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How to create capacity for retrofit projects 

As the UK’s social housing stock comes under increasing scrutiny, it is clear that the time has come for landlords to prioritise retrofitting their housing stock to improve standards for tenants. In our previous blog, we explored the multiple challenges that social housing landlords are facing currently and why these may be preventing them from moving forward with vital retrofit schemes. But with so much already to contend with, how do landlords ensure that retrofitting their housing stock also gets the attention it needs? 

The necessity of doing more with less

The shortage of skilled tradespeople and materials within the housing sector is well documented and shows no signs of abating. So social housing landlords must now recognise this as the ‘new normal’ and adapt their repairs and maintenance processes to support ‘doing more with less’ to free up capacity from existing resources to enable retrofit projects to be added to landlords’ agendas.

Within repairs and maintenance programmes, a highly effective way for service efficiencies and all-round service delivery improvements being achieved, is through implementing technology as a tool to support and organise their process. Service management platforms such as that offered by Oneserve, help landlords better manage their repairs and maintenance service so that they can improve first-time-fix rates, gain vital efficiencies, complete more jobs and deliver a better quality service to tenants.

Streamlining processes

By adopting a modern  cloud-based field service management system like Oneserve, landlords can improve productivity by as much as 25% to 60%. Simply put, taking the lowest percentile, an organisation with 100 mobile operatives delivering 400 jobs a day would be able to complete 100 more jobs with a system like Oneserve. 

Built specifically for the housing sector, Oneserve’s customisable Workflow Management tool helps social housing landlords optimise processes. By using workflow management software, organisations can automate lengthy processes by creating a sequence of tasks that the data follows until the process is completed. This automation frees up valuable time meaning Landlords have greater capacity to service a greater number of jobs from the same number of operatives. MD Group, a leading building services specialist operating in the affordable housing and public sectors, were able to do just that, increasing the number of jobs they completed per day through efficiencies gained by using Oneserve. Sam Matthews from the MD Group says, “Oneserve is such a powerful tool for us; it’s used in the back office, by mobile workers, engineers and clients to make sure we are always optimising our service delivery for residents.”.

Clearing the backlog

The latest Housing Ombudsman report, highlighted that one of the biggest complaints against social housing landlords was the amount of time it takes for repairs and maintenance work to be carried out. With many Landlords still struggling to clear the backlog of repairs left over from COVID lockdowns, plus the labour and supplies issues they have subsequently encountered, and the raft of new legislation coming into effect, it is easy to see why delays are so prevalent. 

In order to make significant inroads against repairs backlogs, first-time-fix rates must be improved to avoid unnecessary repeat appointments slowing the service down further. First-time-fix improvements can be achieved through better repairs diagnosis, streamlining the overall repairs process through utilising tools such as appointment schedulers, and ensuring mobile workers are better organised.

Oneserve’s workforce management software optimises your repairs and maintenance service by identifying time slots which match the specific criteria set for a job including job types, operative qualifications and capabilities, and any geographical requirements which you may choose to specify. This ensures that jobs can be scheduled quickly and accurately. And if accurate job diagnosis is achieved at the point the repair is reported, mobile operatives will arrive better prepared, with the correct parts and tools on the van, which increases the likelihood of achieving a first-time-fix once access to the property is gained.

‘No access’ appointments can be extremely divisive when it comes to improving first-time-fix rates. That is why delivering quality customer communication is also key to achieving good first-time fix rates. Oneserve’s Track My Operative feature provides live operative tracking on the day of the appointment along with an estimated arrival time. By providing tenants with this enhanced visibility, it has been proven to reduce no-access appointments by up to 45%, and improve customer satisfaction scores by up to 15%. 

Working in partnership with Gravesham Borough Council, Oneserve helped the Council achieve an 87% first-time-fix rate within their repairs and maintenance service (an increase of 20%) and reduced their costs by a fifth, cutting over £1 million from their annual budget. Nicole Arthur from Gravesham Borough Council says,”The scheduling capabilities of Oneserve are second to none, but the improvements we have seen in our service delivery go far beyond this. We have oversight of our entire workforce, which enables us to monitor performance and more accurately record job costings.”

Reducing risk

While achieving an increase in first-time-fix rates is a critical factor for improving efficiency within a repairs and maintenance service, landlords must also ensure that they are effectively managing their organisational risk by maintaining their compliance obligations and adhering to regulations.

Events over the past few years have brought attention to the suitability of Britain’s social housing stock, highlighting the need to raise the quality of social housing to meet the Decent Home Standard. In addition to being able to easily schedule yearly inspections, landlords need easy ways to prove compliance.

A comprehensive field service management system, like Oneserve, brings instant visibility to landlords, enabling them to easily see when compliance appointments such as gas, electrical and fire safety inspections were last carried out, and automatically schedule future cyclical compliance appointments so they aren’t ever missed. David Cater from The Sovini Group, who has been a Oneserve client for over a decade says, “Oneserve has helped Sovini be 100% compliant on gas for many years. So much is down to the management of the data which we can draw from Oneserve. We haven’t had to change the process in six years, it’s so efficient.”

In addition, evidence can be easily gathered by operatives on-the-job through videos, photos and notes being saved against the job, which provides instant compliance information to your back-office team. This ensures that any issues highlighted are not missed and can be acted on immediately, if required, through follow-up appointments or further inspections being scheduled.

How can you take control?

Through streamlining repairs and maintenance processes with a field service management system like Oneserve, landlords can achieve more with less, reduce their risks, and clear their backlogs more quickly, which can create a greater level of service capacity to enable retrofit projects to be prioritised alongside standard repairs and maintenance services. 

Oneserve’s job management software is dedicated to the housing sector. Through working in close partnership with our clients, we truly understand the challenges landlords face, working alongside them to help reduce their risk and deliver more, Everyday.

If you need help to make your repairs and maintenance service more efficient or if your organisation needs to improve how it records compliance, then please contact us today. One of our experienced advisers would be happy to talk you through the value Oneserve can add to your repairs and maintenance service.  

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