What to look for in a maintenance request app
4 maintenance request app must-haves that improve the tenant maintenance request process at multifamily communities.
Our State of Resident Experience Management Report found that 96% of management companies either currently offer an online portal or app for residents to submit maintenance requests, or plan to within the next 12 months. Only 57% of management companies surveyed by NARPM in 2018 said they used some sort of online maintenance request technology. That’s almost a 40% jump in adoption over the past 3 years.
Clearly, trends are shifting towards contactless, self-service options. Because they not only to provide greater convenience for residents, but also streamline on-site operations. Let’s dive into why you need a maintenance request app, what to look for when searching for one, and how to calculate whether or not it is worth the cost.
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Why you need a maintenance request app
Relying on residents to email, call, or visit the leasing office to report a maintenance issue is risky. The property manager might accidentally neglect pertinent information when they relay the issue to the maintenance team. So when the technician arrives at the unit, they won’t be adequately prepared to resolve the issue.
Also, with many different channels to manage, work orders are easily lost or misplaced. This can be extremely frustrating for residents, site teams, and the maintenance staff.
Best practice is to streamline the process by picking one channel by which residents can submit work orders and site staff can manage them all in one place. For cutting-edge management companies, that one channel is a robust maintenance request app.
Apps make it easy for residents to submit a work order
NMHC’s data shows that 64% of renters think the most convenient way to report an issue is by using a community app. Ashley Weatherly, Events Manager at a group of properties called The Collective, said almost all of their maintenance requests are now submitted through their community app. “It’s such an automated process, and it’s so wonderful that people don’t have to resort to writing something down.”
Apps make tracking work orders as easy as tracking meal delivery
Residents want to stay updated about the maintenance process from the moment they submit a request to the minute the issue is fixed. Communicating with them about what’s happening at every stage of the process is extremely important. Especially if the issue might take some time to resolve.
A business that exemplifies process communication is UberEats. Once you place an order, you can see the ETA in real-time. You can even track your meal from the restaurant, to pick-up, to delivery. Work order tracking should provide the same visibility.
Apps streamline the process for your maintenance techs
The old ‘paper and tray’ or stray email methods make for a disorganized maintenance process. Which leads to disgruntled site staff, maintenance techs, and residents. Here’s how the request process works using a maintenance request app:
Residents submit a request through the maintenance request app or online.
Associates are notified via email and in-app with all details of the maintenance work order, such as name, unit, issue category, and a photo.
Associates can filter, view, assign, and manage work orders by status (open, in progress, closed).
Residents are kept up to date via custom alerts on the progress and completion of the work order.
“Our residents absolutely love having the app. They think it’s really cool and it’s also practical. The majority of our work orders come in at night when we’re not in the office… We’ll come in in the morning and have 15 work orders and know how to schedule our day.”
Must-haves for your maintenance request app
In-app maintenance requests are continuing to gain traction because of their convenience and efficiency. If you are looking to implement a maintenance request app, make sure it has the following 4 imperative features:
1. Detailed work orders
Back in the day, residents would walk into the leasing office and tell the agent, “my drain is backed up.” The agent would write a ticket for the maintenance tech who would follow up with a tree of questioning. Which drain? Which sink? The one with the disposal?
With a maintenance request app, the tech can ask subsequent questions through the app before they enter the unit. The resident can also provide all the information needed to get the work order started, including name, unit, category & issue type, description of issue, photos, entry permission, and more. So the maintenance workers can actually see the problem before they enter the unit, and can properly prepare ahead of time.
For example, if a resident submits a work order to report a clogged drain and attaches a photo of their garbage disposal, the maintenance tech will be able to see what type of disposal it is. And they can bring the correct replacement when they come to snake the drain. Now the maintenance worker may have saved themselves an extra trip, and the resident is satisfied with the quick repair.
2. Robust tracking
With a maintenance request app, tracking software takes the stress out of incomplete apartment maintenance requests, enabling your staff to manage requests across multiple properties and improve the overall experience for your multifamily community.
Once the detailed request is submitted, associates can begin the work order. Admins can review open and in-process apartment service requests in a dashboard view. And they can easily navigate at the property or unit level.
3. Real-time updates & seamless communication
Residents don’t want to be in the dark about the status of their maintenance request. It’s important they have an avenue to check for updates. We’ll use the Uber Eats example again. Customers see real-time updates about their order and estimated time of arrival directly within the app. Residents appreciate the same transparency when it comes to the status of repairs in their unit.
With a maintenance request app, associates can use a chat feature that’s embedded into each work order for easy communication with the resident if needed. And automatic notifications are sent to the resident based on their preferences.
Residents at Edison47 properties love that they can easily fire off a work order and receive excellent customer service directly from their phones. Jered Lerum, Director of Business Development for Edison47, said their staff also love this improved work order management process. “For the site staff to be able to actively engage in conversation from a maintenance standpoint – clarifying questions, seeing photos of the issue… it just streamlines the process, it makes maintenance more efficient, all with the goal of making for happier sites and happier residents.”
4. Post-maintenance surveys
Some maintenance request apps even allow you to automate this process by triggering a survey to send after a maintenance request has been closed.
Sample Maintenance Survey Questions:
- What maintenance service did you receive?
- How satisfied were you with the maintenance request process?
- Rate how satisfied were you with the length of time it took to complete your request?
- How satisfied were you with the maintenance team?
- Rate how satisfied you are with the cleanliness of the work done in your home
- Any additional comments or suggestions about the maintenance repair process?
Is a maintenance request app worth the cost?
Beacon Communities received positive feedback from residents after rolling out the Zego Mobile Doorman community app with a work order management feature. “We saw a pretty dramatic uptick in online work orders immediately when we rolled out. That first month, we saw positive data come through and it continued to trend up,” explained John Reardon, VP of Marketing at Beacon Communities. “In the last 30 days alone, more than 170 maintenance requests were submitted via Beacon resident apps from Zego Mobile Doorman. Equating to more than $3,000 worth of working hours saved for onsite staff.”
Maintenance request app ROI Calculator
According to Beacon’s calculations, if 170 work orders would have cost $3,000 worth of working hours to process manually, then each maintenance request costs $18 to process manually.
Let’s say a community processes 250 maintenance requests per month. At $18 per request, the total monthly cost to process those requests manually would be $4,500. Divide that number by the average monthly cost of a tenant maintenance app ($1 per unit), and you can easily calculate your ROI.
“We created a calculation involving the number of work orders being requested through the Mobile Doorman system, and how that compared to our site team members manually entering a work order… We found that we were saving thousands of dollars and paying for the platform with the labor hours that we save when our associates don’t have to manually record and create work orders.”
– Connor Duffy, Customer Experience Manager at Beacon Communities.
But this ROI calculation doesn’t even take into consideration the multitude of additional benefits you’re receiving from the app. Most maintenance request apps are just one feature of a robust community app that lets you manage amenity reservations, send property-wide communications, package notifications, and more.
If you are looking into options for a maintenance request app, we would be happy to give you a custom demo of Zego Mobile Doorman.