Should You Go National or Local When Choosing a Property Management Company?

Posted on Monday January 09, 2017



Your community association Board is hiring a professional property management company. While that’s a great move to make, it’s also a lot of responsibility for the Board. It’s critical to find the right management company for your unique community. What should you consider when doing so, and where do you start that search?

The size of the management company you need is a sticking point for many Boards. There’s a fear that big companies will overlook your needs, while small ones might not be able to serve them adequately. There are pros and cons to both large, national firms and smaller, local management companies. Read on to learn about some issues to consider when partnering with a management company and how the size of that company affects their approach to each one.

Customer service excellence
Poll your Board members about what they want from a management company and you’ll get a range of answers. One thing they will likely agree on is the need for exceptional customer service for everyone in the community, both Board members and residents. Regardless of the size of company you choose, make sure that it has the flexibility and responsiveness to meet your community’s needs.
 
When problems arise – and they will – you may be able to reach the top brass in a small, local operation easily enough. But will they have the necessary resources to solve your problem? The best companies combine a national depth of resources with empowered decision makers at the local level, people who know your community. Regardless of the size of the management company you choose, make sure that the on-site team is empowered to make decisions and execute them to solve problems quickly.
 
Of course, it’s a fact of life that resident issues and emergencies aren’t limited to 9-to-5. When considering a firm, ask if they have the ability to staff your property on weekends and evenings if needed. You’ll also want to ask about their emergency response and support capabilities. Can residents reach someone in an emergency at any time? For example, if a flood or fire occurs in your high-rise condominium at 2:00 am, how will your property management company respond? And what type of local presence and support can they provide during the recovery and restoration phases? These are important scenarios to consider when selecting a property management company.  

The best property management companies will be able to offer peace of mind to residents with access to round-the-clock customer service, every day. In larger firms, the call center representatives will be able to research solutions from other residents in a variety of properties. This data gives them the ability to find answers quickly – likely, you’re not the only one to have had a particular problem.  

Training and development
Delivering exceptional service and ensuring a quality resident experience not only requires a depth of resources, but also well-trained local professionals who understand the complexity of community association management. Companies that invest in employee training programs demonstrate their commitment to delivering on the promise of excellent customer service. Make sure the company you select offers ongoing employee training.

Even better is a management company that also offers training for its Board members. As an educated Board member, you are able to make better fiduciary decisions, which translate into enhanced lifestyles and improved property values for the residents of your community.

Value-added services and resources
Many people believe that local companies are inherently more familiar with city building ordinances and other laws. Another common perception is that only a local company can provide solid connections to area vendors, leading to better pricing and savings for their clients. However, this may not necessarily come down to being nationally versus locally owned. It’s more about being in tune with the local market.

A good property management company makes a point of knowing the ins and outs of the local industry. In some cases, larger companies can deliver even bigger cost savings than local ones can by leveraging volume buying power to establish national partnerships and by providing resources like insurance savings, competitive investment products and preferred vendor relationships.

Technology and communication
Without a doubt, good communication is a key element to successful management. While this basic best practice can be executed by a company of any size, in many cases smaller management companies will not have the technology tools to communicate with residents quickly and effectively. In our fast-moving digital age, the ability to connect with residents and conduct business with Board members at any time is essential, especially in an emergency.

Things to look for in technology offerings from a property management company include
  • Easy-to-use tools for community managers, Board members and residents
  • Instant violation and management reporting
  • Simple invoice approval and online financials
In addition, these technology tools should enhance homeowner communication and accessibility beyond the basics of online bill payment. The best technology offers more advanced functions like news alerts, an events calendar, community message boards, online amenity reservations and other tools that facilitate better community connections.

Choosing the right management company for your community is a big decision. Service, staff training, value-added offerings and technology are some of the major factors you need to consider before making your selection. Take your time, do your research and make sure the company you choose is a great fit.

To learn more about how partnering with a professional, quality property management company can enhance the lives of your residents through exceptional service, technology and more, contact FirstService Residential, Florida’s leading property management company.  
 

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