Before we know it, the temperature will drop, snow will cover the ground and Christmas lights will shine throughout the neighborhoods. What many call the most wonderful time of the year sounds a bit different when you’re a property manager. For you, it means adding more work to your already crazy schedule. One of the best ways to keep up with maintenance this winter is to start preparing your properties, equipment and crew a couple months before the first snowfall. A lot of your tasks will be harder to do in snowy, cold, windy conditions, which is an even better reason to get started now!
Where you should start
The first thing you should do is take a look at your buildings. A thorough site review will reveal areas of your property that require maintenance and may even lead to ideas for further cost-savings down the road. In your site review, make sure you assess each of the following:
- Drainage: The last thing you want is the water from your drains to freeze on pedestrian areas when the temperature drops. Make sure faulty building drainage is addressed and repaired so it doesn’t lead to slippery situations for your tenants. According to a study by the Institute of Real Estate Management, 57% of participants ranked slips and falls as the single leading cause of current legal disputes. Don't let this happen to your property - be prepared!
- Damage: Assess damage from last year. Do you have drafty windows, ruined landscaping or a damaged roof? If so, you need to inspect and repair it to avoid upset tenants.
- Inventory: When the first snowfall hits, you want to be prepared with all the ice-melting materials you need – not frantically rushing to the supply store with all the other property managers. While you’re ordering supplies, consider purchasing liquid anti-icing products, as they do a better job preventing snow and ice from sticking to paved surfaces than granular products.
- Plans for snow removal, a snow emergency, and excess snow: Snow, snow, snow! It can lead to a lot of issues for your properties, which is why you need to prepare for it. Be sure to prioritize which areas around your properties will need to be cleared first after a snowfall, establish where to put the snow piles to prevent runoff and refreeze, and review your snow emergency plan with staff to ensure you are prepared this winter. For a more detailed list, check out the University at Buffalo’s snow preparedness plan.
How FMX can help: With FMX, you can manage your entire inventory easily! Without digging through your assets, you will be able to see how much inventory you have from last winter as well as where to find it. You can also set a minimum quantity for each item of inventory, such as your anti-icing product. If an item dips below that minimum quantity you will receive an alert, so you know it’s time to order more.
Preparing equipment for winter months
After your site review, you’ll need to inspect those snowplows that have been sitting in storage all summer and assess the damage. Ask yourself: When winter hits, will my equipment be able to handle it? Do I have a system in place if a piece of equipment fails? Do I have backup equipment in case my equipment can’t run for a period of time?
Take a look at our tips below to make sure you are doing everything possible to prevent equipment malfunctions and save yourself the stress of replacing equipment last minute.
- Perform preventive maintenance throughout the year. Did you know that electrical malfunctions account for 11% of residential building fires? And not inspecting and maintaining furnaces is a common cause. Preventing winter emergencies such as this are a must, and you can do this by performing preventive maintenance on heaters and other assets in your properties.
- Replace worn out parts before the season to prevent breakdowns. Downtime during a big snowfall can be more costly than the line item cost to fix the equipment.
- Replace aging equipment. Track repairs to identify when it becomes more cost effective to replace than repair equipment.
How FMX can help: With FMX’s planned maintenance module, you can schedule planned maintenance tasks for your winter equipment after the season ends and then again in the fall, so that when the time comes, it doesn’t get swept under the rug. In addition, with FMX’s robust analytics, your team can track the labor and inventory used on a certain piece of equipment. By comparing this to the cost of new equipment, you can determine if it’s wiser to buy or repair.
Assemble a staff team that's capable of handling winter conditions
One of the most important parts of tackling winter is having a knowledgeable team to help. To get you started, try implementing some of our strategies below.
- Cross-train your employees. Have you ever had an employee call off work and discovered no one else knows how to do his or her job? Imagine this happening on one of the biggest snowfalls of the year and realizing no one else knows how to drive the snowplow. Scary, huh? To mitigate risk, make sure all of your staff knows how to run all of your equipment.
- Plan a training session each year for review of inclement weather procedures with your staff. While you’re training the newbies, why not give all of your staff a little refresher? It may eliminate some silly mistakes later on.
- Train staff to document the work they have performed. When there is so much to do in the winter months, you don’t want people wondering who has done what. Your staff needs to know how to tell you and their colleagues what they have done.
How FMX can help: When maintenance requests arise, it’s easy for an administrator to assign these tasks to different staff members based on their availability. Once a staff member completes this task they can simply mark it as completed from their mobile device or computer. They can even list the labor hours and inventory used to complete the request, so you can track your labor and inventory over time.
Download the "Winter Preparation Checklist"
We’ve combined all of the tips above into a handy checklist you can download below and print out to track your progress while you prepare for winter.
Alayna is the marketing communications specialist at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not drafting up content for the blog or social media, she is most likely reading a good book or taking short weekend trips!