The last 18 months has seen significant changes for the property services sector as it continues to adapt, Karen Sloan, Managing Director of Heating and Compliance, shares how smart thinking and partnership working ensured gas safety was not compromised for Liberty’s clients and their tenants.
I can’t stress enough the importance of maintaining gas safety in the home. This week it’s the 11th year of Gas Safety Week and businesses from across the UK are working together to raise awareness of the dangers of poorly maintained gas appliances, which can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Carbon monoxide is colourless, tasteless and odourless, it causes 60 deaths and poisons up to 4,000 people each year so it’s vital that people are aware of how deadly it can be and that there are ways to help keep their families, neighbours and wider community safe.
To reduce the chances of a gas leak, gas appliances need to be installed and safety checked once a year by a Gas Safe registered engineer. As the go-to people for property services, our team of expert engineers deliver the highest quality of service and ensure gas appliances are correctly installed and routinely serviced. Our in-house training and apprenticeships centre, Liberate Academy provides essential accredited courses to ensure our gas engineers have the necessary professional qualifications and accountability to keep homes safe.
So when the COVID-19 pandemic broke, and the unprecedented circumstances threatened to interrupt our normal way of working and impact upon gas safety in people’s homes, the whole Liberty team adapted at speed to meet the changing needs of clients and customers. We’re well versed in thinking ahead, working smart and being people focused but we had to do it more quickly than ever before.
There was initially an impact on gas servicing compliance and performance rates fell as a result of reduced availability of parts, sickness absence reducing staff availability, and customers becoming more cautious, or not able to allow engineers to enter their home to complete essential repairs. We found ways to overcome the issues and maintain our rigorous standards, because our priorities didn’t change, the safety of people, our staff and those they come in to contact with, maintaining a great service to clients and keeping their tenants safe.
Collaboration is key to innovation and implementing change, and this was no different. Working in true partnership with our clients and adapting our working processes has proved to be the best way to not only keep people and their homes safe, with enhanced risk assessments and appropriate PPE, but also to improve performance to record breaking levels.
Liberty achieved a first-time-fix rate for Crawley Homes of 88.82%, up by 16.40% compared with January 2020. Practices were revised and we implemented measures such as working with parts suppliers and delivery drivers to have parts picked up and delivered to engineers in customers’ homes, meant engineers had what they needed to complete more jobs on their first visit.
We maintained effective communication with clients and customers, adjusted our customer contact points and changed the way we communicated regarding essential works to make sure gas safety was maintained. Customer focused social media was also used to raise awareness of, and provide confidence in, the safety measures Liberty follow to keep everyone safe.
The changes we implemented led to tangible improvements with more first-time fixes, higher compliance and better access rates for clients across the country, and our LGSR compliance rates outperforming the industry average, as verified by HouseMark. Additionally, the feedback we received from customers also improved, with our Trust Score on Trustpilot increasing from to 4.1.
At Liberty, we are proud of our smart and straightforward approach, we know that our ability to move quickly and understand what was needed to deliver a more streamlined service, whilst focusing on safety, made all the difference to gas safety compliance for our clients’ and peace of mind for their tenants.
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