Last modified on September 8th, 2022
By Marc Frenkiel
Managing rentals, renewals, and prospects is only part of property management. Tying it all together is maintenance. And not having a proper maintenance strategy creates a ripple effect across the whole business.
In episode two of the new season of The Top Floor, we spoke with Ray Hespen, CEO & Co-Founder of Property Meld, about the importance of property maintenance and what residents now expect from leasing agents. Ray explains why he and his co-founder decided to start Property Meld after dealing with negative maintenance experiences as renters.
Residents are, of course, one of the most important audiences to consider when trying to improve the customer experience at your properties. But Ray says we shouldn’t forget about other audiences too, such as maintenance team members, vendors, and investors who are key to keeping the property investment industry going.
Keep reading to learn more or tune in to the full podcast here.
Why property maintenance is essential
Maintenance in the property management world can be time-consuming, tough to organize quickly, and expensive. But it’s essential to get it right.
In Ray’s eyes, the primary benefit of renting a place is that you get to avoid the worst part of homeownership – the maintenance. That’s why he believes that fast and effective maintenance responses should come as standard for residents.
Apart from rent increases, negative maintenance experiences are one of the top drivers of people deciding not to renew their leases. In fact, it was this very thing that persuaded Ray and his co-founder to start Property Meld. Their goal is to simplify and systematize the maintenance process.
The benefits of property maintenance for investors
The benefit of good maintenance for residents is clear. No one wants to be left with broken appliances, faulty plumbing, or a leaky roof. Residents want and expect those things to be fixed ASAP.
But what about the investor side?
For investors, property maintenance is expensive, and it’s tough to find the right people to do the job. However, Ray highlights two key reasons why investors benefit from better property maintenance.
Improved resident satisfaction
Investors care about satisfaction because it impacts renewal rates, reduces churn, and improves online reputation, which can improve new resident signups.
If you have great maintenance, you are more likely to keep residents happy and staying put, which reduces the costs of constantly having to find new residents to fill units.
Cost of maintenance
One of the highest costs for property investors is maintenance. In fact, about 13% of every dollar of rent is spent on maintenance annually. This cost surpasses the money spent on leasing (10%) and vacancy (5%), according to a study by Markerr.
But if you do maintenance well, you can shave those costs significantly.
“The maintenance, if you do it well, can not only reduce that cost relatively significantly, and we’ve got a vision to do that. But you’re also going to keep the renter in there, which is going to reduce your leasing costs and your rental vacancy rate. And so that’s why the investor cares and why everybody should lean in because it solves both their customers’ problems in one swoop.”
How to create a stellar maintenance vendor experience
Part of Ray’s work is to ensure that maintenance coordinators and vendors have a great experience. The better their experience, the better the experience of the resident and the investor.
But there’s a glaring problem in the property management world: Demand for maintenance technicians is high, but skilled tradespeople are in short supply.
That’s why it’s so important to ensure those team members and vendors have a great experience. If they’re happy, they’re more likely to stay with you or prioritize work with your company in the future. And Ray believes that the key to that is technology.
“It is incredibly important to delight the people actually fixing the problem because they’re one of the most constrained resources in the machine that is maintenance.”
Ray says that his company’s biggest aim is to get more people and more resources – either by increasing the throughputs or balancing out the workload. With maintenance technology, Ray believes that there’s going to be a big focus on preventative maintenance which will end up improving costs and NOI for the investor.
Maintenance technology can also help vendors and maintenance staff manage their workloads more easily.
As Ray explains, the summertime is a very busy period, and it’s hard to manage demand as well as customer communications, scheduling, billing, and so on. Technology can automate and streamline all of that to ensure that the vendors have less on their plate.
“We’ve got, I think around 35,000 vendors on our platform that use Property Meld. And the thing that we’re ultimately discovering is they’re great at the hard work, the working with customers and the homeowner. The things that they shouldn’t be doing are scheduling, communication, streamlined billing, all those things.”
By using technology like Property Meld, vendors can focus on their work rather than all the admin that goes into working with a steady stream of clients.
If you can provide tools like this or another way of making the process more streamlined for maintenance workers, they’re more likely to prioritize your jobs over others.
And with more maintenance workers, you get a faster turnaround for repairs, which keeps your residents happy and renewing each year.
All in all, property maintenance is not a simple matter, but the whole process can become much more efficient and systematized thanks to technology.
To learn more from Ray about maintenance, Property Meld, and his thoughts on keeping residents, vendors, and investors happy, tune in to the full podcast.