Leonardo247’s Daniel Cunningham is joined by Mark Cukro of Plus One Consulting, to discuss strategies for optimizing multifamily maintenance including training, service, trends, and challenges.
Daniel Cunningham: What are the best practices you share with multifamily operators as it relates to maintenance? Specifically the after-hours service. [4:40]
Mark Cukro: “The best practice is to have a policy and really understand what liabilities you have before you send people after hours, in the dark, maybe in an unusual or tense circumstance, to open a door. Make sure they understand who actually lives there and who’s allowed to have access. You don’t want to have someone walk into a domestic dispute or something like that. Have a policy, stick by it, and you don’t always have to give in to the demands of the resident. You really have to make sure that you have everything documented. Don’t make any exceptions whatsoever.”
DC: What’s the best way to ensure technicians are aware of those things before they go out and respond to a late-night service call? [7:58]
MC: “Being able to read the room, and measure the circumstances of what you’re walking into on site is very difficult. My approach is to have a good-faith response, which is, to try to assess the situation as best as you can. When you arrive onsite, be cautious. If there’s any tension and you need law enforcement, call them. If you’re uncertain, don’t go in. But at least knock on the door and say, “We’re here.”
DC: Is there technology involved to ensure the service teams have the information they need? [9:42]
MC: “Technology should enhance your experience, not replace your judgment or skillset. It comes down to the screening part of whoever is taking the initial request from the resident. The resident is not going to tell you, I’m in a fight with my significant other. It’s a hostile situation, and I want you to come here.”
I don’t think there’s a technology that can help that part. There are loan technician software applications, where if you’re a technician, you have your phone in your hand, you hold your button down, and if you let go for more than 15 minutes, emergency services are dispatched to that location. There are things you can do to help technicians, but nothing will replace them 100 percent.”
DC: What is being done these days to find and source maintenance technicians? [16:19]
MC: “We have to stop thinking one position has to be paid more than the other. It really depends on the property, the skillsets, and what the asset type is.
The generations entering the workforce are not lazy. They bring to work a completely different set of expectations and baseline skills, which are more technological. We have to figure out why people don’t want to get into this industry. I think we need to make this industry more attractive. We have to know why people want to work for us and what we’re going to provide them. The most common thing people really look for is the environment.”
DC: Service technicians have the biggest impact on resident retention. Talk about the training you should be providing to service technicians to make sure that interaction is as positive as it can be, and to help them deal with conflict. [24:40]
MC: “From a company perspective, most companies want fair housing, sexual harassment, and customer service. They all focus on liability-based training. Technicians suffer through that. It’s important and you have to do it, but the technicians want skill-based training.
The other part is interpersonal soft skills. Deescalation and social skills are just as important as technical skills. Your mindset is just as important as your skillset.”
DC: Is there any magic bullet for recruiting? Where can people go to find potential prospects to serve as a technician? [26:43]
MC: By and large the multifamily starting pay for a movie technician is around 20-25% lower than individual trades. Ask yourself what other trades and industries are around you that you might be able to attract talent. If the pay is equal or even close, they’re going for the environment. The environment has to be conducive to their success. They want you to take their success as seriously and as importantly as you take your own.
- After-hours service policy: It is crucial for multifamily operators to have a clear policy regarding after-hours service calls. Operators should understand their liabilities before sending personnel into potentially unusual or tense circumstances. Policies should include verifying the identity and residency of individuals before granting access.
- Documentation and process: Operators should document all interactions and have a well-defined process in place for after-hours service calls. It is important to enforce the policy consistently and not make exceptions.
- Technology as an aid: While technology can enhance the overall experience, it cannot replace judgment or skill sets. Screening residents and gathering information during initial requests is crucial, but there is no technology that can detect all potentially hostile situations.
- Recruiting and training technicians: Multifamily operators should consider attracting talent from other trades and industries by offering competitive pay and creating an attractive work environment. Training for technicians should not only focus on liability-based topics but also include skill-based training and interpersonal soft skills such as de-escalation and social skills.
- Technicians’ impact on retention: Service technicians have a significant impact on tenant retention. Providing positive interactions and conflict management training to technicians can help improve tenant satisfaction.
Host: Daniel Cunningham
Guest: Mark Cukro
Producer: Katie Bradley