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5 Surprising ways Property Maintenance Services adapted post-Covid - i4T Global

5 Surprising ways Property Maintenance Services adapted post-Covid

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The world has learned to live with COVID-19. Every few months we hear about a new variant, stronger than the last one and infecting more people than before. Still, the fear and uncertainty surrounding the virus today is nothing compared to when it first hit businesses in 2020. The property maintenance services sector was no different.

But was Covid just about layoffs, late rent, higher operating costs and less property leasing?

As someone who likes to look at the brighter side in every negative situation, I sat at my desk wondering if people actually realise the positives that have come out of the century’s deadliest pandemic, over the last 2 years.

While, for most of the people Covid stood for more pressure on business sustainability, for me it means something entirely different.

This positive outlook actually helped turn Covid-19 challenges into the biggest growth opportunities for property maintenance services businesses who took the leap of faith!

Challenge 1: Wider communication gap due to social distancing

Work from home and fewer face to face interactions became the new norm. This meant that property managers could no longer pay frequent visits to tenants. They could also not ask landlords or property occupants to stop by the office and sign a contract. This, in turn meant higher turn around time and lower profitability.

Positive impact: Communicational Cohesiveness

Higher focus on strengthening team effectiveness and landlord/occupant confidence 

Communication plays a vital role in maintaining relationships and building trust between all parties. 

Due to social distancing rules in place, the property maintenance service industry witnessed a massive shift from in-person communication to digital communication. This turned out to be better than the old ways of keeping in the loop. More specifically, migrating to cloud-based property maintenance software helped with:

  • Clearly communicating job and customer details
  • Proactively responding to maintenance requests 
  • Keeping behind-the-desk and in-the-field teams connected
  • Be responsive and supportive within the team and to customers
  • Real-time tracking progress of field service suppliers simpler

Challenge 2: Increased administrative and paperwork

For property managers Covid was all about a transformation in maintenance workflows, routine inspections and greater restrictions in place. This applied to all parties, the agents, the occupants/tenants as well as the service suppliers. These directly impacted how property managers operated in an otherwise Covid-free world.
On one hand, the property managers had to ensure that facilities and properties kept operating as usual. On the other hand, there seemed to be unwillingness on the part of occupants to renew leases and pay rents. This significantly increased the administrative and paperwork for property managers.

Positive Outcome: Operational Efficiency

Rethinking workflows and processes

Process automation has literally eliminated manual, repetitive work for property managers. With just a click on a button, they can now automate everything from: 

  • Adding new properties to their portfolio, 
  • Renewing existing contract agreements
  • Collecting payments for maintenance, and 
  • Efficiently handling client’s service requests.

Automation has completely revolutionised the workflows for property managers, immensely aiding operational efficiency.

Challenge 3: More pressure on business continuity and sustainability

For Field service maintenance providers, cashflow is the lifeblood. With non-essential services closing down completely during COVID-19, many businesses had to file for bankruptcy. Those that were lucky enough to survive, did so at the cost of losing dedicated staff. They also had to narrow down their client-base, cut back on non-essential spending and reduce their marketing budgets.

Positive Outcome: Vigilance for Crisis Management

Fostering a mindset of always having a contingency plan!

One thing that’s embedded itself in the way property maintenance services providers operate in the post-covid era, is preparedness.

Being ready means that you make the most of the sunshine in order to save for the rainy day.

This mindset has led business owners to sit back and take a closer look at their workflows. By doing so they aim to cushion their businesses from getting hit by a similar crisis in the future. 

More specifically, property maintenance companies have shifted their focusing on:

  • Better cash flow management with automated quoting and invoicing
  • Centralised management of workflows with a dedicated CMMS
  • Taking sales and marketing online to social media and company website
  • Having means to find and get quotes from multiple service suppliers at a time
  • Building and maintaining customer and supplier relationships
  • Making end-to-end customer experience their point of difference

Challenge 4: Fewer employees at disposal due to massive layoffs

With a number of services rendered non-essential, many field service suppliers had to shut down completely. Others had to cut back on their operations keeping only limited staff. This meant that when a tenant placed a service request, property managers would scramble to get hold of a supplier who can fulfil the work order.

Positive Impact: Innovating through Technology

Streamlining processes to allow efficient use of resources

With limited resources, property managers were prompted to think differently to make the most of their existing budgets and manpower.

Property maintenance services providers adopted process automation investing in more proactive approaches to asset maintenance. These included, condition based monitoring and predictive maintenance. The new approach allowed jobs to be scheduled well in advance and essential services to be provided in a timely manner.

This also allowed property managers to stop relying solely on their current list of suppliers and find ways to quickly connect to reliable third-party contractors. In this respect, field service supplier hiring platforms like i4Tradies have helped significantly.

Challenge 5: More complex building maintenance with stricter SOPs in place

With higher sanitisation and vaccination requirements tenants became more hesitant of letting property managers as well as technicians on their properties. This created a long list of deferred maintenance tasks for property maintenance managers due to focus on providing only essential services. In addition, it also made delivering complete customer satisfaction more complex with lots of procedures to be followed with each site visit.

Positive impact: Diligent record-keeping

Stepping up the compliance management game

This gave rise to service providers to view hygiene and sanitation in a whole new light. They began to comply strictly with the SOPs and used a CMMS as a way to document them. It all began as a way for property maintenance services providers to:

  • Maintain digital records of their SOPs, 
  • Update them as and when needed
  • Provide checklists to technicians visiting properties
  • Add vaccination certificates

However, today, the same technology is being used to:

  • Prioritise safety for suppliers as well as tenants
  • Maintain complete visual work order history 
  • Ensure supplier hired have valid certificates to perform the work
  • Ensure service delivered is compliant with state regulations 
  • Keep record of payments for completed work were received.

Wrapping up

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This couldn’t be truer for the post-pandemic world we live in today. 

How everyone responded to the crisis has been different. However, one particular trend that has dominated the industry is the adoption of technology as the new way of doing business!

i4T Maintenance has been a game changer in the property maintenance services sector. Those who adopted it as their way to navigate through the pandemic, believe that the benefits have far outlived the crisis, making their business future-fit!

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With our cutting-edge technology and in-depth knowledge of how the Field Service Management sector operates, the i4TGlobal Team loves to share industry insights to help streamline your business processes and generate new leads. We are driven by innovation and are passionate about delivering solutions that are transparent, compliant, efficient and safe for all stakeholders and across all touch points.

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