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Why Communication is the Baseline to Maintenance Excellence

The first step of the Ladder of Maintenance Excellence is effective communication. Just like food and water is necessary for survival, effective communication is essential for a property maintenance process. Without a strong communication model, your maintenance process can’t succeed.

Poor communication leads to many issues such as, unhappy residents, unnecessary trip charges, and work orders getting lost or falling through the cracks. If you want to achieve maintenance excellence, you must first succeed in effective communication.

What is Effective Communication?

One of the most challenging aspects of the maintenance process is communication. When we talk to property management companies looking to improve their maintenance process, communication issues are one of the most common pains we hear about. Communication can be difficult to achieve because you must find a way to coordinate with vendors, residents, property managers, and owners.

Another reason communication can be difficult is because everyone has a different definition of what effective communication is. We define communication as all parties know what is happening and are able to participate. Every single individual involved in a maintenance request should know what is happening at every step in the process and can get engaged if they need to.

What is Ideal Communication?

When you are thinking about communication, it is important to remember that communication is a “what” not a “how”. The “what” is all parties are involved and know what is going on and the method in which you communicate with them is the “how”.

Communication is not about the act of sending a message, it is about if that message is received and understood. To achieve ideal communication you must determine the channels that your players are going to utilize and the best way to reach them, whether this is through email, text, or phone calls.

You’re able to tell how solid your communication is by spot-checking every party and determining how well they know what’s going on:

– Does the property manager know what’s happening at their investor’s property?

– Does the investor understand what’s going on at their property?

– Does the maintenance coordinator know when the repair is happening and what led to that decision?

–  Does the resident know who’s coming, when, and what work will be done?

– Does the repair person know all the prudent information to make it a single-trip repair?

Strong communication is a resounding “yes” on all of the above.

How to Navigate Different Communication Models?

Maintenance is a complex process, and one of the reasons it is so complex is because there are so many different parties involved in the process. It is known within the industry that different people have different preferred methods of communication. Some people may prefer a phone call, while others may never answer a phone call from a number they don’t know. Some are very responsive on email, while others may take weeks to respond.

This is what makes achieving effective communication so challenging, you must try and map the different communication styles and multiply it across all the people involved in the process. This means you may not be able to rely on one specific channel of communication, it must be tailored to the individual.

Why is Communication Important?

If you cannot solve communication issues but still move up the Ladder of Maintenance Excellence, one of two things may happen:

1. You will move up the ladder and see your efficiency improve, but your resident satisfaction will decrease.

2. You won’t be able to increase speed of repair or number of jobs per day

If you don’t get communication figured out you won’t be able to increase your efficiency or employee throughput.

Solving for communication is the baseline for creating a streamlined maintenance process. Before you can reach a predictable NOI, you need a strong baseline of communication between all parties.

To learn more about improving your maintenance process with the Ladder of Maintenance Excellence, subscribe to The Maintenance Minute.