Why Property Maintenance and Why Now?

May 7, 2022

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it upended just about all aspects of life as we knew it. Practically overnight, industries, companies and individuals were faced with the challenge of quickly adopting new technologies in order to work, socialize, communicate, shop and live. 

If you are a renter or a property landlord (Owner-operator or Property Manager), the disruption was no different. The pandemic forced change and opened the doors for technology adoption in residential real estate, which historically was slower to adopt. While there was discussion and some movement toward technology solutions in the industry, COVID-19 accelerated a Property Technology (PropTech) transformation push as Property Managers and Owners realized it’s no longer “business as usual.” 

After seeing the benefits of leveraging new technologies across the Property Management lifecycle, many industry experts believe that Maintenance is the next frontier in PropTech.

Multifamily and Single-Family Rental (SFR) leap into PropTech

Funding has rushed into this previously underinvested vertical. Innovators stepped up to automate and conduct functions remotely that previously were accomplished in-person. They found new ways to provide residents and potential residents a safe and healthy environment while they as a company were also forced to work from home.

The multifamily and SFR sectors took a big leap into PropTech offering online applications and screening, virtual tours, virtual leasing, contactless move-ins, online rent collection, touchless controls, keyless entry, smart sensors and communications platforms. These solutions remain critical today. By transforming digitally, companies are remaining relevant and competitive. A first-class technology experience is now the expectation of residents, and it’s not going anywhere.

The pandemic drove home the reality for Owner-operators and Property Managers that great talent - technicians, leasing associates, and supervisors - is hard to find and even harder to retain. Multifamily and Single-Family Rental (SFR) owners have started taking the opportunity to make internal processes more efficient and user-friendly. For example, newly adopted leasing technologies have enabled key on-site employees to focus on providing value-add services to their residents, rather than being inundated with redundant, administrative tasks.

Change is underway in Property Management. When making technology decisions, the focus is now on the resident - no longer solely on the asset. Owner-operators and Property Managers recognize the need to ensure a great user experience for their residents and team. This factors into decision making around Property Management Systems and operators’ tech stack in general. The recent investment in PropTech has seen game-changing players across the owner’s lifecycle (leasing, payments, resident experience, and - now - maintenance. Many of these best-of-breed technology solutions can work seamlessly with Property Management Systems. 

At Mezo, we believe maintenance is the next frontier in PropTech. Many of our team members have experienced the pain of maintenance first-hand: as Owner-operators, service providers, and as residents. We can all relate to our own pain and frustration with maintenance, which is why we’re so excited about what we’re building. In talking to countless stakeholders in the industry, we have conviction that the time for change in maintenance is now.

Maintenance needs a fix too

Maintenance has long been the ‘forgotten sibling’ in PropTech innovation but there are several reasons why that must change. First, it’s a big-ticket item (20-30% of operating expenses) and super painful for all stakeholders – the resident, technicians, and operations team.  In fact, one survey found that 61 percent of rental property owners see maintenance as a top pain point. Post Covid, residents are spending more time in their rentals due to work-from-home (WFH) trends and putting more wear and tear on their units. Additionally, great Service Professional talent is an increasingly scarce resource. Without game-changing tech innovation, it will be hard to keep up with maintenance demand. 

Now, more than ever, SFR, Multifamily owners, and Property Managers recognize that tech-enabled maintenance is critical for maintaining resident satisfaction and operating a successful business. At Mezo, we are taking a new approach to tackling maintenance and filling this void.

Maintenance makes or breaks rental experiences

Real estate has always been a “people business,” but now more SFR and multifamily operators recognize that maintenance is an important touch point for residents. The average resident places several work orders per year, making it one of the most frequent interaction points with the property. It’s critical that this process is as easy and transparent as possible. 

Many people choose to rent so that they don’t have to deal with maintenance problems. As renters, they expect their maintenance issues to be handled in a very timely manner, and they want a smooth property maintenance process. They also want it to be very easy to submit a maintenance request. It’s true that Property Management is a “leasing business” but it’s important to not underestimate the impact of maintenance on a resident’s overall experience.

