The Phrase that Pays | National Apartment Association

The Phrase that Pays

Turn on almost any radio station morning show and quite frequently the morning talk host will be asking for “The Phrase that Pays”. This is generally a tag line that summarizes a marketing jingle that the audience is supposed to remember. Something such as “This is KSCUM radio… where we scrub the hits with no commercial breaks every day!”

This short statement is meant to remind listeners what station they are listening to and why they should continue to do so. It’s important which is why it’s often repeated and by anyone available.

When completing Service Requests, do you have a phrase that pays or a statement that should remain at the forefront of every customer interaction? This can help a tech remember to go that little extra.

Here is a couple to consider:

Perception is a reality; whether it’s true or not. For example, if two maintenance technicians are standing right next to each other and a resident has a plumbing issue. One maintenance technician has been in the industry for a week, with no knowledge of plumbing repairs but looks clean, neat and is standing with a pleasant expression on their face. The other technician has been on the job for years. He appears to be disheveled, his pants are low, shirt ripped and untucked, and his hands and forearms are purple from all of the primers he was just using. Also, he is mad, upset, and giving off an overall unpleasant vibe.

Just based upon the description, which one will a resident be more comfortable letting in their home? Which one has a better chance of fixing the plumbing issue the first time? Outward appearance doesn’t necessarily match skill or knowledge… How much more effective would either be if those items matched?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This one comes from Ben Franklin and is frequently quoted in regards to preventative maintenance tasks. What about everyday tasks? For instance:

  • When replacing the stem washer on a compression faucet, replace the seat at the same time.
  • When replacing that seat, put plumbers grease or Teflon tape on the threads to ensure it will be easier to remove next time.
  • If you are replacing one fluorescent lamp in a fixture that contains two of them, replace the other one. You are already there, and the second lamp is the same age as the first, so it will fail soon anyway… save the trip!
  • When caulking a tub, fill the tub with water, or at the very least stand in the tub while applying the caulking. By doing this, the tub will move as it does when in use and the caulking will seal better between the tub and the surround preventing a future leak.
  • When replacing the air filter, go the extra step and blow out the condensation drain pan. At the very least, use a condensation tablet to help prevent clogs.
  • Keep a small tube of graphite or dry spray lubricant


Performing the small suggestions listed above while performing related tasks can cut down on a second trip to the same area. These small items can add up to HUGE savings in time.

What phrase should be kept at the forefront while Service requests are completed at your community?