It’s 6 a.m. on a Tuesday in June. In his 26th year as Senior Maintenance Technician at CBRE | Martin, Ed Bullard has seen a lot of change. Today, he starts his day engaged in digital communications and soon the engineering staff fans out across mid-Michigan. With their mobile devices in hand, technicians proceed to unlock buildings, check properties, load supplies and complete on-demand maintenance requests and preventive maintenance tasking schedules delivered to their devices. Gone are the days of triplicate handwritten work order forms and two-way radio communications blasting over the base station and off the hips of each technician in route.
With one digital connection, property management firms can succeed in optimizing work flow, tracking ticket progress, streamlining department and customer communication, identifying repeat equipment failures, recording tasking schedules, mitigating safety risks and digitally logging labor hours. Software solutions connect tenants and landlords to a service request portal where on-demand and preventive and predictive maintenance items can be requested and scheduled, then routed and tracked for communication and reporting purposes.
Tenants can monitor work order progress and landlords can monitor daily operational activities in real-time. Instead of placing a phone call or sending an email, with the need to connect again and again, the technology allows for input, tracking and completion notifications through one connection.
Managers can drill down work order tickets and labor hours across multiple portfolios for each 15 minutes of on-site work performed. Meanwhile, system monitoring allows managers to promptly align vendor resources and skilled trades not self-performed. Through technology, enhanced efficiencies produce better information and managers can more confidently achieve the core values of property management, not the least of which is customer and client service. One digital connection, for all its benefit, does not transcend relationship building.
When Bullard started his role in 1989, there were no desktop computers, no email, no voicemail, no cell phones, no texting and no instant messaging. Customers called the main office telephone number to place maintenance requests person-to-person. Work orders were distributed on paper forms that had to be returned to the office at the end of the day to be reconciled and filed. Handwritten time sheets were logged capturing daily man hours, and these logs were combed through religiously by accounting staff in order to document monthly labor billing allocations. Back then there seemed to be no end to the coffee-ring stained paper trails maintained. Customers and clients were followed up with directly, person-to-person, following completions.
Today’s technology innovations and platform systems expedite the communication, documentation and reporting processes enhancing service delivery. Even with these comprehensive property management strategies and services, which function to streamline operations, reduce costs, minimize risk and drive financial performance, superior outcomes may only be achieved with a balance of the old and the new. No level of innovation or technology platform can replace exceptional customer service. Increased customer satisfaction may readily be achieved with new technologies but customer loyalty is harnessed through old fashioned appreciation where customers are cared for and understood.