Commercial Real Estate Property and Preventive Maintenance Workflows

Assuming you’ve already identified that your current tenant service workflow system needs improvement (if not, click here), it’s time to take action to correct the issue. Why is this important for property managers? An efficient workflow is the easiest, most tactical thing you can implement in a relatively short timeframe to bring about a big change in the quality of your tenant service delivery program and your team’s efficiency.

As with most projects, it helps to begin by identifying several specific objectives. The more specific the better. Some goals we have seen clients identify include:

  • Improve our end of year survey results on tenant satisfaction by X%.
  • Obtain 10 new client testimonials for service satisfaction this year.
  • Increase tenant submission of service requests online by X%.
  • Reduce the number of current steps in our process by X%.
  • Increase staff productivity (how many service requests we complete/day) by X%.
  • Reduce service call-backs by X%.
  • Reduce service requests requiring outside contractors by X%.
  • Increase service request revenue capture by X%.

Then you need to create a team. It doesn’t have to be a large team, but someone must have ownership of this project. Then identify and assemble some key stakeholders. Typically, the people involved in this project might include:

• Tenant Coordinator/Administrator or Assistant PM

• Someone from engineering/maintenance

• If outsourcing maintenance, your account manager

• An accounting representative (for the billable component of service request management)

• A tenant representative (tremendous good will is created when you include your tenants)

Be sure to write everything down. Even if you don’t have currently have a written process, write down the steps you think you and your teams go through to complete a tenant service request through its complete lifecycle, from submission to billing or closure. Remember to account for variables like “request is submitted by stopping maintenance personnel in hallway to ask for service.” If you have standards, detail those as well.

Next you should detail an optimal workflow, based on cutting as many steps as possible out of that process, as your starting point. Some of this may be contingent upon finding new tools that can help you achieve this, but that will part of the overall process. Whatever you do, strive to make improvements! A critical mistake we see people make, particularly when evaluating building operations software to help with this process, is that they simply try to replicate what they are doing now. Remember, the goal is to improve the process.

Building Engines is a Commercial Real Estate (CRE) Web and Mobile Property Managaement Software

For visual people, or those who might have some more complex processes that require decision trees and prefer to diagram their processes, there some relatively easy-to-use tools available. Microsoft Visio is one that most people are familiar with, but also look at Gliffy Diagram which integrates with Google Chrome as well as LucidChart and SmartDraw.

Once you’ve completed the steps detailed, you’re ready to look at options to improve your current process. There are a number of typical processes we have identified as possible fits for organizations based on a number of factors. They include property type, staffing, technology in place, and the goals we see most typically identified.

Common workflow options include:

1. Desk Quarterback

Management team personnel is responsible for collecting service request details from tenant and managing distribution (assignment) and communications for the lifecycle of the request. May be an all-manual process or include some technology elements.

2. Chief Engineer Quarterback

Similar to the process above with the primary difference being that the initial (from the tenant requestor) or secondary (from the tenant coordinator) communication step in the submission is delivered to the chief engineer in a property, who then assigns the task to a member of his team who is responsible for completing the task.

3. Direct Assignment / Required Process Step Confirmation

A service request is submitted online or via a mobile device by the tenant requestor and the pertinent information is delivered directly to the responsible technician (or vendor) who acknowledges, accepts and manages the request and communications throughout the full work order lifecycle. This process requires the right pieces of technology in place including an advanced online work order software system extended to a connected mobile application accessible on a smartphone or tablet and is the optimal solution for service and efficiency for the right types of properties, tenants and organizations.

4. Mixed / Blend            

A combination of one of the Quarterback methods together with the Direct Assignment processes. This is utilized in situations where some issue types can be directly assigned, while some others may need further evaluation based on specific skill sets required or, potential associated costs. Again, there are technology requirements in order to make this process work.

5. “Hot Potato”

This is a variation of the Direct Assignment process whereby tenant service request submission details are delivered simultaneously to a pool of available technicians and the person who is available or in the best position to manage the request “Takes” it and the other people in the pool are notified. Once again, this process requires the right technologies in place in order to work.

Once you’ve finished all the steps outlined above, you should be process rock stars with a tenant service delivery program that helps keep your tenants very happy and your team operating at peak efficiency, as well as differentiates your company from most competitors in your markets.