If you’re a community association Board member, you know that keeping your community running smoothly, operating effectively and looking aesthetically pleasing is a team effort. And for most homeowners associations, that team consists of trusted vendors and service providers to help you get those jobs done – and get them done right. But part of that process includes managing the vendors you’ve hired – and if your HOA has hired multiple vendors to provide a variety of services, it can be hard to juggle multiple contracts, timelines, payment obligations, contacts and other important details at the same time. Need some help to keep all of those balls in the air? Here are some tips to manage your community’s vendors more effectively – and get the results you’re looking for.
1. Start by choosing the right vendors.
The best way to ensure great service and results is to choose the best vendor to meet your needs. Look for experienced vendors with a proven track record in providing the service you need, as well as positive feedback from satisfied clients. If you need referrals, you can start by asking professionals, colleagues, or neighboring communities, or consult with a good property management company that has built strong relationships with trusted providers. Once you have your vendor lists, compare what they bring to the table, i.e. the type and scope of services they offer, how long it will take to deliver service, how much it will cost and how responsive they are to communication – and don’t forget to check references and vendor ratings. And let all of the candidates know the high premium you place on delivering service excellence and value to your community – and be sure they share the same commitment.
2. Have reasonable expectations.
Once you’ve chosen a vendor, it’s important to set reasonable expectations about how and when they can get the job done. Here’s a tip – by understanding a little bit about how each vendor’s business works and the challenges it faces, you can better manage your expectations about the value it can provide to your community. For example, take a snow removal company. After an overnight snowfall blankets your community, it’s not reasonable to expect that the company will make every flake disappear by first thing in the morning. By understanding a company’s demands and the obstacles it may face to deliver its services, you’ll have more reasonable expectations – and a better working relationship.
3. Communicate openly and often.
Good communication is key to building and maintaining a positive relationship with your vendors, and goes a long way to ensuring you’ll receive the best service. Good communication includes clearly communicating your needs and expectations to vendors right from the start, and responding quickly to their questions and requests at every phase. For example, be upfront with your service provider if your construction project has a strict timeline or unusual challenges – and let them know if the times or details change along the way.
If your community is professionally managed, your property management company will take on this role, maintaining clear and ongoing communication with vendors to ensure no surprises – and consequently, the results you expect.
4. Pay Vendors on Time.
Service providers who do their jobs well and fulfill their commitments to your community deserve to be paid on time. It’s also better for your HOA and community – after all, how can you expect great workmanship and service from a vendor who isn’t getting paid? But more importantly, paying vendors on time is not only outlined in your contract, but also shows your respect and appreciation for what they do for your community.
With that said, sometimes when you have payments going out and invoices coming in from multiple vendors, staying on top of the process and ensuring all providers get paid on time can be a juggling act at best – and impossible at worst. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can…
5. Tap into professional experience – and resources.
If your vendor management process is starting to feel overwhelming, a good property management company can help – one with the right experience, tools and resources to effectively manage your community’s multiple invoices and payments, track vendor performance, manage contacts, facilitate communication, and more. By effectively handling the myriad of details and responsibilities around vendor management, your management company will not only provide you with peace of mind, but more importantly, will free you up to focus on your responsibilities to your community association and residents.
Hiring and managing quality vendors goes a long way to helping you achieve your responsibilities to your association – and helps you deliver on your value proposition and service promise to your community. For more information on hiring and managing vendors, visit FirstService Residential