As we turn the spotlight onto our members, we spoke to John Bowker, Director of Property and Maintenance Services at Stockport Homes to discuss sector challenges and why he joined the Strategic Repairs and Maintenance Forum.
What was the main driver for you joining the Strategic R&M Forum?
The forum offered a great opportunity to network with other executive directors in the sector, who wanted to genuinely share best practice and learn from each others challenges. I would encourage anyone looking to join, to come along and get involved. You’ll soon get a sense of whether the group is of benefit at your first meeting. There are many groups that I have attended in the past with varying degrees of success. This one feels very different and more positive. The team at Vantage really help to drive the group forward.
What has been your biggest learning or light bulb moment since joining the Forum?
The possibilities associated with Robotic Processing Automation and Artificial Intelligence have been a real eye opener. There is a huge opportunity for housing providers to streamline processes whilst creating a happier workforce, improving the customer journey and introducing a new approach to efficiencies in everyday tasks. At Stockport Homes we are exploring how to apply RPA as part of our organisation wide Digital Transformation Project.
What do you think are the key challenges for the sector?
Primarily we have to meet the housing demand as a sector, whilst ensuring that we continue to provide a quality service to our customers. Working collaboratively will other partners and stakeholders will enable us to make progress towards this. It’s also really important to me that we aim to become carbon neutral, reducing our footprint and impact on the environment. We have made some great progress on energy efficiency at Stockport Homes, using biomass, installing solar panels on 2,000 properties, fitting air and ground source heat pumps and offering energy efficiency advice to tenants. Whilst close to 40% of our stock is now fitted with renewable technology, there is still much more to do and I truly believe that as a sector we should be leading the way on this agenda.
John Bowker, Stockport Homes