In a continuous effort to improve, the Property Management team spent the summer of 2015 examining ways it might improve the significant process of home winterization. The team employed Lean and Agile methodologies to analyze the winterization process, with the goal of gaining a greater understanding of the defects, and identifying opportunities for growth.
To begin, the team determined the actions needed to streamline and simplify the process, gain efficiencies, and increase the overall clarity of communication. The most substantial changes revolved around communication to transferees within our programs. The project team first looked at creating a central database to track communications to and from the transferees, and then focused on using a communication system to efficiently send out original and follow-up emails. These changes in process made it easier to update clients regarding transferee responses and uptake of the recommended winterization actions.
Changes to the timing and type of communications were also made. The initial winterization communication to the transferee is now sent in September, to get ahead of any early winter storms. Additional reminder emails are scheduled at regular intervals for greater continuity, consistency, and efficiency, with the results recorded in the database. The previously tedious winterization order form was replaced with an easy-to-use survey, pre-populated with winterization options, accessible via desktop and mobile devices. The user can now respond and submit immediately to a Dwellworks Property Manager to begin scheduling any requested services.
Since implementation of the improved winterization program, transferee response rate has greatly improved and there has been a substantial decrease in the internal time spent tracking and following up. Most importantly, the improved processes allowed us to reach our goal of zero winterization related repairs for the 2015/2016 season, which resulted in Dwellworks recently receiving a Silver Innovation Award from the Cartus Global Network conference. The team now looks forward to the upcoming winter season to maintain the level of service achieved by the benefits of these improved processes.