Midwest Property Services is a property maintenance company based out of Addison, Illinois. The business has been around since 1998, and specializes in commercial and residential building maintenance.
With 20 employees and 13 vehicles, Midwest Property Services works on maintenance work at over 100 properties and is a popular property maintenance business in the suburbs of Chicago. We had the opportunity to talk to Matt Liberacki, Owner of Midwest Property Services.
Matt, how did you start Midwest Property Services?
During my college years, I started working for a large painting company, and as part of my job, I managed a few teams of workers that focused on painting and wood replacement jobs. Years later, I purchased a condo at a property company where I served on the board of directors. We hired a management company and when going over the books and building audits, we found out that the property needed a lot of work, and we needed to save every dollar we could. Since I had experience in property maintenance, I started Midwest Property Services, and took on the property maintenance job at a low cost to the association. We also took on the job of maintenance work on an additional 8 properties that were managed by the same property management company within the first six months of starting Midwest Property Services.
Since starting Midwest Property Services, I worked out of my house for 10 years and in 2008 purchased a building in Addison to have an office, store equipment, and park company vehicles.
What does your typical day look like?
On a regular day, I am in the office for part of the day and spend the rest of the day looking over jobs that my teams are working on at customer sites, and at new jobs that require proposals. When I am back at the office, my time is used mainly for meetings.
What challenges did you face with your mobile workforce?
With my mobile workforce, the biggest challenge we had was finding the right employees to do the job.
The other challenge we had was that customers wanted proof of our presence on their property to show that we got the job done on time— we had instances where a customer called and said because they never saw us on their property, we never completed the job. But we also had no way of proving that our vehicles had indeed been at the customer sites.
How has Automile helped you address these challenges?
In situations like I mentioned earlier, it’s great to have Automile. We let the customers know that all our vehicles are tracked, and we know the whereabouts of our vehicles at any given time. We also click pictures of the jobs- before and after the job is done. So now we have proof to show that we’re actually doing what we say we’re doing.
We’re very transparent with our mobile workforce and our employees know the vehicles have trackers. We know where our vehicles are all day, and if they’ve been at a customer site or not.
And sometimes if an employee’s time sheet goes missing, we can also pull up mileage reports through the app and match up trip data for that vehicle to recreate the time sheet.
How do you justify your investment in a telematics solution?
When my employees are out on jobs all day, when they take an hour for lunch or a break, we can now monitor that through Automile, and don’t bill the customer for it. That right there is money saved.
The Automile app is also very detailed in the way the information is made available, and we like the layout of the app. We mainly want to keep track of mileage, fuel usage, and live tracking on the map. We can also export reports with all the information.
I intend to have a separate big screen in the office to be able to monitor all the vehicles. Especially if we get a last-minute call from a customer, it will be helpful to see who is closest to the location and schedule them for the job.
What other technology solutions do you use?
- GoogleMaps- To get directions and route the vehicles to the customer site.
- QuickBooks- For in-house accounting.
- Wintac Work Order Management- For scheduling and managing the jobs efficiently.
What are your marketing strategies for Midwest Property Services?
We do trade shows a few times a year, ‘Lunch & Learn’ sessions at management companies, and advertise in condo-lifestyle magazines. We also advertise through the Community Association Institute (CAI) organization. We participate regularly in community events, and at condo association events. Condo associations are our biggest revenue generator, and word of mouth marketing at these associations is important.
What advice do you have for other similar businesses?
Patience is #1. Back in the day, I had none, but over the years I’ve learned that having patience is key while dealing with employees.
The other thing I stress on is employee training to ensure the jobs get done correctly. We have safety training sessions for our employees once a year- we have a company called Vista Safety Consulting come in and train on ladder safety, electrical, roofing, or anything to do with outdoor construction. We also invest in tool-box talks every month where the employees learn how to use power tools, what’s safe and what’s not etc.
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