Your association has decided that it’s time to hire a professional property management company. This represents a big step for your community, and will have an impact on your community for years to come.
Before deciding which company you want to partner with, you and your Board must carefully research a variety of firms and become confident that the company you choose is the best suited for your community’s needs. Read on for five factors to consider when choosing the right property management company for your community association.

1. Large or Small?

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 make sure that they have the depth of resources and experience to provide your community with what it needs, as well as the buying power and leverage, to save you money. The best large property management companies will be able to offer you a combination of the friendly service provided by smaller companies and the amenities and services provided by larger entities. These services may include negotiated vendor pricing that will save you money, preferred banking and insurance options and a large, professionally trained talent pool that can meet your needs. Make sure to fairly consider companies of both sizes to get the best fit for your community.  

2. Check out their experience

When looking for a property management company, check out their references and experience. It’s crucial to research how many properties they manage, the length of time that the company has been in business and the skills and accomplishments of their key management staff. Ask for references from other area properties that the company manages (If the company won’t provide them, that’s a red flag!). When you have a chance to speak to those references, ask how the company handles managing the maintenance and projects for the community and its finances. Find out what the company has done to save the community money and how the staff interact with residents. Compare the answers for each community you are considering by placing them on a spreadsheet to see how they stack up in the areas most important to you. 

3. Do they offer 24/7 communication?

No one lives from just 9 to 5, and your property needs to recognize that. 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.

4. Focus on value instead of price

You 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.

5. Do they have a team you can count on?

Yes, your property manager will be a close partner, making that person a great asset. Go beyond that. The best management companies include an entire team of professionals to help make each aspect of your community work at peak efficiency: 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 community association management company is a major task for any Board; the choice you make will affect your association’s money and well-being, and has the potential to increase your property values and enhance the lives of your residents every day. 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 on partnering with a quality management company and how it can benefit your community, contact FirstService Residential, Georgia’s leading residential property management company.
Tuesday December 13, 2016