Maintenance Success Despite Labor Shortages

The property management industry is seeing unprecedented levels of labor shortages of maintenance personnel during a time when the need for maintenance services has never been higher. How does an organization provide a high level of service when there are so few maintenance personnel available?

The answer is innovation and adaption; ubiquitous mobile technology and an increasingly tech-savvy population of tenants, maintenance techs, vendors, service providers and property managers provides a fertile ground for growing efficiency.

After the housing crash, investors rushed into the scattered single-family rental (SFR) space.  Experts predicted that as soon as  property values rose, investors would liquidate their portfolios because scattered SFR maintenance is difficult.  Maintenance technicians spend 2-4 hours of their day on the road, so they believed the cost of servicing these portfolios would kill their margins.

What actually happened: the SFR market boomed.  Scattered SFR operators have innovated.  They are struggling with maintenance labor shortages so their strategy is to use maintenance teams across geographic areas, to outsource when necessary (some choose to completely outsource their maintenance to companies such as OneCall Construction), and to use technology to optimize the synergy between teams and service providers.  Here are some of their methods:

  • Personnel skills are cataloged and matched to jobs.
  • Trips to the same property are minimized.
  • Jobs are assigned and scheduled to personnel to optimize their drive times.
  • Centralized visibility of schedules allows ad-hoc work to be easily assigned.
  • Information is gathered in homes for future use.
  • Inventory is maintained, tracked and standardized to reduce delays and trips to stores.
  • Services are outsourced for jobs that are inefficient to reach or where personnel don’t have the skills to perform the work.
  • Data, pictures and conversations are shared between staff and service providers so both are able to perform their work efficiently.
  • Key data is documented on jobs for future learnings.
  • Dashboards are relentlessly used to manage day to day business.
  • Reports and analytics are used to constantly scrutinize and improve levels of service and efficiency.

In the past, technology wasn’t available to support all of these needs.  Maintenance systems that were mobile enabled and allowed collaboration between you and your service providers hadn’t existed.  Thanks to our compatriots in SFR, many of these challenges have been solved by software providers such as my company, FacilGo®.  The market is changing, technology is evolving, and it may be time to see how techniques from other markets can be applied to Multifamily.

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