Five Factors to Consider When Hiring a Property Manager
Your association has decided to hire a professional property management company. Partnering with a property management company is a big step that will have a decisive impact on your community for years to come. Before making this decision, make sure you and your Board have done the research and are confident that the company you choose is the best one to meet your community’s needs. Board members make some fairly common mistakes when choosing a property management company. Read on for five things to consider when deciding which property management company is right for you and your association.
1. Examine their experienceWhen you last interviewed for a job, you were expected to provide a resume and answer questions about your experience and background. When looking for a property management company, check out their references and experience as well. It’s crucial to find out the length of time that the company has been in business, the skills and accomplishments of their key management staff members and how many properties they represent. Ask for references from other area properties that the company manages. When you have a chance to speak to those references, find out how the company handles managing the finances, maintenance and projects for the community. Ask how the company has saved the community money. Do this for each company you are considering and compare the answers on a spreadsheet so you get a fair look at how they stack up against each other.
2. Large or SmallDon’t make assumptions about how a company will serve you based on its size. Mom-and-pop businesses are as American as apple pie, and we all know to look to them for intimate, personal service. But it’s also important to find out if they have the depth of resources and experience, plus the buying power and leverage, to provide your community with what it needs and save you money. The best property management companies will offer you the friendly service the smaller companies provide, as well as amenities and services that they simply can’t match. These may include the ability to negotiate better vendor pricing, preferred banking and insurance options and access to a large, professionally trained talent pool to fulfill a variety of needs. Make sure to fairly consider companies of both sizes to get the best fit for your needs.
3. Value vs. PriceYou know the old adage “you get what you pay for.” It’s often heard for a reason, and in most cases – it’s true. While getting a great deal is attractive to anyone, it shouldn’t be your only priority when hiring a property management company. The best property management companies might charge more for their services but the value that you get in return should more than make up for it. Your property management company will aim to find your community cost savings, from analyzing potential contracts, to leveraging their business relationships in order to get better prices for services such as trash pickup and other contract services. A good property management company can help you minimize risk, potentially lowering your insurance costs, and make sure that your preventative maintenance program is designed to get the most from your physical assets. You should have access to better banking, insurance and investment programs, and your property management company can help you develop your annual budget and maintain a healthy reserve fund. Don’t just look at the bottom-line fee for services; examine and compare the full value brought to your association by those services.
4. Proactive, 24/7 CommunicationYour residents don’t live 9 to 5; it’s important that your property management company doesn’t either. Knowing that you can rely on your property management company around the clock is vital. The right technology tools can alert your community of emergency situations when they arise. A 24-hour call center, staffed by trained customer care operators, will provide answers to residents’ questions on things like account balances, the hours of operation of amenity facilities, and how they can replace a key fob, any time of day. Additionally, you want to choose a company that will offer online portal services designed specifically for your community. Portal services are invaluable because they offer residents an easy, interactive tool to communicate with their management team, and often include services such as customer care and after-hours emergency support. Knowing your property management company is there for you at all hours should put everyone’s minds at ease.
5. A Dedicated Team to Count OnYes, your property manager will be a close partner, making that person a great asset. But dig deeper. What else does your property management company have to offer? The best management companies come equipped with an entire team of professionals to help make each aspect of your community work at peak efficiency. These experts include regional directors whose experience in the field can help to guide your community’s needs; accounting and administration teams; and specialists in a number of areas, such as human resources. Picking the right property management company comes with more perks than you might have imagined!
Hiring a property management company is a major responsibility; the choice you make will affect your association’s money and well-being. Asking the right questions, doing your research, and avoiding some of the most common mistakes can ensure you hire a company you can trust for years. For more information, contact FirstService Residential, Florida’s leading residential property management company.