“My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.”
I like to play basketball at the local recreation center. I often wind up with “Jim” on my team which I’m ambivalent about (and don’t ask Jim what he thinks about having me on his team…). What I mean is that some days, having Jim on my team is a pleasure. He’s a virtual scoring machine; he just doesn’t miss any shots! I feed him the ball and just watch him go to work. We’ll call that “Good Jim”.
But then there is “Bad Jim”. I’m not sure if he has a split personality, or if he and his wife have an “on again/off again” relationship, or what, but other days he just doesn’t have it. He is disinterested, doesn’t play any defense, passes up easy shots, and turns the ball over constantly. Frankly, it’s disheartening. I feel like we are destined to lose when Bad Jim is on my team.
Do you want to know what reminds me of Jim? Home warranty companies. Some of our Charlotte property management clients utilize them to handle their repairs.
For the uninitiated, home warranty companies charge owners an annual fee (usually around $500) to handle any repairs. So when tenants have an issue, we (or the tenants) call the home warranty company, pay a service call fee (usually $50 -$100), and they will send vendors to fix any major component or appliance issue in the home (including, if necessary, the replacement of them) that are due to normal wear and tear. It doesn’t sound like a bad deal, especially for an older home.
But, like Jim, there is “Good Home Warranty Company” and “Bad Home Warranty Company”.
When Good Home Warranty Company is on, the vendor they put us in touch with gets back to us right away, schedules with the tenant, and takes care of the issue. It can be a good experience (though it makes it difficult to establish any type of service record with a particular company as their vendors change often).
But when Bad Home Warranty Company shows up, it makes it really tough on the property management company and the tenants. We recently had a refrigerator that took around 35 days to get fixed from the initial call(!) and an air conditioning issue that took a week to resolve (a long time to put up with excessive heat in the South during the summer!). The problem is that the home warranty companies have a vendor list and they send you one that you have to work with (and some are not so reputable). Sometimes these vendors call you back right away and other times they wait for days. As a property manager, it’s tough to push vendors you don’t know and have no prior relationship with.
Fortunately, 95%+ of our clients do not use home warranties. It allows us to use our own vendors who we have worked with for years; we use them because all of them care whether our tenants have to spend the night without air conditioning or don’t have a working stove to cook with. I think it’s important to have strong teammates who you know consistently have your customers’ best interests at heart.
Jim is a nice guy, but just not someone I like to have on my basketball squad because he’s too erratic; I never know if Good Jim or Bad Jim is going to show up at the gym. I feel the same about using a home warranty company. Not knowing whether Good Home Warranty Company or Bad Home Warranty Company is taking the call makes either of them difficult to rely on.