Enter your email address for weekly access to top multifamily blogs!

Multifamily Blogs

This is some blog description about this site

The Secret is Out: Your Apartment Property Maintenance Team is a Valuable Marketing Tool

Plumber Working on a Bathroom Sink

Last month in the article “The Top Secret Apartment Marketing Weapon: Your Maintenance Team,” I shared my positive experience with a hotel housekeeper and how it made me wonder about the effect a maintenance staff can have on marketing an apartment property.

Curious to learn what others thought, I posted some questions in a couple of multifamily LinkedIn groups and Multifamily Insiders:

  • Does your maintenance staff greet your residents? If so, is it in a warm and friendly manner?
  • Does the maintenance staff take the time to learn names of residents, family, and pets?
  • Does your maintenance staff ask residents if they are experiencing any problems?
  • Is your maintenance staff empowered to create a service request or, better yet, fix the problem on the spot if time allows?

Based on responses, the bottom line is that property owners and managers view their maintenance teams as important and effective marketers.

According to those who responded, maintenance employees can offer a “warm fuzzy” to residents (in some cases they can be considered like family) and “can make or break your asset’s performance.” One even suggested offering tours of the maintenance facility when showing around potential residents.

Consider this hypothetical example from one online respondent: Let’s say an apartment property averages six service requests per unit each year. If we assume that the average apartment property has 200 units, a maintenance staff could potentially interact with residents at least 100 percent more than the leasing staff. Think about that.

With that amount of direct contact with residents, it’s no wonder every online respondent emphasized the significant role apartment maintenance technicians can play in a property’s brand.

Enough emphasis is placed on maintenance at J.C. Hart Company, which owns 15 properties in Indiana and Ohio, that the maintenance team members get bonuses based on good resident feedback. The company also periodically asks its technicians to put down the wrenches and screwdrivers to talk about another kind of customer service.

“We talk about how to communicate with customers,” says Mark Juleen, the company’s vice president of marketing. “Of course, just being personable when we can (is emphasized). We also talk about being a little more proactive with the little extras and details that can sometimes get overlooked. It’s a huge part of what we do.”

Juleen says a maintenance technician’s proper engagement with a resident can fortify his company’s purpose, “We Make Your Home an Enjoyable Living Experience.” He doesn’t have a problem with technicians going above and beyond the call of duty, such as offering service on the fly or even giving a resident’s car a jump (a story shared from one online poster).

Surveys are given to residents after maintenance work has been completed so the company can better execute its mission

“That’s really what we strive for, and [the survey] drills down to the core values of what we’re going after,” Juleen says. “If somebody is not enjoying their living experience, we need something to try to turn that around. I get notifications on a daily basis when a resident completes the surveys and submits a mark that’s below four stars on particular questions. If we get a three or lower, I get an automatic notification. I share that with the teams and we try to figure out how to make the experience turn around.

While customer satisfaction is high at J.C. Hart Co., Juleen says the company’s properties aren’t immune to complaints, which are viewed as a chance to improve service and build a stronger brand.

“We’ve always taken the position that we shouldn’t be offended if somebody writes a complaint about us,” he said. “We look at it as an opportunity.”

An opportunity to be a top secret apartment marketing weapon.

What do you think about your maintenance team members? Do you consider them an important part of your marketing and resident retention efforts? How do you train them or incentivize them?

 

The Secret is Out: Your Apartment Property Maintenance Team is a Valuable Marketing Tool was originally posted on Property Management Insider on March 8, 2012.

Rate this blog entry:
0
 
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I absolutely consider them to be essential to the leasing and renewal process. I have seen poor maintenance team members negatively impact a property. In a lot of circumstances though, management companies who are having occupancy issues, thus budget woes, seem to think cutting staff is what needs to happen. I have never understood that. I mean, who is going to take up the slack and do double or triple the workload - at least on a daily basis - without that taking a toll on their morale? How can a company expect the Maintenance Team to handle 60-80 work order requests on a 30-year old property a week, complete all turns in-house, and handle exterior and routine maintenance with 2 people on a property that has 200+ units?

