“Centralization” has been a multifamily buzzword for years. Prior to COVID, there were whispers of centralization in the air, but the height of the pandemic forced multifamily organizations to pivot and virtually tour and lease apartments.
That was leasing centralization, or as we like to call it, “Multifamily Centralization 1.0.” As we all know, the multifamily industry doesn’t always move fast—plenty of companies are still in the thick of streamlining their leasing operations.
But, for innovative industry leaders, there’s a new era of centralization unfurling: Maintenance centralization.
Why You Should Care: Maintenance centralization isn’t just another trend, it’s an effective tactic that produces tangible results—like higher resident satisfaction and better work-life balance for onsite staff.
4 Results of Centralizing Maintenance, as Discussed at Our LinkedIn Live Event
In February 2023, HappyCo hosted Unlocking Centralization: Challenging the 1:100 Staffing Paradigm, a virtual roundtable. We gathered industry experts to share not only what they’re doing to centralize their operations, but what impacts they’ve seen from those efforts.
Here’s what we learned.
1. Centralization impacts everything
“In terms of running properties more efficiently and effectively in the future, centralization is a necessity,” said Mike Brewer, Chief Operating Officer at The RADCO Companies.
Centralization affects every aspect of the business, from the resident experience to the employee experience to the vendor-partner experience. Not centralizing is unlikely to lead to total business collapse, but it will cause a significant (and ever-widening) gap between you and your competitors.
If you don’t centralize operations, you won’t attract the right business partners, you won’t be providing a top-tier resident experience, and you’ll risk losing excellent employees to organizations that provide a better work-life balance.
Even more than the benefits of centralization, organizations would be wise to consider the risks of not centralizing ASAP.
2. Meet your residents where they want to be met
Start by gathering all the knowledge you have about your properties and then create one central repository for residents to go to self-serve on straightforward tasks, like resetting the garbage disposal or fixing the thermostat.
Marc de Mahy, Senior Director of Business Systems at Irvine Company Apartments, shared that by centralizing self-help guides for basic maintenance tasks, “you can meet the customer where they want to be met, yet still give them the maintenance help they need.”
He went on to predict that the next step is the virtual piece—giving your residents the option to video call a remote technician for support. That can really give PMCs a leg up, reducing after-hours calls or onsite technicians having to attend to every ticket they receive.
3. Resident expectations are at an all-time high, but so are maintenance technician complaints
Prior to centralizing operations at Orion Property Group, Michael Napovanice, President/Principal was finding it impossible to satisfy everyone. He explained, “The reason we’re centralizing a lot of our maintenance is because we have to provide consistent customer service that tenants expect out of our company.”
Michael and the team at Orion recently implemented Happy Force, primarily to reduce the number of emergency calls for maintenance technicians. Not only were onsite workers getting woken up in the middle of the night for a broken lightbulb, residents found themselves on the line with grumpy technicians, souring their impression of the community.
Centralization service teams like Happy Force filter through work orders for Orion’s onsite teams so that the on-call technician only has to handle true emergency calls, protecting valuable personal time.
4. Centralization solutions solve up to 20% of work orders remotely
As the VP of Strategic Initiatives at Happy Force, Sasha Krecinic saw first-hand the impact that centralization solutions can have on communities.
Happy Force leverages a team of experienced remote maintenance technicians to complement onsite teams and effectively centralize maintenance operations.
It’s working—Sasha shared that, “Depending on the property, anywhere from 5-20% of tickets are solved remotely. That means the resident didn’t have to interact with anyone, and the onsite team didn’t have to go out.”
How? By using automated workflows to identify the specific issue, connecting the resident with a remote technician within one hour, and eliminating the logistics of a maintenance worker having to gather their gear, walk over to a unit, go inside, see what’s wrong, return to the office for the tools they need, go back to the unit, and finally fix the issue—a smoke detector battery replacement.
To Wrap Up
If there’s one thing we took away from the Unlocking Centralization event, it’s that maintenance centralization is already happening. If you haven’t started, now is the time to put a plan in action and get ahead of your competitors.
Technology-centric service solutions like Happy Force provide a helping hand to your teams, combatting the labor shortage with an experienced team of remote multifamily technicians and providing residents with the on-demand service they crave.
Of his experience with Happy Force to date, Michael Napovanice emphasized, “If we do have maintenance staff turnover, our tenants won’t even know it, because we have Happy Force responding to all the maintenance tickets and streamlining the communication.”
Ever since she was a kid, Ebby has always loved reading, writing, and storytelling. After graduating from College of Charleston in 2018, Ebby started a career in marketing for start-ups and scale-ups and never looked back. She's thrilled that she now gets to share HappyCo's stories across formats and channels for a living.