Fighting Inflation in the Multifamily Maintenance Shop

by Darren Rawson

Across the economy, inflation continues to push up the cost of doing business — particularly for managers and maintenance teams tasked with fixing and repairing multifamily properties.

Prices for items such as appliances (8.5%), window coverings (16.2%) and flooring (7.2%) all climbed year over year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not only are parts and supplies more expensive, but labor is in short supply as well, compounding challenges to maintain properties, meet residents’ needs and also contribute to the bottom line.

Although it’s impossible to avoid or eliminate the impact of inflation completely, with several strategic changes, property managers can soften the blow of higher prices — while still driving long-term value.

Streamlining the Maintenance Shop

For multifamily properties, the greatest resources in the cost-savings toolbox is streamlining maintenance procedures and policies, which can prove to be a hedge against inflationary pressures. Some basic adjustments property managers should consider include:

Choosing standardized parts and supplies: This tactic is an effective way to manage costs and improve efficiencies. For example, if a property manager installs only one type of faucet or shower head across all units, they need only stock replacement parts for that brand or model rather than an array of parts and products that can add unnecessary expenses and time.

Implementing a maintenance routine: Simply put, the best way to not only hedge against price hikes and maintain a property’s value is with a proper maintenance routine. Regular HVAC checkups, filter changes and water heater draining ensure longevity and reduce costs for repairs.

Establishing part limits: Establishing minimum and maximum limits for various maintenance products and supplies allows for better cost management and ensures maintenance teams are never without the parts they need to make timely repairs.

Buying in bulk: Whenever possible, property managers should purchase commonly used maintenance parts, products and supplies in bulk. This helps lessen the impact of price increases on maintenance budgets and improves the maintenance team’s ability to respond to and fix issues in a timely manner.

Nobody knows what the future holds — and that’s certainly true when it comes to inflation. But that doesn’t mean multifamily property managers are helpless when it comes to higher prices.

Evaluating existing processes and procedures while implementing strategic changes to improve efficiencies and better manage maintenance spending will help property managers alleviate inflationary stresses without sacrificing long-term value.

Darren Rawson is president and CEO of AZP Multifamily, a leading maintenance and parts supplier exclusively serving the multifamily industry based in Phoenix.

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