Is Your Association Manager Equipped for Success? 3 Questions to Ask
Your community association manager can be a valuable ally in keeping your community or high-rise running effectively. But do they have the right tools, resources and support to provide exceptional service and take your association to the next level?
Find out if they are qualified to give you exceptional service by asking these 3 questions.
1. Does your association manager have the support they need?
Even the best community association managers can’t do everything! In fact, there is inherent risk in relying solely on the manager. What happens when your manager leaves due to a promotion or career change? The right support is critical for a manager to succeed in delivering the exceptional service your board and residents expect and deserve but is also important in continuity if there are changes in who manages your association. According to Heather Peters, business development director at FirstService Residential, “Good managers are only as capable as the support they have.”
What kind of support should your HOA manager be getting from their management company?
- Assistance from accounting, purchasing, vendor relations and financial services specialists
- Guidance and involvement from HR professionals for all personnel matters to ensure that you get the right level of on-site staffing
- Ongoing training to develop and improve management skills, keep up with industry standards and be informed about regulatory changes
- A 24/7 customer care center that can quickly provide them and your community with needed information allowing the manager to focus on supporting the association and board
- Administrative support
- Technology and communication tools
In addition, an experienced regional director with a pulse on the community provides important support. “The most capable managers leverage their regional directors,” said Anthony Gragnano, regional director at FirstService Residential. “When a board member calls, I already know what’s going on in their community. Having that structure in place also helps maintain institutional knowledge and consistency in management if the manager leaves for any reason. The regional director should know the building or community well enough to help replace a beloved manager with the right person.”
2. Is your association manager the right fit for your community or building?
Does your management company work with you to ensure that your manager and team is the right fit for your community? Not everyone is a good candidate for a community manager, and not everyone is a good fit for your community. The best management companies will take both aspects into account when training or recruiting your manager.
What should you be looking for? In addition to the technical expertise and skills that your community manager needs, they should also have soft skills, such as compassion and emotional intelligence.
Caring can’t be taught. People who are naturally caring go above and beyond for the people around them and in the work they do. Caring managers take ownership of the communities and buildings they work in, doing their best to serve the board and residents.
Great managers also have a high emotional intelligence quotient (EQ), meaning they have an ability to read and assist people – including members of your association. Their empathy enables them to put themselves in others’ shoes and understand their perspective. Community managers who have high EQ are also forward-thinking, adaptive, resourceful, hospitality-minded, flexible, self-motivated and able to communicate clearly. As a result, they are trusted advisors to your board.
Emotional intelligence should extend to the regional director as well, since they can help match up the right manager to each community or building. This requires understanding the personality of the property and choosing a manager whose personality meshes with it. Even the most stellar manager won’t succeed if they aren’t the right fit.
3. Does your association manager have a clear role and responsibilities?
One of the biggest hindrances to a manager’s ability to be successful in their role is a lack of clarity concerning their role and responsibilities. Managers who are not supported by a local team or 24/7 customer service center may be inundated with day-to-day tasks instead of partnering with the board on policies and strategic planning.
Additionally, residents’ awareness and understanding of the role of an association manager can affect how they perceive their manager. An exceptional manager won’t be seen as capable if residents have expectations that are outside a manager’s responsibility.
The board is responsible for creating policies based on their vision for the community, while the management team executes those policies. However, many residents mistakenly believe that the manager sets policy for the community. Therefore, when they are unhappy with a policy or rule, they respond by voicing dissatisfaction with the manager.
Similarly, some residents don’t understand what they are responsible for in the community. Do they pressure wash their front walkway or high-rise balcony, or is that the association’s responsibility? Is management responsible for helping with storm preparation or snow removal in their driveways? Your management company should help define associate roles and responsibilities from the beginning and walk new residents through them so they have the right expectations of their management team. It doesn’t hurt to remind long-term residents of those responsibilities from time to time either!
Great management and exceptional service are essential to the harmony of your community or building. To ensure success, you need a manager with the right level of support and personality, who is also a great fit for your community. Additionally, you need to set the right expectations with residents about the role of management in your community.