Discussing HOA Finances If your homeowners association or townhome community is in the market for a new association management company, the process can be overwhelming without a proper plan in place. Property management companies come in all shapes and sizes (and different levels of experience). So, how do you decide which company is the best fit is for you and your community?

Just like the different communities throughout the Twin Cities, association management companies in Minnesota carry distinguishable traits and values. However, there are 10 core qualities your association management company should have.

When meeting with different management companies, be sure to find out where they stand when it comes to the following traits:
  1. A Strong Team

    It’s great to have a homeowners association manager whose vision and personality have alignment with your board, but it takes more than one person Property Manager listeningto serve you effectively. Ensure you find out about the additional resources and other team members who could be assets in supporting your manager. The team should include human resources experts, engineering, training and development, and in-house accounting. You want your manager to be backed by a team with experience and varied skills and capabilities.
  2. Established Standard Operating Procedures

    Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are extremely important for the effectiveness of running a property. The best homeowners association management companies have developed these SOPs over time and are prepared for any situation, positive or negative. This includes preparing for preventive maintenance programs, vendor contract audits, financials and budgeting, as well as lifestyle enhancement programs. An effective and thorough SOP could make all the difference in a crisis.
  3. A Focus on Finances

     Your professional association management   company should have an internal financial   management team. When joining an association   board, you take on a level of fiduciary   responsibility - your property manager can (and   should) help you understand this crucial role.   Having an in-house finance team enables your   property manager to get expert advice on any   situation that pops up. Their focus will be on   helping the board stabilize the association’s   financial health. This will allow for correctly   implemented internal reviews and accounting   systems to ensure financial stability.
  4. Good Vendor Relations

    A quality homeowners association management company will have a list of trusted vendors throughout the Twin Cities they know they can rely on. There should be a sense of trust when working with vendors that they will consistently provide a high quality of work. Having a list of vetted, trusted and respected vendors can help get your projects down quicker. Another great aspect of strong vendor relationships is that your association management company can negotiate more favorable rates without sacrificing quality.
  5. Effective Communication

    Is communication in your community as effective as it could be? After decades of providing professional management services to HOAs in the Twin Cities, we've learned that communication can make or break a sense of community. Your property management should add value to the board and homeowners through strong communication skills. Examples of this include having access to a 24/7 call center as well as apps or web portals that residents can access. Any good association manager will also be open to hearing new thoughts and ideas and turn them into actions. Looking for tips on enhancing communication in your homeowners association or townhome community? We've got you covered! Check out 9 Ways to Foster Enhanced Communications on Your Community Board. 
  6. Detail-oriented

    Being a big picture thinker doesn't come naturally to everyone, but it is very helpful when an association manager can pay attention to the little things when working towards a larger goal. By doing so, they can understand your community better, which is essential in providing the best customer service. With multiple association board members, having a manager that has listened carefully, taken feedback and suggestions, and can, in turn, anticipate the needs of their community is invaluable.
  7. Ongoing Training

    Ongoing training for property managers As a profession, association management requires years of development and ongoing education to be considered an experienced property manager. With frequent changes in the industry, evolving trends, and new legislation in Minnesota affecting all communities, you need a full-fledged team that is committed to training all of their professionals to have updated credentials. Look for a firm that has demonstrated this commitment by providing frequent educational opportunities for its employees. Often, their commitment to ongoing education extends to the boards they serve. Learn about educational opportunities for your board!
  8. Full Transparency

    There should be complete openness and transparency with your association management company. Your firm should disclose any affiliated company that is conducting business with them. The best companies will demonstrate a genuine commitment to principled practices by offering an internal ethics hotline for reporting suspect activities. They can also help guide your board in communicating transparently with residents.
  9. Sustainable Commitment

    Smart energy use is more important now than ever before, given that sustainability is necessary for the environment’s survival. When it comes to home buying, sustainability and energy efficiency have even moved up the list of buyer's must-haves. It’s also good for your association's bottom line. A good association management company will have LEED accredited professionals on staff. When working with them, you should ask them for more details on their commitment to sustainability.
  10. A Willingness to be Accountable

    A professional property manager partners with the association's board of directors to fulfil the vision and mission of the community. Feedback is crucial in improving the way your property is run. Your association management company should respect that, which means they should be open to honest, candid feedback – and be more than ready to take action accordingly. This will foster a relationship founded on collaboration and continuous improvement – just what you want from your management partner. Even better - find a management company that is available around the clock. Learn more with 7 Ways Your Management Company Should "Answer the Call". 
While you continue your search for the best association management company, review their capabilities against this checklist. To fully explore your options, see how FirstService Residential can best serve you.
Wednesday July 01, 2020