The third biggest hurdle that property managers of any residential community face according to a study conducted by Unicom Corp is maintenance, especially with regards to damages and unexpected maintenance. Managing maintenance costs while keeping your residents happy and satisfied is a balancing act that requires proactive monitoring of community assets and having a clear plan of action to keep costs in check. In this blog post, we focus on four necessary steps to help you create an effective balance between cost management and resident happiness.
Evaluate existing vendor solutions annually and send out RFP’s as needed
A highly important function of a community or property management company is to procure cost-effective maintenance solutions for the communities they manage. Doing so can significantly lower operational costs, association dues, and maintain competitive rental rates. Every year, it’s important that managers evaluate current vendors and potential alternatives to identify cost-saving opportunities.
In your evaluation of current vendors, assess:
- The benefits delivered by the service – are they greater or less than the cost? If it is less than the cost, it’s an indicator that a new service provider should be researched.
- Performance – Do the vendors complete the work on time? Are residents satisfied or dissatisfied with the work?
- Insurance – Do vendors have worksman compensation, automobile, and general liability insurance to protect your company from potential injuries or liabilities?
As part of your RFP evaluation process, assess:
- The vendor’s viability to fulfill the majority or all of the work requested. Specifically, you will want to focus on the details of how they plan to complete the work.
- The vendor’s turnaround for completing the work.
- What does the vendor charge?
- The references provided by the vendor on the quality of work, client ratings on search engines or vendor directories, and sentiment on social media about how well or not they deliver their services.
- Insurance and licenses – Does the vendor maintain appropriate licenses such as worksman compensation, automobile, and general liability insurance? Make sure the license expiration date is not within the timeframe that you are looking to have work completed and if so, clarify with the vendor that they will obtain current insurance.
Have clear contracts and guidelines
Before signing contracts with vendors for routine or specific work, make sure the contract has clear verbiage about the terms, conditions, and responsibilities of both the management company/community and the vendor. This is an important step to establish a good vendor relation and reduce the potential for liability due to non-performance of either party of the agreement. Make sure the contract contains the following essential elements: all the work that is to be completed, cost, the time-frame of the project or routine work (if it is an annual contractor on a per-work basis), and termination procedures. Reviewing the terms with experienced property management or community association lawyers and the rest of your team is especially helpful in ensuring that the contract is clear and leaves no room for vague terms.
Plan for preventative maintenance
Planning for adequate preventative maintenance in advance delivers many benefits to any type of residential community. Managers can better forecast the cost of maintaining and repairing equipment, thus increasing the accuracy and transparency in budgeting for the community association or apartment. Additionally, managers can become more proactive in scheduling maintenance ahead of time to minimalize disruption for residents. To stay ahead of preventative maintenance, it’s essential that managers maintain an itemized list of all community equipment and inspection due dates, maintain strong relations with licensed vendors, and adequately follow-up with maintenance tasks. The end result is that it all leads to a safer, happier community who can use their properties and community amenities with minimal interruption.
Use a comprehensive maintenance management system
Using a comprehensive maintenance software platform can increase staff productivity, eliminate liability, and increase competitiveness in the industry. There is a cost to using a maintenance management technology – software fees and training staff – but with correct implementation and constant usage, your management company will land in a win-win situation. Make sure that the technology solution you implement has work order tracking, vendor contact and insurance tracking, and high-level insights through reporting and dashboards. Overall, the benefits outweigh the cost in the long-run by ensuring safe and happy communities.
With many factors at play in your maintenance management plan, it’s important to keep the safety of the communities you manage, good vendor relations, and resident happiness your top priorities. Sometimes a slightly higher cost in vendor sourcing, technology, or legal fees upfront can save potentially thousands of dollars later because the lowest-cost solution isn’t always the best and can raise a red flag. Thus, it’s crucial that property managers actively review current and new vendor solutions, have clear verbiage in their vendor contracts, plan for unexpected maintenance, and invest in a robust technology system that will help managers keep their maintenance projects in check.
Pilera Software is the premier community and property management suite that has helped thousands of community managers and back-office personnel enhance communications, improve customer service, and manage compliance and operations. May we help your community achieve these success stories? Book a demo to see how Pilera’s community management suite can help your company.