At Tesco, it is company policy that head office staff spend days of their year working on the shop floor with the front facing staff. An idea which pushes people out of their comfort zone and creates a better understanding between the two equally important parts of the business.
At Paramount, we are very lucky to have our own in-house contractors - we tell people this all the time; how great it is for us as property managers and also for our customers. But why? When Jit, our general maintenance contractor, came to me with an idea he had had to get property management, and letting staff out on the road for a day with some of our maintenance team I thought it was a great idea!
It is one of the best days I’ve had working for Paramount so far, spending my day with Dipak & Vinni as a plumber's mate. I found it incredibly useful and educational - and here are a few things I learnt today……..
Our contractors have a relationship with our tenants that most of the time we aren’t privy to. They are the face of our business, and the way they conduct themselves in the homes of our tenants, spending a few hours with them at a time - the lasting impact of this interaction probably runs deeper than what we do in our office. Our guys knew the names of the tenants of the properties we were due to go to today instantly, and we were greeted in one property with ‘ah Dipak and Vinni, my most regular visitors!’.
As is standard for our guys, we had a couple of gas safety certificates to carry out throughout the day. My morning with Dipak was spent siliconing a bath and shower screen after a leak was reported this morning - and it was fun! However, you move on to the gas safety certificates and the responsibility on our plumbers to make sure our properties are safe is huge. ‘Gas safety inspection’ is a phrase I’ve used every day, frequently for the last 6 years - and yet I had no idea what that inspection is made up of. We tested the hob, the boiler, the flue, the meter and the pipework - each with multiple items to check. There is no room for error, as Dipak casually told me ‘we are looking for carbon monoxide readings of over 200mg - because that’s a level that will kill you’. Gulp. As a property manager these are our priority, but it is good to fully understand why.
The fact we have an in-house team allows us to have advice on call. Everybody I worked with throughout the day took multiple calls from the office with general queries, questions - they are a source of information that we have to hand which I don’t believe any other agency would have. Our contractors can speak to the tenants and landlords directly and offer advice. It also allows so much more flexibility with the diary. The leak we investigated this morning at around 9:15am had been reported at 8:45am - I genuinely don’t believe another agent can offer this kind of service. And it is because we have our contractors on call, who can work their diaries around us prioritising work.
Just before lunch, we visited a property belonging to a prospective new landlord I met last week. Unfortunately, she has had a very bad experience with a previous building company who have completed a ‘bodge job’ on her flat. With the various trades on hand we were able to attend today with a plumber, a maintenance contractor and myself and provide a quote for all of the required works, as well as value the property for lettings. The teamwork and consistency for the landlord to have all skills and trades under one roof as colleagues was apparent.
We finished our day with a bigger job at one of our blocks - a cracked waste pipe which needed replacing. Of course, I’ve picked the week we are having a heatwave to be up and down stairs and working outside - physically this stuff is not easy! If you want to see some of the finest cementing in NW6 - I’ll happily show you my work!
It was such a varied day. I learnt so much about plumbing and feel more knowledgable in talking to our landlords and tenants about any of the issues we looked at today - and I definitely have a new found respect for what our guys do, and how they do it. As a property manager there are things I can do to make their lives easier - and I will be from tomorrow! We carried out the standard gas safety checks, dealt with an emergency and carried out a few other odd jobs. No property or work type was the same.
I finished up a sweaty and exhausted mess - but of course joined the boys for the obligatory ‘plumbers pint’ at the end of our day.
TOP THREE THINGS I LEARNT ON MY DAY WITH PARAMOUNT GAS
- Parking in West Hampstead is a NIGHTMARE.
- Our contractors are some of the nicest and most professional I've ever worked with
- I cannot ever pursue a career in gas engineering because of my debilitating fear of spiders. *shudders*
By Reagan Bradley