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Mobile Maintenance Technology Increases Productivity, Shortens Response Times

Mobile Maintenance in Multifamily

Mobile technology certainly enhances lease and renewal processes at apartments for busy, on-the-go residents while providing convenience for others. The same technology can be applied outside the leasing office to other parts of the property and provide similar resident benefits.

A mobile app designed to handle the tedious documentation of maintaining apartments and other functions critical to property upkeep is helping increase productivity and response time, which leads to better maintenance service, according to industry officials. With access to work orders and reporting at a technician’s finger tips, maintenance productivity can soar up to 20 percent, according to RealPage, Inc.

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The Facilities Mobile App improves administration of inspections, make-readies and service requests while keeping technicians in the field and visible, says Bob Ishikawa, a product manager for RealPage, Inc., in San Francisco.  The mobile software integrates with existing property management systems and enables management of maintenance in real-time, on the spot and without the need to return to the office to complete paperwork.

“Technicians can organize their day and better track data with a mobile app,” says Ishikawa. “The app increases productivity and keeps technicians in the field, while engaging with customers and strengthening that relationship.”

App enables immediate documentation, maintenance task updates

A big benefit is providing technicians a quick resource to document the many requests that come from residents while working on another service order. Often, a resident will tell the technician about another issue that hasn’t been reported. Sometimes, such requests go undocumented – even unscheduled – because the technician forgets to update paperwork at the end of the day.

With an app in hand, the request can be added immediately to an existing order and the system populated.

“The common scenario is you get into an apartment, and it’s, ‘Hey, while you’re here, my sink is leaking’,” Ishikawa said. “The request gets taken care of, but there is no record of the work being done.”

Service request records at a technician’s fingertips

The app filters requests by person, scheduled date, completion date, priority or location so that technicians can manage service requests more effectively. New service requests can be created on the spot, and comments can be added as well as time tracked.

Mobile Maintenance

Also, the technician can look at all service requests and quickly create a schedule that maximizes use of time based on location on the property. For example, if a technician is working at one end of the property, a search can be made to identify requests from nearby units.

“There are no more trips back to the office to get a ticket for the next service request,” Ishikawa says. “It’s very easy to keep track of the work that’s being done, plus better organize a technician’s day.”

Inspection process enhanced through customization, documentation

Move-in and move-out are where a mobile maintenance app can be especially beneficial, Ishikawa says. The technician is able to track the condition of the unit and note when there are changes that may require billing the resident. Photos can be taken an imported to show any differences in the unit since the resident moved in.

“It makes those conversations with the resident easier, which makes collecting damages easier,” Ishikawa said. “It’s a great resident interaction piece.”

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The customizable inspection piece of the app manages and measures jobs, plus enables automated scheduling of recurring inspections on warranty items like HVAC systems, water heaters and other appliances. No more flipping through binders to see what inspections are due, says Ishikawa. Automated notifications help reduce the possibility that an inspection will be missed, which could void a warranty.

“You have a great tracking mechanism to say you’re pro-actively managing the safety and appearance of the apartment community,” Ishikawa said. “There is value in being able to say and substantiate that you’re following procedures the way they are supposed to be followed.”

Mobile technology speeds make-readies so units are on market faster

Shortening make-ready times means reducing how long a unit sits and isn’t producing revenue. A mobile maintenance app helps maintenance teams more effectively manage make-readies and turn units faster, Ishikawa says. Technicians have easy access to manage all the step-by-step details that can consume make-readies and leave units sitting for days between tasks performed by outside contractors.

“You reduce lag time between make-ready steps in real-time,” Ishikawa said. “The make-ready board is set up in a series. When you have make-ready board on your phone, as soon as I’m done painting, I can mark it as done and move on to the next step. You have all your make-ready items updated immediately, so you know when it’s time to go to the next step. It saves time and vacancy days.”

Mobile maintenance

An added feature is that the leasing team can quickly follow progress and know the minute the apartment is ready to lease. A mobile maintenance app can become a technician’s and leasing agent’s best friend, and increase productivity that leads to a more efficient operation and greater customer satisfaction, Ishikawa says.

“With the mobile app you can provide superior service to the residents, while saving time for the technician. There is no running back and forth to the office, no lost requests and happier residents – everything you need to make that happen is in the palm of your hands.”



Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

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Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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