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A Staggering Idea! | By: Douglas D. Chasick

A Staggering Idea!

 

One of the things I always took for granted was scheduling my staff.  It didn’t require much thought because I knew what the office hours were, I knew how many people worked for me and I knew what my payroll budget was.  All I had to do was cover the hours and try to give people the days off they wanted.  Sometimes I had a little overtime, but “comp” time took care of that.  I never considered the needs of my residents or prospects because the office hours were the office hours.  PERIOD!  I mean the service staff NEVER WORKED nights or weekends, right?  And our reward for high occupancy was closing on the weekends.  Why in the world should I worry about scheduling people on Saturday or Sunday?  And the Manager always worked 9 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday.  End of discussion.

 

Well that may have worked ten years ago, but it sure won’t work today!  It still seems strange that we are one of the only businesses on the planet that close our office during all the time that our customers are around.  We MUST make sure our operating policies support effective customer service; and a perfect example of this is scheduling our staff.

 

Hopefully, most of our residents are working, so they have the same office hours we do.  Why not open the office at 7 am and close at 7 pm so our residents have access to our staff?  Because the money isn’t in the budget, right?  WRONG!  We could stagger our office schedule so someone comes in early and leaves early, and someone else comes in late and leaves late.  Or, schedule 1 or 2 days a week with extended hours.

 

What about the person who works on a flexible or “flex-time” schedule?  We all know what the busy times are in terms of days, times of the month (rent collection and move-ins / move-outs, etc.) as well as the hours we are busy.  Why not schedule a person to cover those busy times?  For example, the office may be open 10 am to 6 pm on the weekends, but it’s only busy enough from noon to 3 pm to justify two people.  If we have only one person in the office, we could be losing leases or not taking care of residents properly.  If we schedule two people, then we are paying the second person for eight hours when we only need them for three hours.  Solution: have a part-time person who works just the hours you need.  They could also work the first and last week of the month to help with collections, renewals, move-ins and move-outs.

 

Unfortunately, there are LOTS of people looking for work.  You will be able to find competent people who will work a flexible schedule.  You might even find someone who already works for you that would be willing to work flexible hours. We can apply the same thinking to our service department.  We must find out when our busiest days and times are, and schedule accordingly.  For example, if most residents want to be home when service is done, why not schedule one service technician to work Tuesday through Saturday with Sunday and Monday off?  You might be surprised at how many people wouldn’t mind working a couple of Saturdays a month so they could have Monday off.  Why?  Because that’s the day a lot of places are open that are closed on weekends such as banks, doctors, dentists, motor vehicles, etc.

 

Another idea is to schedule a service technician to work 10 hours a day, 4 days a week to get their 40 hours.  Who says people have to work 8 hours, 5 days a week?  When you are backed up trying to get all you pre-leased apartments ready for move-in, schedule your service staff to work 10 hours (7 am to 6 pm) Monday through Thursday, and give them a 3-day weekend!  Have your Service Manager scheduled for a full day on Friday to handle service orders or use your on-call person for emergencies only.

 

How many managers work weekends? Not just when they have to cover for someone who is sick or on vacation, but as part of a regular schedule?  These days, more and more managers schedule themselves to work 1 or 2 Saturdays and 1 full weekend each month.  Why?  Because they realize that weekends are when most of the residents are home, when the guests show up, when leasing activity is at a peak and when all of the “mystery” problems usually occur.  The manager could be the “flex” person who comes in to cover the busy leasing time on the weekend.  They could then take off a few hours during the week to compensate themselves and take care of personal business at all the places in the world that are only open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.

 

Take a look at your schedule in terms of having people working when they are REALLY needed and when it best serves your residents and during peak activity periods.  Once we break out of our old ways of thinking, the possibilities are endless!

 

Reprinted with permission from the author. Douglas D. Chasick, CPM, CAPS, CAS, Adv. RAM, CLP, is The Apartment Doctor, a speaker and consultant with over 28 years of multifamily experience specializing in restoring rental health to ailing apartment communities and management companies and the Editor of NOI News.  You can reach Doug at 888.222.1214, by writing to Doug@NOINews.com or by visiting his website, www.NOINews.com.   

 

Reprinted courtesy of the Rockford Apartment Association

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