What does a “typical” change in management companies look like and why is this not optimal? What is the best approach? Click here for answers and best practices.

Living in a homeowners association (HOA) provides many advantages, but is not without some challenges. Board members understand this reality better than most as they are tasked with fiduciary oversight, protecting their community brand through curb appeal, navigating community conflicts, and much more.
An experienced professional HOA management company can be the board and community’s greatest ally.
What qualities separate average and exceptional community association management companies? Here are some things to consider when comparing potential partners.
1. Communication
After 30-plus years of operation, what we have found is communication consistently ranks as the top expectation from partner clients. Effective communication plays a critical role in the success of daily management and longer term goals. Technology has redefined what “good” communication looks like. The most effective community management companies understand that consistent, knowledgeable and quick responses are the foundation of exceptional customer service. The best community association management companies incorporate these communication expectations into their internal training, corporate values and global service standards. Additionally, they offer 24/7 assistance and a wide variety of two-way communication solutions including options online. As important, their communication platforms allow all stakeholders including board members, residents and management to share vital information and track the status and effectiveness of communications.
2. Being proactive
Along with communication, this is one of the most important traits or capabilities a community association management company should possess. Strategic planning, budgeting, reserve studies, capital improvement projects, maintenance schedules and many other tasks require a proactive approach and mindset. Your HOA management partner should have the resources, processes and systems in place to plan ahead. This kind of proactive approach often makes it easier to accommodate those unexpected issues that inevitably arise.

3. Experience
The HOA and community management industry is comprised of many players, many of which are relatively new to market. The industry is also lacking many of the regulatory requirements one might expect to find. This makes it essential that any partner you choose has a verifiable track record of sustained success. The best community management firms have significant experience in managing a variety of projects and situations that associations typically face. The most successful association management organizations have the ability and resources to guide its partner boards and see any challenge through from start to finish.

4. Bench depth
A common practice is to hire the community manager, as opposed to hiring the company and resources that support the manager. The logic seems sound on the surface – if you love your community manager, then you’re set. Is this true? The answer is yes and no. It is extremely important that a community manager is qualified and well-suited for your community. What happens when they are out for an extended period of time or away for the afternoon? The most successful association management companies invest in the recruiting, training and quality of resources necessary to develop a deep bench of qualified talent that can step in at any time. This provides peace of mind and ensures your association runs smoothly through any unforeseen absence. After all, service excellence should be a company-wide mission your community association management firm strives to achieve each and every day.

5. Market knowledge
Knowledge is power and this is certainly the case in managing associations. There is a great deal of diversity among community types with regards to age of residents, and on-location amenities. Markets are very different as well. All of which leads to a wide range of priorities and expectations from board members and residents. A competent HOA management company is well versed in these nuisances offering the necessary insights and local market knowledge to ensure success within the communities they manage.

6. Relationships
Having access to options and solutions places your association in a position to prosper. The highest-performing community association management companies have established relationships with highly qualified vendors. Your association can benefit from these relationships by leveraging bulk pricing opportunities and avoiding poor-performing vendors. This approach can save your association money while avoiding costly mistakes. Further, the bidding process can seem daunting and having a professional HOA management company on your side can result in a more thorough analysis.

7. Listening
Really hearing what people are saying is a skill that needs to be nurtured and cultivated, and the best community management companies listen well. Listening to residents and board members to understand their goals and needs is the first step in developing plans and strategies that result in happy, thriving communities.

8. Accountability
Accountability is the cornerstone of trust and a long-term partnership. It is one quality that should never be overlooked when evaluating association management companies. Are their associates empowered to own it and take full responsibility? Do they have a culture that fosters solutions and rises to meet challenges? Will they stand behind their promises?
The qualities above are the hallmarks of a HOA management leader, and when performed correctly and consistently, they can make a real difference for the associations these companies serve. For further insight, contact FirstService Residential.
Tuesday March 29, 2016