The Ultimate Guide to the Property Maintenance Process
The fear of the unknown is always scary, and maintenance is no exception. In property management, it’s necessary to thrive in maintenance to develop a successful business. The bottom line? Property maintenance matters. It’s one of the most critical elements in your daily operations.
Here you’ll find helpful tips and strategies to improve your property maintenance services and ways to provide the most value to your owners, vendors, and residents.
Table of Contents
- Choosing a Maintenance Strategy
- Best practices for a streamlined maintenance process
- How to profit from property maintenance
- Top Maintenance Issues
- Critical KPIs in property maintenance
- Doing more with Property Meld
What does property maintenance mean?
Property maintenance is defined as a process such as repairs, improvements, and preservation of a residential unit. What is involved in property maintenance? Property maintenance can include:
- Regular Inspections to ensure that all electrical and plumbing is operational.
- Upkeep and landscaping.
- Repairs to the building.
- Safety checks, such as testing of fire alarms and extinguishers to ensure the single-family home or residential unit is habitable.
- Rodent and pest control.
Choosing a maintenance strategy
What does chess and property maintenance have in common? They all require a strategy for success. Oftentimes you may get lucky, but without the right moves in place, you may not always come out on top…
Having a streamlined maintenance strategy is critical to achieving company success. Let us help you break down the three main types of maintenance strategies. Which one relates to your current company strategy?
- Reactive Maintenance: Addressing issues as they arise.
- Preventative Maintenance: Understanding potential problems before they occur.
- Predictive Maintenance: Anticipating issues before they happen.
Check out one of our recent blog posts to discover more about the different maintenance strategies.
Consider the negative impact of a poor maintenance process and how it directly affects ROI (return on investment.)
Poor property maintenance results in:
- Poor online reviews, which directly reflects prospective investors and renter opportunities
- Increase in owner and resident churn, which directly reflects investor relationships (Hello, loss of recurring revenue…)
Best practices for a streamlined maintenance process
Touch base with the vendor to confirm scheduled repair
Whether manually or with software, take a few moments to confirm with your vendor that the repair has been scheduled on the correct date. It can be as simple as drafting a text or email and plugging in the appointment time.
We recommend you do not wait any longer than 24 hours after a vendor accepts a job before confirming the scheduled appointment. Waiting too long may result in maintenance tasks falling through the cracks.
Communicate with residents promptly
In addition to touching base with the vendor or technician, a brief check-in with the resident can be a great way to increase customer satisfaction. Confirming the repair appointment will make them feel taken care of. We get it, you’re busy. But that 3-minute check-in will go a long way.
Request confirmation of completion from the vendor
Too many property managers rely on an invoice to verify that a work order is complete.
The issue? Sometimes, receiving an invoice can take weeks. Suppose you fail to confirm the quick completion of a maintenance issue. In that case, you’re setting yourself up for failure, negative reviews, headaches, and lost revenue.
Ask your vendors to follow up with you once they’ve completed the work order. Verbal confirmation is fine, but written communication is the best option. Why? Because conversations can be easily forgotten and challenging to track.
Follow-up on resident satisfaction
Once a repair is complete, you have the green light to ask the resident about the quality of the work. It’s essential to catch complaints early before an unhappy resident leaves you a negative online review. Reputation is everything!
You can’t afford the negative feedback. 78% of prospective residents say a property management company’s online reviews were the number one factor in choosing where to live.
An all-in-one maintenance system can provide streamlined communication throughout the process, so you don’t miss a beat.
Schedule preventative maintenance
When you schedule preventative maintenance, you remove the hassle of making a costly emergency repair down the road and risking resident satisfaction.
Suppose your goal is to increase resident retention. In that case, a preventive maintenance strategy is a clear winner because it will allow you to contro lmaintenance before issues arise.
For example, your residents are frustrated with broken A/C units in the heat of summer.
Start by scheduling simple preventative tasks like inspecting HVAC systems and replacing HVAC air filters every quarter. Staying up-to-date on maintenance will prolong the life of your equipment, and keep tabs when it is time to replace the HVAC.
How to profit from property maintenance services
When evaluating your property maintenance services, it is essential to track the profitability of vendors and internal techs. You can track profitability with two metrics: utilization rate and billable rate. These formulas are important because inefficient processes can become costly.
Every hour you pay an internal tech that is not actively making repairs is money coming out of your profit margin.
Let’s take a closer look at these two formulas:
Utilization rate formula
Total Hours checking-in on Service Issues/Total Hours Worked (payroll) = a percentage indicating how much time the employee is physically working on jobs.
It’s important to consider the utilization rate to understand the efficiency of your internal technicians. We recommend a utilization rate of 75% or more for internal technicians for a property management company to profit from their employees.
