How to improve the performance of your repairs service

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According to a survey carried out by the Tenants’ and Residents’ Organisations of England the most valued service provided to tenants is the repairs service. In recent years satisfaction levels have ranged from 98% to as low as 58% whilst the annual spend on repairs by housing providers remains a significant expenditure. However, research undertaken by the CIH has shown better quality services, size and costs are not directly linked.

Sufficient repair and maintenance of your stock is central to maintaining its value as a viable asset.  Whilst an increased spend to improve performance may seem the obvious answer it may not be realistic in a time when providers are already stretched between rent cuts, investing in their stock and providing better value for money. An evaluation of your current service offering may therefore be the answer.

An honest evaluation

Efficient, cost effective and versatile would describe most providers’ ideal repairs service but in reality attaining all three is challenging.  An honest evaluation of where you currently stand in relation to both your peers and your own expectations will provide insight in to possible shortcomings and potential improvements.  It is important to understand:

  • What key aspects of your repairs service cost you and why
  • What is driving your costs and which elements can be controlled
  • The impact your costs are having on the quality of your services, tenant satisfaction and the overall value of your assets
  • If the current scheduling and planning of your repairs operation provides the most productive outcome
  • Whether your team has the right skills and resources to meet the volume and standard of work expected from them

It is also important to consider the dynamic within your organisation by asking the following questions:

  • Is there agreement over your current position relative to your organisational goals and other comparable providers?
  • Are you interpreting your issues and objectives in the same way?
  • Are you agreed on your direction?

Being able to evaluate where you are can make you much stronger and more effective moving forward.

Knowing what success looks like

It can be assumed that all housing providers want their repairs service to be deemed a success but what might be an effective operation for one provider could quite easily be a burden for another. What works for you will be influenced by your vision and strategic direction. The need to reduce costs and drive efficiencies will also affect your approach, as will the political landscape and local socio-economic factors.  It’s important that you have clarity on what constitutes “success” and have tangible metrics in place to measure how effective your repairs service is.

A strategic options appraisal

An options appraisal will allow you to identify and clearly define your organisation’s vision for success. From this you can ensure the decisions you take moving forward in regards to your repairs service are the best fit for you. Identifying potential shortcomings and then selecting the right tools and tactics to overcome them can provide an important and positive boost to your service which can be reflected both in better value for money and higher tenant satisfaction.

As a specialist housing consultant we help housing providers understand and better deliver their repairs services. For further information about how a repairs consultant can help you, please email  JNeville@pennington.org.uk

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