Reviewing costs and levels of service is always crucial for new customers

Investing the time and effort to consult with residents when starting to look after a development is crucial for high quality property management.

That’s the view of Principle Estate Management who say they are always determined to review how residents feel about existing services so they can analyse whether any improvements or cost savings can be made.

Adam Jones, integration and compliance manager at Principle, explained how this reaped dividends when the company took on the management of a large city centre development in Cardiff from another managing agent last year.

Mr Jones said: “The property manager consulted with residents who reported problems with delayed simple repairs and misunderstanding of the repairs required and even exactly where they were.

“After carrying out a costs v benefit analysis we consulted our client and residents with a proposal to employ an on-site caretaker to carry out many of these simple repairs and be a reassuring presence for residents.

“After interviewing candidates, an appointment was made and the new caretaker is already making a difference on site with his service and by building good relationships with residents.

“This is a good case study of how reviewing issues with residents can result in a bit of lateral thinking that helps everyone.”

Mr Jones added that the property manager also noticed that the cost of the separate cleaning and grounds maintenance was high, which resulted in more swift action.

He said: “After a tendering exercise, we appointed one contractor to undertake both services to a high standard, and this also achieving a cost saving to residents’ service charges, which was a great value for money achievement.”

Mr Jones explained that as part of Principle’s standard 100-day plan for all new instructions, the company’s new business integration team invites observations from leaseholders on the standard of soft services provided, such as gardening, cleaning and window cleaning.

He said: “They then tender those contracts to include the incumbent provider but also known contractors from our independent panel of suppliers or any resident nominated providers.

“The findings are reported to the property manager who will liaise with any key leaseholders, particularly if there is a recognised or even informal residents’ association.

“The object of this exercise is not to automatically disturb any relationships that are working well, but to ensure we take on board any customer feedback.

“The outcome ensures that service levels, for example the frequency of attendance for cleaning, are understood and appropriate for the development, and that value for money is provided.

“Importantly, where there has been strong resident request to stay with a known quantity of a particular supplier we have retained those services even if they are not the cheapest.”