Should You Go National or Local When Choosing a Property Management Company?
Your community association Board isf 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 factors 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 excellencePoll 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 developmentIt requires a depth of resources to ensure a quality experience for residents and to deliver an exceptional service experience. Both of those also require access to local professionals who are well-trained and understand the complexity of community association management. A firm that invests in employee training programs demonstrates its commitment to delivering the service that your community needs and expects. Find out if the companies you are considering offer ongoing, continuing education and training to their employees.
Ask if the company you are considering offers Board member training. Educated Board members are able to make better financial and planning decisions, which translates into improved property values for your community and enhanced lifestyles for every resident.
Technology and communicationThere’s no question that a key piece of successful community management is good communication. Any company, large or small, can communicate successfully. But larger companies are often able to invest in and provide technology and tools that will allow communities to communicate with their residents effectively and quickly. In the faster moving era we now live in, that ability is essential, especially in a crisis.
When considering a professional community association management company, ask if they can provide easy-to-use communication tools for their staff, Board members and residents to use; simple invoice approvals and online financial tools and reporting and instant violation and maintenance reporting. These tools should enhance communication and accessibility for homeowners, beyond basic online bill payment. Look for advanced functions such as an events calendar, message boards for the community, online reservations for amenities and news alerts. Communication needs to help make your community more connected.
Resources and value-added servicesIt’s a popular perception that only local companies have in-depth knowledge of local laws such as city building ordinances and others that affect your community daily. Another common idea is that local companies are better positioned to make lasting connections with area vendors and are therefore better able to offer their clients better pricing a savings. This may not be a matter of being locally owned, as opposed to nationally – it’s more about being tied into and knowledgeable of the local market.
A great management company will make the effort to know the ins and outs of the local industry. Sometimes large companies are able to leverage the power of volume buying to establish preferred pricing that can deliver greater savings to your association than any small company is able to offer. These savings can extend to major line items such as insurance, banking, investment products, landscaping or pest control services and more.
Service, staff and Board training, technology offerings and value added services and resources are some of the larger factors to consider when choosing the right property management company for your community. This is a big decision, so take your time and do your homework to ensure the company that 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, Georiga’s leading property management company.