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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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The Modernization of Multifamily

The Modernization of Multifamily
Multifamily has never exactly lived on the bleeding edge of technology. Historically, the apartment industry has preferred to let other sectors play the role of guinea pig and only adopt innovations once they have been tried and tested. The pandemic, however, forced owners and operators out of that comfort zone. Contact restrictions, leasing office closures, staffing limitations, the economic recession, and the countless other impacts of COVID-19 demanded a change to the status quo. Property managers had to seek out and embrace technology solutions just to maintain operations and continue leasing apartment homes. While their hand was forced, apartment operators quickly learned that the myriad of technology solutions they deployed not only kept them afloat during the pandemic but introduced efficiencies and optimized the native workflow. Business practices improved, time savings were introduced for team members, and overall operations were enhanced in lasting, meaningful ways. The pandemic served to modernize multifamily and provide a more up-to-date experience for renters, and those advances in technology won’t be repealed when COVID-19 becomes a thing of the past.Embraced out of necessityInnovation is born out of necessity, and the pandemic presented plenty of new problems to address.At the property level, leasing teams had to transition away from in-person prospect tours to mitigate health risks. Community managers had to find ways to facilitate access throughout the community with minimal shared-surface contact. Maintenance teams needed a paperless means to receive and track service requests. Renters facing uncertain financial situations needed fewer up-front monetary obstacles to leasing a h......
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What are Resident Performed Inspections?

ResidentPerformedInspectionsWhat if your residents could gather information and help you get work done?  That could save a tremendous amount of time for your maintenance staff on move in inspections, for example.  While the quality of information may vary from resident to resident for quarterly or annual inspections, residents can provide valuable pictures and other information providing insight to issues before turning the inspection into a complaint form.  Plus, during the pandemic, this may be the only option for collecting this valuable information.  Inspections provides you a way to integrate residents into your maintenance process making them part of the solution versus complaining about the problems. Sure, there’s still the tried and true method of providing residents a paper inspection and asking them to fill out, sign and turn in to the office.  Yet, that method lacks pictures, and is typically filed in the resident’s folder.  They are difficult to use for corrective or future action unless someone does the extra work of having them digitized.  Just keep in mind that by using paper, you are providing your residents and staff with an unwritten message about how you view technology and the convenience that it provides. So, what options do you have?  Well, there are a lot of inspection systems out there, and not all of them support resident-performed inspections.   For those that do, you will need to evaluate them based upon features that offer you value and efficiency.  Starting with the basics, you’ll be looking for systems that not only perfor......
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Plumbing Basics for Landlords: Tenant Problems and Prevention

Plumbing Basics for Landlords: Tenant Problems and Prevention
The best-laid plumbing of mice and men can still encounter catastrophic failure… or something like that. Proper piping maintenance is not simply about keeping the heat above fifty-five degrees in the winter (although you should). In fact, there are a number of ways you can treat your pipes and drains and you can train your tenants to treat your pipes and drains that will go a long way in ensuring your plumbing infrastructure remains in excellent condition. But before we jump into prevention, let’s first talk handling problems when they do go awry.   Things to Consider When Managing Your Tenants’ Plumbing Problems  Here are a few items to consider from a plumbing and procedures standpoint with your tenants:  Who Handles Plumbing Problems — You or Your Tenants?  At some point, you may need to invest in repairs or upgrades for your units, and that may be something of an unavoidable reality, depending on how old your properties are, the shape they were in when you bought them, and how long you plan on managing them. Ultimately, major repairs and other plumbing services will be your responsibility as you are the property owner or manager. Nevertheless, your tenants do not have license to mistreat the property or hasten the need for repairs and upgrades by misusing the plumbing, so you want to articulate in your lease agreement that your tenants will pay additional charges to cover the costs of repairs for any inappropriate behaviors that cause clogs, backups, buildups, and other plumbing problems. Certainly, landlords and tenants have battled in court over who is to blame for plumbing problems and the need for repairs, so you want to minimize any grey areas that open up an opportunity for debate by hammering out the details of what is and is not allowed and who is responsible for what in an air-tight agreeme......
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6 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Rental Property

6 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Rental Property
There’s no better time for spring cleaning your rental property than, well… the spring.  The sun stays out just a little bit longer and people get the urge to wipe it all away and make a fresh start. According to the American Cleaning Institute, 72% of households spring clean every year. Surely your future tenants would not want you to be the exception. If you’re between leases, the spring is the perfect time to refresh your units with a little extra TLC. If you’re not, or you have long term renters, it still doesn’t hurt to share this list with your tenants. You may be surprised how many take the info to heart (who doesn’t love a freshly clean living space?). And if you really want to go the extra mile, offer to buy / provide the cleaning materials for anyone that takes you up on it.  So take advantage of the extra daylight and follow this checklist to ensure your rental property stays in top condition. 1. Wash walls, cabinets, baseboards and woodwork This is a great example of a task that is truly only necessary once or twice a year. Wipe down all surfaces with a dry cloth or sponge to remove any excess dust. Follow with an undyed cloth and warm soapy water. Scrub walls from top to bottom, and make sure to leave a door or window cracked open to help expedite the drying process. 2. Clean your screens and windows First, remove the screen entirely from the window – it......
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The Necessity of Remote Maintenance

