• Karen Sloan, Managing Director – Gas Maintenance, reveals why it’s never too early to get prepped for the winter freeze

With people around the country making plans for the long, hot summer, we’re already thinking about what the winter months might bring.

At Liberty, we believe summer is the perfect time to think ahead and start planning how we can take away headaches and prevent issues for clients and customers during the busy winter freeze that follows.

It’s also a time when we can make sure we’re future ready by bringing new skills to the team through the Liberate Academy, our in-house training centre.

Launched last year, the Liberate Academy ensures employees are always thinking ahead and are at the forefront of the latest and greatest developments in our sector. Liberate uses a data lead approach to designing training, with feedback from individual and group performance, audit results and management feedback used to set a curriculum and roll out training targeted to the needs of the business. Cyclical training such as ACS assessment and e-learning are also prioritised during summer.

Our approach to planning for winter is smart yet straightforward.

We have a clear and workable plan which gives clients viability and assurance about how we maintain service during periods of challenging weather. We operate on three service levels; green, amber and red, depending on how bad the weather is and we keep clients informed of the status so they know exactly what to expect from us and how we will respond as the weather gets worse.

This system has proved incredibly successful, helping clients to keep their customers safe and warm. Hamish Larid, Servicing Manager at Wrexham County Borough Council told us “Bad weather in February and March is always a challenge for us, but Liberty were prepared and deployed 4x4 vehicles to get engineers through snow to some of our remote customers. The weather warnings worked really well to support planning, and whilst repairs increased by 200 on the previous month, KPIs and servicing figures were maintained.”

Liberty’s planning is intelligence driven. During summer we assess properties with a history of weather related issues to target proactive works, mitigating the risk of issues during the peak winter season. A good example of this would be frozen condensate pipes. Where possible we can make alterations such as changing pipe runs or increasing insulation around the pipe, to reduce the likelihood of the issue happening again. By taking this forward thinking approach we can help prevent unnecessary boiler breakdowns, keeping customers warm and allowing us to make best use of engineer time in winter.

We are passionate and committed to providing the very best customer care no matter the weather. That is why our partnerships with clients are incredibly important to us.

Typically, demand for all property services increases during winter and we work with clients during the warmer months to agree processes to priorities work during winter in a way that meets their objectives, ensuring the most vulnerable are supported.

We provide winter weather packs for vulnerable customers and, whenever needed, supply temporary heaters to keep customers warm while work is carried out.

Customer service is vital in this industry, and we know it’s frustrating for customers to sit on the phone during busy times trying to get through, so we provide a call-back service and utilise other communication tools like web-chat to ensure customers can contact us in a way and at a time that suits them.

When we are called out, we keep our clients regularly updated on potential issues such as the weather so they we are doing our very best to minimise delays.

This means we can deliver the highest standard of service to our clients across all areas of our work – come rain or shine, sleet or snow.

Ultimately, focusing on the people we serve and thinking ahead for our clients and their tenants delivers better outcomes – whatever the weather.

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