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A Kit Culture

If we were to compare the amount of work that a maintenance technician today is required to do at an apartment community, and compare that to 5 years ago; what would the comparison look like?

The most common question I’m asked by community managers is “How long should it take my technician to do <insert task here>.” My scripted answer is not to give an answer. My answer instead is to ask the question: Why?

The most common outcome from this exchange is to identify a discussion that needs to happen between property manager and the technician. This issue is more involved than just analyzing an individual repair. The discussion should include staffing levels, priorities, parts on hand, training needs, and expectations. As an example of a possible outcome from this larger discussion, consider creating Job Kits and implementing them in a Kit Culture.

A Job kit is an efficiency idea that came from watching a housekeeper in a hotel. When a housekeeper goes to a hotel room to clean, do they make a list, go to their office for supplies and then return to clean? No, they carry the most used items in an easy to transport container and have everything possibly needed before they start so they can finish faster.

After identifying what the kit is for, place the parts for the kit in a 5 gallon bucket. In this way, if a service request comes in say for a running (hissing) toilet, instead of a tech needing to go to the shop and get parts after diagnosis, instead just grab the bucket and go. The needed parts will be in the kit. Here’s an example of what is found in the kit used to pull and replace a toilet:

  • Toilet Replace Kit
    • Wax ring (with and without horn) 
    • WD-40 (to clean wax ring off of tools)
    • Exam gloves
    • Supply line
    • Bolts (tank to bowl and bowl to floor)
    • Flange repair kit
    • Tank to bowl gasket
    • Plumbers shims
    • Bleach cleaning wipes
    • Rag(s)
    • Small garbage bag (for trash)
    • Caulk and sponge
       

For suggestions as to other kits, review the community service requests over the past 90 days. Start with the most common occurrences and move to requests completed less often. Here are some possibilities:

  • Under sink drain trap Kit
  • Toilet Repair Kit
  • Electrical Kit
  • Garbage disposal Kit
  • Tile repair Kit
  • Refrigerant Charging/Recovery Kit
  • Drywall repair Kit
  • Turnkey maintenance Kit
     

Once you have these types of kits identified, gather parts, make the kits and create the kit culture. Notice I didn’t say create a policy. Instead of a strict list of “do’s and don’ts” make sure that the whole property is in on the process. This means that when the service request is generated, enough details must be listed in the request so that the tech knows what kit they need to grab. Once the fix is made, the technician’s job isn’t completely done until the kit is restocked. This will also mean keeping enough parts on hand in the shop before problems occur.

With a Kit Culture in place, all service requests can be completed faster, not just <insert task here>.