When choosing the right property management company for your community, you will be asking a variety of questions to assess whether the company or manager is the best choice to respond to the needs of your board and your residents.
While every community has its own unique set of circumstances, and every residential management company has a unique way of serving them, there are a handful of qualities that the very best companies should have - if they don’t, steer clear.
Here is an easy checklist of the top qualities to look for in a full-service property management company.
1. Leadership and Support
The right property management company will help guide your community to a successful future. When interviewing potential property management companies, bayou should consider more than just the skills of the manager. Determine the support team and resources provided to support him or her.. A skilled team of experts in various fields including HR, facilities maintenance, training and accounting should support your property manager with advice and best practices in order to deliver the best service for your community.
2. Standard Operating Procedures
The best property management company should have proven operational procedures, developed through years of experience and refinement. You will want to ensure the company has standardized best practices they put into place for every community or building they serve. These operating procedures should include at a minimum inspections with detailed reporting, preventive maintenance programs, a full audit of all contracts and vendors, a transparent financial system and budget, and solutions that enhance the value of your property, as well as the lifestyle of all the residents in it.
3. Financial Stewardship
The economic performance of your community is critical to its current performance and future value. Look for a residential management company with an internal financial management team led by certified accountants. The best management companies will follow rigorous internal review and accounting protocols to promote financial health and stability of your association. Financial reports will provide sufficient detail to allow your board and committee members to perform analysis and planning on a timely basis.
4. Vendor Relationships
A property management company that has strong, long-held partnerships with quality service providers will be able to negotiate savings such as discounts on community purchases and lower rates on regular maintenance, while still maintaining a superior level of service. Developing proper specifications for services and proper bidding techniques will ensure value into the future.
5. Communication
Poor communication and response is one of the most often complained about qualities in the property management industry. Look for companies with a 24/7 call center, the ability to provide mass communication and other forms of technology that will allow your residents to stay informed. Community members should be able to communicate with a professional who can answer questions or respond to requests in a timely fashion.
6. Attention to Detail
From your community itself to the people who live in it, the right residential management company will provide you with a manager that pays great attention to detail. You probably know the unique features and eccentricities of your community -- a property manager who asks about them and seeks to understand what makes your property tick will be able to provide you with the best service. Taking a proactive approach to the details will ensure that the level of service and quality of life is consistently enhanced.
7. Responsiveness
There are a wide variety of issues that may arise in a community association. The best management company will have the know-how to steer you in the right direction. Great property managers take the time to truly understand daily life in the communities and buildings they serve. They are ready and well prepared to respond to issues that arise. And they also have a skilled senior team they can count on for resources and support when the need arises.
8. Commitment to Training
Expert property management and exceptional customer service can only be provided by a knowledgeable, committed and superbly trained team. Look for property management companies that provide on-going educational and development programs for their managers. This will include hands-on training, classroom learning and online training systems. This will ensure that your manager will be on the cutting edge of industry and product knowledge, and equipped to deliver the highest levels of service to board members and residents.
9. Transparency
It is also important that your residential property management company operates under full transparency. The company should be able to provide you with disclosure on any affiliated companies it does business with. You should also ask this company about their financial controls and if they are subject to Sarbanes-Oxley. Another valuable asset that your property management company should provide to its associates is an internal ethics hotline in order to report and record unethical activities. A commitment to openness and an understanding of the management company’s fiduciary relationship to the community is a critical consideration.
10. Focus on Sustainability
A company that is committed to going “green” will help reduce your community’s carbon footprint, energy usage and operating costs to create a healthier (and more cost-efficient) living environment. Ask if the property management team has LEED accredited professionals on staff. If so, it is a good sign that they are focused on sustainability.
11. Accountability
Great residential management companies should not rest on their achievements. They should be open-minded, collaborative and continuously seek improvements in their service offerings and client services. Ask if your company will obtain candid board member feedback on a regular basis about how they are performing – and more importantly, whether they will take action as a result of that feedback to optimize their performance in responding to the needs of your community and residents.. 
12. Ability to Listen
It may seem basic, but it is essential - and often a fault of many highly-experienced property management companies. Management may assume that just because they have been in the business for years, they already know exactly what your community needs. A company with the ability and commitment to actively listen and collaborate with your board will be able to customize their full-service association management solutions and value-added services to meet YOUR needs, achieve YOUR goals and realize YOUR community vision.
If you are currently searching for the best property management company for your community, or are unhappy with your current management services and want to explore your options, see how FirstService Residential can best serve you.
Wednesday June 18, 2014