"Help! My Ice Maker Is Broken" And Other Opportunities To Dazzle And Retain Tenants In Your Luxury Apartment Complex

Posted on: 23 May 2016

The decor is superb, the landscaping lovely, and the Energy Star appliances in each unit are not only beautiful, but green, sustainable and cost-efficient. As the manager of a top class apartment complex, you have a clear understanding of residents' expectations. You've made sure the atmosphere is cordial, the lobby is luxurious and the special amenities are in peak condition. Yet, stuff happens. And when the ice maker in a resident's refrigerator quits making ice, or the operation of any other appliance goes awry, your management office can expect to hear about it from the frustrated tenant. How you react – and when you react – has a long-term influence on retaining tenants. When surveyed, renters say that response to service requests is important when it comes time to decide whether they will renew their contract or move on. Streamlining how you take care of the problems that annoy residents – like appliance repairs – is one way to delight and satisfy the people who make your complex their home.

Teamwork, Because Little Things Can Be a Big Deal

From the office person who takes the repair request to the maintenance tech who fixes the problem, make sure everyone is on board with your "Customer Satisfaction" policies. Each individual responsible for repair resolutions has a mission to handle the matter promptly, thoroughly and with respect. Set up protocols for processing the request so that repair orders don't get lost in the shuffle. A minor repair, like a burned-out light in the refrigerator, should have a target resolution time within a few hours. Aim for hours, not days, to repair more complicated issues, like replacing the drive belt in a clothes dryer. To accomplish these goals, your team players include

  • the initial call recipient who is personable and reassuring. Takes ownership of the problem, completing paperwork and making sure the maintenance team has all necessary details;
  • one or more members of your maintenance team trained and experienced in major appliance repair;
  • a management team representative who verifies the work is completed as scheduled and follows up with residents to make sure they're satisfied.

A Little Inventory Goes a Long Way

The appliances throughout the apartment complex were likely purchased in bulk buys when the buildings were first opened or during recent upgrades. This purchasing practice gives you an advantage: your maintenance crew can be qualified to work on specific models instead of a dozen different mechanisms. Additionally, you can

  • stock appliance parts, such as oven elements, washing machine door locks, and an ice maker assembly or two so that most repairs can be done on any appliance on-site before the day is done;
  • set up an account with a manufacturer's distributor for parts you don't have on hand, and get expedited shipping;
  • develop a relationship with a manufacturer's authorized technician based locally to handle repairs beyond the scope of your own maintenance staff;
  • hold one or two spare appliances in storage so you can promptly replace the faulty item in your tenant's apartment.

Going the Extra Mile

There's never a good time for an appliance to quit working, but you can make the inconvenience more bearable for your residents. If their ice maker shuts down, deliver bags of ice cubes to tide them over. If the stove won't turn on, make arrangements for dinner to be delivered from a local restaurant. The effect of downtime with most major appliances can be softened when you give them a gift certificate for a nearby coffee shop or bakery. These thoughtful considerations by your management team create goodwill that can carry over to renewed rental agreements and your success at maintaining high occupancy rates.