Mila Maintenance last year completed 25 years of providing repairs and maintenance services to the social housing sector. We asked Maintenance Director Dave Cooke ‘what makes a good maintenance contractor in 2014?’ His answers give some insight into what it takes to continually manage what are often competing challenges in an environment where there can be resident distress, Health and Safety considerations, and budgetary constraints.
“If I had to say one thing that makes for a good maintenance contractor in 2014 it would be that you cannot stand still. The point is that even for a company such as ours which has seen most of what the market can offer, it has been our ability to adapt our way of working and to be flexible to the needs of our clients and their residents which has kept us at the head of our particular market”.
Specialists in one field
“Maintaining windows and doors is as much a specialist field as any other you care to think of. The technical skills needed to identify products often obsolete by 20 years, and to know what an alternative workable solution is only comes with experience supported by on-going refresher training for all our operatives. Our singular focus as a specialist in this field is key”.
“But that is one very small aspect of what it takes to be a good maintenance contractor in 2014. Being able to work as an emergency repairs company, a planned maintenance company, or a reactive maintenance company is expected of us by clients in equal measure, and we need to be able to meet their needs fully. The stringent KPI’s we work to in our business need to return the same level of performance throughout. The expectation of us is that we will get the job done, and with that comes a range of considerations”.
Health and Safety considerations – Safe Contractor
“If you think that on many occasions the work we do is in high rise applications then you will understand that the Health and Safety considerations are significant. The threat to the resident can be very serious, and to our own operatives as well. That’s why as a registered ‘Safe Contractor’ all our operatives are fully trained, and carry specialist equipment to help them carry out the tasks with the minimum of risk to themselves or to the resident”.
“Formal accreditation is mandatory as far as I am concerned, but equally important is the way we work with residents. In a majority of cases when we attend it is because there is a problem – it is either an emergency or there is an outstanding repair required which affects the resident’s safety or their comfort. Often there is an element of distress when we get to the resident’s home and we need to act in a professional and understanding manner at all times”.
“One of our guiding principles is to show courtesy and respect to residents at all times, and it is mandatory with our operatives that they immediately show their identity card and that they explain what they are there to do. It helps massively that all of our operatives are fully employed, we do not use sub-contractors. It is our way of ensuring that we can provide them with all the training they need, and that they buy fully into the professional standards of the company”.
“But we go further, all of the residents whose homes we work in are invited to give independent feedback using a pre-paid envelope system. It is important for us to get this interaction, and investing in postage is a small price to pay. The information they provide is collated and published on-line for everybody to see, we have nothing to hide, and we use it to drive improvement throughout our business – resident care is our priority”.
FLEXIBILITY WITH CLIENTS
“We also need to be able to offer a range of fully flexible packages to clients which suit their budgetary plans. We have to be adaptable and we are; no job is too big for us, but more importantly no job is too small, and we always offer our clients trial installations so that we all fully understand the requirements of a particular job”.
“Our history and our portfolio of clients shows that we are a good maintenance contractor, but standing still is not an option”.
Dave Cooke is Maintenance Director of Mila Maintenance milamaintenance.co.uk