Measuring Maintenance - The Front Line of the Future!

I read recently that the prospect is likely to be 57% of the way through the buying cycle before ever engaging with a human being.  With our industry embracing the Internet of Things, add to that the online application process, docusign for executing the lease, portal payment and work order submission, an increase in texting and emailing, decreasing package acceptance, and our customer sees the office staff less and less.  The service team – the maintenance team – is more and more the face of the community to our customers. 


The importance of maintenance teams as the industry’s front line is backed by resident feedback as well.  In fact, Satisfacts Research’s 2017 “Today’s Online Renter” study indicated that Quality of Maintenance was the #3 factor in residents’ renewal decision.  In another resident survey by J. Turner Research, most residents indicated the 24-hour service guarantee was the 2nd most important service to them.  Maintenance performance is critical to our success.  And yet our tools for measuring maintenance and benchmarking to improve quality and timeliness have not changed to meet the increasing demands placed on the maintenance workforce.  

Maintenance Metrics are increasingly important to our industry, and yet they are the least measured part of our business. 

Measuring maintenance is a tricky business.  Apartments do not necessarily lend themselves to standardization, nor do the varying skillsets and troubleshooting that our technicians may employ.  An example is the commonly asked question:  How long does it take to turn an apartment?   The right answer is:  it depends. It depends on a myriad of factors, including age of the asset, condition of the individual apartment at move-out, level of renovation required at the turn, skills of the staff, how many square feet, rooms, etc.  Having surveyed maintenance techs all over the country, answers range from 2 days to a month. 

Paul Rhodes, NAAEI National Maintenance Instructor, says asking how long it should take for a maintenance technician to complete a particular maintenance task is somewhat like asking how long it takes for a leasing professional to lease an apartment.  How do you measure that, when so many variables can impact achieving the result?  In developing maintenance measurements, here are some ideas to consider:

  • The goal of metrics should be improving operations and not be used as punishment.
  • To be relevant benchmarks have to account for like-kind product and outcome based on comparable owners’ goals.
  • All stakeholders should have input, rather than a top-down strategy.

With maintenance results having such a huge impact on the resident experience, and even more so on the properties bottom line expenses, developing relevant measurements will become increasingly valuable.  Smart property managers will appropriately benchmark for improved results and craft their maintenance programs as a “value-add” to their businesses!

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