Maintenance Council Digital Roundtable: Insights into COVID-19

Given recent operational changes and new health and safety procedures as a result of COVID-19, we asked our Maintenance Council for a little insight as part of our Digital Roundtable series. Read below to see how our maintenance professionals are adjusting policy and continuing to sharpen their skills: 

Maintenance Professionals

1. From a maintenance perspective, what are some health and safety best practices that your community has implemented to protect residents during this time? For example, what are some innovative ways that you are handling service requests?

"During this difficult and uncertain time, the best policy is practicing social distancing and following CDC recommendations; these are key in keeping ourselves and the residents safe. Let’s be honest, being at home can get overwhelming after a long quarantine process especially for our residents; therefore, we are now opening our amenities from Monday to Saturday by appointments only with the help of Amenity Boss, an innovate phone app. This app will let residents reserve times for amenities as well as allow our staff to monitor the areas to follow proper social distancing guidelines. Also, we will make sure to install all social distancing signage in all areas and arrange furniture accordingly.

Ready to complete work orders? Times are changing for all industries across the world and property management is part of this change. Sometimes adapting is one of the most difficult tasks a human being can do in life; we have to experience this a few times during our lifetime, the only difference is that normally we have more time to prepare for those upcoming inevitable circumstances. Drastic changes could affect a person's performance, attitude, and motto; the only question is: are you letting this crisis win you over?

While most of the work orders are starting to pile-up in the system, we are trying our best to complete all work orders in ways that we never thought were possible before. Here is how we improve efficiency in my community.

  • Emergency Work Orders: Call residents and ask all mandatory questions to verify that they are not sick or been in contact with an infected individual. If all questions are negative, proceed to complete the service request wearing proper PPE such as mask, gloves, eye protection, and most importantly sanitizer. Make sure to sanitize the working area before and after completing a work order.
  • Non-Emergency work orders: In my experience, it is very surprising to find out how handy most of our residents are with the proper help (we are their helping remote hands). Take the time to call and follow up with every resident who has submitted a work order, ask them how can I help? Troubleshooting maintenance problems over the phone could be as easy as 1,2,3… In my experience what works best is to explain to the resident how to take care of that clogged sink and the delivery of inexpensive tools that will help to fix the problem with a printout PDF of “DO IT YOURSELF” instructions. This method works, we haven’t had to complete a live non-emergency work order in three months and yet we have managed to keep open work orders under 25; it may not seem like a lot, but it is very impressive.

Be creative and share your ideas with others, we are in this together." —Jose Pedraza Ojeda

"To keep our residents safe we started by stocking up on PPE which wasn’t easy to get. Luckily I have many vendors in the industry that I was able to count on.  Then we quickly developed an action plan to keep servicing work orders. At first, we were only completing emergencies but quickly noticed that most residents were home and the work orders were accumulating. We then decided to drop off necessary supplies including tools if needed. In some cases, we even made 'how to' videos, some of which were pretty funny. Last we split shifts to keep each other safe in case one of us got sick."  —Gabriel Perez 

2. What do you find most rewarding about being a maintenance professional? What is your favorite area to contribute to?

"My most rewarding part of being a Maintenance Professional is the opportunity to learn and grow so I can become a better version of myself. I also enjoy the pleasure of overcoming challenges, especially with my team. The area I love to contribute to not only at my workplace, but also in my daily life is “showing kindness.” I also enjoy contributing as a leader and motivator. Greystar has given me the tools to help others on their journey to success." —Gabriel Perez

Supplier Members

1. How has this time inspired you in your career? Are there any new skills or areas that you feel a maintenance professional should invest in to support their property managers?

"This time has helped me better understand the importance of fostering relationships outside of offering services that are geared towards revenue. One new area I feel maintenance professionals should invest in to support their property managers is learning about the effects of microbial growth. Specifically, how quickly and easily it can grow when wet materials aren't addressed properly and the proper way to properly remediate so they can better manage vendors offering these services." —Tristian Cole

"Facing our current conditions has offered me an opportunity to check-in, both with myself and with all of my management and maintenance partners. It has re-kindled my appreciation for our industry, for being part of it, and mostly for the people who work in it. Maintenance professionals are often the heart of our communities, serving their positions with the utmost care and commitment to our residents and to our property managers. Two areas that I am currently observing our maintenance professionals invest in is a) serving our residents to the best of their ability under the circumstances and b) doing everything they can to improve the bottom line - being cost-conscious when needing to invest in products/supplies." —Deborah Coleman

"In this a very difficult period in our life. I have made a conscious effort to ask people, 'how are you doing? How is your day going? And are you staying safe?' I am listening more to the needs of a person who might be going through a tough situation rather than selling products. Yes, I have a job to do, but I am more interested in the relationships that I have built over the years. The power of just listening is a healing tool and a valuable part of selling in the multifamily industry.

I have continued to invested time in reading different levels of consultative selling to be a better National Account Manager and provided better-added value service to all my Property Managers, Regional Managers, and Directors.

Zoom and TEAMS webinars have been a great help with keeping up with new ways of doing business in the day & life of COVID-19." —Andy Lopez

2. What do you find most rewarding about being a SEFAA Supplier? What is your favorite area to contribute to?

"The most rewarding part of being a SEFAA Supplier is the relationships and opportunity to help educate maintenance personnel and property managers. I enjoy contributing to the education of property management personnel about the services we provide to help them budget better and address emergency issues." —Tristian Cole


"Partnering with the industry, and serving as a service arm to our on-site management and maintenance professionals, is an honor. I am so proud that in the midst of a pandemic, participating with our industry professionals to serve all of our residents in excellence, while at the same time honoring our service teams, both at ARD and on-site, following procedures to stay safe and to get the job done together." —Deborah Coleman

"Meeting with different levels of management in the multifamily industry to go over ideas on how we can continue to help SEFAA grow in the South Florida market. I also enjoy being involved with trade shows, new events and new ideas on how to make these events fun for all that attend."  —Andy Lopez