It's well established in the multifamily industry how critical it is for an apartment community to have a highly functioning maintenance team. There's been a lot of emphasis on hiring the right technicians and supporting them with modern processes and technologies. But operators are increasingly focused on supporting residents with technology throughout the maintenance process as well.
In this Q&A, Matt Hawkins, business manager at Woodview, a Lincoln Property community in North Deerfield, Ill., discusses the steps his property has taken to improve both resident satisfaction and maintenance excellence through technology.
How has Woodview implemented new technology for maintenance requests?
As an apartment operator, you obviously want the process of filing a service request and then tracking that request to be as effortless as possible for the resident.
Five years ago, residents had to call the leasing office or a service line to file a request, and that request would be written down on paper. It often wasn't the most convenient timing for the resident to call during office hours, and writing the requests down on paper left a lot of room for human error.
The ability to file work orders through online resident portals definitely marked a leap forward in convenience. At Woodview, we believe we have taken the next step by offering our residents a custom Woodview-branded community app, powered by Mobile Doorman, that enables them to file maintenance requests in real time and right where they're most comfortable, on their smartphones.
Besides allowing a resident to file a request anytime he or she likes, how do mobile apps improve the maintenance process from the resident point of view?
Depending on the app, it can allow for direct communication between residents and service teams. This ensures the resident doesn't have to worry about something getting lost in translation.
So-called optimized apps enable residents to provide as much detail as possible in the work orders. They can take the process a step further and upload photos. This offers a greater peace of mind that they're providing the most accurate information to the service teams. In turn, service teams can feel more prepared before visiting the unit.
Finally, residents can track their work order from start to finish, all within the app. Messages and updates can be shared between the service team and the resident, delivering much needed transparency for residents about what's happening in their apartment.
What is your policy regarding follow-up after a service request has been completed?
Our team is required to follow up with residents to make sure everything has been taken care of to their satisfaction. It gives the resident an opportunity to provide feedback and shows them that we're here for their benefit. We're promoting a concierge-style lifestyle throughout our portfolio, and good service on the maintenance side is a big part of that.
As for the technicians themselves, what are some steps you're taking to improve their operations?
We're in the process of providing them with tablets they can use to add information to work orders and close them out in real time while they're out on the job. This will pave the way for quicker updates to work orders, which benefits the residents, and will save our technicians from having to do mundane, time-consuming paperwork at the end of a long day. They'll just be able to update the order right then and there.