“Couldn’t find the problem, everything is ok.” Trust me if maintenance cannot resolve a problem in a residents apartment. Everything is not ok.  The resident is looking for service and we are failing to provide it. 

The Inconvenience of Service Requests

Here’s a life changing truth. Residents do not call the leasing office to have maintenance come to their apartment home without a reason. This is not PUNK’D. We may not be able to find the problem as described by the resident, but there definitely is a concern that supported a reason to report a problem.

The resident has straightened up their home in anticipation of maintenance in the apartment. The service request has been called or emailed to the office. After a long day at work, the resident returns home to a find the service order documentation, noting, we couldn’t find your problem, everything is okay. Can you feel their frustration growing?

Now the problem unresolved, the resident will have to contact the office again, attempt to explain the problem and schedule another repair appointment. They will have another day of uncertainty with maintenance entering their home again. 

Frustration for a Repeat Service Call

For the maintenance crew, this is equally frustrating. The time for the first visit appears to be wasted time. Now, a second visit is being scheduled to an apartment where the “whatever it is” works fine. This is a communication disaster.

The resident may be giving us specific information for the repair, instead of describing the

problem. Our staff, upon hearing a description of a problem, may make their own conclusion, thus scheduling a specific repair instead of describing a problem.

Here are examples of service requests with a specific repair – they tell maintenance to prepare for a specific repair with no troubleshooting necessary:

  • Replace thermostat
  • Change air filter
  • Replace oven broiler element

Consider these descriptions:

  • Air conditioner isn’t cooling
  • Furnace turns off part way during the cycle
  • Oven takes too long to heat

These descriptions tell maintenance the condition that needs to be remedied.  They are more specific in detail, than a statement of “AC doesn’t work.”    A day of job sharing could be an eye opener for the leasing team.  Partnering with a maintenance technician, with service request in hand, demonstrating the difference between a well written service request is a learning experience that won’t be forgotten.

In the process of preparing the service request, we confirm permission to enter if the resident isn’t home, the presence of pets in the household and how they will be secured or contained.  In addition to the description of the problem, by including a contact number in case there are any questions may reduce the number of “Couldn’t Find a Problem” service requests.

A call either from the leasing team, maintenance supervisor or technician to clarify the service request demonstrates a desire to provide satisfactory customer service.

Satisfaction with maintenance repairs is the deciding factor on many lease renewal decisions.  The importance of timely and accurate service can’t be underestimated.

 

Lori Hammond is Regional Operations Manager at Management Resources Development. 

Reprinted with permission of Multifamily Insiders.  Multifamily Insiders was created to provide the first true online networking group for the multifamily industry and its partners.  For more information, visit www.multifamilyinsiders.com.