7 Factors to Consider When Hiring a Property Management Company
Hiring a property management company is a big step that will have a decisive impact on your community for years to come. Before making this decision, you and your board should do their due diligence to ensure that the company you choose is the best one to meet your community’s needs. Read on to learn 7 things to consider when deciding which property management company is right for you and your association.
1. Company Experience and Reputation
When you last interviewed for a job, you were asked questions related to your background and experience. You also likely asked your potential employer questions about their company to make sure they were the right fit for you. Boards can use the same process when hiring a property management company. Ask questions about the company. How long has it been in business? Is the company local or national? Do they provide full management services? Do they have lifestyle experts on their team? How many properties do they manage? How do they approach a community’s finances, maintenance and major projects?
A good property management company will provide references for communities they manage. Talk to other board members who have worked with them. Learn about their experience. Has the property management company been responsive to their residents’ needs? Have they become a trusted advisor on communication, budget preparation, emergency planning, and meeting procedures?
Online information can also be helpful when researching property management companies. Review the company’s website and their social media pages. Read reviews to learn about their customers’ experiences. The more information you have about the company, the better your board will be equipped to decide whether it’s the right partner for your community.
2. Your Community’s Needs
Boards should be aware of companies that take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to management. You’ll be in for a surprise if you hire a property management company that applies the same process as they would any other property. The more a property management company understands your unique needs, the more they can provide you with the solutions to help take care of your community. A good property management company will help customize recommendations to accomplish your goals. To avoid the “one-size-fits-all” scenario, ask questions that get into the specifics of what your property needs.
3. Availability Around the Clock
Communication and responsiveness are key to effective management. Questions and problems aren't limited to standard business hours, so it's critical that your residents can reach someone whenever needed. When hiring a property management company, the best partner will provide 24-hour customer service, an invaluable resource. They’ll also offer online portal services, which include customer care and after-hours emergency support – providing easy, interactive ways to communicate with the management team. Knowing your property management company is there for you and your residents at all hours will put everyone's minds at ease.
4. Size and Depth
Small businesses can sometimes provide friendly and customized services, and many people look to them for that reason. But it's also important to consider whether they have the depth of experience and resources to provide your community the expertise it needs to operate effectively and the buying power to save you money. The best property management companies will have the ability to offer a combination of the friendly service provided by smaller companies and the resources supplied by larger ones.
5. Maintenance Expertise
As we all know, maintenance issues happen when we least expect them. A good property management company will have procedures in place to respond to maintenance and other unexpected problems that may arise. Find out how the management company handles these issues. Do they have an in-house maintenance crew or use preferred vendors? How many years of experience do they have? Will they solicit multiple quotes, negotiate to get the best price and pay the bills on the board’s behalf? The best property management company will be proactive in saving your community money by providing cost-effective maintenance solutions.
There's an adage that says, "you get what you pay for," and, in most cases, it's true. While getting a great deal is attractive, it shouldn't be the sole focus when hiring a property management company. Boards should not automatically discard management companies that charge more for their services; they should explore their service offerings to determine the value a partnership might provide. The right property management company should aim to find your community savings, leveraging their business relationships to negotiate better prices and/or elevated services. It should help minimize risk, including managing your insurance costs. It should help you design a preventive maintenance program to get the most from your association's physical assets. And it should provide access to better banking and investment programs to optimize your annual budget. Don't just look at the bottom-line fee for services—examine and compare the value of those services.
7. A Dedicated Team
Of course, your selected partner should provide property and financial management services. But dig deeper. What else does your property management company have to offer? Hiring the right property management company comes with more benefits than you might imagine! The best management companies offer an entire team of professionals to enhance every aspect of your community. These experts include regional directors whose experience in the field can help guide your community’s needs, accounting and financial managers, and specialists in a variety of areas, such as hospitality, procurement, food and beverage, technology, security, lifestyle, marketing, and human resources.
Hiring a property management company is a major responsibility. Asking the right questions, doing research, and avoiding some of the most common mistakes can ensure you hire the right one. A good property management company will make your role as a board member rewarding – and your community more inviting, attractive and desirable for your current and prospective residents.