Whether you manage enough homes to create a small neighborhood or no more than a couple of single-family homes, having a team of outstanding maintenance employees is vital. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong1. Somewhere over the last couple of generations, there has been a massive decline in the number of quality maintenance workers. And, as you can imagine this shortage has led to demands for higher wages and a competitive marketplace.
The Wrong Move
So, what do many property managers end up doing? Opting for inexperienced employees who don’t have the necessary training, but will work for a lot less. The problems with doing this are manifold; first, there is the risk of your staff damaging your property instead of repairing it. Second, your tenants are not going to put up with shoddy workmanship and will move out at their earliest opportunity, leaving you with vacancies that could be hard to fill.
Then, of course, there are the medical bills to consider. What if this unskilled employee gets hurt on the job? Do you have medical coverage for this? Will you have to pay out of pocket? Heaven forbid that your employee should injure a tenant. Seems a bit on the “black cloud of doom-ish” doesn’t it? But, if you stop for a moment and think about the worst-case scenario and what that could end up costing you and your company, maybe not quite so much.
How Do You Know
While there is nothing wrong with hiring an inexperienced person to join your staff and work alongside your experienced team. The last thing you should do is try to cut corners by hiring an entire team of inexperienced maintenance workers. The problem comes in with trying to determine who really knows their stuff and who is bluffing. Thankfully there is a way to test their knowledge and skills once you have narrowed the field down to those you feel are the best candidates.
The National Center for Housing Management has developed the Maintenance Technical Aptitude Test. This test covers your candidates’ knowledge in these areas; electrical, electric and gas water heaters, plumbing, refrigerators, general repairs, gas and electric ranges, and overall on the job safety. The tests will only cost you $50 per person, but the results will make it much easier for you to choose the right candidate.
Attracting the Best Candidates
Attracting the best candidates falls into two categories. First, there is what you are willing to offer in the way of wages. Remember, the ball is in their court when it comes to good maintenance staff. Survey current wages and then set yours accordingly, but be willing to negotiate. Second, are you willing to offer benefits and if so what types of benefits are you going to offer?
If you want to hire the best maintenance staff, you must be ready to present the right candidate with a package that is simply irresistible. It pays to take your time and shop around for the right person, the little extra you may be paying out in wages and benefits could be the difference between running a successful property management business and being sued by one of your tenants.