Unit inspections are often viewed by residents as an intrusion into the privacy of their home.  Could this annual, semi annual or quarterly event be viewed as an apartment service appointment? 

Explaining to residents its time to service the furnace, water heater or air conditioner in their home offers a positive explanation for this necessary activity.  Using language similar to an oil change reminder explains to residents that scheduled regular service will result in better performance for the systems in their home. For instances – where residents pay utilities, natural gas, electricity or water, clean efficient systems can reduce the cost for operating the mechanical systems. 

Leave a Note of Completed Services

Leaving a notification that the service has been performed is essential. The following service was completed in your home today: 

  • furnace filter change 
  • smoke[carbon] detector test 
  • air conditioning filter replaced 
  • water heater relief valve checked 

This notification is a great tool to recognize great housekeeping or possible concerns such as improper storage near the furnace or water heater or housekeeping concerns. Also leave notices when needed explaining that additional maintenance is being scheduled to repair a leaky faucet, etc.

The positive tone of the notice will assist in the perception of this necessary apartment visit.  Responding in a timely manner to any repair concerns identified during the inspection is critical.  Delays in reporting repairs are undermined by the comment, “Maintenance was here last week, I thought they would report the problem.”  Residents will assume the presence of management and maintenance in their home will result in scheduling any repairs needed. 

We’re Coming to Service You!

Unit inspections and the resulting service requests are a time consuming function for the maintenance team.  Encouraging residents to understand the intent is to service apartment systems, may prevent the variety of delays which occur when residents express concern about the inspection, request to be home during the event or request a specific appointment time which complicates the maintenance schedule. 

Yes, most leases include the language authorizing management to enter the apartment with appropriate notification, but the relationship with residents is much less confrontational if the resident understands and easily agrees to allow maintenance access to their home. 

Follow-Up Calls and Resident Feedback

Taking the time to make phone calls after service is completed in an apartment may seem to be a low priority task or even a time waster.

“Maintenance does a great job, I hear that from every resident I call.” Wow! What a great problem to have! With that factual information a property could state in their advertising”100% Resident Satisfaction on Maintenance Service.”  That’s a headline that will attract attention. Quotes from the residents comments, using resident first names for authenticity could be included with permission.

Calling as a follow-up courtesy, isn’t about checking up to see if maintenance did the task correctly. With professionals, taking pride in their work, the follow-up call is not checking up on maintenance –  its confirming the residents are satisfied. 

  • Was the work you requested completed?
  • Was it completed in a manner to your satisfaction?
  • Was the response timely?
  • Did you find our team member to be professional and personable?
  • Were there any questions regarding the repair that were not answered or explained to you?
  • Are there any additional repairs that should be completed in your home? 

Giving residents an opportunity to provide detailed information about the service provided to their home indicates a true interest in customer satisfaction. Try to phrase the questions to avoid the basic yes or no answers.

Scheduling maintenance to make these calls, at least one day out of the week gives the maintenance team an opportunity to hear the positive feedback firsthand.

On the occasion, a resident may offer suggestions or express disappointment with their service, thank them for their interest in improving the community. The validity of the concern is secondary, the request for feedback has been made, if a resident is willing to offer opinions and observations, the feedback must be acknowledged and appreciated.

Based on the volume of service requests and staffing, it may be practical to use a percentage or a specific number of calls each week. Giving residents an opportunity to respond creates ownership in their attitude about the apartment home. Residents who believe the staff cares about their opinion, are residents that are likely to renew. 

Lori Hammond has been in the property management business for over 30 years, after starting as a part time leasing consultant. She has worked with some tremendous industry leaders such as Oxford Management, NHP Management, AIMCO, Alliance Residential, Boston Capital, The Sterling Group, P.K. Housing and currently Management Resources Development.  For more information, visit her web site at www.propertymanagementminutes.com