Are Two-Man Maintenance Teams Unnecessary?
In an environment where it is difficult to find quality maintenance techs, does it really make sense for them to work in two-man teams?
By now, it’s an often-repeated mantra: It is hard to find quality workers for site-level jobs. And when you are trying to find quality maintenance techs, the task gets even more difficult.
With good maintenance workers scarce, it is little wonder that apartment owners and managers want to be as efficient as possible. So it is no surprise that industry executives have strong opinions about two maintenance technicians going out to do a job that can be completed by just one, which some think can also hinder customer service.
“Our industry definitely runs into challenges where two of the service team members buddy up or you see them acting like the Bobbsey Twins where they are always together,” says Melanie G. French, Executive Vice President at Cortland Partners.
French says Cortland does not have a policy for how many maintenance techs should complete a job. Instead, it relies on onsite management to determine the correct number of people needed for a job. For instance, if the job requires moving appliances up or down stairs, completing some HVAC work or doing roof work, it is often a two-person project.
“For us, we don’t tend to run into this problem [where service technicians are always together] likely because we have KPIs established around our service teams and the number of service request each individual performs,” French says. “We also measure our customer satisfaction scores down to the individual service professional who performed the work in the home. Our service teams have a high level of pride and enjoy fun, healthy competition around their survey scores and work output.”
Like Cortland, AMLI Residential does not have a policy for how many technicians should be performing a job, but Dale A. Abraham, SVP Building Services for the company, says safety and the nature of the work dictates whether a job requires more than one technician.
“Whether it is the community manager or the service manager who distribute work and manage the maintenance staff, it should always be made clear that work is to be completed independently, unless otherwise instructed for the reasons stated,” Abraham says.
But onsite, the view can be different. Lynn Jacobs, CAMT, Portfolio Maintenance Manager at Lund Company’s The Club at Highland Park Apartments, says he gets more production out of work that is done by a team.
“Once we find an issue and need parts, one of us can grab parts and the other will start removing the old part and prepping for the new part to be installed,” he says. “Also, if you have multiple work orders in a building you can do multiples at a time.”
Camaraderie also is a factor in Jacob’s preference for two-man teams.
“It is also a good way to train new guys or I like to motivate guys and keep them moving,” Jacobs says. “Also, it keeps the team morale alive and it is good to have someone to laugh with when it goes wrong.”
Jacobs also points out that there are safety issues for two-man teams. If it is really hot out, it is good to have a second person.
“I do not really see a negative side to teaming up and being safe and getting the job done,” he says.