Thursday, June 2, 2011

Property Management Is ALL About Response Time (And Follow Up)

A lot of building owners, unless they have professional property management handling their property for them, tend to get to maintenance requests as they have time.

Most often, that is not good enough. And it shouldn't be. For keeping quality tenants, or residents if you own a multifamily complex, is about providing quality service that makes them want to stay. Think about it; how satisfied your residents or tenants are living or working in your complex is largely influenced by how satisfied they are, which influences how likely they are to renew their leases.

So with that said, remember the following: Dealing with maintenance requests is a three-part process -- submission, handling AND follow up.

John Gallagher, a certified property manager and a sernior vp of a large property management firm overseeing around 6,000 apartment units in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, is a firm believer that maintenance processing does not end when the property technician successfully fixes the problem in an apartment.

Since service orders need no longer be phoned in (they can be received by the management office via email, internet, phone or fax), the focus still needs to be on "service," Gallagher notes. And as residents and tenants trend younger, they are more likely to use email or the internet to submit their maintenance requests, since such needs can be communicated on the lessee's schedule. Basically, anytime day or night!

A story in the June 2011 edition of Multi-Housing News talks of  the importance of service follow up, which is highly criticial to tracking, measuring and ensuring customer satisfaction. Follow-up surveys are a standard best practice at Mr. Gallagher's company, Polinger, Shannon & Luchs. The company sends out a survey after EVERY maintenance request, once the request is closed, asking lessees about their experience.

While most residents to not respond to the surveys, especially if the maintenance was performed as expected and to their satisfaction, Gallagher says, the process promotes good customer service AND, perhaps just as important, makes residents feel valued. At the same time, renters who are displeased with their service will almost certainly respond to the survey.

Quite something to think about: Most owners or management firms may believe that the leasing agent is the primary determinant of resident lease renewal rates. But in actuality, the maintenance technician is just as much a factor in renewals as that leasing agent.

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