The Secret is Out: Your Apartment Property Maintenance Team is a Valuable Marketing Tool
Last month in the article “The Top Secret Apartment Marketing Weapon: Your Maintenance Team,” I shared my positive experience with a hotel housekeeper and how it made me wonder about the effect a maintenance staff can have on marketing an apartment property.
Curious to learn what others thought, I posted some questions in a couple of multifamily LinkedIn groups and online communities:
- Does your maintenance staff greet your residents? If so, is it in a warm and friendly manner?
- Does the maintenance staff take the time to learn names of residents, family, and pets?
- Does your maintenance staff ask residents if they are experiencing any problems?
- Is your maintenance staff empowered to create a service request or, better yet, fix the problem on the spot if time allows?
Based on responses, the bottom line is that property owners and managers view their maintenance teams as important and effective marketers.
According to those who responded, maintenance employees can offer a “warm fuzzy” to residents (in some cases they can be considered like family) and “can make or break your asset’s performance.” One even suggested offering tours of the maintenance facility when showing around potential residents.
Consider this hypothetical example from one online respondent: Let’s say an apartment property averages six service requests per unit each year. If we assume that the average apartment property has 200 units, a maintenance staff could potentially interact with residents at least 100 percent more than the leasing staff. Think about that.
With that amount of direct contact with residents, it’s no wonder every online respondent emphasized the significant role apartment maintenance technicians can play in a property’s brand.
Enough emphasis is placed on maintenance at J.C. Hart Company, which owns 15 properties in Indiana and Ohio, that the maintenance team members get bonuses based on good resident feedback. The company also periodically asks its technicians to put down the wrenches and screwdrivers to talk about another kind of customer service.
“We talk about how to communicate with customers,” says Mark Juleen, the company’s vice president of marketing. “Of course, just being personable when we can (is emphasized). We also talk about being a little more proactive with the little extras and details that can sometimes get overlooked. It’s a huge part of what we do.”
Juleen says a maintenance technician’s proper engagement with a resident can fortify his company’s purpose, “We Make Your Home an Enjoyable Living Experience.” He doesn’t have a problem with technicians going above and beyond the call of duty, such as offering service on the fly or even giving a resident’s car a jump (a story shared from one online poster).
Surveys are given to residents after maintenance work has been completed so the company can better execute its mission
“That’s really what we strive for, and [the survey] drills down to the core values of what we’re going after,” Juleen says. “If somebody is not enjoying their living experience, we need something to try to turn that around. I get notifications on a daily basis when a resident completes the surveys and submits a mark that’s below four stars on particular questions. If we get a three or lower, I get an automatic notification. I share that with the teams and we try to figure out how to make the experience turn around.
While customer satisfaction is high at J.C. Hart Co., Juleen says the company’s properties aren’t immune to complaints, which are viewed as a chance to improve service and build a stronger brand.
“We’ve always taken the position that we shouldn’t be offended if somebody writes a complaint about us,” he said. “We look at it as an opportunity.”
An opportunity to be a top secret apartment marketing weapon.
What do you think about your maintenance team members? Do you consider them an important part of your marketing and resident retention efforts?