How to Deal With Property Maintenance In Inclement Weather and Natural Disasters?

property maintenance and natural disasters

Headquartered in the Black Hills of South Dakota, we at Property Meld know a thing or two about frigid temperatures and blustery weather (hello, -50 degrees fahrenheit). In the past few weeks, we were not the only ones experiencing inclement weather. Most of the country has been hit with a disastrous cold front. While Midwesterners may be prepped for the cold, areas used to warmer temperatures may be caught off-guard. When inclement weather or natural disasters hit, emergency maintenance and repair issues spike drastically. Without being prepared with a system to handle the increase in work orders, you may be left with a burnt-out team, a growing backlog, and angry residents. 

Copper Key Realty in Tennessee knows firsthand the maintenance effect natural disasters can have, and how crucial it is to have a solid system in place. In early December their area was hit by a tornado that destroyed multiple multi-family properties and three single family homes. Following the tornado, their area has seen colder than normal temperatures leading to a spike in maintenance requests. 

“We usually get about 3-4 work orders a day. But now, with the weather and the tornado damage, we get around 15-20 work orders a day,” said Shannon Hazlett, Maintenance Coordinator at Copper Key Realty. 

Property Meld has helped our customers uphold a strong level of service and efficiency during these disasters by helping automate some of the manual maintenance tasks that take up your time. 

“Between the automated workflows, customized tags, and filters, that has got to be the biggest time saver,” said Hazlett. 

In Property Meld, property managers can set up tags for certain types of work orders, this way you can quickly categorize and distinguish between plumbing issues, electrical problems, HVAC repairs and more. Additionally, our filters allow property managers to look at specific work order stages. For example, you might want to set a filter to see all work orders pending assignment, or any work orders open greater than 7 days. Workflows allow you to build customizable automation to eliminate mundane tasks in your process to increase efficiency. 

Keep Residents Informed and Comfortable 

When natural disasters or inclement weather hit, residents may face uncomfortable living situations. These high-priority issues must be fixed quickly to maintain resident satisfaction and ensure you don’t receive negative reviews. 

For example, HVAC issues spike in freezing weather like most of the country has been experiencing. 

According to our data, property management companies have three days to repair an HVAC system. Otherwise, they have less than a 1% chance of receiving a positive review. 

Not to mention, 31% of residents choose to leave their rental property due to a poor maintenance process. If your residents are left uncomfortable for too long following lousy weather, they may be more inclined not to renew their lease. 

Property Meld can help move high-priority work orders through quickly with automatic filters and scheduling, ensuring residents’ issues are addressed promptly. 

“We had four HVAC issues that came in today that were automatically tagged and scheduled with the vendor,” Hazlett said. 

Support Your Property Maintenance Teams

One of the biggest challenges with staffing internal maintenance teams is that work order volume changes throughout the year. There are times when maintenance slows down or spikes, making it difficult to know how many team members are needed to handle the output efficiently. 

This is especially true during natural disasters and weather-related issues. These unexpected issues can increase maintenance requests by 300%. Handling these issues efficiently and ensuring your team is set up with the proper tools to do so will prevent employee burnout. 

“We usually get about 3-4 work orders a day. But now, with the weather and the tornado damage, we get around 15-20 work orders a day,” said Hazlett. 

One of the best ways to combat employee burnout, second to hiring more team members, is eliminating mundane tasks that take up your tech’s time through automation. 

With automated troubleshooting, you can resolve resident issues without ever dispatching a tech or a vendor, saving them time to focus on more pressing tasks. Additionally, with Property Meld, you can require residents to submit photos and a description of their work order. This gives your staff all the information needed to make a single-visit repair. 

“I would say we had a photo attached to 1/10 Melds a year ago. With the workflows, we receive photos for probably 8 or 9 out of 10, so it has made a huge difference.” – Courtney Catanese, Maintenance Coordinator RPM of the Triad.

Additionally, property managers need to monitor the productivity of their internal technicians and vendors. Tracking their daily jobs and utilization rate allows you to determine who performs at their best and who may need additional training or resources to be more efficient. 

A solid maintenance process is the best way to prepare for natural disasters or inclement weather. Utilizing automation and data allows you to identify weak spots in your process and make strategic improvements fueled by data.  

With Property Meld, you can avoid upset residents, empower your team to be more efficient, and avoid growing a significant maintenance backlog.

“Right now, we have over 500 work orders open, but because of Property Meld, only 21 are unassigned because we are waiting on some things,” said Hazlett.

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