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Employee Engagement

The latest multifamily research and data regarding the impact of employee engagement on resident retention, online reputation, and revenue growth.

Resident Retention: Silent But Deadly


According to the SatisFacts Index, 23% of all residents have an outstanding maintenance issue. Some may be a result of a service request that wasn't completed properly the first time or a repair that didn't hold for whatever reason. Some may be a result of the maintenance team not having all the correct information and therefore not addressing the correct issue.  Some may be issues that have not been reported yet. Any way you slice it, nearly one-quarter of all residents currently have a maintenance issue in their home.

Research shows that the more residents who have outstanding maintenance issues, the lower overall resident satisfaction is. And the lower resident satisfaction is, the less likely they will be to renew their lease. However, these silent but deadly ghosts of maintenance issues past and present do not have to be the reason for losing a resident.  By focusing on the service request process from start to finish, these issues can be banished for good!

The service request resolution process is a team process that is critical to the resident's perception that this community is an "easy" place to live. They don't have to work hard to get attention or service when needed. And as a team process, it can be helpful to break down the entire process and see if every team member knows his or her role.

Step 1 - Provide education to the office team on what information is most useful to the maintenance team when taking a service request. One helpful exercise is to get maintenance and leasing together and list out the 10 most common service requests at the community. For each of those service requests, have the maintenance team provide the 5 most helpful questions the office can ask the resident. 

Step 2 - Establish a standard of entering all service requests into the PM system immediately. No more writing on post-it notes or a note pad. The faster the request is put in the system, the faster the maintenance team can access and resolve it.

Step 3 - Audit the parts, tools and equipment available to the maintenance team to ensure they can resolve the most common maintenance issues quickly and easily.  Provide continuing education to ensure the maintenance team has the experience and certifications needed to address their community's most common needs.

Step 4 - Ensure the work area in each resident's home is left as clean or cleaner than the maintenance team originally found it. This shows respect to the resident's home as well as instilling confidence in the repair itself.

Step 5 - Identify whose responsibility it is to notify the resident of any delays. If a part needs to be ordered, if a specialized vendor needs to be called in, who will let the resident know? 

Step 6 - Follow-up after every service request is closed out in the work order system. This accomplishes 2 things: 1) Was the service request completed to the resident's expectation? If so, great, if not, let's take care of it immediately. 2) Is there anything else we can take care of for you?  This second question will often jog the resident's memory of something they keep forgetting to mention, or something that may have been bothering them for awhile but they just haven't got around to letting you know. 

Providing the highest level of service is a continual journey of fine tuning the resident experience. By taking a look at the service request process you have in place and enhancing areas of opportunity, your entire team will feel more productive, and your residents will feel the difference!

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It seems to me that since the resident opened up the ticket, the resident is the only person who can close it (within reason). Having a simple automated email follow-up asking "Was your maintenance request taken care of satisfactorily?" with links to "Yes" and "No" would cover most of these, and call follow-ups would cover the rest. That way, every initial request would be covered guaranteed!

  Brent Williams
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We currently send a very simple e-mail (by using a template saved in our CRM- though in the past we created signatures in Outlook) both when a work order is created, and then again when it has been completed. These work great because first the tenant feels acknowledged that their request has been heard, and even if it takes another day for the maintenance staff to call to let them know they're on their way, the tenant doesn't have to wonder if it was ever received at all. Secondly, the completion e-mail lets them know the work has been done even when it's not something that is immediately obvious. The best part about it is that we've been receiving so many more compliments ever since adopting this system simply because the tenant is prompted to reply whether they're satisfied or not...in the cases where they're not, we have the chance to make things right before the tenant has a chance to stew about it. We're currently looking into making this an automated process within our property management software, but until that happens, it's well worth the short amount of time it takes to send the e-mails (which is considerably less than calling everyone!) Of course, we still make some phone calls when necessary but most of our tenants are so busy and so used to communicating electronically anyway that this system works great for us.

  Jamie McBain
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@Brent - I love the way you expressed that: "since the resident opened up the ticket, the resident is the only person who can close it." I agree that the methodology does not have to be complicated. Just consistent.

  Jen Piccotti
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@Jamie - What a great process! You make an excellent point about how many compliments you receive as a result of the increased communication. No matter what kind of customer you are, we all like to know what's happening, what's the status. And as you mentioned, you are able to respond so swiftly on the occasion when something was not fixed properly or a problem came up. This goes a long way, especially when it's time to have the conversation about renewing their lease. They will remember the value you create and how easy you make it to be a resident there!

  Jen Piccotti

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