Wouldn't it be nice if maintenance issues only happened during business hours? Unfortunately, as most property managers know, some of the most damaging, harmful maintenance issues can occur after hours. An overflowing toilet at 2 AM can cause long-term damage, and a malfunctioning air conditioner can make for a miserable night's sleep in late July. While it's best to provide immediate assistance in those circumstances, the reality is that it's just not always possible.
Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management says that's where the two hour rule comes into play. Even if you can't solve problems immediately, responding to tenants needs within a two hour window can keep everyone happy. Studies show that tenants expect time-sensitive needs to be addressed within that span of time. While it may be impossible for you to send a maintenance person over at 3 AM, a phone call or email about the problem may be enough to keep the tenants happy.
Tenants rent for a wide variety of reasons, but having a maintenance staff to rely upon in case of emergencies is a big part of the appeal of renting versus buying a home. Bad service in a time of need can forever color their opinions of your staff. That's why it's so important to meet or exceed expectations every time your services are required. Mangle one interaction and you throw all of the faith the tenant has in you away.
Instruct your staff to always listen intently to the needs of your tenants. Express sympathy and offer helpful ways to solve the problem. No matter how upset the tenant might be, it's important to stay calm and stay positive. Consider how you felt the last time something malfunctioned in your home. Frustration, anger and anxiety can run high. Bear that in mind in your interactions with upset tenants. By handling their problems gracefully, you ensure the best relationship possible with your renters.
Of course, all of this is great in theory, but who wants to be answering emails at three in the morning? That's where a contact center can come in handy. Consider contracting out to a call center who can work round the clock to address the needs of your tenants. Allow them to field initial calls and forward only the true emergencies onto your team.
- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management
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