As owners, investors, and managers, we can easily jump to the conclusion that a great maintenance program is about fixing the broking stuff. This falls far short of the great maintenance program that should be our objective. A great maintenance program delivers great customer service, increases the project asset value, reduces ongoing maintenance cost through improved systems, and enhances the marketability and leaseability of a rental property or multifamily community.
How do we achieve these themes with our maintenance plan? What characteristics should our maintenance staff have?
First, let’s consider the skill requirements. The maintenance team ideally will have:
- Some experience managing bids and bid selection;
- Proven project management skills;
- Some proven contractor oversight skill;
- Subsystem maintenance skills such as carpentry, pool operations, appliance repair, painting, landscaping, air conditioning, and plumbing, electrical; and
- Certifications for pool operation and maintenance, air conditioning, and lead paint management. Lawn maintenance service in Coeur d’Alene d’Alene
The next consideration is the level and type of these skills relative to the rental management they support. A very large property of over 300 units may have as part of the staff an electrician or a plumber. And, your maintenance plan should call for more of these qualifications the larger your property or portfolio. Properties over 100 units should always hire at least one maintenance technician with air conditioning certification.
If the portfolio is large and growing, the maintenance plan should include plans to continually improve the certifications and skills of the management team.
Next, let’s consider service level performance. For a property of over 200 units, having maintenance staff living on site can substantially improve customer service. Additionally, properties should have a plan to provide emergency maintenance around the clock. Larger portfolios should have a running standby list for coverage 365 days per year. The standby maintenance staff should provide response at the issue location within 30 minutes for larger properties. This level of service improves rentability and strengthens your property reputation.
Third on our list, a well planned property maintenance plan includes preventive maintenance. The staff should develop plans, inventory, and seek information and education to extend and improve the lifecycle performance of all property subsystems as a means of decreased maintenance effort and reduced capital cost.
Finally, a well conceived plan will focus on continual study, education, and research identifying new materials, new equipment, replacement subsystems to increase the life of the property, reduce replacement cost for materials, reduce replacement and maintenance support time. As an example, recently, a new 7 year odor absorbing carpet was introduced to the market. This product in most rental homes will reduce maintenance cost as much as $100 per year per unit for an incremental one-time increased material cost of $75 based on 1,000 square feet. Pursuing these type of improvements has long term positive impact on property operations.