Let’s face it: being a board member of your homeowner association isn’t easy. Neither is self-managing your property. For many boards, hiring a professional property management company is the best decision they’ll make for their community.

It helps to know what property management companies, also known as community association management companies, bring to the table. Broadly speaking, these firms help board members set objectives and reach them, maintain a property’s common areas, act as a liaison to service and repair companies, manage collection of assessments from all residents, and serve as the primary point of contact when residents have questions or need repairs. In other words, community association management companies fully attend to the business of managing a community, thus alleviating a significant burden for a volunteer board that often has neither the time nor expertise to dedicate themselves to the role on a 24/7 basis.

That’s it in the most basic terms. But how can you tell a merely decent property management company from a positively great one? Well, this article should help.

Put simply, great community association management companies...

...Have seen everything.

A good property management company is made up of experienced, professional team members. They bring a depth of knowledge to your community allowing them to effectively manage any issues or situations that arise. It’s unlikely that there’s a challenge they haven’t encountered, or an obstacle they haven’t overcome. Or if they do come across a new situation, they have a reliable and knowledgeable team available to offer guidance.

...Think locally.

Every market is different. That’s what makes a community association management company with local knowledge so important. Not only will they be in tune with geographic-specific details such as how to prepare for a natural disaster, but they will also be well versed in the latest legislation and whether or not it affects your board and community.

...Know people.

If your property management company has been in business long enough, they will have established long-standing relationships with trustworthy vendors who work for the best rates and perform well. That means you get quality service in a way that’s budget-friendly, too.

...Put you at ease.

You can’t put a price on peace of mind. A great property management company will have the expertise and experience to remove all the stress from being a board member. While serving on the board is always a significant commitment, many members find that working with a property management company saves them both time and effort – enabling them to focus on the big-picture things they were elected for in the first place.

...Are tech-savvy.

Make no mistake, community association management is a people business. But that hands-on service should be elevated by technology that allows you to communicate with your property management team and access the services you need quickly and efficiently. Look for a property management company that offers tools such as online payment options, dedicated web portals and more.

...Are available.

It’s a 24/7 job, no exceptions. Your property management company should provide around-the-clock access to information and service with trained customer support teams to assist after hours.

...Offer multi-level support.

It’s great to have a familiar face as your main contact person. But that familiar face should also come with a complete organizational team – that’s the only way to make sure your day-to-day management professional has the support they need to offer you the best service. These support teams include accounting, administrative assistance, warranty services, insurance services, a new property group, regional directors and more.

...Stay updated and educated.

Most states require community association managers to stay current on their continuing education requirements. But remember, this is a minimum requirement. The best community association management company will set the bar higher than that, requiring their professionals to be up to speed on cutting-edge technologies and the latest information. As an example, FirstService Residential, North America’s leading property management company, requires its team members to complete advanced training at its own School of Development.

...Understand the hospitality perspective.

Great property management companies treat residents in the same manner the staff at a fine hotel treats its guests. It’s a different way of looking at the relationship, and it results in the kind of concierge-level service that you really appreciate.

...Never stop trying to save you money.

Sure, your annual budget happens just once a year, but saving money is an objective for every single day. Your community association management company should leave no stone unturned when it comes to uncovering ways to save.

...Keep the board aligned.

Once a vision has been established and goals have been set, your property management company will make sure all of the board’s actions are focused on attaining those objectives. It’s easy to get sidetracked, especially for committed board members who want to solve every problem, but a great property management company is adept at helping everyone maintain the right priorities.

Now that you know a little bit more about what separates an adequate property management company from a great one, you can find out what one can do for you and your community. For further answers and information, contact FirstService Residential today.
Friday July 11, 2014