One of the key things that every business must have is a business continuity plan. This plan will make sure that a business has strategies in place to be able to operate during an unplanned disruption in service. In our case, a business continuity plan or BCP will outline how businesses can operate in case of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Business continuity planning (BCP) is the process involved in creating a system of prevention and recovery from potential threats to a company. The plan ensures that personnel and assets are protected and are able to function quickly in the event of a disaster. BCPs typically include backups of supplies and equipment, data, and site locations. However, in the property management industry, one of the most overlooked aspects in terms of BCP is property maintenance. Just because most businesses have closed and a majority of workers have been working from home, does not mean that property maintenance, repairs, and upkeep has stopped. As a matter of fact, these measures are continuously in place. There is even a huge probability that there will be more requests for maintenance, repairs, and upkeep since a lot of tenants are practicing self-quarantine and are staying at home.
Property managers may have their hands full with inquiries and requests but find themselves unable to address these concerns due to health and safety requirements, limited mobility, and social distancing measures in place. They have to contend with limitations on-site visits and limitations on the availability of their maintenance technicians as well as other third-party service providers. Property managers must have a BCP for property maintenance. How can property managers manage maintenance operations even while social distancing? Here are 3 key areas to include in their business continuity plan.
Property managers should have a checklist of which requests are essential and need urgent attention and which requests are non-urgent and can be postponed or rescheduled. Non-urgent requests can be delayed until community guidelines ease up and environmental factors permit. Advice residents empathetically that you will be rescheduling or postponing non-urgent repairs. Tell them that their requests will be looked into once it is safe to do so. This will free maintenance technicians up to attend to urgent and essential requests such as plumbing problems, leaks, and electrical problems. These issues will cause bigger problems if not attended to immediately, so prioritize them. Make sure that maintenance technicians are equipped with the right protective gear and that they can immediately sanitize the area after doing work. Have your maintenance technicians do maintenance work, preferably when the residents are outside their homes to avoid crowding and to minimize close contact. Convey to the unit owners that the visiting maintenance technicians will have protective gear and will sanitize the work area once done.
Staffing and vendor coordination
Property managers should include vendor consultation in their business continuity plan. Regular email updates must be sent to vendors so that they can keep track of ongoing works in progress and ensure that all parties are up to date and on the same page. Otherwise, this may cause expensive re-dos and delays in ongoing maintenance projects. During COVID-19 closures and lockdowns, community guidelines and regulations change constantly. It would be of great value to third-party service providers, contractors, vendors, and staff to be constantly updated on these changing guidelines. Updates with staff could be done as virtual meetings using video conferencing apps such as Zoom, Webex, GoToMeeting, Google Meeting, Skype, and even Facebook Messenger. It is also pertinent to have a backup staffing plan for in the event that staff members can’t come to work. Consultations with vendors, contractors, and third-party service providers can be done through the same video conferencing apps mentioned previously. Alternatively, property managers can use email or instant messaging apps for quick updates.
There are a few ways property managers can use digital technology to fill vacancies. However, they can also use digital technology to conduct virtual inspections. For property managers who have regularly scheduled inspections, it may be tricky to arrange routine checks with social distancing protocols in place. Communicate and check to see if residents are willing to cooperate in conducting virtual inspections using their smartphone. Property managers can ask their tenants if they are willing to do a video recording or if that’s not possible, to send photos of each area that needs to be inspected. That can be sent to property managers and their team to be reviewed and actioned appropriately. As part of a comprehensive and efficient business continuity plan, property managers should also plan for an event where enlisting the help of a resident to conduct a virtual inspection is not possible. Staff would likely be dispatched to the property to inspect it. Again, make sure that safety protocols are in place.
The social distancing guidelines imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic create an especially unique scenario that creates challenges for all kinds of businesses including property management. However, having a business continuity plan ensures the continuity of essential business operations such as property maintenance. Property managers must first coordinate with their team to develop a working business continuity plan and then communicate their needs and requests with staff, vendors, residents, and other stakeholders. With a clear business continuity plan, property managers can be flexible and respond to unexpected developments with agility.
Davis Property Management, has an established business continuity plan in place for unanticipated scenarios and pandemic response. We make sure that all our properties are still well maintained even in the event of a pandemic with strict social distancing rules in place. We can help you with your property maintenance needs and staff and vendor coordination. Call us today at 425-658-7471 or email [email protected] to schedule a consultation with us and learn how we can help you respond to property maintenance needs with confidence.
Davis Property Management
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