For many communities, responsive service from a property management company is the best they can hope for when it comes to issue resolution. But what if you required more from your property management team? What if you held them to a higher standard, demanding that they identify and prepare for challenges so that they never become full-blown issues?
That’s the heart of the most skilled management service, where victories are measured by a lack of emergencies rather than by how one responds to them. It’s sort of like having a doctor who focuses on a wellness plan instead of only seeing you when you’re sick.
The best service really is proactive. But since it’s more preventive than reactive, how do you know you’re getting it? Here are four telltale signs that a property management company is focused on the future of your community, rather than merely trying to keep up with the present.
1. Comprehensive preventive maintenance plans.
You can always rely on the changing of the seasons. Yet too many property management companies fail to take into account the specific maintenance requirements of spring, summer, winter and fall.
With the right preventive maintenance planning, you can stay an entire season ahead. Roof inspections, servicing boilers, maintaining HVAC equipment and water heaters and much more can be scheduled ahead of time to ensure timely completion and avoid interruptions in service later. This also provides the opportunity to negotiate more competitive bids, saving your association funds in the process.   These operational efficiencies will help save on monthly upkeep and eventually extend the useful life of reserve items providing future budgetary savings.
2. Remembering that it can always be better.
No contract or vendor relationship is sacred. A truly proactive property management company will continually assess vendor performance and analyze contracts to see where money can be saved and where service can be improved. This is the only way to maximize the value of every dollar invested in needed services. Along the way by analyzing service specifications redundancies can also be uncovered (and eliminated) as well.

When your property management company stays proactive in its vendor relationships, residents have the chance to utilize and benefit from new and better service providers too. This means unprecedented choice in things like Internet and cable providers. There’s often an opportunity to get more – and pay even less.
3. Using the right tools.
Proactivity is more than a philosophy. It takes specific tools to really be put to work. Your property management company should be able to show you real strategies that they implement to stay ahead of the curve.
The first is ensuring you have a list of action items that’s assembled after each and every board meeting and updated with progress at future meetings.
The second tool you should make sure your team is implementing is a comprehensive report on  the physical components of your property, complete with an analysis of special areas for concern.
Regular site inspections are also part of the mix. A great manager will conduct a thorough examination with the appropriate maintenance team on a regularly scheduled basis. After all, the best way to keep things functioning is to keep them from breaking down in the first place.

4. Knowing your finances.
Proactive service isn’t limited to the physical aspects of property management. Proper stewardship of your financials is also essential. Quality property management companies have strong relationships with banks, allowing them to negotiate higher returns on your funds and operating accounts. They work with you on laddering your investments so you are maximizing the use of your funds while being able to meet capital expenses. And that translates to firmer financial footing for your community, both now and down the road.
A great management company will conduct regular financial statement review sessions to evaluate any expense variances, enhance cash flow through effective delinquency management and ensure that you operate within your budget.
Remember, being proactive isn’t just an operational philosophy. It’s a day-to-day reality. To see how FirstService Residential puts it into action, fill out this form. We’d be happy to tell you more.
Wednesday June 18, 2014