Spring is quickly approaching, and with it — selling season! Hooray! While we look forward to those warmer, sunnier days that often bring an influx of prospects, now is the time to prepare your property and people for the busy days ahead.
As a multifamily property manager, it’s your responsibility to make sure your property is ready to handle any kind of disaster, including those that come with spring weather, such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, heavy rain, and flooding.
If you’re not prepared, these disasters can cause significant damage to your property and put your residents at risk. Don’t be caught with your proverbial pants down when the uncertainty of spring strikes!
Here are 5 things you should do to prepare for spring disasters:
Tip #1: Ensure policies and procedures are relevant and up-to-date.
As spring approaches, we often jump straight to the facility aspects of preparedness. And make no mistake, those things are vital.
But as you prepare your property for possible disasters, it’s equally important to make sure your operating policies and procedures are relevant and up-to-date. Regularly reviewing these documents ensures they reflect current laws, regulations, codes, and best practices, ultimately protecting your property and people.
Another essential step includes reviewing your emergency processes and updating them where needed. While your property’s geographical location likely will drive some of your emergency procedures, there also are common elements of disaster preparedness that all properties must consider. For instance:
- If an apartment floods or there is a water main break in the building, do you have a vetted process in place?
- If an evacuation is necessary, is sufficient lighting available and enough signage posted to adequately direct residents to safety?
- Are employees trained on steps to take when there are large-scale issues with residents’ apartments?
Resident experience must remain at the forefront of everything that happens at your property — even during an emergency! And the last thing you want is team members who aren’t properly trained to handle these situations.
Because in the words of American meteorologist Max Mayfield, “Preparation through education is less costly than learning through tragedy.”
Tip #2: Be proactive with maintenance planning and scheduling.
As winter slowly subsides and morphs into spring, taking a proactive approach to facility care and maintenance will save you (and your residents) from the frustration of poor planning.
A few questions to consider as you prepare your property for spring:
- Do you have a robust, well-designed maintenance plan? You can be prepared for spring by proactively addressing general maintenance and landscaping needs. Review your current maintenance plans, check supplies, and create implementation schedules as the season slows.
- Does your team have what they need to care for your property correctly? Whether it is snow removal in winter or debris removal following a storm, make sure your maintenance staff has the right tools and training to address any weather and storm-related issues that may arise.
- What’s your emergency response plan? It’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” Ensure your maintenance team knows how to respond to emergencies and natural disasters like tornadoes or hurricanes.
And above all, don’t overlook the critical step of communicating your plans with residents.
Residents: Your partner in preparedness
- Communicate the steps you’re taking to prepare for spring weather.
- Share your plan for what residents should do in the event of a disaster.
- Provide residents with emergency contact information, including your contact information and the contact information for emergency services.
- Encourage residents to sign up for emergency alerts from local authorities.
Communicating with your residents helps ensure their safety and reduces the risk of property damage.
Tip #3: Capitalize on the downtime for training.
Consider this time of year the calm before the storm, literally and figuratively! With the busy selling season soon approaching, now is the perfect time to ensure your team is ready — for prospective residents and potential disasters.
A well-trained and equipped team can help you overcome any challenges that may arise during a disaster or emergency situation, so capitalize on the downtime to effectively train and refresh your team.
In addition to ensuring your onsite teams are well-versed in relevant policies, sales techniques, and emergency procedures, other important training topics might include:
- How to handle resident complaints efficiently so they don’t escalate into bigger issues.
- Tools and policies to de-stress a busy selling season.
- Understanding your role in maintaining a positive resident experience when disaster strikes.
Because your onsite teams are often the first point of contact for residents during an emergency, it’s important they feel confident in their ability to handle any challenge.
Vince Lombardi once said, “Preparedness is the ultimate confidence builder.” And training is what provides them with confidence!
Tip #4: ‘Tis the season to renegotiate.
As a multifamily property professional, you manage various vendor contracts and likely have been dealing with inflated, post-pandemic prices for the past few years. However, depending on renewal schedules, with a softening economy predicted, this seasonal lull might be an opportune time to renegotiate some of your essential vendor contracts (i.e., carpeting, paint, pool service, and more).
Vendor management is a critical task, and it’s here where those relationships you’ve fostered will provide immense value.
From “Why and How To Renegotiate a Contract” on Forbes.com, here are five tips for renegotiating a contract that you might find helpful:
- Be cooperative.
- Focus on solving problems and creating value.
- Create a clear framework for negotiations.
- Carefully evaluate risks and benefits.
- Involve everyone with an interest in the agreement.
- Hire a mediator.
- Know your alternatives.
But remember, never compromise on quality!
Tip #5: Use surveys to evaluate work order experiences.
Surveys provide quantitative data for understanding resident perception and satisfaction, which in turn helps property managers quickly address concerns before the busy selling season.
As a property manager, it’s critical that you understand the effectiveness of your work order processes, but it’s equally important to glean feedback from residents’ experiences. A well-constructed and well-timed survey provides you with essential insight.
Do you have gaps in this area? Are operational blind spots creating negative interactions and experiences that need to be addressed?
Remember, using surveys to evaluate work order experiences allows you to capitalize on positive feedback by promoting what’s working well and provides valuable information about areas that need improvement.
Don’t wait for your systems to be stressed to evaluate the soundness of your solutions. Test them before trials to ensure you and your team are ready for whatever comes your way.
While we can’t predict when, or if, disaster will strike, Grace Hill can help you prepare your team and property to handle the unexpected. Our suite of solutions offers customized, industry-specific training, policies and procedures, mystery shopping, survey assessments, and more.
Grace Hill Suite of Solutions:
PolicyPartner: Industry-specific policies and procedures that empower your team, improve performance, and reduce risk.
Vision: Comprehensive LMS that can be easily customized and executed; helps retain top talent and improve property performance.
Validate: Timely and unbiased, this digital-driven approach to mystery shopping blends technology with assessment best practices to drive positive experiences in your communities.
KingsleySurveys: Comprehensive survey solution with trusted industry benchmarks to accurately and effectively measure resident satisfaction; turns insight into action.
With our team of experts on your side, you’ll be well-positioned to minimize losses and get back up and running as quickly as possible.
By taking these steps now, you’ll not only be ready for the busyness of the spring selling season but also the unpredictability of spring storms. Being able to recover quickly when it counts most helps ensure everyone’s safety and minimize property damage.
Don’t let a disaster take you by surprise. Talk to a Grace Hill expert today about how our robust suite of solutions can help you prepare for the unexpected and weather any storms.