How to mess up property maintenance in sports facilities – three crucial mistakes

Forgetting to listen to clients is an effective way to ruin the customer experience.

I witnessed this firsthand on my recent trip to a spa. I noticed that the toilet in the changing room was leaking and informed the receptionist. The next morning when I went back to the spa, I noticed that the problem hadn’t been fixed. I informed the receptionist again, but the member of staff on duty had not even heard about the leaking toilet in the first place.

As an active sportsman and Property Management Expert, this chain of events made me think. Is the importance of smooth maintenance in sports facilities fully understood?

I decided to compile a list of three general and crucial mistakes related to the maintenance of sports properties and ways to avoid them.

1. A blocked toilet in a changing room, a leaking shower or broken field lighting. Nobody knows if maintenance services have even been requested.

It is likely that anyone doing sports has encountered such a situation at one time or another. The way maintenance situations are handled is a key element of the customer experience.

Customer satisfaction is the most important competitive asset for sports property operators, and so problems should not continue from one day to the next. At the very least, customers should be informed of when the problem will be taken care of.

It is good to keep in mind that, according to research, customers tell an average of seven to ten people about a bad experience. By contrast, good experiences are shared with only one or two people.

The way maintenance situations are handled is a key element of the customer experience.

2. The operation and maintenance manual for sports properties is available in Sam’s Service Company’s system or provided by Ellie the Executive Director or Pete the Property Manager.

If Sam wants to put his Service Company out to tender or Ellie the Executive Director or Pete the Property Manager fall ill, nobody else in the company will know what and how the property has been maintained and repaired in the past. The situation may get complicated.

Sports facilities are usually complex and each property is unique. Having access to detailed information is therefore key. Property owners must always have access to the property’s history, equipment and repair information, as well as necessary documentation.

3. In many countries, there are grants available for the renovation of sports properties. There is usually a requirement to include a statement with all the maintenance activities that have been performed on the property, recorded from memory by Ellie the Executive Manager and Pete the Property Manager or an employee of Sam’s Service Company.

In order to apply for a grant for a building project, sports properties must submit sufficient documentation demonstrating that the property has undergone regular maintenance and the implemented maintenance and refurbishment measures.

In Finland, EUR 380 million is spent annually on the renovation of sports facilities, which partly corresponds to old building stock and partly to inadequate maintenance. Competition for grants is fierce. It is hard for a sports property to receive a grant if there is no comprehensive historical data on its facilities and it has not been well maintained.

Nobody knows what and how the property has been serviced and repaired in the past.

In sports properties, small investments can lead to big money.

The solution to avoid all of the above problems is to apply a systematic approach to the maintenance of sports facilities. In order to do so, the perfect solution is to monitor the life-cycle of sports properties and deploy software designed specifically for monitoring property maintenance, such as Granlund Manager. With good software, you can ensure that the property history, equipment and repair information and documentation are always up to date and available to the property owner.

Verneri Tuomi works as a Property Management Expert at Granlund.

Goldstein, S.D. 2009. Superior Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty: Engaging Customers to Drive Performance. Wisconsin, US, ASQ Quality Press. p. 124. ISBN: 978-0-87389-775-4
Tuomi, V. Suunnitelmallisen ylläpitostrategian vaikutus liikuntakiinteistöpalveluiden tavoitteisiin ja toiminnan menestystekijöihin. 2020