Why it's never too early to prepare for the winter freeze

With the clocks changing and the winter weather settling in, many people are starting to plan for the colder months and keeping themselves, and their homes, warm. Karen Sloan, Liberty’s Managing Director – Gas Maintenance, reveals why for the property services sector, it’s never too early to prepare for the winter freeze.
Winter is the busiest time of the year for the property services industry.
But as the cold weather sets in, it is a good opportunity to reflect on the months of planning and preparation our teams put in place to make sure we are ready to provide people focused services that are smart and straightforward.
During the summer months, when many of us were enjoying the sunshine Liberty was well underway with its winter planning programme – training staff, mapping workflows with clients and carrying out work that will prevent problems before they happen.
We’ve learned though years of experience that taking time to prepare when the weather is warm is the smartest way to ensure clients and customers receive the best possible service during the busy winter freeze.
Managing our time
Typically, demand for all property services is lower during the summer. Liberty receive an average of 40% reduction in repairs per day during summer compared to the winter period. During April 2019 – September 2019, this equated to 45,000 fewer repairs, freeing up capacity in teams across the business.
This gives us the time to plan ahead, agreeing processes for prioritising work during winter and ensuring that clients have everything they need to support their tenants at a time when many vulnerable people need their help the most.
We also use the summer months to assess properties with a history of weather-related issues and carry out proactive work to reduce the risk of issues during the peak winter season. This can include re-routing or insulating condensate pipes to protect them form freezing, to completing more annual gas services to make sure customers’ boilers are in the best shape ready for when they’re needed most.
With this forward-thinking approach, we can help prevent unnecessary problems so that customers stay warm and our engineers can priorities workload and focus more time on breakdowns and emergency calls.
Training and upskilling
Summer is also crucial for training and upskilling teams to make sure we’re ready for a cold snap. We do this through the Liberate Academy, our in-house training centre, with over 110 Liberty staff completing training with them in the summer of 2019. It’s the perfect time to undertake cyclical training such as ACS assessment and e-learning, whilst the service demand is lower.
The Liberate Academy ensures our team is always thinking ahead and is at the forefront of the latest developments in our sector.
It ensures that operatives understand the latest legislation, are meeting legal requirements, and are confident in their skills and abilities. This training is continuing to drive standards up, keeping people safe not just during winter, but throughout the year.
By focussing on people, we’re delivering the best possible outcomes for customers and clients.
As well as ensuring we’re ready for winter, the academy provides training which helps to improve the skills base of gas engineers across the country, including apprenticeships for those entering the profession and essential qualifications for more experienced operatives.
Addressing the gender imbalance
We’re committed to increasing diversity in the property services industry. And we’ve also been using the warmer months to increase the work we do to promote balance in the industry.
It’s widely acknowledged that this sector faces challenges in attracting female staff and, like many other organisations in this field of work, we have a much greater number of males than females across our business. Redressing this balance is key to the sector’s sustainability and ensuring we are fit for the future.
We have been doing this in a wide range of ways, including focussing on inclusive and diverse recruitment campaigns which help us recruit from the widest possible talent pool.
Some of the initiatives we have in place include flexible working practices and a robust support system, a Learning and Development team committed to supporting the development of all staff, and developing initiatives which seek to increase the number of women in the industry at all levels.
By working in these ways and planning ahead we’re well prepared to assist clients in providing the most efficient service to their customers, keeping their homes warm no matter the weather this winter brings.

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