Property Management Triage at Full Tilt

by John Wilhoit Jr. on

Emergency

In property management “stuff happens”.  Being in emergency mode all the time is an unsustainable posture. And while emergencies happen… that’s no reason to be caught off guard. There is just no physical method to run at full tilt all the time without losing focus and having productivity drop off. Preparedness gives us that breathing room to respond at a pace commensurate with the issue.

As an example, consider manufacturing businesses that run three shifts. There are many manufacturing plants with three shifts; daytime, swing shift (4PM to Midnight) and graveyard (11PM to 7AM). A closer look will reveal different output targets for each. Generally, the people on day shift have higher output quotas that the crews working other shifts. The output quotas follow the rule of diminishing returns that tells us marginal output may increase, but not at the same rate as optimum performance.

We have the medical field to thank for triage, a method of prioritizing work.  Triage is used to sort medical cases in order of priority based on need in life and death situations. Here are few things we can do in property management that follow triage-like methodologies.

Use Triage.  The first order of business in an emergency situation is to use triage. The first question to answer is who is in charge of triage? Does everyone know the chain of command in an emergency? Is the plan of action accessible to this point person? Do they know what to do first?

Preparedness.  No one can prepare for every emergency, for every potential occurrence, but we can have a plan of action for things we know can occur. A simple example is making sure to have after-hours telephone numbers for plumbing.  As we know, stuff happens. Many multifamily properties have units with only one bathroom per unit.  An overflowing toilet with a broken shut off valve at midnight is a costly repair but far less costly than letting water run until morning.

Bring in a specialist.  Some emergencies are immediate, other emergencies allow us time to think and react.  Assuming there is thinking time…  bring in the specialist early in the situation.  It could be something as simple as drywall behind a water damage repair where the “emergency” was repaired immediately.  Don’t linger in getting the drywall done and bring in a specialist (outside contractor) to complete the work.

The emergency could be a downed tree. Although the tree may have created no harm, try not to make excuses for leaving it on the ground for a week or a month… bring in a specialist to get it gone. The objective here is to remove any future hazard from exposed pipes, or tree limbs, etc. Include clean up as the last phase of the emergency and finish the job.

Triage assumes a plan of action for implementation. Do you have a plan? Does everyone know who the point person is for this plan? Past the initial phase of emergency response, call on the specialist necessary to knock out any remaining punch list.  Remove a one day emergency on property from being an ongoing source of management time and related resources.

About This Blog
Multifamily Insight is dedicated to assisting current and future multifamily property owners, operators and investors in executing specific tasks that allow multifamily assets to operate at their highest level of efficiency. We discuss real world issues in multifamily property management and acquisitions. This blog is intended to be informational only and does not provide legal, financial or accounting advice. Seek professional counsel.  http://www.MultifamilyInsight.com 

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