Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important now than ever for all businesses to have a business continuity plan (BCP) in place to be able to operate during an unplanned disruption in service.
Business continuity planning entails creating a system of prevention and recovery from potential threats to a company. This plan is designed to make sure that personnel and assets are protected and can function quickly in the event of a disaster. BCPs usually encompass backups of supplies and equipment, data, and site locations.
However, in the property management industry, one of the most neglected aspects in terms of BCP is property maintenance. Even though many businesses have closed and a majority of employees now work from home, this does not mean that property maintenance, repairs, and upkeep have stopped. These measures are continuously in place.
In fact, during this public health coronavirus crisis, there is more demand than ever for requests for maintenance, repairs, and upkeep as many tenants are practicing self-quarantine and are home-bound.
Property managers are inundated with inquiries and requests as they struggle to be able to address these concerns because of health and safety requirements, limited mobility, and social distancing measures now in place. Other obstacles facing property managers are limitations on-site visits, and constraints on the availability of their maintenance technicians, as well as other third-party service providers.
Property managers need to have a BCP for property maintenance, otherwise there is no other way to effectively manage maintenance operations while social distancing.
Here are three key areas to include in your BCP.
Maintenance Item Prioritization
Property managers are advised to have a checklist of the requests that are a high priority and require immediate attention versus requests that are not urgent and can be delayed or rescheduled. It is important to inform tenants that the delayed requests will be addressed once it is safe to do so. Examples of urgent requests include plumbing issues, leaks, and electrical problems.
Maintenance technicians must be equipped with the appropriate protective gear and they should sanitize the areas they come in contact with immediately after completing their work. The ideal situation is for maintenance technicians to perform their duties when the occupants are not home to minimize human contact. Tenants should be aware of the fact that maintenance technicians will be wearing protective gear while in their homes.
Staffing and Vendor Coordination
Another key element in the business continuity plan is vendor consultation. Vendors are a critical cog in the machinery of communication between property managers and tenants. This is why property managers need to keep vendors aware of ongoing works in progress and ensure all parties are fully informed on maintenance projects.
During COVID-19 closures and lockdowns, community guidelines and regulations change constantly. All parties, including third-party service providers, contractors, vendors, and staff should be continually updated on changing guidelines. Virtual meetings are a common platform for communication with all parties while social distancing guidelines remain in place. Alternatively, property managers can use email or instant messaging apps to convey quick updates.
It is also important to have a backup staffing plan in case staff members are not able to come to work.
Make Use of Digital Technology
Property managers can use digital technology to fill vacancies. They can also utilize digital technology to carry out virtual inspections. However, it could be challenging for property managers to hold regularly scheduled inspections and carry out routine checks as long as social distancing protocols are in place. So property managers should find out if residents are amenable to conducting virtual inspections using their smartphones.
If video recordings are not possible with tenants, then have them send in photos of each area that needs to be inspected. Property managers and their staff will review these photos and take necessary actions. If photos cannot be sent, then property management staff should be dispatched to the property to inspect it. Always make sure that safety protocols are being enforced.
Importance of a Business Continuity Plan in COVID-19 Era
The social distancing guidelines enacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, create a unique situation that produces challenges for all types of businesses, including property management. Nonetheless, a business continuity plan ensures for property managers the continuity of vital business operations like property maintenance.
The process works when property managers initially coordinate with their teams to create a working business continuity plan and then communicate their needs and requests with staff, vendors, tenants, and other stakeholders. Property managers can be flexible and respond to unexpected developments with agility when they refer to a clear business continuity plan.
Full-Service Property Management with Jerry D. Abrams Company, Inc.
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By choosing Jerry D. Abrams Company, Inc., you ensure that your investment is being managed by someone who has management as the primary focus of our business.