Sean Burke has a tough job. He’s Voids Inspector at Cheltenham Borough Homes (CBH). When a property becomes vacant, Sean and his team of specialists are the people who make sure that it’s in tip-top condition for re-letting.
Sean’s employer, CBH, is one of the UK’s top performing ALMOs, with 180 full-time staff looking after some 5,000 council-owned and leasehold properties in and around Cheltenham. When the organization rolled out Connect Enterprise in 2011, there was a chorus of approval. But Sean and his colleagues weren’t so easily won over…
“I just couldn’t see how our inspection process was going to work on a smart device,” he says, grinning ruefully. “The spec for voids inspections is a fat wad of papers that we used to carry about on a clipboard. How was a cellphone going to provide us with all our special codes? Or help us manage all the different photos we have to take for our records?”
But senior management at CBH were aware of the intense pressure under which Sean and the rest of the Voids team were operating. Turnover in the social housing sector is high — and empty properties cost money. So Sean sat down with Charlotte Biggs, CBH’s Repairs Logistics Officer and an early Telecetera convert, to work on customizing the system to his needs.
“Because Connect Enterprise is so flexible, Charlotte was able to customize it to our needs as we talked,” he recalls. “I was immediately impressed, but what really sold me was when she showed me how easy it would be to keep distinct records for every single room. With Charlotte’s system in place, it takes just a few seconds to work through each part of a property, enter the necessary maintenance codes, and upload all the photos. And, if I come across something unexpected, I’ve got a prompt sheet right at my fingertips.”
Within a few days, Sean and his team were using Connect to manage, plan and schedule their entire working process, from pre-inspection through to completion. “We’ve got the average void down from 12 days to 8.9,” Sean says. “Happy days! And we’re also picking up project work, meaning less reliance on subcontractors.”
So, what does CBH’s senior management think of the changes? Emma Wall, Building Services Manager, is full of praise. “We’d long recognized that electronic scheduling and mobile working had significant potential in our handling of the voids process,” she says. “Telecetera helped us configure Connect Enterprise to suit our business, and we’ve seen considerable improvements and efficiencies as a result. Improved scheduling and information sharing, savings in contractor travel times, reduced administrative overheads… it all adds up! We’re predicting savings of £34k per annum.”
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