Many management companies depend on third-party vendors to not only fix equipment that’s broken, but also maintain existing facilities and equipment on a regular basis. Of course, partnering with trusted and reliable vendors is a must when it comes to your association’s success. But if your management company and board are solely relying on vendors to manage maintenance of all of your facilities and assets, it may be time for a new course of action.
Working exclusively with vendors to manage maintenance has some inherent problems.
First of all, vendors are not only dedicated to your community’s needs. They have other clients and partners and will be keeping their own interests in the forefront as well. This isn’t a bad thing for them; it simply means that they may not be as in tune to your needs and vision as your own board and management company should be. Additionally, giving the management “reins” to a company or individual outside of your association can result in some mismatched priorities or simply a loss of some of the control on your own side. A third-party vendor will simply not have the same amount of interest in your community’s growth as a deeply invested management company. Lastly, challenges will also arise if you are working on a maintenance project with multiple vendors. In this case, it’s difficult to determine which vendor should coordinate the project and whether it’s comprehensive enough for your community’s unique needs.
The most ideal maintenance style for your association is a preventative maintenance approach. Your management company should have a documented preventative maintenance plan in place. By addressing maintenance proactively (before you need a major repair), you’ll likely save money in the long run. That’s why it’s especially important to partner with a management company that addresses maintenance issues before they happen. How can you determine if your association has an in-depth preventative maintenance plan for your community? Start with an evaluation of your management company’s overall approach to customer care and responsiveness. Do they typically respond quickly to resident or board requests? What’s their follow-through like? Your association may not be experiencing maintenance issues now, but if the management company’s culture is generally unresponsive, they will likely happen in the future. As Riepenhoff said, “Start by looking at your management company’s overall culture. Is their culture more proactive or reactive? A management company with a reactive culture will only respond to problems as they happen, which saves money upfront, but will ultimately cost you more in the long-run.”
Management companies that have a true preventative maintenance plan will often enlist the help of a trained professional to perform ongoing monitoring and regular inspections of the community’s buildings, amenities, facilities and equipment. An experienced homeowners association management company will have a strong network of valuable resources and partnerships with engineers and vendors. Based on the size of your community and the maintenance projects needed, your board and management company may also require help from a part-time or full-time project manager. This may sound like a big undertaking, but a solid maintenance plan improves financial stability, provides greater predictability and gives you the freedom to implement additional money-saving initiatives like energy-efficient equipment and green building upgrades.
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