The Powerful Impact Maintenance Automation Can Have On Your Business

Last modified on August 10th, 2023

Managing maintenance is one of the toughest aspects of property management. As time-consuming and cumbersome as this workflow can be, there’s a connection between the way you manage your maintenance processes and the satisfaction and retention of residents. The traditionally high turnover rates of maintenance staff can also negatively impact your residents’ experience. The annual turnover rate in the multifamily industry is a notable 33%, which exceeds the national average of about 22%.

These challenges considered, how can this important process be improved not only for residents but also for your team? In our 2022 Hiring and Retention Report, we asked, “Which parts of managing the building/property would you most like to see automated or streamlined through the use of technology?” Responses showed that the top areas included coordinating renovations or preventive maintenance (43%), coordinating maintenance work (43%), and conducting inspections (42%). With this in mind, you should consider incorporating automation tools into your maintenance workflow that can streamline your processes and provide a top-notch experience for residents. Read the questions below to see what could be causing challenges in your workflow and learn how incorporating automated digital tools can improve your maintenance operations. 

1.) How easy/hard is it for residents to make requests? 

Think of what your current maintenance process looks like. You or your team may have had to manage maintenance issues outside of normal business hours. Or  you may have even found yourself spending too much time managing a high volume of maintenance requests. Chances are, your residents have also complained about their requests taking too long to complete or the lack of responses they’ve received. 

In our 2022 U.S. Resident Motivations survey report, we discussed how a company’s net promoter score can provide insight into how it stands among its customers and can potentially affect the growth of its business. In relation to property management, we asked residents in the Los Angeles metro area, “How has your property management company or landlord disappointed you in the last year?” Of the top four responses, 33% of respondents answered that the “maintenance/condition of property/community” was a disappointment for them. 

Maintenance challenges and the negative impact they can have on your residents doesn’t have to dictate your day-to-day. Using automation and AI together can streamline your processes and help you regain control. When looking for an online maintenance tool, consider one that lets you effectively manage your properties and common areas, resolve issues quickly, and communicate progress with residents, all on one digital platform. Solutions like AppFolio Smart Maintenance can handle any requests that come in no matter the time of day or night, satisfy residents who are frustrated by slow response times, and provide instant visibility into your maintenance workflow process.

2.) How easy/hard is it for your maintenance staff to manage/handle requests?

Knowing that finding and retaining maintenance talent is a challenge, one of the best ways to empower your techs is by giving them the ability to leverage the power of AI to assist with their tasks.. Using paper-based methods or outdated maintenance systems prevents your tech from being able to access and complete their tasks properly.

Smart Maintenance — just one of many AI-powered tools within AppFolio Realm — is designed to address your toughest maintenance challenges, even with a limited team. This tool provides instant visibility into your maintenance workflow process, giving your team a single solution that does it all — and on one platform. With the ability to access this software from anywhere and on any device, your team can increase their efficiency from the moment a work order comes through.

Elevation Real Estate and Management manages multiple property types and 800 units ranging from Class A to Class C apartments, mixed use, multifamily residential, single-family homes, and duplexes. Their maintenance techs are able to save 60 hours a month on troubleshooting requests. “When Smart Maintenance was rolled out, it took away a lot of the troubleshooting our techs had to be on-site for and reduced the number of after-hours calls,” says Mike Fazio, Regional Manager of Elevation Real Estate and Management. He also goes on to say, “Being available for residents as soon as they put in a request is the greatest thing we can offer. We mostly do things in-house, and I play the role of maintenance supervisor and coordinator. Because everything is integrated into AppFolio Property Manager, anyone is able to access and review work orders and transcripts in order to provide a seamless maintenance workflow without any disruptions. It’s a great asset.”

In a recent TechValidate survey, 84% of our most satisfied customers who use our maintenance solution approximate that our products and services have saved them at least five hours per week, and nearly 71% of our most satisfied maintenance customers have decreased operating expenses by at least 16%

3.) How efficient are your unit turn processes and inspection workflows?

When a resident gives notice, what are the next steps that happen? Being able to turn vacated units as efficiently and quickly as possible is crucial to your bottom line, as vacancies can be a sizable operational expense. As we know, routine and annual inspections are important because they give you the opportunity to catch and prevent serious issues that arise within your properties and common areas. They’re also vital for your properties and can help avoid serious and costly problems. 

Forty-two percent of respondents in our Hiring and Retention Report named conducting inspections as an area in which technology could streamline the process of managing their buildings and properties. When we break it down among the different age groups (47% of Gen Z/Millennials, 36% of Gen X, and 38% of Boomers), the numbers show the desire and need to have the type of technology that can help their tasks. So how can you stay on top of your routine inspections in an efficient manner when managing hundreds (if not thousands) of units? 

The key to managing turns and conducting inspections is with digital, automated software that allows you to save time, keep better records, and increase transparency for your team and residents. This includes solutions like the Inspections and Unit Turn Board by AppFolio Property Manager. With offline-friendly tools built in, completing on-site property inspections is now easier, making for faster and more accurate workflows that allow you to turn your units more quickly. Additionally, our Unit Turn Board feature keeps track of all the work necessary to minimize the time a unit is vacant and provides a single source of truth for all unit turn activity.

Whether you use vendors, keep things in-house, or blend the two approaches, your maintenance process should be efficient and standardized. Not only will your residents appreciate the consistency and convenience of better maintenance solutions, your team will too, as they see many opportunities for using technology to automate parts of their role. When we asked employees in the 2022 Hiring and Retention Report, “What parts of your job would you like to see automated or streamlined through the use of technology?” the top tasks included deciding the level of urgency of issues, training maintenance teams, and managing maintenance requests (45% for all).

Are you ready to save time and increase efficiency in your maintenance processes with the help of Smart Maintenance? Current AppFolio Property Manager customers can learn more about this product’s functionality and get in touch with us here. New to AppFolio Property Manager and want to know more about Smart Maintenance? Schedule a demo today!

For more resources and insights on how to improve your maintenance workflow, download our free guide below.

Maintenance operations guide


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