As a property owner or manager, especially one that manages more than one property, it is important to take a holistic view of all of the buildings in a portfolio and their needs – immediate and those in the future. It is important to keep properties in the best condition possible, for the tenants in the buildings, so they are comfortable and secure, and for the property owner, to mitigate major service failures and the ensuing tenant inconvenience. Here are a few strategies that property owners can use to ensure the most important building services are kept in the best condition possible.
One way is to encourage property owners to adopt a proactive attitude with regard to the systems that service their properties like air conditioning, plumbing, electrical and sewer systems. These systems should be evaluated, by the property owner or someone with knowledge of these systems, to ensure that leaks, cracked pipes and wires are not visible. Taking a proactive stance is really one of the best actions a property owner can take to head off any late night system failures
If after inspection, any maintenance is indicated, it is important that, if possible, property owners look at scheduling planned replacement projects, outside of their typical peak leasing and peak HVAC seasons. This allows for better contractor rates, better labor rates, a healthier supply chain, as well as contractors that are happier. Helping keep a contractor off a roofing in 110 degree heat just makes sense.
When a property owner is accurately and adequately tracking assets, they are now able to execute projects on a sensible schedule and create a timeline for fixes and replacement. Owners are also able to form multi-year capital plans that can be designed around a budget calendar. The idea is to shift the property owner’s mindset from being reactive to being proactive – by using the approach called asset tagging.
Asset tagging is a straightforward process and makes a great deal of sense once it is underway. In asset tagging, the property owner records the unit number, the make, the model, the serial number of a given system. It is also important to capture a photo of the nameplate on the equipment, if available. Also record the age, the ton, the condition, the SEER rating, as well as the refrigerant type of the unit, if applicable. All of these metrics when collected are then sorted, allowing the property owner to have a holistic view of their property portfolio and better understand what kind of assets are located onsite.
Asset tagging helps create capital plans, because when a property owner knows how many assets, what kind of refrigerant, the age and general condition of all of their assets, there is a new ability to focus on need. Building by building, a property owner can look and see how many are in need of attention. By visualizing the data, the owner is able to provide condition analysis building by building, community by community, even rolling up to regional and enterprise levels, and providing real knowledge about what capital plans should look like for systems over a multi-year time period.
For an example, take an apartment complex with over 300 units. One way of prioritizing need is noting what units are EPA Energy Star, which are less than 10 SEER, and which are still using R22 refrigerant. They can be compartmentalized in this way in order to prioritize what will likely need replacing sooner than other units in the building. Having this data also empowers the property owner to send out ahead notifications to all the tenants and working on the project plan both with the contractor and with the building to make sure work was completed smoothly.
With asset tagging, these type of replacement projects are designed around execution time and tenant-occupied spaces and can be planned out to not exceed project pricing, including upfront replacement project costs as well as any reactionary replacements that happen down the line after the project.
In the process of asset tagging, specific technologies can help make the process easier and provide more meaningful outcomes. There are software platforms, such as Motili that provide property owners with the ability to easily manage repair and replacement jobs. Motili handles repair and maintenance job needs from scheduling to ordering equipment to invoicing, making it the single point of contact for a scalable number of properties nationwide. Cutting-edge technologies like Motili allow property owners to make better decisions using the data they collect about their properties saving them money on repair and maintenance jobs by leveraging existing relationships with manufacturers and contractors.
Asset tagging garners results right away. Usually within a day or two after the completion of the project, depending on the size of the community. Property owners review the data and see what the findings are. Feeding this information into technology that can help property owners connect with a technician network can help in cost savings. The one-two punch of equipment and labor can be significant, but in working with technology that offers a connection to these contractors provide between 15 and 30% savings for reactionary replacement jobs. The scenario of “something breaks on the property, check in with your technology, that dispatches a tech, find out what’s wrong, in comes the equipment and the fix. On bigger projects, five, ten, a hundred systems at a time, the savings can be much greater, because of the ability to buy in quantity, and ability to manage the supply chain. Because of the reduction in project management resources, property owners are able to save significantly more than that 30% on the soft costs side of things, because the planned replacement projects are managed.
With this technology, equipment and parts are sourced from the factories and supply chain, providing the best possible pricing. All of the coordination of onsite materials, new equipment delivery, old equipment disposal, storage, cleanup, is provided by accessing the technology. Additionally, it provides ongoing contractor management, code of conduct training, and support. Weekly project status updates and routine updates are a phone call or email away. Finally, the online platform shows the asset data, the work order volume, allowing property owners to be able to truly gauge if the project was successful. Asset tagging, in concert with cutting edge technologies that link property owners with the resources they need and the data to see what service they will need in the future, has changed the way property management can be undertaken and the size of the budgets it requires.