The 3 Most Common Mistakes in Work Order Instructions (and how to avoid them)

At Latchel we have processed thousands and thousands of work orders. Over these work orders we have learned what helps work orders flow along smoothly and what causes work orders to get stuck.

Here is a list of the most common mistakes we have found and what to do to avoid them.


1. Basic work order information is incorrect, incomplete, or missing.

This is easily the most avoidable mistake. Even though it takes the least effort to create, it is the most common. At Latchel, whenever we are unable to start a work order, this is the problem 85% of the time.

Here are the most common issues:

(1) The property address is incorrect or incomplete.
This is either due to data entry errors on existing property management software or because of unusual formatting the software uses. Be careful to review your properties for complete, correctly spelled cities. Actual zip codes, and appropriate designators for Apartments, Units, etc.

(2) Tenant information or vacant unit information is unclear.
If a unit is occupied, the tenant should be clearly labeled as a tenant. You should include the tenant’s contact information. Whenever a unit is vacant, make sure to include accurate access instructions for the maintenance technician so they can get inside and do the work without you taking time out of your day to let them in.

Another common problem we see here the property owner information is shared instead of the tenant information. This leads to unnecessary calls and confusion for your maintenance techs and owners!


2. Tenant description and vendor instructions conflict with each other.

Most work orders pass on unedited tenant descriptions of the problem. Sometimes property managers add specific instructions to only address certain pieces of the tenant request. When the maintenance technician looks at a work order, they tend to focus only on the first piece of information they see. Usually, that is the tenant description! Make sure to either edit your tenant descriptions or remove them altogether when passing instructions to your technicians.


3. Budget information is unclear.

This issue is the hardest to solve because to do it well you need the appropriate support. It is hard to increase staffing when your margins are as tight as in property management. Here are the most common issues:

(1) Budget is set too high for the job.
Property managers usually have pre-arranged budget agreements with their clients so the property manager can make necessary repairs without waiting for approval. However, some unscrupulous contractors may see a $300 budget limit and think that means they can charge $300 for a simple job. It is better to set budgets according to the job and ask vendors to call in for approval beyond the budget.

(2) Requiring an on-site estimate for ALL jobs.
The opposite extreme to the above job is to request all vendors to always call in for approval. This creates more administrative headache and burden for your already time-pressed maintenance coordinators. It is better to set guidelines on each job and only require call-ins for the exceptional cases.

At Latchel, we are completely focused on simplifying maintenance operations. We offer everything from night and weekend call center and emergency services to complete 24/7 maintenance diagnostics, dispatching and coordination. Visit latchel.com/emergency to learn more.


Want to learn even more?

If you sign up for our mailing list we'll send you the full first chapter of "The Lean Property Manager." The first chapter dives into even more detail on how to set up the beginning of your work order management process to get the best work orders to your vendors. It will even provide tips on getting better information from your tenants. Sign up for our mailing list below.

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