If one or more internal technicians’ utilization rate is less than 75%, consider why this is. Do you have more technicians than maintenance repairs to go around?
If one or more technicians’ utilization rate is more than 90%, it’s best to shift workload to technicians with a lower utilization rate.
If all your technicians’ utilization rate is more than 90%, that’s great. It’s time to consider hiring another technician for your team.
Likewise, another critical metric to keep track of is the billable rate.
Billable rate formula
Total Hours Billed/ Total Hours Worked (payroll) = A percentage of time worked that generated revenue for the company
This metric helps understand the percentage of time worked that generated revenue for the company. If your internal technician is spending most of their hours performing office tasks instead of making repairs, then it may be time to consider alternatives for maintenance management.
We made it easy for you to track your billable and utilization rate with our excel sheet calculator!
Top Property Maintenance Issues Year-Round
At Property Meld, we understand the most significant maintenance issues that pain property managers. Let’s take a look at what residents have encountered and what has broken down in the world of home maintenance.
Appliances include all significant items such as refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers, dishwashers, and all related items. Things break down, and given the many moving parts of appliances, this number one isn’t too surprising. Besides, who wants to wash dishes by hand or do laundry in the bathtub?
Water-related maintenance issues are the number two Meld of the year. Pipes, water, faucets, and clogged drains all need to be operating for residents to be happy (and hygienic, which is very important).
Heating and cooling systems are notorious for breaking down at inopportune times. Generally, when they are in heavy use, the system comes under strain, either in the middle of a summer heatwave or a cold spell in the winter.
Electrical systems can be very complex and have many variable elements, especially when it comes to aging properties. Power surges, storms, and even tenant stress/strain on the grid can all have a significant impact on your electric system.
While this one seems an interesting number five compared to the top four, it is probably one of the most used items in residence. Locks malfunction, hinges wear, and doors will not close if something settles.
The top five maintenance issues total thousands of repairs. That’s hundreds of thousands of phone calls that can be avoided with a streamlined maintenance solution.
These are only the top five. You should read our top 10 most common property maintenance issues to get a well-rounded idea of all the property maintenance issues.
Critical KPIs in property maintenance
KPIs, help you measure how various successful aspects of your business or operation are performing in real-time, allowing you to get ahead of problems before they show up in your company’s bottom line. When it comes to assessing the health of a property management maintenance operation, KPIs are handy.
Leading vs. Lagging Indicators
What are leading and lagging indicators in property maintenance? Leading indicators tell you what will happen, whereas lagging indicators tell you what has already happened. Both are important, but most of us focus only on lagging indicators.
We have listed a few leading and lagging indicators you can implement in your process.
Resident Retention (leading)
Happy residents are less likely to move, leading to reductions in resident turnover, vacancy rates, and staff work spent trying to fill empty units. In other words, the happier your residents are, the more money and less work your company has to do. As a result, the resident turnover rate is an excellent example of a KPI leading indicator in the property management business. If your company has an abnormally high resident turnover rate, you can address the issue immediately instead of waiting for a gutshot to your wallet to recognize the problem.
Time of Repair (leading)
One of the best ways to create happy residents is to fix maintenance issues quickly and effectively. According to our data, 46% of residents said that maintenance issues factored in their decision to resign a lease or move elsewhere. Even more striking, 31% of residents reported that maintenance issues were the primary reason they left a property, with rent price the only more significant determinant.
Online Reviews/Resident Experience Program (lagging)
The primary reason for negative reviews in the property management industry is maintenance issues. So, if you want to preserve your company’s online reputation, you’d be wise to start with building a consistent checklist maintenance process, as we outlined above. Though it’s a lagging indicator, the satisfaction level of your residents is so intricately connected to other KPIs that it’s worth keeping an eye on.
We constructed a data-based guideline for how long your company has to repair each type of maintenance issue before your chances of a happy resident drop off considerably.
Time of Repair stats:
HVAC repairs: 3.5 days or less
Plumbing repairs: 4.5 days or less
Electrical: 5 days or less
According to our analysis, if a maintenance issue takes longer than 5.5 days to fix, you have close to zero chance of receiving a positive review.
In the end, measuring the speed of a repair job is vital and directly related to resident satisfaction.
Doing more with Property Meld.
Whiteboards, spreadsheets, and call centers have their time and place for fixing temporary issues. But is it the ultimate preventative solution? These alternatives don’t solve maintenance issues before they occur.
So, why choose a home maintenance management software? Property Meld is an all-in-one maintenance web-based platform that provides increased oversight and efficiency for property management companies resulting in more time to focus on profitability.
Request a demo to see how our smart maintenance software can change how you do property maintenance.
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