The help of a good community management company can make a world of difference for you and your fellow board members. But finding the company that best fits your association’s needs can sometimes present a challenge.
Fortunately, there are ways to streamline the process without sacrificing results. First sit down with all of your board members and discuss your association’s most important needs. Once a master list is finalized, you can focus on finding a company that suits these requirements by following the tips below.
1. Compare apples to apples.
When you’re ready to embark on your search, you’ll get more meaningful results if you can make direct comparisons amongst your candidates. To get there, work from a single, consistent list of questions.
2. Start by asking some basic questions.
You’ll want to find out how long the company has been in business, if it is licensed, and what certifications team members have. Other important questions include:
  • Do you offer full-service management?
  • Are operations and maintenance services part of the mix?
  • How many communities are under your management?
  • What’s the turnover rate of your staff? Your clients?
  • Based on our needs, what do you recommend for us?
  • Do you serve any other similar communities?
  • Can you provide three references from your list of current clients? 
Another important point you’ll want to cover is the structure of the company—whether it’s local, or if it has national breadth.
“National versus local is about more than size. It’s about saving you money,” says Steven Parker, president of FirstService Residential in Nevada. “Nationwide firms have greater buying power, which could mean better terms for you when it comes to banking, better insurance policies at lower premiums, and lower rates from vendors.”

3. Get additional details.
Now that you know a bit about each company, dig a little deeper. You want to learn how their answers match up with the needs you and your board defined in the beginning of the process. Beyond that, ask about value-added services like budgeting, banking, insurance, compliance, technology, energy-saving programs, and after-hours availability. For example:
  • How can you save our association money?
  • Do you have a plan for protecting property values?
  • What would you do to enhance our residents’ quality of life?
  • Do you measure client satisfaction? What are your metrics?
  • What kind of staffing would you recommend for my community? What kind of backup will the team have?
You’ll also want to find out about each company’s training practices. According to Kay Mabson, corporate recruiter for FirstService Residential in Nevada, “A company that invests in its employees greatly enhances the level of service you’ll enjoy. But on a deeper level, it also says something about the company itself. A firm that takes greater care of its employees can be counted on to take greater care of you.”
4. Show the companies your community.
If a company offers you an off-the-shelf or one-size-fits-all solution, then buyer beware. To help your candidate companies offer you the most tailored solutions, invite them to your property for a tour. Let them look around and ask questions. Make sure they understand what makes your association unique.
5. Follow up with their references.
At this point, you’ll want an opinion from the people who know these community management companies best: their clients. It’s time to reach out to the references they provided. While a phone call works, a visit in person is even better since a community with happy residents speaks volumes. It’s on-site that you can see the company’s strategies in action.
6. Read the proposal word for word.
It won’t be the most compelling read, but it’s in your best interest to pay close attention to the proposals you receive. This will give you a complete understanding of the companies’ full offerings, as well as what they expect from you. Proposals can vary, but make sure the ones you get include a fee structure and a sample of a typical contract.
7. Look at value rather than price.
While you have a fiduciary responsibility to your association, that doesn’t necessarily mean taking the lowest bid. Sometimes those lower-cost options come with limited services or, even worse, substandard practices.
On the flip side, you don’t want a company that offers you more than what you need at an exorbitant price. Just remember that what you’re looking for is value—the best collection of quality services at the most competitive price. Part of this means finding a community management company that will partner with you to identify savings. Look for a company that is experienced in creative ways to cut costs.

Hopefully, your road to locating the ideal community management company just got a little bit easier. Once you reach your destination, you’ll have a partner that makes your job simpler and the lifestyle of your residents even better.
Learn more about how an experienced partner can help you meet the needs of your community Contact FirstService Residential, Nevada’s leading community management company.
Friday July 22, 2016