Adobe Stock

It doesn’t matter what’s occurring in multifamily, one constant is the importance of maintenance teams when it comes to resident retention and lease conversions. A community’s maintenance team is the central component to keeping the property operating at peak performance— from individual apartments to common areas and more. Ensuring that a community’s maintenance operations continuously run smoothly requires a robust commitment to ongoing training and support.

With hiring and retention a continuing challenge in multifamily, a well-built, growth-focused training platform and certification process that also touches on customer service and technology is a must for any company seeking maintenance success.

“Staff shortages and turnover are common concerns that cut across different companies when it comes to maintenance staff,” says Debra Baldacci, vice president of leasing and training at Asset Living. “Regardless of the organization or industry, these challenges can have a widespread impact. Addressing these concerns and finding effective solutions is crucial for maintaining smooth and efficient maintenance operations on-site.”

Making Maintenance Training a Priority

The shortage of employees, especially experienced maintenance personnel, is one of the top concerns for multifamily owners and operators, and the competition for talent is fierce. Communities have to take a proactive approach to retain the teams they have, including continuing education and skill refinement. Employees who have growth opportunities are more likely to remain in their current positions. Stagnation is one of the quickest ways to encourage an employee to seek greener pastures.

“In addition to on-the-job training, we have implemented the interactive learning platform Interplay to enhance our maintenance skills training further,” Baldacci explains. “The platform offers a wide range of courses that simulate realistic maintenance scenarios, covering areas such as HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and more. This enables our teams to continually develop and refine their skills in various maintenance disciplines.”

To ensure a well-rounded training experience, Asset Living has designed a training schedule that spans three years, Baldacci added. This cadence allows the organization’s maintenance teams to progress systematically, gradually expanding their skill sets and expertise. Virtual learning is also an avenue to help maintenance techs earn the certifications necessary to expand the role they play in a community’s overall maintenance program.

Generate Opportunities for Maintenance Employees

The desire for professional development and advancement is present in all levels of employees, regardless of what department they work in. Technicians may want to advance in the maintenance area or they may choose to expand their horizons, aiming to move toward property management. Regardless of their desired direction, having the communication, support, and education in place to help employees realize their goals will not just help with retention efforts, it will create a culture in which maintenance teams will thrive.

“We wholeheartedly embrace the value of professional development and prioritize creating a supportive environment that fosters career advancement for our maintenance professionals,” Baldacci says. “We are committed to offering opportunities for our team members to expand their skill sets, gain valuable experiences and elevate their careers.”

A company’s training program isn’t going to offer the necessary insight into where your employees want to go. Follow-up from managers, as well as a survey program, are effective ways to achieve a comprehensive understanding of how your maintenance employees feel about their careers now and which path they want to take in the future. Failing to provide that open communication will set them searching for an organization that offers the support they crave.

Maintenance Support and Reputation Management

A great maintenance experience frequently garners five-star reviews, but it’s more likely that a poor experience will end up part of your online reviews. An examination of online reviews by Rent. showed there are 33% more negative reviews about maintenance than there are positive ones. About 84% of prospects review before agreeing to a tour and they will take note of how well maintenance issues are handled, according to Grace Hill data. Today’s renters aren’t just expecting things to be fixed, they’re also seeking a pleasant interaction.

“We actively engage with our residents through survey tools and follow-up procedures after each completed work order to ensure their satisfaction,” Baldacci explains. “This enables us to address any concerns promptly and make necessary improvements, demonstrating our commitment to delivering exceptional maintenance services.”

Maintenance may have greater contact with residents than leasing teams, and their influence on a property goes well beyond fixing the fridge. If any concerns from residents do arise, such as poor service, improvement is best handled through a company’s follow-up training program. This can provide the necessary guidance on customer service and interaction. When a maintenance request is executed professionally and in a timely manner, residents often show their appreciation either through renewals, excellent reviews or both. Owners and operators need to make maintenance teams aware of the impact they have, especially when it’s a positive one.

“We prioritize effective communication and accountability, starting from the top, to ensure training is impactful,” Baldacci adds. “While we have achieved significant successes, we view ongoing challenges as opportunities for growth and improvement. Adapting to ever-changing industry trends and technologies fuels our determination to enhance our training programs continuously.”