As we enter the peak of summer, we are also approaching the height of Atlantic hurricane season, not to mention other summertime phenomena in other regions of the country. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting that Atlantic hurricane activity will be “above-normal” in 2021. With this in mind, do you have a storm prep strategy in place for your properties?
Even if you manage properties that are not impacted by Atlantic hurricane season, the concepts of proactive planning and automating emergency preparedness discussed in this blog still apply.
Though natural disasters and severe weather are forces beyond anyone’s control, there are steps that can be taken to reduce their impact while maximizing your preparedness and the safety of your residents and staff. Strong planning and using tools that boost your team’s efficiency and agility are key to saving time and money in the aftermath of an emergency.
Here are 3 aspects of property operations you need to consider when it comes to ensuring that your residents are safe and have a great experience, even in the face of potential emergencies.
STEP 1: PROACTIVE MAINTENANCE
While it is important to prepare for severe weather and other natural disasters when one is forecasted, performing preventive maintenance year-round is the foundation to a strong emergency preparedness strategy. Taking a proactive approach to storm prep not only ensures that you have routine maintenance, mandatory inspections, insurance, and documentation in order – it can also lessen the impact if an emergency were to occur.
In particular, having a strong document management strategy in place is paramount to being proactive. A storm may cause flooding or structural damage and affect equipment, such as your HVAC system. It is important that documents related to equipment warranties and insurance policies are up-to-date, secure, and available as soon as you need to reference them. After a storm, there is often a high volume of insurance claims being made at once, so effective document management can help you to act as quickly as possible after damage or loss is encountered.
Check out our guide, Mastering Document Management for Property Operations Teams, to learn how property management leaders have the potential to save 400 hours per year with digital document management. Not only can this digital strategy help you locate important documents in the face of an emergency, but it can also help you to automatically manage renewals so that you never have to fear expirations.
STEP 2: PREPARING FOR SEVERE WEATHER AND NATURAL DISASTERS
Now that you’ve considered the ongoing work that a strong emergency prep strategy requires, what about the near-term steps you need to take to prepare for a forecasted severe weather event?
Implementing standard operating procedures (SOPs) is a great place to start—organizing SOPs in an automated workflow is even better. Storm prep SOP tasks might include, but are not limited to:
• Sending communications to residents and staff
• Performing inspections to document pre-storm conditions
• Storing and securing outdoor furniture
• Installing storm shutters
• Clearing flood-prone areas
Using a workflow automation solution like InCheck by SiteCompli can help you structure your SOPs, assign work to your teams, trigger tasks automatically when they are needed, and capture photo documentation. Furthermore, your team can be notified of new tasks and instantly upload photos onsite via the InCheck mobile app, ensuring agile and efficient work when it matters most.
Learn more about how you can use smart automation to seamlessly execute your emergency preparedness SOPs in The InCheck Guide to Smart Automation.
STEP 3: FOLLOWING UP POST-EMERGENCY
Though we hope they never happen, natural disasters, severe weather events, and emergencies do inevitably take place. And once they’re over, how do you deal with a plethora of resident work requests, inspections, and insurance claims so that you can maximize resiliency and return to normal operations?
Similar to Step 2, SOPs and automated workflows can be leveraged to help you quickly and effectively manage work that needs to be completed, such as:
• Performing inspections to document post-storm condition, including damage and mold
• Triggering automatic workflows based upon conditions discovered during inspections
• Assign work to your staff resulting from resident work requests
• Removing outdoor furniture from storage, reassembling common areas, and uninstalling storm shutters
When weather impacts one or more of your properties, it’s all hands on deck for that property team and your back office staff. Making sure that you have your SOPs ready to assign tasks to teams, individuals, or job roles will help you make sure work is completed correctly and by the right people, getting your properties in working order faster.
You work hard year-round to ensure that your residents have a great experience while juggling routine maintenance, safety protocols, maintaining accurate documentation, work requests, move-ins, move-outs, and more.
When a severe weather event is forecasted out of the blue, you need to be prepared. In being proactive with preventive maintenance & document management and having pre- & post-emergency SOPs in place, you can prepare and resiliently recover from such events.