By James, Gilmartins operative

James, a Gilmartins operative, standing beside his van

I’m James, a Gilmartins operative and my main trade is glazing but I also specialise in locks and carpentry. I’ve been working with Red Kite as a Repair Operative since it was created in 2011 and even worked in Wycombe District Council before this. I’ve been doing this job for around 20 years now and can confidently say no day is ever the same!

8am – ready to start work

When I first get to work in the morning, I check my van stock to make sure I have everything I need for the day, then log onto my PDA, the device I use to see what jobs I’ve got booked in. I usually do between eight and ten jobs in one day, depending on how complex some of the issues are. I work between 8am and 5pm, so at just before 8am I head straight off to my first job.

Today my first job was to replace a lock on a garage door. The garage currently had no tenant, so I didn’t need to meet anyone at the address. I gained entry into the garage, then replaced the lock. Once this has been done, I headed over to the Red Kite office to hand in the new keys.

James, a Gilmartins operative, changing a garage lock

The next job on the list was some window repairs. The tenant knew exactly when I would arrive as she’d tracked me through Localz, so we were ready to start as soon as I got there. Localz is a great new system that Gilmartin’s has created. It allows tenants to track their operative and get in touch about their job really easily. As soon as I click ‘start’ on my PDA, a link is sent through to the tenant’s mobile. Through this, they can track my location - the same way you would track your takeaway delivery driver - or message me if needed. So, if you’ve popped out for five minutes, but notice I’m on my way, you’ll know exactly how long I’ll be and can send me a message that you’ll be back ASAP, so I know to hang tight, and this way we won’t miss each other!

At the job, I replaced one window handle as it was completely broken, and adjusted another as it was stiff. This was an easy fix as I had all of the parts in the van. After I completed the work, I updated the system. I always take pictures before, during and after, so I included these too. I took some time to show the tenant what I’d done, who was very pleased and then I called the office so they could carry out a feedback call with the tenant. All tenants get the chance to feedback, as well as ask any questions.

10am – more morning appointments to complete

My next job, at a sheltered scheme, was to repair some window handles for a tenant. I was able to do this straight away, as again, I had the parts on my van and the tenant was left happy. It’s always so great when everything can be done in one visit.

Next on my list was a loose kickboard on a kitchen cupboard. When I got to the home, the tenant said that she had planned to pop out but realised I was on my way when she got a text through Localz and was able to track where I was. I was able to refix the clips for her and explained why the kickboard can’t just be glued on – you need to be able to remove it to get under the unit.

My next job was to replace a best lock (front door lock) for a sheltered tenant. These are specialist locks designed to give sheltered tenants easy access into their communal area – the same key works for both their front door and the communal door. Before I could attend, I popped to the Red Kite office to pick up the correct best lock for this scheme. One of Red Kite’s Relationship Advisors helped me at reception, and it was already packed up and ready for me to take. This is really helpful as it means there’s no delays for the tenant. Once I had the new lock, I clicked the job on my PDA, which sends a text to the tenant’s mobile number, so they know I’m on my way. I got to the home, changed the lock, and handed the new keys to the tenant. I then always make sure to hand the old lock back to Red Kite so it can be disposed of correctly and safely.

James, a Gilmartins operative, changing a front door lock

12pm – calling a tenant

Once I got back in my van, I realised I’d finished all of my morning (8am to 1pm) jobs for the day. As it was only about 12 noon, I decided to call a couple of my afternoon (1pm to 5pm) jobs to see if they were happy for me to come early. I got through to one tenant who was happy for me to do that. This job was about 25 minutes away, so I let her know an estimated time of arrival, and I was on my way.

Once I got to the home, the tenant was ready for me to start. I explained I was there for some window repairs, and the tenant said her daughter must have reported them for her so wasn’t exactly sure how many windows needed to be looked at. I walked around the house, checked all the windows, and worked out that seven out of nine windows needed a new handle. I called the office to confirm the work I’d be doing and then got started. The tenant was lovely and was chatting away to me whilst I was working. Once I was finished, as always, I showed the tenant exactly what I’d done, and she was very pleased. We finished off with the feedback call and off I went back to the van.

James, a Gilmartins operative, changing a window handle

It was about to turn 1pm so I knew I could start my afternoon jobs soon. I took the chance to head over to a local shop and grab a drink, then started my route over to the next job.

This was my 7th job of the day so far and was a little more complex compared to the others. The tenant had issues with two windows. One was a simple adjustment as the window had dropped, but the second was an issue with the window letting in water during heavy rain. I inspected the window thoroughly and saw nothing wrong with the window itself, I then had a look outside and noticed the gutter was full of leaves and was the cause of the rain coming in. I called the office to confirm I completed one part of the job, but the second part needed a roofer to attend and clear the gutter. The tenant spoke to the scheduler, and I thanked them for their time and understanding. We’ll be back here soon to complete this job.

1.30pm – time to stop for some lunch!

As it was about 1.30pm, it was time to stop for some lunch. As soon as my lunch break was over, I headed over to Travis Perkins to put in some stock orders.

At about 3pm, it was time for my last job of the day. This job wasn’t complex but was more time consuming than others so I knew this would be the last job I did. The job was follow-on work from a previous repair that I had done myself, so I knew the tenant and understood exactly what needed to be done. I had to order in specialist gasket to fit this tenant’s windows, as hers was very old and needed renewing, which I now had on the van ready to go. The tenant was so happy when I got there and confirmed I had what was needed. Ten windows needed new gasket, so this took me around 90 minutes and took me right up to 5pm. When I was finished, I did the usual check of my work, took some pictures, and completed the tenant feedback call.

James, a Gilmartins operative, renewing window gaskets

5pm – home time!

As it was 5pm, that was me done for the day! This is reactive repairs so tomorrow will be completely different – which means I’m always on my toes and ready for whatever challenge comes along next.

James, a Gilmartins operative, packing up his van at the end of the day