Facilities management is a balancing act. You have to keep your rental units full to maximize income, provide the right mix of amenities to attract and retain tenants, set competitive market rates, and keep a close eye on expenses to optimize profitability.
One area that needs careful scrutiny is maintenance. While preventative maintenance can be more costly upfront, it offers clear cost savings later on.
What preventative maintenance should you do to avoid costly repairs later on and what types of maintenance can you wait on? Landlords with tight budgets have to decide how to prioritize their preventative maintenance. In this white paper, we'll cover:
- Developing a maintenance framework
- The benefits of preventative maintenance
- The different types of preventative maintenance
- The costs of reactive maintenance
- Managing reactive maintenance more efficiently
- Managing preventative maintenance more efficiently
- Tips for landlords to save money on maintenance and repairs
- How SMS Assist can revolutionize your facilities management
Developing a Maintenance Framework
The first step in balancing your preventative and reactive maintenance needs is putting a framework in place. You need to set policies and standards for what and how you approach maintenance responsibilities.
Assess Current Conditions
Part of your planning process should include an honest assessment of building conditions. Create an inventory of what needs to be done now and what will be required in the future. As most of us operate with limited budgets, this can also help you prioritize where you need to spend money, and what expenses can wait.
You will want to create a centralized list of immediate and less immediate needs, especially if you are managing multiple units or properties.
Review Past Maintenance
Next, review past maintenance work to determine why certain repairs were made. Taking a look at past maintenance records, try to answer the following questions:
The answers to these questions can help you establish your baseline and better forecast future needs.
Limited budgets require making smart decisions about your maintenance. You’ll need to do a cost-benefit analysis in each area and set policies and procedures for how you will approach your planning.
Not all reactive maintenance is bad. It’s sometimes less expensive to wait on minor repairs. However, you want a strategic approach to determine the most cost-efficient way forward.
The Benefits of Preventative Maintenance
Preventative maintenance provides a wealth of benefits for landlords and facilities managers, including:
Different Types of Preventative Maintenance
The goal of any kind of preventative maintenance is to prevent expensive repairs before they occur, lowering overall maintenance costs and protecting the investment in your property. There are three primary preventative maintenance categories to consider, including:
Time-based and Usage-based Maintenance
The most common preventative tasks are those that can be scheduled well in advance and completed on a schedule. For example, regular servicing of HVAC units, annual property inspections, or pest control are time-based. Your maintenance framework should identify time-based maintenance and lock them in on your calendar.
In other cases, your preventative maintenance may be determined based on usage. Based on your history, you know that units need routine maintenance depending on how long they have been occupied.
An important part of balancing preventative and reactive maintenance will be about deciding your risk tolerance. Prioritize preventative maintenance based on the financial or safety impact of repairs.
For example, water damage can do significant damage. You'll need to inspect roofs and water sources to make sure there are no leaks on a regular basis. Keeping gutters clean ensures proper water flow. Inspections are inexpensive, and repairs are costly.
Flushing water heaters and replacing air and furnace filters are also simple preventative maintenance that can lower your risk of expensive future repairs. Ensuring smoke detectors are in working order is also a must.
Preventative maintenance can also include replacements or upgrades to improve conditions. For example, you may want to replace windows and doors with more energy-efficient options, especially in common areas.
If you have laundry facilities, more efficient models may save on utility costs. Maintaining or upgrading security may prevent unauthorized access and damage.
Managing Reactive Maintenance Costs
Reactive maintenance costs can vary greatly from minor repairs to major replacements. Emergency repairs will always come at a premium.
For example, it might cost a few hundred dollars to do a roof inspection every few years. Replacing shingles and sealing around joints may cost a few hundred more. But a total roof replacement might cost $10,000 or more for a rental home and any resulting water damage could cost even more. The same goes for checking gutters, which is a simple preventative maintenance item, but water damage and leaks can lead to foundation repairs that can easily run into the thousands.
Air filters can run you less than $100 a year, but neglecting them can make your HVAC units run inefficiently and break down more quickly. This can reduce the unit’s lifespan and lead to thousands of dollars in repair or replacement.
Preventative maintenance may also be required to keep warranties in place. Having to do an out-of-warranty repair for something that could have been covered is frustrating and expensive.
However, no matter how much preventative maintenance you do, there will always be some things that pop up that need attention. When they do, you need an efficient system for managing your reactive maintenance costs.
Tips for Landlords to Save Money on Maintenance and Repairs
Repairs and regular maintenance do more than just keep your facilities protected and in working order. They also create a better tenant experience. Today, research shows that the customer experience plays a significant role in where people invest their money. 73 percent of people say it’s the customer experience that drives their purchasing decisions.
Keeping your facilities in tip-top shape provides a better experience and is more likely to attract new tenants and create more renewals.
Still, you don’t want to waste money on maintenance and repairs. So, how do you provide this great experience for your renters without breaking the budget? Here are a few tips to get you started.
Evaluate Repair Requests Promptly
It’s easy to let requests stack up or wait until the end of the week to take a look at all of them. However, sometimes small repairs turn into big problems if neglected. Do a quick review on every request to see if it’s something that can wait. If you determine that the repairs need immediate attention, don’t wait. If it can wait, consider briefly deferring non-critical work orders to save on costs.
Bundle Work Orders
To keep tenants happy, you may want to handle every maintenance request as soon as it comes in. However, there are times when it’s better to wait a bit. For non-essential items, you can strategically defer work orders and bundle them together to reduce trip charges. For example, a door that doesn’t close properly or a broken floor tile can wait a week or two while mission-critical repairs can’t.
