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Are you doing this for your Service Team in the summer?

A/C service calls and work outside in general are at an all-time high and very often your technicians have to work outside in the sun, on rooftops, in attics, crawlspaces and very unhospitable places to make sure their customers, the residents, have air condition and can enjoy their home at a comfortable temperature. Too often though, nobody regularly checks on the technicians throughout the day to make sure they haven't suffered from a heat injury or show any signs or symptoms. It can be as simple and make sure there is water and healthy drinks available all day and that they have to let their supervisor or manager know they are staying hydrated. The last thing you want, is to find a technician that suffered heat exhaustion or heat stroke because someone didn't think to check on them or have water and fluids available.  If someone is going to work on a rooftop or in an isolated area they should check in every so often (15 minutes) to let someone know they are alright and doing well.  The surface temperature of many rooftops is over 140 degrees, an attic can be just as hot, and it is already hot enough outside in the sun and shade. Even just walking around on the hot asphalt exposes a technician to much more heat than walking on concrete or grass. If you measure the difference with a thermometer, the temperature difference between, grass, concrete, asphalt and a rooftop or attic is significant. Often times the difference ......
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Technicians are Exhausted

Technicians are Exhausted
Technicians are exhausted, burnt out and need time to replenish, recover, and re-energize. If you don’t do something about it the shortage of techs will only get much worse. It is time to make changes that matter. We all know that our technicians are the heartbeat of our service and commitment to take care of our residents and make our properties as successful as possible. The pandemic and the past year have taken a serious toll on everyone on site that cannot be overlooked, and it is evident by employee turnover which specifically includes our Service Team members. More than ever before, good technicians are hard to find, and the great ones are even more of a rare find. There is such a shortage, that when a great tech is available or looking for a new place of employment they are inundated with offers, messages from recruiters and almost always have a new place of employment immediately. Far too often, technicians genuinely don’t feel as if they are valued and respected in the workplace. They hear it often, but don’t feel they experience it nearly enough, if at all. It is one thing to tell an associate they are respected but it is an entirely different matter for them to experience it from their own perspective and feel as if it is true through deeds not words.  What does this mean? Techs want to be spoken to with respect, they want the support of their team, and they do not want to be......
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Amid COVID-19 Shutdown, Thinking of Multifamily Maintenance Workers

One of the really great parts of my job is traveling around the country meeting with multifamily operators (executives & technicians alike) and having discussions about their successes & challenges with maintenance operations. Needless to say, I'm not traveling any longer, but the week before the NBA suspended play and the NCAA conference tournaments were shut down, I was on one of these trips in New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania. At that time, there were already several confirmed COVID-19 cases in NYC. During a meeting in NJ (about 20 minutes outside the city) with an operations exec at an owner-operator for several thousand units in the region, it was mentioned that a maintenance employee had called into the corporate office earlier that day to ask the question:   "What if we're scared to come to work because of how close we might be to residents under quarantine for coronavirus?"   This is a question that you may have fielded several times by now. That day, it was ground zero; completely new territory for everyone. This was exactly the point where the weight & risk of a potential COVID-19 outbreak and impact to the health & safety of property teams, specifically maintenance team members, started to press on me.     Maintenance Teams Are First Responders We all know how important our maintenance teams are to property operations.  We also know that, often times, they are first responders at the properties they serve. More than a few times we've seen resident feedback go through our system,......
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"Does your company require technicians to do HVAC work outside once it is dark out?"

Below is a video of some of my thoughts on "Does your company require technicians to do HVAC work outside once it is dark out?"

What is expected where you work?  



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Why golf carts are such a good investment and so important for timely service

Why golf carts are such a good investment and so important for timely service
  The topic of golf carts tends to stir a lot of debate, but having golf carts is hands down one of the best things a company can do to provide top notch service in a timely manner. But let’s look at the decision to provide golf carts from a purely quantifiable and productive standpoint and you can decide for yourself. As an owner you have a choice; pay someone by the hour to walk from point A to point B at approximately 3-4 miles per hour, or pay them to drive a golf cart at approximately 12-20 miles per hour.  So let’s look at the cost of walking compared to the cost of driving. If a technician gets paid 10.00 per hour, that is 16.6 cents per minute; so every time a technician spend 10 minutes walking it costs you $1.66. Multiply that by the number of your technicians and you can figure out exactly how much you just paid a person to walk from one place to the other without producing work or providing service. So, if 4 technicians waste 10 minutes a day by walking back and forth for service requests for 350 days, that will equal $2,324 per year in payroll at a conservative $10.00 per hour. Most technicians get paid much more that that but this is just to further prove the point. What does a golf cart cost? In my experience, a decent used golf cart can cost between $2,000-$3,000, so let’s say it cost $2,50......
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 Here is my third sequential post on fair housing issues that can impact maintenance employees.  I have been teaching fair housing to our industry for 23+ years now (somehow that was never the plan and I still sometimes look around and wonder how this all came to be) yet I still get the question about AIDS.  In fact, I have had the question asked of me twice in just the past couple of weeks.  The question is about the special precautions that should be taken by maintenance when doing a work order for a resident who has AIDS (or is thought to have AIDS).  So what precautions should be taken?  (Hint – it is a one word answer – cue the Jeopardy! music please.)   And the answer is:  NONE!  Yep, that’s right – no special precautions based on the resident when working in an apartment.  Precautions should never be special, they should be standard for the type of work order, not the resident.  So if you are working on a toilet – anyone’s toilet - it might make sense to wear gloves and spray with bleach.  (Especially because while you are likely not going to get AIDS from working on a toilet, there are other nasty diseases you just might catch -  hepatitis comes to mind.)  If you are worried about catching air borne disease from residents, feel free to wear a mask – just wear it for anyone.  Every community should have its work order protocol as to how......
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Fair Housing and Maintenance - Who Cares?

This is the first of several posts I am planning with a focus on some of the fair housing issues that can arise for maintenance professionals.   As an industry we tend to sometimes overlook the maintenance side of the business when it comes to fair housing education, focusing instead on the leasing and front office folks.  Or at least that is my theory.  And my theory will now be put to the test, because here is what you may not know about MFI blogs.  Those of us who are regular MFI bloggers get to see our “stats” – including how many people read each of our posts.  I will be watching to see if my “maintenance” posts draw a lesser readership.  Hmmmm…   Perhaps I am being a tad pessimistic with the above blog title of “Who Cares”?  Maybe you do (well, actually you likely do care or you would not have read this far).  But if you don’t, let me try some persuasion here as to why perhaps you should.   Liability cannot be delegated!  (Maybe I won’t get readers at all if I say boring things like that.)  What does that mean?  It’s about accountability, and if a maintenance professional makes a fair housing mistake, you can be held accountable.  You can be held accountable if you are that maintenance employee (even if your manager told you what you were doing was OK or you did not understand that there was a fair housing issue). You can be held......
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Why do Managers say this to their technicians?

I just got back from traveling all over the country speaking to different groups on several topics and conducting maintenance certification seminars. At the end of most certification courses such as CPO, CFC, HVAC and each student has to successfully pass an exam to get their certification.

This year, noticeably more than the past few years, I have had quite a few technicians come to me and say "My Manager told me if I fail I need to look for another job". “What can I do if I fail and can I take the test again?”

Now I am a huge believer in setting goals and holding people accountable but I find it hard to believe how anyone can think threatening someone with their employment is an effective way to motivate someone to pass a certification exam right before they go to the class.

Imagine if the roles were reversed! I would like to know your thoughts on this and what you have found to be effective and how you approach and handle it.

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