Livin: repairs, voids and capital investment works

At Mears we deliver repairs and maintenance, void properties and capital investment works. We provide innovative housing solutions to the clients and communities we work with.

Contract synopsis

Since 2008 Mears has been the strategic partner for the housing association, Livin, working under an integrated delivery model as the ‘Livin Works’ team. All contract management functions are co-located in the client’s head office.

As principal contractor our direct delivery team deliver works to 8,500 housing and non-housing properties across County Durham. In 2016 we retained the contract for a further 7 years, with a possible 3-year extension to 2026.

What did we do?

We work in partnership with Livin to provide a mix of repairs, voids, planned and capital investment works. Since the contract re-tender we have delivered a number of activities to streamline our operations and drive efficiencies across the contract. This includes a full review of the IT infrastructure on the contract.

IT Infrastructure

A full interface has been implemented between Livin’s IT system, Orchard Housing, and our contract management system, MCM. We also implemented sector leading cost capture, analysis and management via MCM to review costs by repair, installation, visit and material. MCM also supports spend reviews, value for money exercises and open book cost reviews.

Other IT improvements include:

  • Smartphones used to record work activities across the contract.
  • Digital self-service: Customers can self-appoint a gas service or non-emergency repair appointment online, via the Livin ‘app’ on their PC or smartphone.

Smartphone job control systems include:

  • Repair information is encrypted and available on operative’s smartphones prior to arrival so they understand the repair issues and any relevant data on customer welfare, such as agreed passwords, hard of hearing and vulnerability issues.
  • Tenants receive repair appointment information 24 hours prior to arrival and when the operative is on-route and can text back if no-one is available to provide access.

Productivity increased by 1 job per day using smartphone-based job control tools; jobs are allocated to the most appropriate operative and when supplies are used, the supply store is automatically informed, with replenishment boxes made up before returning.

Contract Innovation

We produced DIY videos accessible to customers via the client’s website and YouTube. These have enabled residents to undertake basic repairs themselves. Our Repair and Maintenance Plan also delivered a step-change in customer-focused service.

Key features include:

  • Reducing emergency repair backlogs: We simplified repair categories to just 2 (emergency & routine) to reduce emergency repair volumes, increasing the availability of non-emergency appointment time slots by 300% delivering excellent performance.
  • Increasing direct delivery to 97%+ of emergency repairs, improving performance and quality
    of work.
  • We developed a ‘soft fix’ process to reduce call outs, through self-diagnosis, helping customers fix minor issues during the call.

What were the outcomes?

  • We simplified our repair priorities from 4 to 2, increasing non-emergency appointments by 300% which improved completion times.
  • Co-located our repair planners at Livin’s in-hours call centre, improving diagnosis and right first time (RFT) along with
    simplified priorities.
  • Mears 24/7 Customer Service Centre was appointed for out-of-hours call handling, replacing a poor performing outsourced call centre. This resulted in ‘Right First Time’ rising from 57% to 87%, satisfaction quickly increased to 95% (saving approx. £50,000 annually).
  • To increase access rates for gas servicing, we implemented a monthly £100 gas prize draw for tenants providing first time access.
  • Improved communications: ‘Text Ahead’ messaging confirming operative’s arrival. Tenants left with follow-up appointment details.
  • Repeat no access offenders were monitored and managed by working with Livin’s Support and Intervention team which led to a reduction in ‘no access’ rates by 1,200 per year once implemented.
  • We introduced our ‘no access’ key sticker initiative which contributed to a reduction in no access numbers. Our engineer places the sticker over the keyhole and takes a photograph of this also to evidence his attendance and allow accurate productivity data to be presented to the client.
  • Our first-time access rates are now considered to be very high– consistently over 90%.
  • We also use feedback to innovate and improve value for money via customer satisfaction surveys, internal staff meetings, and with subcontractors at monthly performance meetings.

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