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Property Management: 9 Essential Ways to Prepare for Winter

By Sandra Zimmerman

Property Management 9 Essential Ways to Prepare for WinterIt’s hard to believe that another winter season is fast approaching. And with the extreme weather that is often experienced in many parts of the country, it’s a wise strategy to be prepared for anything. Taking a proactive approach to winter hazards will help ensure the safety and comfort of your residents as well as protect your property management organization from costly events that can have a serious impact on your bottom line. That being said, here are 9 key areas that you should start considering now:

1. Plan for the worst

Severe weather events seem to be increasing in frequency and unpredictability these past few years. Winter woes can include; deep freezes, heavy snowfalls, ice storms and even serious flooding caused by rapid thaws in conjunction with heavy rainfalls. Such events can not only impact your individual properties and residents, but also your management office and staff. Therefore it’s imperative to have a Disaster Preparedness and Business Continuity Plan in place, to ensure that you’re able to provide essential services in case of emergency and resume normal business operations as quickly as possible.

Having a web-ready property management system in place like INFO-Tracker™ SiteLink™ is an important piece of this puzzle. It will enable your staff to communicate with customers and provide essential services in the event that they are stranded at home or there is a loss of power or other circumstance that prevents your physical office from being open for business.

Get your free copy of The Property Manager’s Guide to Proactive Management — and make the time necessary to plan for an extraordinary future.


2. Service essential equipment

Now is the perfect time to service equipment such as furnaces, back-up power generators, snow blowers, etc. to ensure that everything is in perfect working order and ready to jump into action when needed. With the Maintenance module of INFO-Tracker™, you can easily schedule recurring routine maintenance, budget for that maintenance and receive alerts when equipment is due to be serviced.

3. Protect building structure

Winter weather brings two major threats to your physical buildings; frozen or burst pipes in extremely cold temperatures, and collapsed or weakened roofs in the event of heavy snow accumulation. To help prevent the freezing of water in pipes, always disconnect water hoses from outdoor spigots before the temperature in your area drops below freezing, and insulate and/or heat water lines in cold basements or other places that receive exposure to colder temperatures.

Flat roofs are particularly susceptible to structural damage and even collapse under the weight of heavy snow — so keep a watchful eye on snow accumulation. In most cases you don’t have to worry about the fluffy white stuff, even when there is quite a lot of it. It’s the accumulation of wet, heavy snow that poses a threat and should be taken care of by snow removal specialists, as it is a particularly dangerous job.

Also be sure to clear all gutters of leaves and other debris in the fall, to prevent ice damming (which can damage your roof) and the formation of icicles, which can become a hazard to residents and staff walking beneath them!

4. Review snow removal plan

It’s imperative to stay on top of snow removal, to help ensure the convenience and safety of your residents. Think back to last winter and consider if there were any issues that came up, such as delays in snow removal, parking spaces being overtaken by snow piles, or drivers’ views being obstructed due to snow accumulation. With a property management system like INFO-Tracker™ in place, it’s quick and easy to report on complaints or incidents during a given time period, to identify if there are any issues that should be addressed. If there were issues last year, now’s the time to review your contract and expectations with your snow removal service.

5. Keep walkways clear and safe

With the drastically fluctuating temperatures experienced in many parts of the country, it can be challenging to keep walkways clear of the slippery conditions created by rapid thaws and re-freezing. However it’s imperative that you do so, in order to protect your residents from injury and your organization from expensive and reputation-damaging lawsuits. While salt and sand are commonly used to melt ice and improve traction, they tend to create quite a mess. Salt, although tasty on French Fries, is rather corrosive and can pit concrete, rust metal, burn pets’ paws and eat away at other materials (like your customers’ favorite footwear). Not only that, it pollutes our waterways and kills adjacent grass and other vegetation. More environmentally-friendly options are available to melt ice, such as EcoTraction™, which is safe for the environment and pets, and actually helps make lawns greener!

6. Keep common areas dry and clean

We have all experienced the squishy unpleasantness of walking on soaked, salt-covered mats when entering a building lobby on a particularly messy winter day. Given that your residents pay money to have that sort of thing taken care of for them, sloppy mats and wet, dirty flooring really is a customer service fail, not to mention that wet floors are a slip and fall hazard. If you don’t already, consider using a reputable service that will supply you with high quality mats that trap both dirt and water, and that will regularly exchange soiled mats with clean, dry ones.

7. Stock up on materials needed

Whenever a major weather event occurs, stores inevitably run out of stock on the items that are needed most, like salt, batteries and water. Be prepared with an adequate supply of materials required in case of severe weather and related emergencies. With a property management tool like INFO-Tracker’s Purchasing module in place, you can quickly look up the amount of any given item used in previous years so that you can estimate how much you will need this season. This will enable you to have an adequate supply on hand and perhaps even take advantage of volume discounts, without the risk of tying up capital in overstocked items.

8. Remind residents about winter safety

There are many steps that your residents can and should take to ensure their own safety as well as the safety of their neighbours during the winter and holiday season. Now is a good time to start drafting a community enewsletter, reminding residents to keep snow plow routes clear, and providing a list of tips related to safety during the holidays.

9. Show your winter spirit

Despite what you may be thinking by the time you get to this point in the post, not everything related to winter is gloom and doom. The upcoming holiday season is the perfect opportunity to connect with your residents and further develop a sense of community within your properties. Surprise residents with treats like; individually wrapped chocolates in their mail boxes, fresh baked cookies at the front desk, or a hot chocolate with marshmallows night in the lobby during a deep freeze. Holding food drives for the less fortunate at Thanksgiving and Christmas will also help to strengthen the sense of community and spread feelings of warmth and good will in the chilly months ahead.

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Get your free copy of The Property Manager’s Guide to Proactive Management — and make the time necessary to plan for an extraordinary future.


Tagged Blog, Property Management, Customer Service, Tips

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