I subscribe to the theory that management needs to go to the other extreme (almost). Instead of downsizing the team, why not at least, hire some outside constractors to lessen the load, especially during heavy turnover seasons? That is what I will do when I encounter these issues. In fact, if necessary, I take over the leasing duties, renewals, etc. and work six days a week minimum if it will free up dollars for maintenance help. Truly, once the turns are done, you can "fill up the boxes" (as some corporate thinking goes) and sooner, rather than later, the entire team weathers the storm together and the pressure lessens.

Companies often pay lip service to caring about their on site teams. But actions speak louder than words, in my opinion, when it comes to this topic. Giving bonuses is great, but a maintenance team sometimes needs back-up in order to complete their goals and the company's goals (which you would think are the same.)

Residents see the Maintenance Team every day. In my communities, they usually see me, too, but they don't always have contact with the Office team. Maintenance team members can calm Resident concerns and they can educate, too, on proper care of appliances, including the HVAC systems, fireplaces, carpet care and...

I absolutely consider them to be essential to the leasing and renewal process. I have seen poor maintenance team members negatively impact a property. In a lot of circumstances though, management companies who are having occupancy issues, thus budget woes, seem to think cutting staff is what needs to happen. I have never understood that. I mean, who is going to take up the slack and do double or triple the workload - at least on a daily basis - without that taking a toll on their morale? How can a company expect the Maintenance Team to handle 60-80 work order requests on a 30-year old property a week, complete all turns in-house, and handle exterior and routine maintenance with 2 people on a property that has 200+ units?

I subscribe to the theory that management needs to go to the other extreme (almost). Instead of downsizing the team, why not at least, hire some outside constractors to lessen the load, especially during heavy turnover seasons? That is what I will do when I encounter these issues. In fact, if necessary, I take over the leasing duties, renewals, etc. and work six days a week minimum if it will free up dollars for maintenance help. Truly, once the turns are done, you can "fill up the boxes" (as some corporate thinking goes) and sooner, rather than later, the entire team weathers the storm together and the pressure lessens.

Companies often pay lip service to caring about their on site teams. But actions speak louder than words, in my opinion, when it comes to this topic. Giving bonuses is great, but a maintenance team sometimes needs back-up in order to complete their goals and the company's goals (which you would think are the same.)

Residents see the Maintenance Team every day. In my communities, they usually see me, too, but they don't always have contact with the Office team. Maintenance team members can calm Resident concerns and they can educate, too, on proper care of appliances, including the HVAC systems, fireplaces, carpet care and my teams are always essential in the move in and move out processes. They are very valuable!

Read More
  Mindy Sharp
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Mindy, that you for such a terrific comment. The more I research about this topic, the more appreciation I have for the maintenance team...and one that is easy to overlook.

  Michael Cunningham
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Funny little antidote; yesterday one of my more umm “assertive” residents called our Corp. customer relations number to complain. According to her she called THREE HOURS AGO to have the AC turned on in the hallway because she was too hot to do her laundry. (We are in Va. and though spring is almost here, the weather varies wildly). Anyway she was told our company requires all non-emergency requests to be completed in 24 hours. She has been here for 6 years and always had her request completed within 2 hours so she thought that was the policy!

  Stephani Fowler

Comment Below

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location
Building a Better Multifamily Brand From the Ground Up Why is branding so important to business? The term “brand” has evolved over the years, and in today’s highly competitive world, brand simply refers to the way the public perceives your entity.  People have brands, businesses have brands, properties have brands — whether they’re carefully crafted or not. This can be factual perceptions (it’s an apartment building in downtown Chicago) or emotional ones (it’s vibrant, romantic, or trustwor...
Ensuring that your building is both secure and safe is essential for its chances of long-term success. Security is often most heavily considered when a building is first being planned. Still, it’s important to revisit your security plans each year to ensure that the technology in place continues to create a safe, low-risk atmosphere. What are you doing to create and update your building’s security plans for 2022? Review the following to ensure that you don’t miss out on any key segments as you f...
It might be cold outside in some parts of the country, but that is no reason for that to put a deep freeze on your resident engagement and leasing activities. However, it may require you to put more heat on that creative bone of yours! The apartment community I live at just had a wine and charcuterie night (my community knows me well...I love any event when wine is involved)! But it got me thinking of attendance. You see, the apartment community I live in has four buildings. Meaning, reside...