11 Things Every Board Member Should Know
It’s no secret that being a board member of your condominium or homeowner association has its challenges. Some boards choose to self-manage, but this increases the workload of a board. Self-managed boards are responsible on their own for all aspects of management from accounting, to maintenance, to compliance and communication with owners, to handling emergencies 24-hours a day, every day. Hiring a professional property management company is often the best decision a board can make for themselves and their community.
It helps to know what property management companies bring to the table. Professional managers help board members set and reach objectives, maintain the common areas of the property, liaise with service and repair companies, collect assessments from residents, and are the main point of contact for residents who have questions or need repairs. To put it another way, condominium property management companies manage the community’s business. This removes a significant burden from the volunteer board who often has neither the time nor expertise to dedicate themselves, on a full-time basis, to the role.
That’s property management in the most basic terms. But what exactly should you expect from a professional property management company?
Great condominium management companies...
...Have seen it all.
Good property management companies employ experienced, professional team members. Their depth of knowledge allows them to effectively manage any situations that arise in your community. It’s not likely that there will be a challenge they haven’t encountered, or an obstacle they haven’t overcome. If they do face a new situation, they have a deep resource-base in their team of managers and leaders available to offer guidance.
...Know the local market.
Each market has a unique personality. That’s what makes it so important for a community association management company to have local knowledge. Only then will they be well versed in the latest legislation and how it affects your board and community, and also understand geographic-specific details such as how to prepare for a natural disaster.
...Build great relationships.
A property management company that has been in business for a long time will have established long-standing relationships with trusted vendors who provide quality work at the best rates. That means you get quality service in a way that’s budget-friendly, too.
...Lighten your burden.vMany board members find that peace of mind is invaluable. The support of a professional property management team whose experience and expertise relieve the pressure of being a board member is also welcome. Anyone who has served their community as a volunteer board member knows the position requires a substantial commitment. Engaging the service of a good property management company saves the board time and energy. It also allows them to concentrate on the high level priorities for which they were elected, rather than becoming mired in minutia.
There is no doubt that condominium management involves a lot of interaction with people – owners, tenants, boards, contractors and the list goes on. But this hands-on service is enhanced when the property manager is tech-savvy and has communication platforms in place to supply their customers with access to the services they need quickly and efficiently. Choose a property management company that delivers tools such as online access to community information, mass communication tools and more.
...Are always there.
It’s your property management company’s responsibility to handle emergencies no matter when they happen; in the middle of the night, on the weekend or the biggest holiday of the year – it doesn’t matter. Your condominium manager must provide 24-hour access to trained customer support teams to manage any after-hours emergency events.
...Have the support of a team.
You may be accustomed to dealing with one point-of-contact – and it’s great to have that familiarity. But that well-known face should also bring a comprehensive organizational support system to the table. This is the only way to ensure the needs of your condominium community will be looked after professionally every step of the way. The key support roles include finance, administration, insurance specialists, property maintenance technicians, engaged senior management and more.
...Stay up-to-date and well-informed.
The property management industry demands professionals that are experts in their field. This means they must have the latest information on forward-looking technologies at their fingertips. At FirstService Residential, North America’s property management leader, education is taken even further. In addition to the standard industry training, team members further develop their skills at their in-house School of Development.
...Recognize there is a hospitality side to property management.
Have you ever been to a fine hotel, restaurant or spa? How did they treat you, their guest? It’s not the everyday way to look at property management, but a customer-focused manager works toward a special relationship with their clients; one that creates a positive experience and results in a concierge-style service that residents truly appreciate.
...Always looks for ways to save you money.
Once your annual budget is set, a progressive property management company will make saving money for their corporations a priority each and every day. Look for an organization that has vendor management programs, banking and insurance clout and other methods of creating cost-efficiencies for you.
...Help the board achieve their goals.
Once the board has established their vision and set their objectives, the property manager will ensure the actions of the board are dedicated to reaching those goals. Sometimes boards lose sight of the big picture when they try to solve every problem. Volunteer board members, committed to their community, appreciate guidance from an experienced property management company to help them stay focused on the priorities and the real task at hand.
Keep these handy tips in mind when you make the important decision to select the right property management company as your partner. For more information and answers to all your questions, contact FirstService Residential today.