The Real Art of Maintenance



Maintenance is a core activity in social housing that often sits on the margins of customer service. Many housing associations have legacy maintenance systems, rooted in history, embedded in supplier relationships and with experienced staff who often find change and innovation and irritation to the smooth flow of their work.

Maintenance is a front line activity that sets much of the tone for customer feedback and tenants’ views of the housing association. There’s always a danger that, like I.T (information technology) people, maintenance can become a sub-culture in the organisation, separated off, untouchable, doing its own thing in its own way, as it has done for years.

Maintenance is a largely technical activity built around scheduling of resources, different kinds of knowledge and expertise, and, of course, communication.

Yet maintenance, even when technically very good, can lie at the core of negative tenant feedback. Maintenance is often an unpredictable activity, and ten minute customer appointments can soon lead to complaints as schedules slip. Also informal relationships with tenants, established over years, can soon come into conflict with newer, more transparent customer care systems and processes.

Aims of the workshop

This workshop is for maintenance teams and leaders to explore the new environment for maintenance in a world that is more customer conscious and resource constrained.

What are the essential goals of maintenance in a housing association and how do they integrate with the bigger picture, with the organisation as a whole? How does maintenance link to front line reception and inquiry services? How and when do we need to say no, and how can we assert the organisation’s systems without diminishing customer service?

How do we deal with stress and with difficult conversations on the doorstep? How can we improve on poor scores from tenants in quality surveys?

The workshop is based around interactive activities and powerful ideas for achieving consistently high standards in the delivery of maintenance services. The workshop taps into the wide experience in the room, recognising many maintenance staff have knowledge and experience but also challenging whether some attitudes and habits need to change to meet the current climate in social housing, which is more demanding of modern customer service.

The workshop is challenging, honesty and aimed at significant learning and identifying areas for change back at work


Workshop Content and Process

The style of the workshop is very informal, not classroom based. Open conversation, practical activities, drawing on real work-based examples ensure an engaging day that should create a restlessness to do things different back at base. We’ll look at:

– different approaches to customer care in relation to maintenance and how these have changed in recent years

– mapping the maintenance function into the organisation and its stakeholder base

–  the practical skills of dealing with customers on the front line, especially under pressure

– dealing with diversity and difference

– different styles and approaches to communicating internally and externally

– philosophies such as total preventive maintenance and new approaches to maintenance

measuring and managing performance and linking this to service improvement and effective communication

– communicating face to face, communicating virtually


Workshop Outcomes

By the end of the workshop, participants should feel their experience has been harnessed but also challenged; they’ll feel challenged and refreshed, leaving motivated to try out new behaviours back at work.

There’ll be a clear identification of what isn’t working in our current maintenance systems and approach and what needs to change.

Participants will have seen the dark and light side of maintenance, and understood what creates improvement and positive change.

How much does it cost?

A one day workshop costs £500 plus VAT  plus travel and accommodation costs. Contact us if you’d like to book a workshop or want further information.


About Paul Levy

Paul is a writer, thinker, facilitator, theatre-maker, and conversifier. He is the author of the book, Digital Inferno.
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