When you think about a great community you are likely to picture happy families, residents enjoying the amenities available to them, and buildings and neighborhoods that look pristine and well-kept. But creating, and more importantly maintaining, the kind of place that people love to call home takes a lot of hard work.
“A lot of things need to converge to create a vibrant, stable community,” said Maureen Connolly, vice president of FirstService Residential. “It takes a real synergy of all parties involved.”

So who, exactly, is responsible and how does it all come together? Let’s take a look at the essential elements that need to come together to create a great community.

1. A Board that understands its role

Association Board members and officers are elected according to the processes set forth in their association’s bylaws and applicable laws. Officers generally include the president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. Regardless of their role, Board members have a big job to do. In fact, they hold many jobs, such as acting as the fiscal stewards of their homeowners’ association, ensuring that the property’s governing documents are being enforced, and, of course, making sure that the property is being properly maintained.  Oftentimes, Board members will put policies in place to assist them in carrying out these duties. A Board may also organize committees, made up of volunteers, to accomplish specific projects or objectives on behalf of the association.

2. The right personalities

Formalizing processes when running an association is vital. Enacting policies to carry them out is equally important. As is defining every role that will take on these tasks. But none of this matters if the wrong personalities are part of the equation. Not only will they hamper efficiency, but perhaps worse, they may cause conflict. If Board members remember to put business first and set aside politics, they will find it much easier to get to the jobs at hand.

3. The right property manager

While some communities choose to manage their own property, many association Boards look to a reputable, experienced property management company (learn more below) that is equipped with the tools to implement and enforce their vision for their community. And that’s just the big picture. Most property management companies will offer a host of day-to-day services too.
The first order of business will be to try to assign a property manager who will work well in the culture of the community and with the personalities on the Board. This person addresses residents’ immediate needs and answers any questions, as well as collects association dues and assessments. The property manager, often referred to as a community manager, also acts as the liaison between the Board and its residents and the companies tasked with repairing and servicing the property. For example, the coordination of improvement and maintenance projects on the property is often the responsibility of the property manager. Their role, then, is to provide the full-scope of property management services so that the association Board can focus on other, more important duties.

4. Expertise where it counts

Great property managers are easy to spot – they are dedicated, committed and available to their Board and residents. They know how to be friendly with residents but firm with vendors. But just as each community is unique, so too should be the expertise of their property manager. Fortunately for association Boards, seeing what special certifications a property manager has is sometimes as easy as looking at the acronym following his or her name.  

5. A property management company that’s a great fit

While the right property manager is key, it is equally important that this individual is backed by a supportive and experienced team. Also referred to as a community management company, they are responsible for not only managing the accounting needs of the association, but also for offering much-needed support to the property manager. This may include keeping a database of trusted and certified repair professionals and vendors, implementing processes to streamline the community’s day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, and providing industry-specific expertise so that associations have resources in their arsenal when making important decisions and/or dealing with issues that arise in their community.

6. A shared vision of value

It’s essential that the Board and property management company share the same definition of “value,” as this philosophy will color all of their interactions. When all parties involved realize that added value supersedes bargain pricing, then effective decisions can be made and solutions realized. In fact, a company that delivers value-added service actually saves you money when compared with the headaches that often come with working with budget vendors. 

Each of these six essential elements plays an important role in creating, and maintaining, a great community for your residents. And when all are at play, you can rest assured that your community is the kind of place that residents are proud to call home.  For more on what a great property management company (and an expert property manager) can do for you, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s property management leader.
Friday August 05, 2016