When it comes to maintenance requests and complaints, you have it in the bag. You’re an expert at scheduling maintenance visits, issuing notices, and soothing any disgruntled residents. But have you mapped out a plan when construction or long-term renovations and repairs have to be done? Incorporate courteous construction practices into your property management playbook with these few tips.
Communication Is Your Greatest Ally
You’ve heard more than a handful of angry maintenance stories, and you very likely have a few of your own. Personally I can tell you I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as my property management company was to communicate solely through written notes, especially when their spontaneous renovations took a month longer than originally stated. So before you even start bidding with contractors, contacting vendors, or planning with your maintenance staff, figure out how you’re going to break the news to your residents.
Giving written notice alongside personally telling your residents is ideal, however if your construction plans are going to affect your entire community, leaving voicemails might be faster. Now that you know how you’re going to tell your community, strategize what you’re going to say. As a rule of thumb, each written notice should have the following:
- The date(s) and time the construction is going to take place
- An estimate with how long it will take
- What the construction is improving, address noise concerns (if any)
- Any additional requirements for your residents
- Your name and contact information
- The contact information of your maintenance staff
Offer text updates on the progress of the construction on your notice as well. No one wants any unwanted surprises and the sooner your residents know that their home is next on the list for repairs or renovations, the better. Don’t be shy to brag about the changes your community will have. The more your residents know how great the outcome will be, the easier is to deal with inconvenient construction. Once a repair or renovation has been completed, follow up a week later. This way you’ll not only know how your community is feeling about the changes, but it makes a big difference for residents to know that you care about their opinion.
Unfortunately despite your best efforts, not every resident is going to be understanding of the inconveniences these projects can create. Even with advance notice and a plethora of information, sometimes just simple construction noise can cause a rift between you and your resident. When it comes to working with angry residents, Zillow® advises that you make good customer service a priority. Respond to any discontent immediately, make a point to talk to your resident in person, and try to accommodate their needs. If they’re concerned about noise early in the morning, try to see if you can move construction times to later in the day. If you have a huge university population, offer complimentary ear plugs in your leasing office to combat the noise and their unusual schedule. Even if it just means listening, most unhappy residents can become understanding if they feel like their being heard and their problems are understood and will be dealt with. If you do have residents that threaten to move or terminate their lease based on the construction, consider offering incentives to stay, like a rent discount during the construction.
Handling difficult residents is obviously easier said than done. Managing and planning long-term renovations or repairs can be especially difficult. As standard practice, be sure you have vetted the construction company who will be on your premise and possibly inside your residents’ units.
With a good approach, you can be as great of a manager during construction as you are with maintenance requests. It simply takes time.
What are some strategies you use to keep your residents happy while performing maintenance or repairs? Leave us a comment below!