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What it takes to become a trusted Lift Consultant

We take great pride in the strength of our client relationships and are incredibly proud of what we have built with Southern Housing as their Lift Consultants. Since 2017, we’ve been on hand to ensure operational compliance for their 500+ assets and helped them navigate through challenging periods such as Covid-19.  

Currently delivering a three-year contract, Associate, John O'Keefe, gives an insight into our relationship with Southern Housing and shares why he believes our relationship is successful and how we’re helping them respond to evolving legislative pressures surrounding the Building Safety Act.

26 July 2023 | 5 min read
John O'Keefe

UK

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How long have RPS and Southern Housing worked together?

In 2017, RPS secured a three + two year (five-year) contract by competitive tender in an earlier incarnation of Southern, Amicus Horizon Housing Association which merged with Viridian Housing Association to form Optivo.

In February 2022, we were successfully re-appointed for a further three-year contract with the option to extend for a further two years.

In late 2022, Southern Housing Group and Optivo merged to become Southern Housing.

What makes our relationship so strong?

The Southern Housing management team embraces long-term planning, which helps identify issues that may become problematic in the future. This allows the development of action plans to prevent the loss of assets and delivers reliability and availability for their clients and tenant base.

We value regular and consistent communication along with stakeholder engagement to maintain operational effectiveness across their diverse portfolio. We have an RPS Account Manager based at Southern Housing’s head office for 2/3 days per week who attends regular meetings with contractor representatives. As well as providing professional and technical support to their internal stakeholders across their portfolio, which includes inner-city social housing, commercial property, assisted living, and high-dependency care homes.

We take a holistic and proactive approach to asset management for the existing and new built environment. Our team provides qualitative and quantitative measures for delivering feedback on key tasks while supporting the monitoring and reporting of performance. Performance management is at the core of our service delivery, and it’s measured against contract key performance indicators (KPIs) and industry standard KPIs. We engage in transparent information sharing and communications to ensure Southern Housing are informed of portfolio performance.

How do you manage Southern Housing’s diverse portfolio?

We maintain focus on emerging issues of the supply chain base and provide guidance to ensure we maintain the availability of assets without protracted delays.

We always communicate openly and directly which allows us to manage expectations, improve satisfaction levels, and deliver a seamless vertical transportation support experience.

What challenges has the industry and Southern Housing faced over the last five years?

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we helped maintain lift availability across Southern Housing's diverse portfolio. Keeping everyone safe and ensuring compliance with evolving local restrictions whilst maintaining complex and varying equipment dispersed across different locations was especially challenging.  

The introduction of the Building Safety Act (BSA) following the Grenfell tragedy presents challenges but also opportunities for our client to take asset management to the next level. RPS is at the forefront of BSA compliance and our teams are on hand to support Southern Housing’s team in delivering a customer-focused approach to asset management.

We place social value at the centre of our service which aligns with Southern Housing who are committed to meeting the needs of their customers and the local communities. We prioritise improving the local environment and enhancing accessibility.

Managing environmental risks and accounting for sustainability is fundamental to our and Southern Housing’s services as we support them on their journey to Net Zero Carbon. This involves committing to reducing Southern Housing’s carbon footprint by prioritising energy efficiency. We utilise numerous initiatives including LED lighting, inverter drives and the Internet of Things (IOT) to support smart maintenance and the long-term sustainability of lift installations.

From your experience, what skills and qualities are essential to build relationships?

Maintaining our engineering integrity is key. And this applies across all of the assets owned and operated by our clients. Our consulting and supporting team utilise diverse skills and expertise when required, which has proven to be a key differentiator for RPS.

We value taking a collaborative, consultative process with all of our client's critical operational elements. We prioritise flexibility and provide the deployment of our LOLER team when required, particularly during the pandemic when other organisations weren’t available to provide lifting assets support to tenants and customers.

What our clients have to say

Martin Craven, Director of Asset Compliance at Southern Housing, said:

“We've worked with RPS for over five years now. They have been fundamental in helping us to deliver our lift modernisation regime. They have also played a key role in supporting the management of our lift servicing and maintenance contracts.

The team at RPS are knowledgeable, professional, and hard working. It has been a pleasure to work in partnership with them. My experience of RPS has been extremely positive.”

 

Graphic showing RPS' four stages to BSA compliance: gap analysis, closing the gap, developing the safety case, and safety management and remediation