Wow that's a huge conservatory - I never like to work on instruments housed in conservatories, temperatures vary so wildly and stability is impossible
.....and that's the impression I like to sustain....it comes from the smaller establishments who bring in some tuner periodically, often when it's too late.
in fact it's possibly the easiest job I've ever done. We have an economy of scale. I'm a morning person so I wander in early in the mornings when theres just me, the cleaners and security. A bit of banter, a bit of work and a bit of coffee and I'm finished by 9 and free to help with the concert work in London which is even easier. I stopped doing home tunings recently so I have no scheduling and I have an understanding that each sheet of paperwork represents a piano that doesn't get serviced so.... No paperwork. I finally have everything just the way I like it.
I will go on in case there's any other ideas someone can use.
I have an assistant look after the uprights. Our first study pianists have good grands to practice on so we have never had a broken string on an upright in the 10 years I have been there. Some of the pianos need little attention, a few can vary in pitch more than others. About 2-3 times a year I pull an all nighter when everything goes out at once. Pitch stays between 440 and 441. Some get as high as 443 but we are training international musicians so 443 is not too high these days. Never below 440 so I occasionally pull up a middle, the extremes tend to stay put except replacement strings, which only occur in the middle of the top two. Much of the time, the tuning is a free ride if I stay on top of it, just tours of inspection making adjustments when needed.
My employers have the wisdom to give me control over my own situation, for example, When I first came here, some pianos did occasionally bake all night so I advised hiring a heating engineer to put the heaters on a timer... Simple. Makes the job 10 times easier. Who's going to listen to a tooner who only comes in occasionally. It's more of a consultant position.
We're not that big, Johnkie, Some Conservatories in London have 150 pianos. I was offered the job at one that size some years ago but the working conditions were not conducive. We are the smallest of the big four in London and the most like family. All the conservatory techs get together occasionally, you must come down and join us. I find myself up your way quite often.
The building is 350 years old with some 2 foot thick walls next to a huge park ... That helps. it's near the river but rust is not a problem. my office overlooks an old tall ship and the river but I rarely use it.
When I first came here, my assistant came in 3-4 month intervals. That system simply can't work so I changed it to weekly. I did the same thing in the 'States, changed a system of quarterly visits to weekly inspections and only doing work as and when needed. Much easier that way and the pianos spend more time in tune for the same financial outlay. Most institutes don't get this rather obvious point.
It takes a good relationship with upper management to make effective changes, much of it done over lunch. It also helps that I have been a successful professional musician and that I did some tuning here in the '60s and I remember some of the legendaries. I still don't think I ever did a days work in my life.
But this is about broken strings.
Much as I deplore signs, I did put up a sign in one problem room to the effect that broken strings were unnecessary and that they were damaging the pianos for their colleagues. I Put it up high ( some of the rooms have 12 and 20 foot ceilings). One student stood on a chair and pencilled in the names of several known string breakers so the students are supporting my crusade.
the designated Jazz dept. pianos have not had broken strings for a few years now, even the 20 year old grands in the big band rooms and they can be heard clearly in the texture of the band, a credit to the teaching I thInk.