Property Care team expands after saving £3.5m

Midland Heart is embarking on its second expansion of its Property Care team after saving c.£3.5 million over four years.

The in-house Property Care maintenance  team was initially launched  in 2013 servicing 3,400 homes in central Birmingham.

After achieving a surplus of £200,000 in the first year, the service was first expanded in 2014 to undertake repairs and voids to 11,600 homes across the city.

Just three years on, the Property Care team has not only delivered savings of around £3.5m, but also increased productivity by 37 per cent, reduced overheads by 20 per cent and introduced a workforce skills gap assessment to ensure all its operatives are multi-skilled and trained to at least Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Building Maintenance.

Property Care’s second expansion will see another increase in its property portfolio to 17,000 across Birmingham, Walsall and Stoke-on-Trent.

Increasing Property Care’s share of Midland Heart’s general needs stock to 47 per cent, the expansion will have a positive impact both operationally and culturally on the business as Greg Lakin, director of Property Care at Midland Heart, explains: “The expanded region will run from Stoke-on-Trent and Cannock Chase through to Dudley, which is a large geographical area to cover.

“To support this expansion we will be co-locating with Travis Perkins, our primary material supplier, by opening two satellite offices in Walsall and Stoke and changing the way we work to implement a more efficient material supply chain. 

“All operatives will also be provided with iPads which directly link via a live interface to our suppliers so they know what stock is needed and when,” says Greg.

Although the majority of the work is carried out by Midland Heart’s own workforce, the organisation still utilises the services of external contractors, particularly where specialist skills are required.

“Midland Heart operates a mixed economy, which means we partner with sub-contractors who have the skills we don’t currently have within the team,” says Greg.

“This ‘one team approach’ ensures all sub-contractors have access to all the information our operatives do.  Each will be provided with an iPad so they can tap into the infrastructure, which improves productivity and down time.

“However, the success of the Property Care team is not just about streamlining operational systems, but also a shift in culture,” says Greg.

“We have a ‘grow your own’ mentality, investing in training and nurturing talent.  Ten per cent of our management team have been promoted from within and ninety-eight per cent are multi trade operatives that have achieved an NVQ Level 2.

“By investing in our operatives we have seen a reduction in absence, increased engagement and job satisfaction, which leads to improved customer satisfaction.” 

The creation of the Property Care team initially started out as commercial pilot to see whether any savings could be made by taking maintenance services in-house.

Its success has led to two further expansions and the future is looking bright, as Carl Larter, executive director of assets at Midland Heart, says: “Housing organisations, like many others in the public sector, are working to respond to the challenges presented by the changing external environment, and that means finding new and innovative ways to deliver the very best service to our customers.

“The Property Care pilot was initially developed to see whether we could save one per cent on our existing maintenance costs, but the real results have been outstanding.

“Whilst we still work with contractors and sub-contractors who provide a great service, the Property Care team enables Midland Heart greater control of the services we provide and the costs incurred.”

After expansion Midland Heart’s Property Care team will employ a workforce of 118 multi-skilled operatives and staff, including nine apprentices.

5th April 2017 | 2017