Letter from the Executive Director for May 2017: It’s Okay to Ask

In April we made excellent headway against our backlog of event planning, newsletter work, financial controls, and customer service. This month I’d like to explain where we are on this upward trajectory and also ask a favor.

MassLandlords has grown out of a collection of all-volunteer clubs and associations. We launched in February 2014 with a simple mission: to create better rental housing in Massachusetts. We help owners rent their property and we advocate for better laws. At least, that’s the long-term mission. Short-term, we need to run essential operations with paid staff. The all-volunteer organizations of the past suffered burn-out and other setbacks. With staff, we can serve our members indefinitely.

Three years after launch, we now have approximately four full time equivalent. “Equivalent” means we have more than four staff, many of whom work part-time. Bookkeeping, marketing, programming, design, and parts of service and admin are running smoothly.

Nonetheless, a very significant amount of work is still being done by volunteers, or by staff who are pitching in outside their job descriptions. And much to my regret, certain essential functions still remain undeveloped and understaffed.

Customer service and technical support is the one of the biggest “understaffed” functions. When we first launched, I handled all tech support and service, and all interactions were utterly cordial because I personally knew everyone who was asking for help. Now that we are over 1,400 paid members, and 2,400 newsletter subscribers, growing quickly each month, it is not possible for staff to have personal relationships with each member. As a result, some of our landlording family have been afraid to report issues or to make calls until they have boiled over in frustration. Please, don’t let that be you.

Every member and subscriber is entirely welcome to call or email us for help the moment you start experiencing an issue with our site or services. These things have bugs, sometimes bad bugs, and we are squashing them only as time and resources permit. But if you talk to us, we can make anything right.

For members in particular: if you can log into the site, view the member home page and contact one or the team listed there. They can probably help you faster than I can. (Over the last six months, the volume of actionable requests I receive has left me backlogged 10 to 20 days; that is not the case for other staff). If you can’t log in, visit the /contact page and get in touch with someone listed there, either me, Alexis, or Sue, by phone. We are friendly and helpful and I guarantee you will be better off after. Long-term, we will provide better processes, hire dedicated support staff, and resolve every issue on the first call or email.

Short-term, help us help you by asking for help sooner, before it becomes an emergency. And remember that if you want landlord-tenant advice, our message boards and our events are two great resources for you. I look forward to hearing from you online or at an event soon!

Doug Quattrochi

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