Managing a brand new apartment complex in a city in Indiana, Matt was new to the business and, without considering a backup strategy, he and his two assistant managers, maintenance man and a security guard constantly lived on the edge, trying to balance their 600 tenants’ immediate demands with their own personal life-requirements (that, they all insist, includes “having a life”).
The complex is near a state university; ninety percent of the tenants are college students.
The role of a property manager is to quickly and decisively kill fires: lockouts, water leaks, excessive noise, HVAC and electrical problems, property damage, internet outages and so on. The all-hours-of-the-day tenant needs were diverse and it was no exaggeration to say that with a ceaseless flow of incoming phone calls, Matt was over-extended and even frantic, both at work and at home.
This was an especially onerous dilemma as he has a small family that includes two toddlers.
Matt’s wife and children? They wanted to see more of him…and without a cell phone pressed to his ear…
The list of incoming challenges was endless and Matt’s life, at work and at home, was ceaseless fire-killing.
But Matt had a quiet and methodical way of doing things, and so he conducted a thorough search for a telephone answering service that would not just screen his calls and take messages, but actually generate a solution to the majority of routine tenant complaints that arise.
His careful investigation led him to Centratel, a 24/7/365 telephone answering service that is, via a variety of statistics, rated as the highest quality service in the United States. Within 24 hours of enlisting this off-site service, Matt’s life dramatically improved, while his tenants’ found immediate resolution to whatever problem cropped up. The improvements were instant.
Here’s how Matt’s new protocol works: After-hours, and sometimes during the busy day, incoming tenant phone calls are routed to Centratel, his ‘round-the-clock telephone answering service that specializes in deciphering the emergency that must be handled now, from the regular maintenance issue that can wait until the next business day. But that’s just one role. Here are some of the additional duties of Matt’s new best friend: his elite-quality telephone answering service:
- If there an electric or water outage, the answering service representatives relay pertinent, updated information to tenants without disrupting the maintenance technician (who is usually trying to solve that particular problem)
- Processes regular incoming calls while Matt is showing property. A message is taken or the caller is referred to a website to see what units are available.
- Provides referral information for lockouts, internet outages or other issues
- Security Issues are referred directly to on-site security personnel
- Property damage calls are documented
- Provides fail-safe and immediate escalation of urgent calls (e.g. if the maintenance technician is on an assignment, the answering service representative will follow a 1-2-3 step protocol to reach other staff members, including Matt, who may be able to help).
- Campus housing calls: handling the multitude of questions flowing into the office during busy moving-in and moving out-times.
- Campus housing air conditioning: in the summer, ensuring that there is no notification of the maintenance technician unless the temperature is 80 degrees or higher
- Campus housing heating: in the winter, no notification to the technician unless it is below 50 degrees
Working closely with Centratel, Matt found that the service’s telephone representatives could do all of the above while appearing to be direct employees of the apartment complex. A tenant who is calling usually isn’t aware that an outside answering service is assisting.
Matt’s life is quiet now, and he has time for himself and his family. His staff? Energized and seldom under the gun anymore, they are constantly devising new call-handling protocols to hand-off routine work to their own very best new friends at the answering service.