Talking the Talk: Communication with Your Property Management Company

Posted on Wednesday June 15, 2016

communicating with a property management company

Getting the most out of the relationship between your Condominium Corporation and your property management company comes down to many important factors and communication, as in any relationship, is essential.

That can be harder than it sounds. So good condo management companies put facilitating communications at the top of their list of priorities – and implement both creative and personalized ways to help make it happen. We spoke with Tania Haluk, Vice President of Operations at FirstService Residential Ontario, about some of the best practices to ensure effective communication with Board Members and residents.
 
Being there for you.
If a water heater breaks down and starts to flood, for some reason it will most likely happen outside of business hours. Likewise, a leaky roof or system failure will always occur at the least convenient moment. For those times when immediate help is needed, but it’s outside of the 9–5 workday, you need a property management company that is available to you. This doesn’t necessarily mean keeping one person “on call” – the solution should lie in a greater offering than that. For this reason, the best Toronto property management companies offer dedicated customer care centres that are available to residents 24/7. Live operators provide customers with immediate resolutions to problems, any time day or night. Beyond emergencies, customers can also look to these centres to make payments, find out their account balances, inquire about violations, get documents and more.

Offering more.
The point of good communication is to get things done more efficiently. So imagine the difference integrated management services would make for your condo corporation and community. This model is unique to FirstService Residential in Toronto and combines traditional property management services with front desk security and housekeeping. “That means condominium corporations don’t have to work with multiple vendors and the process is streamlined through a single company”, said FirstService Residential’s Haluk.  “Think of it as a team approach to fulfilling all of your condominium’s needs and made easier through communicating with just a single company”.
 
Resident engagement.
So it’s not just about boards communicating with property management companies. You can’t forget that your residents and owners are a significant part of the communication equation as well. Getting the word out about new policies, upcoming events, pending maintenance work and other matters is important, so look to a property management company that offers you the tools to do this. The best companies provide technology platforms that make it easy to get important updates to residents and Board Members through a community website.

Tech tools.
Consider all of the ways we communicate and access information today. Smartphone. Tablet. Computer. Ideally, your property management company will have cohesive technology that bridges all of these communication pathways. One example is FirstService Residential Connect™ from FirstService Residential, a proprietary platform that offers web communication portals for everyone. For boards, that means easy access to reports, budgets, payments, work orders, minutes, and maintenance requests. For residents, they can go online and book amenities, connect with the front desk, track packages and manage their account. This tool also comes with a smartphone app – ConnectMobile – which enables convenient anytime/anywhere engagement (such as giving board members the ability to report violations from their smartphone) on the go.
 
Emergency alerts.
Never is good communication more important than during an emergency. Look for a property management company that equips you with communication tools in a way that’s proactive. The best property management companies will have alert systems in place so your residents are always aware of the latest updates during times of crisis, either by email or telephone. This messaging system should deliver information in real time – after all, in an emergency, that’s when it matters most.

Board education.
“An educated board is an effective one and it’s always useful to get tips and industry information – everything from the Condominium Management Services Act to effective communication techniques within your condo community,” says Haluk. “With the growing complexity in the industry it’s more important than ever to provide Board Members with meaningful information and complement educational opportunities.” Leading property management companies provide information and training through a variety of communication channels such as webinars, symposiums, round tables, articles, newsletters and email.  
 
Contract summaries.
Nothing bogs down a process like the burden of reviewing a lengthy contract. But not being familiar with its terms and conditions just isn’t an option. To save you time, look to your property management company to provide you with an analysis of your vendor contracts and a simplified spreadsheet that shows you all the important information, such as costs, frequency of service, when the contract expires and more.

Asking for your opinion.
A great way to ensure continued good service is to simply let your property management company know what you think. But sometimes, this isn’t as simple as just picking up the phone and talking to them. A good company will formalize the process with an anonymous satisfaction survey – something major players like Apple, Zappos, Charles Schwab and JetBlue do on a regular basis. With your input, your property management company can continue to deliver the kind of excellence you deserve.
 
Communication is key to maintaining a healthy relationship with your property management company. They should offer a variety of ways to make this happen. Contact FirstService Residential, Toronto’s leading property management company, to learn more about communication tools and services. 

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