Schedule Routine Maintenance
Routine maintenance is one of the most important things you will do to protect your property. Since it’s planned, you can schedule it far in advance. If you outsource your maintenance, you may be able to negotiate a lower charge if you schedule well into the future. For example, negotiating an annual agreement can save you money versus scheduling it quarterly.
Preventative and seasonal maintenance will also save you money in the long run. Spraying for pests prevents infestations. Cleaning gutters can prevent leaks. Changing filters and doing checkups on HVAC units can extend the life of your equipment and help stop emergency repairs.
Track Asset Lifespans
While you want to keep your assets in service as long as possible, you don’t want to continue paying to repair them after they’ve outlived their usefulness. It’s important to monitor maintenance and repair costs to determine when it’s time to take an asset out of service and replace it.
While replacements are expensive, you will want to do a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether it makes more sense to continue to pour money into repairs or whether replacing an asset altogether will save you money in the long run.
Tracking asset maintenance and repairs will also help you forecast expenses more precisely. For example, if you know a particular asset has an average lifespan with routine maintenance, you can budget for replacement. It’s better to have the money in the forecast and delay it than not account for it and be surprised by a big expense.
Don’t Leave Repairs to Tenants
It can be tempting to let tenants make repairs themselves, but that’s rarely a good idea. Tenants may not have the skills to do the job right, which can cause more problems down the road. Tenants also don’t have a long-term investment in the property, so they may do the least expensive options or a quick fix at the expense of a long-term repair.
Manage Vendor Relationships
Manage vendor relationships carefully. When you do need work done, you want to make sure you have established a relationship with key providers that you can trust. On-demand repairs can be expensive, so you want to ensure you’re getting a fair price, as well as quality workmanship that you can trust.
Track and Manage Warranties
Tracking warranty information for one site can be a challenge; when you’re managing large sites or multiple sites, it can be even more difficult. Yet, failing to keep track of warranty periods for covered repairs can cost you serious money.
When a repair is needed, you want a quick way to evaluate whether it’s covered by a warranty or something you need to handle right away. An automated system that surfaces warranty information before you schedule a repair can make a big difference to your bottom line.
Repairing or replacing a roof, for example, can be an expensive job. You need to know not only whether an item is covered by a warranty, but also whether there’s routine maintenance you must do to keep the warranty valid, or whether work by other vendors will void the warranty.
This can get tricky fast, especially if you work with multiple vendors.
Streamline Your Maintenance and Repairs
If you’re still using paper work orders, spreadsheets, email chains, or files as a way to manage your maintenance and repair requests, it’s costing you time and money. Investing in a centralized facilities management platform that can handle all of your work orders, connect you with high-quality vendors, validate completion, and plan for future expenses can make the entire process more efficient and cost-effective.
Understand the True Cost of Facilities Maintenance
Reducing your cost of facilities maintenance goes beyond the direct costs such as labor, parts, and trip charges. Indirect costs such as invoice processing, vendor sourcing, and asset management play a significant role in helping you in managing your time and costs.
Managing Reactive Maintenance Efficiently
You can manage reactive maintenance more efficiently using One by Lessen™. Lessen is an integrated facilities management solution that provides 24/7/365 customer service and support to handle your reactive maintenance needs. It streamlines your entire maintenance and repair processes, including managing all of your work orders and connecting you with 30,000 vetted providers of every size.
When something breaks, you can give us a call or use the cloud platform to submit work orders. We’ll handle everything from there from start to finish.
The process starts with troubleshooting to avoid unnecessary work. Once it’s determined that an on-site visit is needed and the services fall within your responsibilities, we’ll dispatch a qualified technician from the right provider.
Lessen connects you with reactive maintenance services including:
Streamline Your Work Order Process
You can simplify your work order creation and process from end to end. You can track your work orders throughout the repair process. You’ll know when providers arrive on-site, what work they did, and how long it took. You get before and after photos that are timestamped and have GPS details to ensure the work has been done.
Track Maintenance and Repair History
Not only can you track history, assets, and warranties, but you also get robust data that helps you make smarter decisions about maintenance. This helps you plan ahead and forecast the future of repairs, costs, and the impact of work deferments.
The Real-Time Data You Need
With real-time data from each location, you will always know where everything stands. This helps you adjust spending priorities, rebill work orders according to lease agreements as necessary, and limit maintenance trip costs.
Make In-House Maintenance Teams More Efficient
By easily bundling work orders together, balancing team workloads, and reducing trip times, you can also make your in-house technicians more efficient. This allows them to handle more of the maintenance faster. In-house technician management helps you in multiple ways, including:
Intelligently schedule and dispatch work orders based on skill sets and proximity.
Provider mobile apps let technicians access all of their day’s work, preview routes, and check-in and out of work orders for greater visibility.
Advanced reporting lets you assess technician performance and productivity.
Data lets you find new ways to control costs and improve efficiency.
When you find that you need additional help or specialized service, you can also tap into our provider network to fill gaps in skills, capacity, or equipment.
A More Strategic Approach to Maintenance and Repairs
When you work with Lessen, you get a streamlined solution that helps you manage your maintenance and repairs and control your costs. Our all-in-one solutions eliminate the need to deal with multiple vendors and contractors so you can take a more strategic approach to maintenance.
With 24x7x365 support, we make it easy to get what you need regardless of when things happen. This allows you to improve tenant and resident experiences, resulting in lower turnover, fewer escalations, and more profitable relationships.
Our vision is to make every property better and make it easier for you to get the work done. We help you manage your assets and resources more efficiently and connect you to a trusted network of high-quality service providers. This saves you time and money while providing the highest level of service you need to protect the investments in your property.
Contact the experts at Lessen today to request a demo. Let us go to work for you.