The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Maintenance Supervisors

I have the honor of working with numerous Super Stars in apartment Maintenance.  They certainly had technical skills, but what made them successful were these 7 Habits I’ve observed consistently in the best of the best Maintenance Supervisors:


1.       They bend over backwards – to pick up trash. When we walk a property, Juan stops if he sees that trash has fallen during the day.  I do it too. He’s not “too good” to take time for the small stuff. I admit the antenna go up when I walk with staff and they pass the trash and don’t reach down for it. I try to set an example, picking up as I go along, and respect those who do as well.

2.       They do that little extra! Mark has a couple of standard items that he and his team check every time they perform a service request. They check faucets for leaks, test the smoke detector, and check for running toilets, as well as spotting obvious problems, like worn weatherstripping.  There may be more, but these are standard items.  It saves the property money, keeps the resident safe, and demonstrates caring to the customer.  In the long run, Mark’s job is easier on the turn, since he’s taken care of problems each time he enters the apartment. 

3.       They talk to the customer!  In other words, they see themselves as “a part” of the Marketing/Leasing team rather than “apart.”  Marvin and his team speak to the prospects they meet in the office. They greet the residents they pass, leave behind information about repairs in their homes, and will make phone calls or home visits when a resident has a question about his or her repairs, or how something works.   

4.       They tattle on the residents.  Over the years Tony has pointed out more than one concern about potential hoarding, housekeeping issues, over-occupancy, indoor pot farms, unreported pets, and more.  He doesn’t close his eyes to issues that could become costly or dangerous, but takes an interest in resolving them.

5.       They don’t “hoard” the “how to” from their staff. Shane doesn’t “hoard” his expert skills, but mentors one-on-one with less skilled team members, sharing knowledge without belittling, and building strong teams, even on “sister” properties. 

6.       They build a better mouse trap! They are always on the look-out for better ways to do their jobs! J (yes, just the letter J) saves money by not doing things “the way we’ve always done them,” but getting creative.  For example, his property has old metal tubs that rust out. He’s the first Maintenance Supervisor I’ve worked with that removes and replaces his own tubs! It’s hard work, saves money, and he is certain the plumbing behind the tiles is properly completed.  

7.       They build up the whole team. It would be easy for the Maintenance Supervisor to participate in gossip, criticize the property manager or company, or just ignore strife and go about his or her work.  Mark recently went through a prolonged property sale, listening to co-workers’ job fears and speculation.  Instead of feeding those fears, he encouraged his co-workers, discussed concerns with the Property Manager, and they as a team kept morale and property operations at strong levels. 

Technical maintenance skills are important, but technical skills are more easily taught to people who have the right habits and overall care for the team, the residents and the property.  These 7 Habits are what I see as setting the most successful Maintenance Supervisors apart from the pack. What habits would you add?

Mary Gwyn, CPM
Making the World a Better Place One Lease at a Time