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How to Choose the Best Maintenance Contractors

The Right Contractor is a Key Asset

Finding qualified, experienced, licensed maintenance contractors is an important job for landlords or property managers.

Properties don’t stay in good condition by themselves. And if property management is 75% maintenance, this is a key area of business optimization for you.

Whether commercial or residential, without the help of good, honest contractors, landlords and property owners will likely choose other property management companies who do have these reliable and capable assets readily available. If you’re currently conducting a business checkup at this point, you might be examining your contractor performance.

Repeatable Processes Key to Successful Business

Sourcing and acquiring a good contractor is so important that you’ll likely be looking to hire one as your own in-house maintenance professional.

In house maintenance staff are valuable because of systems and processes. They can do the work quicker, get more done, communicate better with you, all because they’re part of your system.

If you have to outsource, or don’t want to hire someone internally however, you’ll want contractors to be able to work with your management processes efficiently. And that’s where property management software really help keep costs down and ensure good work.

Who are the contractors?  They’re professionals in plumbing, heating and HVAC, electric, landscaping, paving, snow removal, janitorial, carpentry, remodeling (general contractors), painting, roofing, parking lot maintenance and more.

Finding the Needle in the Haystack

Many of the top maintenance contractors are too busy to take on new business while others don’t advertise. Your task might well to be find the best of those who are available. And those firms will have to be vetted much more accurately, and will require more management on your part.

This task of sourcing and vetting all of the different types of contractors takes up a considerable amount of time.  How do you find maintenance contractors? Try local business associations, Google, and online directories

Your goal is to find maintenance professionals whom you can rely on consistently. One time fixes aren’t good enough. And if these contractors can fit in with your software guided system, you’re creating a repeatable, easily managed process.

  • landlords need to enlist a good property management firm to assess and validate contractors and to offer guidance on municipal laws and licensing requirements – complex, convoluted laws raise risks
  • software can help improve communication which helps keep contractors on the job and validating the work they’re doing ( costs, replacement parts, time spent, responsiveness)
  • negatives: long delays getting parts, scheduling maintenance/repairs, and having to follow up with them too many time (phone calls)

10 Ways to Get the Best Results

Here’s a detailed process to finding the best contractors:

  1. have a clear, written, detailed description of your project or ongoing maintenance service needs and set a realistic budget
  2. get bids, not to lower price, but to learn more about local maintenance firms and how they work
  3. ask for their descriptions of their work and specifics about similar projects they’ve done
  4. ask them about properties they’re working on right now so you can drive to the location and watch their service people in action
  5. ask them for their estimate of their own potential capabilities and list their areas of experience and expertise — if they specialize their services in any way (e.g., plumbing, landscaping), it might mean you’ll have to hire another firm to do the rest of the maintenance work
  6. ask them about common problems with specific brands of equipment
  7. check their references regarding reliability, landlord relations, and staying on budget
  8. check their licenses and ask for physical proof, and check any validated complaints and disciplinary actions taken against them
  9. honest about their availability to do the work they’ve bidded on?
  10. do they seem reasonable and willing to be accountable for any aspect of their performance and responsibilities?

Interviewing Maintenance Contractors

The questions you ask in an interview make all the difference. The ultimate decision point might be trust (if they possess the capabilities).  We hate to mention fraud, however contractor scams are common.

In your personal face to face interview, you do need to check off all your must haves, and drill down to issues they’ve had with similar clients. You’re digging in for potential trouble with reliability, cost efficiency, honesty, and how they describe incidents and issues they’ve had.

Do they treat their staff with respect? Do they offer detailed estimates? What is their description of your company’s needs? Do they offer a clear picture of how they will work with you? Do they ask questions of your business focus, properties serviced, and needs?

Follow a process for selecting a good contractor, and they’ll become a key asset in your sustainable business model.

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