American author Kur Vonnegut once said, “everybody wants to build, and nobody wants to do maintenance.” This couldn’t be truer about property maintenance in commercial real estate – particularly in the retail space.  

But retail property management teams who understand the importance of property maintenance and its connection to their bottom line are the ones who will rise above their competition. And those who inefficiently and improperly manage maintenance at retail properties are hurting their bottom line. If you can relate to the following, it is time to reevaluate your maintenance program: 

You don’t efficiently manage preventive maintenance.  

Many times, property teams at retail properties find themselves reactively managing maintenance and equipment because something breaks or a tenant notices something is wrong. Waiting until something breaks to fix it will cost you much more in the long run than if you had done regular maintenance on it. Just like your car needs maintenance (e.g. getting its oil changed) on a regular basis to prevent it from breaking down prematurely, so too does the equipment at your property. Creating a well-defined and regularly scheduled preventive maintenance program will ensure you keep your equipment running smoothly and will help avoid any unexpected issues with it. And better yet – it will help you keep more control over maintenance costs.  

You don’t prioritize maintenance work effectively. 

We often find that maintenance tasks aren’t prioritized effectively. If we look at the car example again, some cars require more maintenance than others. Think about it, if you are driving every day on your 30-mile commute to work it is going to require more maintenance than a car that is sitting in a driveway most of the week. If certain equipment is working harder than others or is more critical to running your property, then you should place a high priority on its maintenance. For example, an HVAC unit is probably more important to keep healthy and running properly than a fountain in front of your building. The simplest way to prioritize maintenance is through property management software that will automatically show your vendors or engineers what they need to focus on first and what’s most important. If you aren’t prioritizing maintenance, then you are risking critical pieces of equipment failing, which will have a detrimental impact on your bottom line.  

You don’t (or can’t) monitor maintenance on the go.  

If you can’t know the status of an inspection or maintenance task at any given moment, you’re putting yourself and your team at a disadvantage. With the right tools, you – and your vendors, engineers, etc. – should be able to track the progress of maintenance tasks on the fly. This means that less time and fewer resources will be wasted on hunting down or constantly walking back to your desk to check your email for status updates on maintenance. The ability to check on maintenance task status on the go also gives you the opportunity to spot problems with follow up and task completion faster, saving you time and money in the long run.  

You don’t proactively analyze your data.  

An effective property management solution will collect valuable data related to maintenance. Sometimes we find that this valuable data just sits in a corner with no one looking at it. This is a huge mistake that retail property teams make. Forward-thinking property managers know how well their team is performing and how much maintenance work is being put into certain pieces of equipment. They are able to spot trends earlier by looking at the data they collect from previous maintenance tasks. For example, you could see that a certain piece of equipment has been breaking at the same time every month. To proactively fix this problem you schedule additional maintenance tasks around this time each month or you evaluate the cost associated with this fix to determine whether or not you need to replace the piece of equipment. Without this data, you cannot make educated decisions about how to manage your equipment.  

You don’t prepare for the worst.  

To slash retail maintenance costs, you need to prepare for equipment failure and property damage. And while saying prepare for the worst may seem dramatic, it sets you up to be able to handle any surprises that may arise concerning maintenance. Being prepared also means having processes and standards in place to manage unexpected problems when they are presented. This will enable you and your team to swiftly and efficiently handle and challenges that do arise unexpectedly.  

Inefficiently and reactively managing maintenance at retail properties will accumulate a significant cost that you may not expect. If you don’t prioritize maintenance, monitor it on the go, analyze the data, and prepare for unexpected maintenance work, you aren’t setting yourself up for success. And worse – you’re risking incurring lofty costs associated with mismanaged maintenance. Stay ahead of the competition with an effective retail maintenance plan.