For years, the Multifamily market worked under the mantra that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  COVID-19 has changed all of that.  The only way we can keep resident, staff and suppliers safe is to do things differently than we have in the past.  Fortunately, technology gives us the ability handle the needs of the present around safety and efficiency.  We can do more remotely than ever before.  Tools that help companies perform remote maintenance are what companies need to embrace. At FacilGo®, we define remote maintenance as the ability to perform much of the maintenance process without having to come in contact with other parties.  This means minimizing contact between staff and residents, staff and suppliers, staff and other experts to solve maintenance issues. Software platforms exist that allow users to collection information remotely and use the information to coordinate how we get things done.  This allows us to minimize contact, and make our processes less costly and more efficient than ever. Many companies have taken baby steps in using text messaging, Face Time, and Zoom or even inspection apps.  The problem with these approaches is that either the data that is collected can’t be easily shared or used in other parts of your processes, or even worse, may result in sharing private information on your staff’s personal devices.  While the market is doing everything possible to band-aid approaches to complete  the work, we need to expand and enhance processes to allow data sharing across the organization, collaboration on problems, ......
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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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Unlocking the Mystery of Maintenance Expenses

maintenance expenses  “Here’s the list of the supplies we need.” Maintenance Expenses is often the expense area where there always seems to be more days in a month than dollars in the budget. Every week a stock of supplies is ordered.  All too often it results in overrunning the budget.  Workorders have to be completed.  Apartment turnovers have to be completed. There are a variety of explanations for the budget variance report. It includes excessive amounts of resident service orders, scheduled unit inspections and a move out with a high volume of damages.  But this is what we face every month at our communities.  I think its possible to create some structure behind maintenance purchasing.  Not only will this assist in managing expenses against a budget.  It will also provide detailed explanations when future budgets are presented for review. Generally explanations to increase the maintenance budget start with an average of what has been spent.  We justify  an increase because surely supplies will cost more in the future.  Neither are not very effective arguments to defend expense increases. Creating a plan starts with an overview of the schedule for the property for the upcoming month. Turnover Expenses How many apartment homes will be prepared for move in? Generally there are ten to fifteen items that are purchased for every  apartment being prepped. replace the sanitary items in the bathroom. caulk for the countertops in the kitchen, vanity top and shower area in the bath. drip pans for the cook top. The list of ite......
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4 Ways To Use Maintenance Data During Multifamily Budget Season

  For multifamily managers, budget season typically is not the highlight of their annual calendar. Off-sites, bootcamps, late nights, endless spreadsheets, stacks of reports for filter through...ugh. A thorough, well-crafted budget often requires us to step outside of our comfort zone and deal with personnel issues and other things that personally impact people we work with/for. If this isn't challenging enough, the budget proposal is just the first step. It is most often followed by upper management/C-level/board review and in many cases, the dreaded word - CUTS. Wash, Rinse, Repeat until you get to something that works.  OK, enough of the monotony - so how can maintenance data help? Data collected within your maintenance operations can be a hidden gem when it comes to the overall condition or staffing of your property from a maintenance perspective. Here are four of our favorite areas to dig in:   1. Maintenance Categories/Tags   Most property management software tools do a very good job of enabling categorization of requests. Analyzing and sorting work-orders/service-requests by maintenance category (some systems refer to this as "tagging") can provide a treasure-trove of information during the budget process. Based on multifamily industry data, the average 300-unit property generates average of 150 resident service requests per month. Add another ~50 on top of that if your sites track make-ready activities or preventative maintenance. Over the course of a year, or even just 6-months, there is a lot of harvest-able information when budget-time rolls around. Export them into a spreadsheet ......
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Considering Deploying Smart-Tech In Your Apartments? Read This First...

Using Alexa to request apartment service  Everything is "Smart" these days. Smart....locks, speakers, thermostats, lights, TVs, register-vents, refrigerators, faucets, security systems, cameras....the list goes on! It seems there are plenty of options in the market for multifamily apartment operators to offer "smart" amenities. So should you start adding gadgets to your apartments in hopes of attracting new residents? For a short-term spike, maybe. But what happens next year when when Google, Amazon, Nest, Apple, Iris, etc. push out new models, features and functionality and all of a sudden your tech is more of a deterrent than an attraction? Do you throw out everything you bought last year and get the next new thing? The real question here is how do you get ahead, and stay ahead with tech in apartments. And, how to you get Residents to consider your brand "tech-forward"?  You might consider changing the lense of how you look at the problem. Said another way, how can your multifamily brand leverage consumer technology in a way that enables your Residents to have fast & easy digital access to apartment services from devices they already own. Things like:  leveraging SMS to communicate with residents (95% of all text messages are read by the recipient) enabling Residents to voice-create service requests using their SmartSpeaker mobile-enable your maintenance staff to speed up service-response-times and get better metrics on how your service teams are performing use chat-bots to auto-notify Residents when they have packages waiting for them at the office installing LTE-boosters to low-signal areas on your properties ......
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