Do you ever feel like you are moving so fast that you start to make “dumb” mistakes at work?  Or what about your teams?  Do you feel like sometimes you give them the SAME instructions and they continue to miss the SAME steps?

If this happens to you, then you will especially like this article.  I’m sharing a little review of one of my favorite books, The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande.

Every year, complications related to surgery result in one million deaths and leave more than seven million people disabled.  The World Health Organization created a focus group to see if ONE change, implemented across a variety of hospitals performing a variety of surgeries, could reduce the risk,

In 2007, eight hospitals were selected to be a part of the research.  The hospitals chosen ranged from ones located in extremely high-income areas to ones located in completely impoverished countries.  One solution was proposed and the trial was started.  It initially lasted for three months.  The results were astounding.  So astounding that they continued the trial for three additional months.

By implementing ONE change, there was a 36% drop in major complications and deaths fell by 47%.  We that that’s one heck of a solution!

So – what was it?  Well you might have guessed it by the title of the book.  A checklist.  Now you might think that there is no way one checklist could do this, but it did.  It was drilled down to 19 critical steps that had to be done for every surgery.  There were checks and balances built in.  To get to the nitty, gritty details, you’ll have to read the book.

So, Why the Checklist?

As humans, our memory fails us sometimes.  We lose focus, especially when doing mundane or routine tasks.  We skip steps because we think they aren’t critical.  It’s for these reasons that we make “dumb” mistakes.  It’s for this reason that we show up to the office sometimes and the balloons haven’t been put out front or the tour route hasn’t been walked, or the lights aren’t on in the model unit.  It’s frustrating when we make mistakes.  We think, “Ill try harder.  I’ll be more focused.  I’ll continue to drill down on my team.”  But the mistakes continue.

What if, instead, we took a lesson from Atul’s playbook?  What if we looked at daily processes than become mundane or routine and create simple checklists with critical steps?

Here are a few ideas for checklists to implement on site:

  • Ready for Business Checklist (what needs to happen EVERY day for our community to be ready for people to visit it?)
  • Telephone Techniques (what makes a good phone call and what information are we trying to gather?)
  • Follow-Up Procedures (what type of follow-up gets done and when?)
  • Reputation Response – (proper procedure for responding to reviews, comments and feedback?)
  • Keeping Advertising Sources Up-to-Date – (what gets checked and when)
  • Make-Ready Checklist – (create one for maintenance and one for leasing staff)
  • Signing a New Lease or Renewal

These are just a few of our ideas.  What else can you make a checklist for?  Remember, in order for your checklist to be effective, it has to be to the point, practical and able to be used in hectic situations.  Even the most basic checklist can get outdated, so continue reviewing and refining.

Editor’s Note:  As an example, please see AOA’s form number 100S – the Applicant Screening Checklist.  AOA recommends this form be used as a convenient way to screen prospective tenants and to help you stay organized, assuring that all necessary steps are taken before you sign that lease. 

Barbara Savona is CEO and Co-Founder of Sprout Marketing, a marketing and consulting boutique agency dedicated to the multifamily industry.  Reprinted with permission of Rooflines.