Mark Foster, Director of Repairs at Great Places Housing Group / January 8, 2018

Innovative repairs is key to boosting customer satisfaction

Survey after survey tells us having an excellent repairs service is the key to customer satisfaction. That’s why we realised we had to innovate if we were to match the expectations of our customers while at the same time deal with the fall out of the rent cut in 2015.

With 19,000 homes spread across nearly 40 council areas we recognised that the key elements of delivering a high performing repairs service closely mirrored those that exist within the logistics and retail sectors, particularly digital retailers.

So we worked with the experts in these areas and software developers to create a new repairs model based around delivering a great customer experience, value for money, while at the same time ensuring real social value investment.

This involved speaking with customers to find out exactly what they wanted from the service, not what we thought they wanted! Then we looked at how to deliver this in a cost-effective way.

It saw us develop our own materials distribution centre, the first of its kind in the north, which opened two years ago. It is designed to make sure our repairs team have the right materials in their vans to complete jobs at the first time of asking. To do this, we used an award-winning digital application that constantly monitors stock levels of individual repairs operatives and the distribution centre. Replacement materials are delivered directly to the operative during the working day by a dedicated logistics fleet who at the same time collect any material waste.

But having the right tools was just one part of the plan. The repairs team needed to have the right skills to complete work on their first visit rather than requiring other trades to complete the job. So we invested in an extensive multi-skilling training programme. The result? Improvements in all key areas including first time fix rates and end to end times.

Finally, we make a profit for a purpose and it was important that we didn’t forget this. We wanted to give smaller businesses the same chance to bid for work as larger companies. Our procurement team has created a model which clearly defines the social value and local economic impact of each potential supplier along with price, service and quality.

The results speak for themselves:

  • annual savings of £150,000
  • a 25% increase in operative productivity
  • 160,000 reduction in miles travelled
  • 8% reduction in waste disposal costs
  • record levels of customer satisfaction, currently at 93%.

As a sector it is important we continue to look at ways to do business more effectively while taking into account customer needs. We believe our approach to repairs is a great example of this and we’re happy to talk to other housing associations about what we have done.


By Mark Foster, Director of Repairs at Great Places Housing Group.

Housing associations have always turned society’s challenges into opportunities to improve people’s lives. Creating our Future taps into the energy and enthusiasm of the entire sector to better understand the trends shaping the future and co-create groundbreaking ideas in response. You can see more examples here.

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