Storms can be unpredictable by nature, and properly preparing for them during supply chain shortages can be downright challenging. Experts predict severe weather systems will produce more tornadoes this year, and preparing your community for them is crucial. Planning ahead is the best way to keep your community and residents safe from severe weather, whether you live in a hurricane zone or tornado territory.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020, the supply chain has been interrupted, leading to an increase in disruption of the availability of goods, which continues to plague industries around the globe, including property management. And as supply chain shortages continue with no end in sight, proper storm preparation means considering shortages that you may not have had to think about before.

Read on for 6 things to consider as your board prepares for the upcoming storm season.

Are you looking for information to help you prepare for a tornado? Read How to Prepare for Tornadoes and What Your Community Association Can Do to Help for things you need to know and steps you can take in advance of a tornado.

Understand the (Lack of) Availability of Supplies

Demand for goods and services has skyrocketed in the last two years, causing a shortage of everything from construction equipment to food. Many of the supplies needed to protect a community from a storm will be harder to find and more costly than they have been.

Products reach consumers through a highly complex system of global supply chains – chains that have been interrupted due to increased consumer demand and backlogs across major production ­– that are causing numerous product delays. Severe weather has further added to these delays affecting the production of plastics and other supplies like acrylics and latex-based items, such as paint or gloves. Last year, severely cold weather in Texas, where some of these products are made, caused pipes to freeze, halting production in some factories.

Create a List and Source Supplies Now – Get Ahead of Supply Chain Shortages

Start with a comprehensive list of supplies you will need to prepare for a storm and recover from one. Items such as plastic covers, garbage bags, plywood, leaf blowers, gloves, first aid kits, battery-powered radios, paint, flashlights and even water are supplies you will want to add to your list. Stay mindful that many of these items are already in short supply, so associations should start sourcing them now to get a head start on the search.

You will have to consider that the cost of materials will be higher than usual. Because demand and inflation are at an all-time high, and supply is low, almost everything you will need is more expensive. Expect items needed for storm preparation such as tools, ladders, sandbags, lumber and other supplies to cost more than usual and budget accordingly.

Don’t Forget Your Network of Vendors

To prepare and recover from a storm, every community must rely on outside vendors. Check with these vendors early – make certain they are adequately staffed as well as stocked with materials and equipment.  If your roofing company is expected to place tarps over the roof before a storm hits, confirm they have enough of them required to do the job. If they don’t, ask about a contingency plan. Are there alternatives to keep the roof from leaking? Communicating with your vendors in advance will help you determine if you need to make additional or alternative arrangements.

“As the leading property management company in North America, we work with the top companies that provide products and services to condos and HOA communities,” said Chris Normandeau, director of Value Engineering at FirstService Residential. “From landscaping to roofing and everything in between, our job is to vet these resources to make sure they can provide what our communities need to weather a storm. And because of our position in the industry and the number of communities we manage, we are able to work with many vendors to make sure our communities get what they need as soon as possible.”

Know Where to Turn When Challenged by Shortages

Consider all types of providers when sourcing and pricing supplies. A good management company should work with a variety of vendors to provide the communities it manages with what they need – at the best possible price. “We have great relationships and leveraging power with both local vendors and national suppliers,” said Edwin Lugo, vice president at FirstService Residential. “FirstService Residential’s Value Engineering team helps source different suppliers for our clients to help ensure they have the supplies needed to secure their communities before a storm hits. Plus, we have long-standing relationships with companies that help communities recover from a storm, such as restoration and landscaping/debris removal companies.”

Other resources to consider are medical supply houses and hotel supply companies. These companies list their product inventory online, making it easy to search for what you need. But Katharine Effron, vice president at FirstService Residential, warns buyers to "be careful where you order from.” Adding, “items ordered outside of the U.S. don't always go through the same inspection process, and the quality may not meet expectations.”

Prepare for Staffing Challenges

Supplies are not the only thing in short supply. Ongoing labor shortages caused by the pandemic continue to plague community associations, making it a constant challenge to hire and retain qualified employees. Review your association’s emergency plan to ensure you have the right staff on hand, that every staff member knows your emergency policies and procedures and what their individual roles are when a storm is on the horizon. It is also more important than ever to ensure your staff is cross trained to handle any emergency that may arise, regardless of staffing shortages. Keep in mind that your vendors are also likely to be experiencing similar labor shortages, so make sure to discuss this when confirming their role in the preparation and cleanup processes.

Establish Strong Partnerships

As a board member, you want to work with a property management company with established relationships and partnerships that will benefit you before, during, and after a storm, even when you aren’t facing supply chain shortages.

A board should lean on its property management company and leverage their depth of resources and their relationships. The right property management company will help you find the materials and resources you will need before a storm hits to keep your community safe, and will work with you to identify the right vendors you’ll need to rely on to minimize the disruption following a storm.

“It is critical to have the right partners in your corner. It starts with your property management company, but with their help, it should extend to all types of vendors as well,” said Christopher L. Pappas, senior vice president at FirstService Residential. “Look for the partners that will not only customize their services to fit the unique needs of your community, but also prioritize your association when disaster strikes. That’s the level of service you should expect from a true partner.”

For more information about how a professional property management company can help your community weather supply chain shortages this storm season, contact FirstService Residential.

Community association with many houses

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Wednesday April 13, 2022