A better maintenance experience leads to better resident retention. According to an NMHC Apartment Residents Preferences report, 22 percent of residents churn due to poor maintenance experiences. If an owner doesn’t effectively and efficiently address a resident’s maintenance issues, they could lose that resident, which can add up to thousands of dollars in resident turnover costs. The cost of acquiring a new resident is high, including advertising costs, leasing team time, and the cost of having an apartment sit vacant.

Additionally, residents often share these negative maintenance experiences online for future residents to read. Negative reviews can substantially hurt your business. According to a study by a property management marketing company, a main issue that continued popping up in negative tenant reviews was around maintenance, which showed up roughly 48 percent of the time. 

At Mezo, we believe that the right maintenance experience can actually be additive to a resident’s perception of their building. 

Skilled maintenance talent has never been more difficult to hire and retain

Multifamily and SFR owners say finding and retaining great talent is a major challenge. In fact, 75 percent of multifamily and SFR owners say they’re concerned about the labor market shortage, according to an expert panel at the NMHC OPTECH 2021 conference held in November in Washington, D.C. The conference included more than 2,000 multifamily executives and technology partners gathered to discuss the newest innovations and hottest industry trends.

Additionally, it’s clear that the labor shortage isn’t going away anytime soon. Turnover in December 2021 remained high: 4.3 million U.S. workers quit their jobs, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover report. That equates to 2.9 percent of the workforce.

There’s particularly high turnover for maintenance technicians, and there’s also an aging technical workforce. The average age of repair and maintenance technicians in the United States is 47 years old. Working to retain these experienced techs should be a top priority. Losing great talent hurts a business because there’s no domain transfer of knowledge, forcing organizations to start from scratch. Many SFR and Multifamily owners must then spend substantial time hiring and training new technicians. 

One way to retain staff is by implementing technology for maintenance, which can make a technician’s job easier. Technology solutions can save your staff time, energy, and headaches which could provide a compelling reason to stay at your company. By using technology to become more efficient, technicians can spend more time doing value-add work and driving a better resident experience.

At Mezo, we believe that great maintenance technology will help retain experienced techs and be a differentiator for attracting new talent.

Mezo’s vision – data-driven technology

Ninety percent of SFR and multifamily owners say they have no confidence in their data, according to an expert panel at the NMHC OPTECH 2021 conference. The problem is that legacy PropTech solutions are largely just data “storage”. 

Now is the time to shift from defense to offense and take control of the data. Mezo’s vision is to help Owner-operators and Property Managers collect the right data, in the right way, so that they can drive insights and manage their operations more proactively. By utilizing technology and data, owners can better understand their assets including proactive fixes and stronger asset management. 

Mezo is here to help your property maintenance team

Are you an Owner-operator or Property Manager who wants to take control of your maintenance operations? Let’s chat - we’d love to show you our Product and share more about what we’re building.

We are really excited about what we’re building here at Mezo.  Our product is already saving Owner-operators and Property Managers money today. Our technology creates a better resident experience and drives down operating costs by eliminating repetitive, low value manual processes.  We are thrilled about the opportunity to work with our partners to future-proof their businesses. 

Follow us on LinkedIn for more regular updates on PropTech, Maintenance, and Residential Real Estate trends & insights.

Excited about your next career challenge? Join us!

Mezo is an early-stage PropTech startup focused on fixing home maintenance for good. Whether you're an owner, renter, or both - you can likely relate to something not working in your home that needs to be fixed. We've all been there and the inconvenience and strain that it places on your daily life is flat out not fun.

Our mission is to power intelligent home maintenance by empowering owners, residents, and technicians like never before. Our technology is leveraging the latest in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, and Data Science to transform customer experiences.

Are you someone who enjoys solving complex problems at the intersection of people and technology and want to learn more about Mezo? Follow us on LinkedIn for job postings and send us an email at talent@mezo.io.

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