Everyone wants to live and work in places that are both functional and comfortable. Property maintenance is how you keep properties in the best possible condition, ensuring both occupants and owners stay happy.
There's a lot to juggle, but the right facility management software can make everything easier.
What is property maintenance?
In one long sentence, "Property maintenance is the set of inspections and tasks that keep a property in the best possible condition, creating an environment that is safe, comfortable, and functional." Another way to think about it is that it's all the things you need to do to keep people in properties happy. And if not happy, then at least no complaining.
What activities does property maintenance cover?
The team in charge of property maintenance covers a lot of ground, both figuratively and literally. You're responsible for both the building itself and the surrounding grounds, including:
- Maintaining all assets and equipment, including plumbing, electrical, security and safety systems, and HVAC
- Pest control and removal
- Cleaning all common areas, including lobbies, restrooms, and corridors
- Separating and removing recyclables and garbage
And that's only a partial list of the responsibilities.
There are also some things you are not responsible for, including very simple, small repairs tenants are expected to take care of themselves. For example, in a residential building, the property maintenance team doesn't replace burned-out light bulbs.
What are the benefits of property maintenance?
It depends on who you are.
For the tenants, they get a nice place to live or work. There's enough to worry about at work, and the last thing people want is the extra stress that comes with leaking ceilings, lights that randomly flicker on and off, and weird smells coming from the stairwell.
And at home, the last thing people want after a hard day at work is to come home to a dirty lobby, a broken elevator, and no lights in the hallway.
Property maintenance helps tenants be productive at work and then relax at home.
For the owners, they get productive properties that deliver solid returns on their investments. Assets and equipment last longer, and tenants renew long leases. Because a lot of the work is directly related to safety, it also protects owners from expensive litigation.
Property maintenance helps owners get the most out of their buildings for as long as possible.
And for the teams in charge of the maintenance at a property, efficient property maintenance makes their jobs a lot easier. Instead of dealing with an ever-growing list of complaints, they can systematically schedule work, so it's always done before serious problems pop up.
Property maintenance helps you keep everyone happy, and that includes your team and yourself.
What are the regulations and best practices for property maintenance?
It depends on where you are.
Every location has slightly different sets of rules and regulations, so something legal in one area might be strictly prohibited in another.
That said, there's also the International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC), which is a model code that lays out the minimum requirements for existing buildings. The idea is that any agency can use the codes as a base and template, making adjustments that best serve their jurisdiction.
The IPMC covers requirements for:
- Lights, ventilation, and occupancy
- Plumbing and fixtures
- Mechanical and electrical
- Fire safety
But for the most accurate and applicable information, you need to reach out to your local government agencies and industry associations.
What are the common challenges in property maintenance?
With so many people to keep happy, there's a lot that you need to get done, including:
- Dealing with unexpected maintenance repairs
- Managing time, yours and everyone else's
- Finding good tenants and then keeping them
- Responding to tenant complaints
- Keeping accurate, reliable records
- Following government regulations and avoiding fines
And you need to do all this while carefully controlling your costs. If you had an unlimited budget, property maintenance would be simple because you could just throw more money at every problem.
But the reality is that the central challenge, the one that ties all the others together, is that you have to do all this with a limited budget. And you're always being asked to deliver more value even as your budget stays the same or even shrinks.
How does facility management software make life easier?
Modern facility management software helps you schedule work, assign it to the right people, and then track what they've done. Because all your data is up to date, it's also reliable, and that means you can use your data to generate reports packed with insights into your operations. Once you know where you're spending your budget, you can better control spending.
So, how does the software help you do all this? It all starts with where your data lives.
With traditional methods, you're stuck doing everything on paper or spreadsheets. Both are terrible, but in different ways.
With paper, it's hard to generate data but also easy to lose it. Every work order has to be written out by hand, giving you plenty of chances to copy over the wrong information or accidentally skip adding a critical detail. And once you have your one work order, that's all you have: one work order. After chasing down a maintenance tech or getting one to come all the way back to your office, you hand over the one and only copy you have. Now it's their turn to run the real risk of misplacing it.
With spreadsheets, it's easy to generate data but hard to keep it up to date. Because all you need to do to generate a new copy is copy and paste, you can quickly generate and send out many copies of the same work order.
But they don't remain copies for long. Instead, they quickly turn into versions. What's the difference? Copies are identical, just like identical twins right after they're born. Versions are those same twins but twenty years later. They've lived their own lives, and now they're different. They might sort of look the same, but they're not.
The problem for you is that you don't know which one to trust. When a tech makes a change on one spreadsheet, nothing carries over to all the other spreadsheets out there with the same file name. Your version says one thing and the tech's version says something different.
