leads to lower turnover and higher profits.
No matter what you do in terms of preventive maintenance, upkeep, and day-to-day maintenance, there will always be situations where something happens during a tenant’s stay where they require some sort of maintenance. The obvious here includes everything from clogged drains to appliance issues and depending on your lease contract, even simply changing light bulbs.
Responding to tenants’ requests is really all about customer service. If you think about any company where you may require periodic technical assistance (such as computer companies), I would wager to guess that your best experiences come from companies who have tech support that is quick to respond, positive and helpful, and who solve your problems without causing you any in turn. It sounds simple, but many companies do not get this right.
Ultimately the key is to make the process as simple for the tenant as possible. If any point in the process causes them an inconvenience, consider it a point against you for good customer care. Obviously for situations where you require their presence or other odd circumstances requiring they move furniture around for in unit maintenance, you can’t do much to avoid the tenant having to do extra to get the problem solved (in these situations I think most people are understanding). What I’m really talking about though is your process.
Consider a system like Propertyware – being a web based property management system, this gives you a leg up on ease of use. Propertyware has an integrated maintenance management system – all the tenant needs to do is log into their account, make a maintenance request and it gets put through your system. There are extra features like allowing for discussion with the tenant via the system so that if necessary you get get to the heart of the problem quicker, and send the proper maintenance team to solve the issue. This is a fantastic program for any property management strategy, but is especially useful if you have no ongoing on-site presence.
If you don’t have an integrated web based solution like this, then you will need to devise a strategy wherein tenant’s make their requests, they are received, recorded, and assigned a time for service – preferably at the point of the request. By this I mean, if you accept a request via phone, record and assign a time slot for service while you have the tenant on the phone so that they know you are on it, that their problem is going to be solved, and when it’s going to be solved. If you need to enter the unit, be sure to have some sort of proof that you have been given permission to enter (another nice feature of the web based solution).
You can certainly do this entire process on paper if that is where you are at in your business – just be sure to have very detailed notes of the entire process: who contacted you, when they contacted you, what they requested, type of problem, contractor you will assign, time that the maintenance will occur, and proof of tenant permission to enter. The more information you record the better – this is both to cover yourself in the event something wrong happens with a contractor, or the tenant ends up having a problem with you entering their unit.
In the end, it’s really just about having an established system wherein you can immediately accept tenant maintenance requests, find the solution, and implement it. The smoother this process is for the tenant, the happier they will be, and the happier you will be as well.