In the market for a community association management company? Then you’ve probably already made a wish list of qualities you’re looking for. If so, that’s a good start.
Nevertheless, there are a few qualities that every community should seek in their management company – even beyond those capabilities that your board might be seeking specifically. Fortunately, we’ve put together a checklist of must-haves you should seek in any community association management firm you consider.
1. A company that leads more than follows.
While it’s essential that your community association management company hears what your community needs, they should actually be the driving force in leading your board in exciting new directions. Part of this involves expertise in areas you may or may not have – including everything from long-term planning and training to accounting, human resources and more.
2. Defined standard operating procedures.
Standard operating procedures (or SOPs) are the hallmark of an organized company. More importantly, they’re indicative of a highly experienced firm, too. A good community association management company will have developed their SOPs over years of service to a diversity of clients. These procedures will apply to a wide variety of areas, including financial systems, budgeting, auditing, and vendor contract management, to name a few.
3. A professional team to manage finances.

Any company you consider should have an internal financial management team. What’s more, this team should be led by certified accountants. Ask them what kinds of internal review and accounting protocols they have in place. If you get a blank stare, seek another firm.
4. Vendor relationships that benefit you.
Over the years, a good community association management company will develop strong relationships with high-quality contractors and vendors. What does this mean to you? Often, these relationships can be leveraged toward lower pricing and better results. Look to a high-caliber firm to bring you maintenance, landscaping and other professionals at a significant price break.
5. Good communicators in every way.
The quality of communication is often what helps separate a good management company from a substandard one. This means more than interfacing with a professional who is clear and concise in how they speak and write to you. It also means providing additional avenues of communication, such as a 24/7 call center so you always have access to the expertise you need.
6. Highly detail-oriented.
As a board member, you’re familiar with every last detail of your community. Your community association manager should take the time to get to know it well, too. By understanding the specifics and peculiarities of your specific community, they’ll be better positioned to create short- and long-term plans that benefit your residents.
7. Available to respond quickly and effectively.
Issues in a community association arise no matter how hard we try to avoid them. Delivering a fast response to your challenges is a function of expertise and know-how. A more knowledgeable community association management company will effectively shorten the learning curve in any situation, which means faster solutions for you.
8. Commitment to ongoing excellence.
Great service is a journey, not a destination. That’s why you should seek a company that has demonstrated a commitment to ongoing training for their staff. This could take shape as hands-on training, classroom experiences or online systems – or best yet, a combination of all three. The best community association management company will have its own proprietary training materials.  
9. Operating with complete transparency.
There’s no room for secrets when it comes to your community association management company. Ask for full disclosure on any of its affiliated companies, if that applies. It also helps to inquire about their financial controls and whether or not the company is subject to Sarbanes-Oxley. Those who go above and beyond will also offer an ethics hotline so any suspicious activities can be reported.
10. A company that’s held accountable.
The company you’re considering should have a mechanism in place for soliciting candid board member feedback. Regular performance reviews will help the organization improve and grow – resulting in better service for you. Even the best companies never rest on their laurels; they are continually collaborating with you to find ways to make things better.
11. Great listening skills.
Companies that listen demonstrate they are true partners with the communities they serve. By hearing your goals, worries and complaints, they’re able to tailor full-service association management solutions to your community. They’re also able to further develop value-added services that can benefit you more.
Consider these qualities when searching for the best community association management company or if you’re looking to fully explore your options, contact FirstService Residential, the Mid-Atlantic’s leading community association management company.
Thursday July 07, 2016