Modern cloud computing solves all these problems with a central database that lives in the cloud. Now your data is safe, secure, searchable, and accessible from anywhere. All you need to do is log into the software. And because everyone is working from the same data set, everything is always up to date.
Building from a centralized data, the software can then deliver a lot of features that help you strengthen and streamline your maintenance operations.
Open request portal
Once your data has made the move to online, so can your system for maintenance requests. In the old days, tenants had to waste time tracking down your phone number or email address. If they knew where your office was, they'd have to take the time to walk over, hoping to catch you at your desk.
And for all the time it took them to submit the request, it wasn't likely helpful anyway. Because they wouldn't know what information you needed, they'd likely accidentally skip important details. A complaint about a leaking pipe might not include the pipe's location or how bad the leak was.
Modern facility management software includes an open request portal that people can quickly access online to submit maintenance requests. And because it comes with customizable fields, you can ensure you get the information you need to prioritize work.
Once you have the request, you can use the software to review and approve it, then generate, prioritize, assign, and track a new on-demand work order.
Data-packed work orders
It's worth looking more closely at that on-demand work order you just generated.
Remember, you're doing everything from inside the software instead of trying to write everything out longhand or type everything out in a spreadsheet. With just a few well-placed clicks, you can generate a work order packed with everything techs need to work efficiently and close out quickly, including:
- Comprehensive asset maintenance and repairs histories
- Step-by-step instructions
- Customizable checklists
- Associated parts and materials
- Digital copies of images, schematics, and warranties
- Interactive site maps and floor plans
Now when a tenant tells you that there's a leak in the ceiling in the underground parking garage, your tech arrives onsite knowing exactly what work they need to do and how they need to do it. They have all the parts and materials already on them.
And they didn't even have to go to your office to pick up their new assignment. As soon as you generated and assigned the work order through the software, the tech got a notification on their maintenance app. From there, from anywhere, they can remotely access the work order. And when they close out, you can see it in real time from your desktop. If you're out of the office, you can see it on your mobile device.
Scheduled and tracked PMs
Even though the software makes on-demand work orders a lot easier, your goal should be to schedule about 80% of your total work orders in advance. Instead of running around putting out fires, you should have a scheduled system of inspections and tasks that help you find and fix any "smoke," those early signs of future problems.
With preventive maintenance, you're out ahead of the maintenance curve, where everything is easier, less stressful, and cheaper.
Instead of getting frantic late-night phone calls about tenants stuck in a broken elevator, it's a lot easier to schedule inspections and tasks that help you find that potential short in the wiring and fix it. Instead of dealing with water damage and expensive roof repairs, it's easier to send a tech up every year before the rainy season to check on and clean out the eaves.
Those are the benefits of preventive maintenance. But how does the software help you get away from only using on-demand work orders?
First, it helps you set up and schedule PMs. Once you have them in the software, you get reminders when the PMs are due. No more forgetting when work needs to be done. The software does the remembering for you. After that, it's just like with on-demand work orders: you can prioritize, assign, and track them. If you need to move a PM to a later date, it's as easy as drag and drop on the software's calendar dashboard.
Modern facility maintenance software makes it easy to capture data, keep it safe, and share it. And once you can rely on your data, you can start to leverage it. Now your data works for you.
How quickly and accurately can you answer the following questions:
- Which asset or equipment has cost you the most to keep up and running over the last six months?
- Which of your assets are no longer worth repairing and need to be replaced?
- What percentage of your PMs did your team successfully close out last month?
- How much are you spending on MRO inventory?
If you're stuck struggling with paper or spreadsheets, you likely can't answer any of them. But what if you could? How much more efficiently could you be running your maintenance operations with just a little more insight?
A lot more.
And facility maintenance software gives you more than just the answers to those three specific questions. Because it already has all your data, it can quickly crunch it for you, delivering robust reports that show you the complete maintenance big picture. Packed with easy-to-read graphs and telling maintenance metrics, you can see where your budget is going and where to cut costs.
Quick, concise summary
Both tenants and owners want properties that are safe, comfortable, and functional. No one wants a building where you can't trust the elevator to work or the toilets to flush. There's a lot to juggle, and on top of it all is the ever-present demand to do more with the same or a smaller budget. Modern property maintenance software helps streamline your operations by first moving all your data to the cloud, where it's both safe and accessible. Once everyone is working from the same data, everything becomes easier. You can funnel all work requests to an online portal, generate and assign work orders, schedule and track maintenance, and then use your reliable data to automatically generate reports that finally show you the big picture. And once you have better visibility, you can see how and where you can improve.
Let's get you to that next step
Ready to take control of property maintenance?
Hippo is here to help you make it happen with the right facility management solution, including answering your questions about maintenance strategies (and everything else related to maintenance and compliance), helping you book a live software demo, or even setting you up with a free trial.