6 steps for easy work order management

Geoff Roberts
Geoff Roberts | 4 min. read

Published on August 20, 2008

Think you’re having a bad day? Just be thankful you didn’t get a call from a tenant about her “buzzing toilet with voltage running through it.” Yes, it really happened. When an upstairs tenant performed a makeshift repair, a toilet on the floor below became supercharged. This situation could have been avoided had that property manager followed our first step in work order processing. Read on to ensure that this situation (or something like it) doesn’t happen under your watch.

#1: Make It Easy for Tenants to Submit Maintenance Requests 

Let’s face it … stuff breaks. Being critical of tenants or discouraging requests for repairs or maintenance when they happen isn’t going to keep the wheels greased. Little things can become big things, as demonstrated through this story about a tenant who waited too long. She came home from work each day after her management office had already closed, subsequently allowing a small leak in her washer to mushroom into a ceiling repair for the downstairs tenant. In this case, extended office hours or an easy after-hours process for submitting work requests could have prevented an expensive repair.

#2: Review, Prioritize, Estimate

Set a designated maximum amount for work that can be done without necessitating an estimate before-hand. If you can reasonably expect the work to be done for this amount or less, then it’s just a matter of prioritizing the project with others already waiting in the hopper. If it looks like a larger job, approach one or more vendors for an estimate. This may require taking a more careful look at the problem or getting additional information from your tenant.

#3: Create the Work Order and Call in the Vendor 

Process the request through your system (for record-keeping) and create an additional copy for the selected vendor. By using a clear and comprehensive work order that describes the work in detail, disputes over cost increases for work that was not ordered can be averted. Be sure to check out some of these great online resources for work order management.

#4: Keep Track of What’s Going on

It never fails that just as you get to the point where you trust a contractor or vendor, the “new guy” is sent out. By now, though, you have become used to the vendor and haven’t been keeping as close of tabs on the company as you once were. As luck would have it, the new guy turns out to be a slacker, creating problems for your tenant and a delay in getting the work completed. To avoid this, have a clear idea of the project’s schedule and monitor progress to keep things on track. It may require a little extra effort at first, but it will save you time and money in the long run.

#5: Verify Project Completion and Pay the Invoice Upon Receipt

Once your project is complete, have the work order signed off on by both your tenant and yourself. Once everything looks good, pay promptly. All vendors appreciate speedy payment and this will gaurantee you continue to receive good response time and service from your vendor in the future.

#6: Close and File the Work Order

Close out the work order and keep it on hand as a permanent history item. You never know when you may have to go through a unit’s maintenance history to prove warranty status or gently persuade a vendor to give you a freebie (in cases of repeat work). This sort of careful, organized record-keeping will also allow you to look up the daily status of all work orders.

Read more on Maintenance & Improvements
Geoff Roberts

Geoff is a marketer, surfer, musician, and writer. He lives in San Diego, CA.

Be a more productive
property manager