How Mobile Inspections are Revolutionizing Student Housing
Just as the frenzy over rush week mounts on college campuses, student housing operators move into high gear for a few weeks each year when apartments turnover.
Spring and fall apartment turns happen fast, which means time is precious when moving one student out and another in before the semester starts. With an increased demand for student housing, housing staffs don’t need to get bogged down in paperwork and processes – particularly on unit inspections.
But new technology that will make the inspection process more efficient is on the way, says Bob Ishikawa, a product manager for RealPage, Inc., in San Francisco. Mobile software that integrates with existing property management systems enable properties to perform and essentially close the book on inspections in just a matter of minutes. The process can be done from start to finish inside the unit with the resident, eliminating the need to spend time later at the office completing paperwork.
New technology enables thorough inspections in real time
Ishikawa calls it the process of untethering your maintenance technician and keeping a key member of the staff in the field.
“You want your maintenance technicians to have their phones or iPads and have every item that you would be inspecting in the palm of your hands,” he said. “There’s no back and forth. There is no uploading onto the computer or searching for the right form. It’s all in the palm of your hand.”
When an apartment becomes vacant, a quick inventory of the unit and its condition is necessary before the next resident moves in. Everything from the lights, cabinets, floors, walls and ceilings must be noted and, if necessary, work orders placed to make repairs. Typically, on-site inspectors have to perform these inspections, taking any notes and/or pictures, and return to the office and create a report.
Not now, says Ishikawa. Technology-enabled maintenance and inspection personnel can walk and talk with the resident and do a thorough inspection on the spot. This is just one way software companies are bringing cutting-edge technology to the world of maintenance in property management.
Mobile inspections keep maintenance personnel in the field where they belong
With mobile inspections, the maintenance technician ultimately stays in the field, a necessity for any property. Maintenance staff can play a crucial role in building relationships with residents, and even in the renewal process. Reports can be built on the go, and photos are easily integrated to create a complete picture of the unit.
Data is synced with the property management software system and reports create a rolling history of the apartment. Rather than digging through file cabinets for old inspection reports, data can be quickly accessed in the hands of the technician.
Ishikawa estimates that properties can cut their inspection times per unit by 15-20 percent and keep one of their most valuable players in the field.
“The best use of your maintenance technician is to have him or her out on the grounds, fixing things, inspecting things and interacting with residents, because they are really the face of your community,” he said.
Ishikawa says enabling devices to record real-time inspection results can help properties in the following ways:
Perform and track inspections quickly and readily
Maintenance or other property personnel can perform move-in/move-out inspections, create new service requests, upload photos and manage make-readies from a mobile device, including iOS and Android devices. A custom inspection template can be created to suit any property type.
In addition, a logical, detailed work flow on unit inspections and service requests can be created while in the field, inside an apartment unit. Technicians can upload photos and make notes while performing inspections. Also, a record of past inspections is kept.
Easily measure performance with concise reporting
Custom reporting populated from the inspections module enables management to track productivity tasks and follow trends of items which typically need to be replaced on a consistent basis. You will be able to quickly determine where improvements are needed so that appropriate action can be taken to help ensure high resident satisfaction.
Eliminate paperwork and manual processes
Clipboards, big pads, and notebooks will no longer be necessary tools for performing and documenting inspections. With mobile inspections, check-offs on checklists and notes can be entered and stored in the database without the need for paper, streamlining your maintenance management processes.
Also, work orders can be assigned quickly in real time, and technicians can document activities, record labor time and close requests in the field. If the technician is working offline, data automatically syncs with the property management system once coverage is restored.
Save time and money with on-the-spot inspections
Inspecting move-ins/move-outs or just doing period on-site inspections saves time and money. Once the inspection is completed on the mobile device, and any follow-up service orders are tasked, the book is essentially closed so the inspector can move on to the next unit or property.
“Whatever it may be, all of that collation of data happens automatically so you don’t have to go back and do that in your office,” Ishikawa said. “That’s where you’re going to find your time savings. It’s reducing that administrative burden from your maintenance tech.”
Mobile inspections are a game changer and enable student housing providers to turn units faster.
And helping make those critical weeks of the year where unit turnovers must be done feel a little less rushed.
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