Board members of community associations or homeowner associations (HOA) are always looking to hire the property management company that will provide the best service for their community. But what does that really mean?
How do you choose the property management company that provides the best service? Surely, different communities define “best service” in different ways.
Actually, they don’t. Research conducted among dozens of condo, co-op, strata, high-rise, apartment and multi-family communities throughout the US and Canada has shown that board members’ top concerns are actually fairly universal. Of course, residents of different types of communities have some unique distinctions in their needs, but for the most part, they all agree on what defines “great service” from a property management company.
Board members say that while offerings like state-of-the-art technology are a great value-add, excellent service really comes down to one thing – the right people. And when it comes to property management, the right people should be masters of the following:
The single biggest complaint board members have when switching professional property management companies is that their old manager lacked “people-skills.” A manager that is the right fit for your community will work to develop a great working relationship with the board. They know they need to connect on a one-to-one, personal basis. That means not only being able to provide advice and accurate information about the property, it means knowing how to listen really, really well. In addition, the right management company sets itself apart by offering state-of-the-art management and communication software – an exclusive benefit that will enhance connections and operational efficiency throughout your community.
Every condo, co-op, strata, high-rise, apartment and multi-family community is different – from the physical building(s) to the landscaping to the on-site amenities to the residents. Knowing every aspect of the property is essential to being able to maintain its value and provide the best service to the residents who live there. A property manager that values attention to detail will not only ensure the requests they handle themselves are completed 100% correctly, but will also be able monitor, manage and quality control vendors to ensure they respect details as well.
The best residential management companies employ managers that make responsiveness their top priority. Look for a company that has a 24/7 customer care center, a place where you can talk to a real person about any property-related issues, from emergencies to routine maintenance. Whether in person, over the phone or through social media, the right company for you will have multiple channels of communication and provide quick and efficient follow-up to all your board or resident concerns – sometimes, even just a few hours can make a huge impact on a situation.
Sometimes a small problem snowballs into a much bigger one. Property improvements or beautification projects can unveil hidden structural issues. A single resident’s concern can turn into a seemingly never-ending stream of complaints. You know you are getting the best service from your property management company when they continue to attack a problem with a positive attitude, and go the extra mile to make sure it is resolved to your complete satisfaction.
The recession has hit most residents hard, and communities across North America are looking to get more value for their dollar. In this case, a property manager can provide the best service by being proactive, sharing recommendations and advice and bringing deals and cost-saving solutions to the board. They should be actively auditing your vendors, renegotiating your existing contracts and using their collective buying power to get your community the best deals. They should take the view that their job is to increase your quality of life, improve your property values and save you money whenever they can.
What happens when the property manager you love gets sick, moves on, or is promoted? The best property management companies should have a strong “bench” and will be able to provide you with a suitable replacement that is the right fit for your community. Look for a company that has a low turnover rate to ensure manager experience and expertise, as well as one that provides regular training and continuing education to their employees to ensure all managers are up-to-date on the latest skills, laws, policies and procedures.
Of all the qualities that make up “great service,” board members say that this one is perhaps the most important. Great service means following through on matters big and small, and often, good monitoring from upper management helps to ensure great follow-through. Regardless of supervision, when a property manager consistently does what he or she says they are going to do, it proves that they value homeowners, respect the community and understand that they are working in a community that residents call home. If you have a manager that fits this description, he or she is truly the right fit for your community.
So, how to choose the residential management company that has the best service? Make sure they have the right people in place: managers you can relate to, communication you can count on, and service that will respond to your needs.