Blog post - Repairs: time to get your house in order?
Repairs - time to get your house in order?
Description This blog explores the different challenges facing repairs teams in 2022, including the ever demanding focus around maximising first-time fix rates.
Published 16th June 2022
Read time 3 minutes 30 seconds
In some ways, the challenges facing repairs teams in 2022 are nothing new: Everyone is focusing on delivering repairs within an SLA, avoiding no-access appointments and maximising first-time fix rates wherever possible.
With the current economic backdrop however, the focus around these metrics has become even more intense. Rising costs of fuel and materials, along with ongoing shortages of skilled tradesmen, mean that striking the balance between planned maintenance and responsive repairs has become more complex, and with higher stakes than we might previously have thought possible!
Of course, when we’re dealing with people in the real world, there will always be an element of error and unpredictability, but minimising that unpredictability, stands to make a significant difference when you have an estate of thousands of properties to manage.
Complexity is something no stakeholder benefits from, and it has been our mission for many years to help landlords remove it.
At Active Housing, we don’t buy into the notion that simply adding more reporting and more functionality necessarily solves problems. In fact, in our experience, it simply adds to them. In fact, the opposite is often true: getting the basics right can pay real dividends.
And that starts with making things easier for the customer.
Too often, customer repair appointments stall, or even fail to start because a customer (or agent raising a request on a customer’s behalf) hasn’t been given the opportunity to provide the right information when raising & scheduling the job. This is often compounded by tenants raising multiple jobs due to a lack of acknowledgement that their initial request is being dealt with. That lack of information then flows through unchecked to the operative, who turn up on site to find they are missing a tool or part, the issue has been misdiagnosed, or the tenant isn’t in. That equates to an immediate cost in terms of staff hours and fuel wasted, but also has knock-on implications for scheduling, as delays are incurred, and follow-up appointments are required.
The solution? Our approach to addressing this information gap is by striking the right balance between pre-formatted fields, image/video upload and free text, enabling clear definitions of the problem a customer might have. We can also identify Our system can flag any potential duplicate or recurrent jobs as part of the booking process. This means they are able to attend armed with both the right equipment and the right information to satisfy the customers’ issues at the first time of asking.
But communication needs to be a two-way affair.
Simply extracting the right information at the outset is only half the battle. Keeping the customer and other stakeholders fully informed of the status of their repairs is equally important. And the need for this goes beyond customer satisfaction: from an operational perspective, a customer kept informed is far more unlikely to make chasing enquiries; ones that add workload to staff. While regular updates remind them to be at home when needed, reducing the likelihood of no-access issues.
Of course, none of this is anything new. You will have heard these same arguments for better maintenance management before. But what social landlords are seeing now is an almost perfect storm of issues in the wider operating environment, that threaten to drive up the costs of ineffective maintenance to hitherto unseen levels.
If you are currently facing a challenge in meeting operational goals and budgetary / resource restrictions, please pick up the phone and talk to us. We have collaborated with many social landlords to address similar challenges and we’re always happy to share our thoughts.
In the meantime, please check out our case studies section to explore how we’ve worked with housing associations up and down the country on these related issues.
'Avoid a winter of discontent… How will you manage a surge in maintenance requests?'