Your homeowner association (HOA) board has decided to hire a community management company. This is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. Much research should be completed prior selecting a partner. Not all management companies have the tools to meet your community’s vision. There are common mistakes HOA board members make when choosing a community management company that you will read about below.
  1. Value vs. Price: You know the popular phrase, “you get what you pay for.” Whatever it’s reasoning, in the case of hiring a management company - it’s true. Trying to find the lowest bidder should not be the deciding factor or first priority. The best community management companies might charge more for their services because of the quality of those services. The value that you receive should more than make up for the difference in price. The representatives of that management company will aim to get your community cost savings in many areas, including but not limited to, analyzing potential vendor contracts to leveraging their business relationships in order to get better prices for various services. You should be presented with better banking and investment program options as well as effective assistance in the development and maintenance of your annual budget. These added values alone more than pay for themselves. 
  2. Experience Is Everything: Think about your last job interview. Did you present a resume and answer questions about your background and experience? Of course you did. So why wouldn’t you do the same when hiring a community management company? It’s important to find out how long the company has been in business, how many properties they represent, and the accomplishments of the company’s associates. You will want to make sure that they have the proper licensing and experience. You should also look into some client references. Have they managed a community like yours? Any information that you can obtain will be valuable when comparing the qualities of each company you are considering.
  3. Large or Small: Some will just resort to the mom-n-pop-style businesses, thinking that they will give you the one-on-one, personal service. But do these types of businesses have the resources and leverage your community needs to thrive? Or with the larger corporate-style businesses, you might feel that they do not have time for you and that you are ‘just another number’. The best community management companies can tailor a full-service management solution to offer a personalized and genuinely helpful service the smaller companies offer, as well as invaluable tools they just can’t match. Such amenities may include preferred banking options, the ability to leverage better prices from vendors, and access to a large and highly trained talent pool to help the HOA board address their diverse needs. Often, smaller companies struggle to meet all of the needs of a community due to their lack of resources.
  4. Proactive, 24/7 Communication: We all know that life doesn’t operate on an 8-to-5 schedule. Things can happen in your community at any time, and knowing that you can rely on your community management company around the clock is vital. Another important service to look for is access to communication tools and personnel for any situation regarding your community. Make sure that your community management company provides technology so that you can be alerted of emergency situations when they arise. Another desired feature is a 24-hour call center, where trained customer care representatives can answer residents’ questions any time of the day. Knowing your community management company is there for you at all hours is a priceless service.
  5. A Dedicated Team to Count On: The community manager will be a key tool in the management of your community. But dig deeper? What else does your community management company have to offer? The best management companies will offer an entire support team of professionals with experience in community management and focused on providing exceptional service. These experts include regional managers, community associates, compliance specialists, and accounting representatives, to name a few.  Additionally, you want to select a company that will offer a website specific to your community that gives residents access to live information and tools at their convenience.
As you can see, hiring a community management company is a major responsibility. 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, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s leading community management company.
Tuesday July 08, 2014