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Brent Williams' Apartment Blog

Thoughts, comments, and ideas about the overall multifamily industry, as well as a property-specific focus on resident retention and apartment marketing.

Anatomy of a Maintenance Training Program – Developing Maintenance Talent From Within

One of my favorite sessions of this year’s Apartmentalize Conference delved into one of the industry’s hottest topics – how to find great maintenance talent.  In that session, David Creek, Director Of Maintenance at Hayes Gibson Property Services, dug into not just finding talent, but also how to build up the talent you have.  Fortunately, David took some time with me to really delve into their approach and plan on tackling that issue!

If I’m going to promote you, you are going to have to have the skills to train your replacement
– David Creek


Creating “Maintenance Masters”, a Maintenance Training Program

In creating their maintenance training program, David and his team first wanted to understand two things:  1) They wanted to understand what type of skill gaps their team members were struggling with, and 2) They wanted to identify those already on their teams who excelled in different areas of apartment maintenance.  Those advanced team members would then be the first to help train future “generations” of maintenance team members.  Therefore, it wasn’t focused completely on a top-down training approach, but rather peer to peer training, leveraging existing knowledge and skills of their team members.  In that same vein, David noted this approach, where maintenance team members were trained by their peers, was actually preferred by maintenance learners, rather than being trained by upper management.

To start the program off, they decided that electrical was the first key area to be addressed, as it overlapped with several other key areas of maintenance, such as HVAC.  David mentioned several areas where they hoped to improve their maintenance training:

·         Electrical

·         HVAC

·         Plumbing

·         Punch process

·         Quarterly and yearly preventive maintenance

·         Budget preparation

·         Computer skills, including excel.


Maintenance Training Points

David explained how their maintenance training involved earning points in their training, with 100 points being required to graduate.  He shared a few ways that maintenance pros could earn points:

·         Attend a class (5 points)

·         Help set up a class (~2 points)

·         Teach a class (5 points)

·         Glowing resident feedback (1-5 points depending on skill required for the task)

This approach further solidified training as a key ingredient to upward mobility.


Graduating from the Maintenance Training Program

Ensuring team members take advantage of training resources isn’t always as easy as simply making it available.  Hayes Gibson understood this aspect, and worked to ensure that graduating from the Maintenance Masters program was celebrated throughout the company.  Not only did they give out monetary bonuses, but they also wanted to publicly acknowledge the effort by each student to his or her peers.  When a person graduates the maintenance training program:

·         The maintenance pro receives a gift of their choice, around $500 in value

·         Their nametag indicates they are a graduate

·         Their nametag is a slightly different color to showcase them as a graduate

·         They receive a pay raise

·         The company publicly shares the fact that they graduated so they get recognition

Beyond simply graduating and walking away, David’s team found that the maintenance professionals who went through the Maintenance Masters program ended up continuing on by paying it forward to future students, whether it was by teaching their own classes or developing curriculum.  Plus, to become a regional maintenance supervisor, he or she had to continue earning points, at least 10 per year.  It opened up the property to property communication that is always seems to be missing in the field.  One of the best solutions to getting questions answered it to ask the questions from “in the field team members”.  

As demand for quality maintenance professionals intensifies, this focus on supporting the growth of existing team members improves the chance that they continue with the company.

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Love this program! Thanks for the article Brent!

  Rommel Anacan

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