7 Risks and Rewards for Self-Managed Associations
As a board member serving your association, you know your community or high-rise inside and out. You know your residents and what it takes to keep the property thriving. But as a self-managed property, are you really doing all you can for your association and its membership to make sure you meet your short- and long-term goals?
Here are 7 risks many boards of self-managed HOAs encounter – and the rewards to working with the professional management partner that’s right for you.
#1 RISK: Expecting one person to handle everything.
There’s so much expected from your property manager (and not just from your board). To tackle all of the unique and complex needs that come with running an association, your manager needs to be knowledgeable about accounting, technology and communication, project administration, preventive maintenance, amenity and lifestyle management, and legal and compliance issues. It is simply impossible for managers to do everything, and do it well. And unrealistic expectations often result in manager burnout and turnover.
REWARD: Unmatched support and a vast depth of resources.
Managing an outstanding association requires equally outstanding support for both your board and your property manager – in the form of local and national resources like an HR team, accounting pros, IT team and more. FirstService Residential provides 360º of support and subject-matter experts for all facets of residential property management, so managers can focus on leading their staff and managing relationships with board members, residents and vendors.
Comprehensive support for lifestyle associations
In addition to financial, HR and administrative support, FirstService Residential provides best-in-class expertise in hospitality, food and beverage and lifestyle programs, offering unmatched lifestyle solutions designed for every type of community – from luxury high-rises to active adult communities. Watch this video to learn how to elevate the lifestyle offerings in your community.
#2 RISK: Surprise Maintenance Costs.
Understanding property management operations, specifically the systems and physical components that keep things running smoothly ¬– elevators, boilers, HVAC, etc. – requires extensive experience. When it comes to preventive maintenance, a lack of knowledge and experience can lead to premature equipment replacements and unnecessary repairs that result in unexpected expenses and often require special assessments.
REWARD: A well-oiled machine.
Preventive maintenance helps mitigate unexpected equipment repairs and replacements, even though some are inevitable. Your property management partner should have extensive experience in quality assurance and maintenance programming to proactively tackle these projects. To extend the life of your systems and equipment, FirstService Residential works with a team of experts to craft a custom preventive maintenance plan tailored to the equipment in your community. FirstService also offers guidance with reserves, connecting you with experts to help plan for funding repairs or replacements when they are necessary. FirstService Residential's scale also allows associations to access qualified and trusted vendors for their products and services while the FirstService Residential team steps in to administer projects on your behalf.
#3 RISK: Paying too much…for too little.
Your association's financial success depends on controlling costs. Self-managed associations aren’t usually able to take advantage of the best prices on products and services needed to effectively run their community because they are limited in size and scale.
REWARD: Maximum buying power and cost efficiencies.
The right property management company can help you increase your purchasing power. FirstService Residential leverages its bulk buying power to help partners realize cost efficiencies on essential products and services like uniforms, landscaping, cleaning supplies, bulk cable/internet, elevator maintenance and waste contracts, to start. Plus, FirstService Residential-managed properties have access to FirstService Energy, which provides services like energy assessments and benchmarking to help associations manage their consumption and emissions – and reduce energy costs.
#4 RISK: Financial inefficiencies and risk.
One of the most challenging tasks that self-managed associations face is the financial administration of their association. Developing and implementing a solid budget can be challenging, even for board members with financial experience. Managing the annual budget, funding capital improvements, properly investing reserve funds, and collecting past due assessments are just a few of the responsibilities required to run an association effectively.
REWARD: Financial expertise and budget optimization.
The FirstService Residential team provides financial guidance to the communities it manages, including budget optimization (i.e., keeping costs low and negotiating the highest value), ensuring that there is financial transparency and helping your association mitigate fraud. To support each association, FirstService Residential provides a dedicated accounting team. FirstService Residential-managed properties also have access to FirstService Financial, which leverages its size to minimize or eliminate bank fees and help increase interest income on reserve fund investments.
#5 RISK: Liabilities and fines from HR blunders.
A host of risks and complexities are associated with being an employer – from health coverage to hiring, disciplining, and terminating employees, to wage and hour laws. When handled improperly, boards can face costly lawsuits and fines. Your board and manager should be knowledgeable about local, state and national employment laws to avoid these risks.
REWARD: We’re in the people business.
Removing the burden of legal compliance that comes with managing and paying employees is one of the ways FirstService Residential can minimize your liability exposure. To attract the best talent on the market, FirstService Residential has dedicated talent acquisition experts in place. Once hired, we onboard, support, train and develop our associates to provide the best associate experience and, in turn, the highest level of service to your residents. We handle this part of the job for you so you and your fellow board members can focus on the bigger picture.
#6 RISK: Inconsistent communications.
As a community association, communication is critical to your success. Do you communicate effectively with your residents? Are there systems in place to facilitate this communication? The ability to communicate effectively and consistently with members may seem like a no-brainer, but many associations lack the technology or expertise to do so.
REWARD: Proactive communication is key to a healthy association.
Your manager’s responsiveness depends on the effectiveness of the tools available to them. Our property managers use FirstService Residential Connect TM to communicate effectively with residents and board members, including delivering mass communications about important events or emergencies. The FirstService Residential team is also equipped with communication training and tools to help them communicate effectively.
What’s the secret to great communication?
The key to a healthy association is consistent and effective communication. Watch our “Ask the Experts” video to find out what a strong resident communication plan should look like.
#7 RISK: Dissatisfied residents.
Self-managed associations usually have a million things going on at once. So many, in fact, that some resident concerns may remain unresolved. That’s a sure-fire way to lose trust with and the support of your residents. Having dissatisfied residents can damage your association's reputation and even influence potential buyers.
REWARD: Help is on the way.
Thanks to FirstService Residential’s 24/7 Customer Care Center, your residents can speak with specialists trained to resolve any issue at any time – in 20+ languages. This gives your residents a greater sense of wellbeing and the board more time to focus on policies and projects that take your community or high-rise to the next level. The Customer Care team is employed by FirstService Residential (never outsourced!), and specifically hired, trained and developed by FirstService to serve you and your residents, so you can feel confident in the attention and expertise they provide to your unique association.
There’s no denying that the work that board members do is incredibly valuable. Volunteering your personal time to impact the quality of life of your community’s residents is admirable – at minimum. But unexpected calls, resident grievances, maintenance requests and fiduciary responsibilities – sometimes accompanied by a lack of expertise in these areas – can lead to board member burnout, or worse, put your community and the board at risk of liability, reputation damage and unexpected expenses.
The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. Contact us to learn how North America’s leading property management company can make your job easier and your community even better.