When it comes to selecting a new homeowners association (HOA) management company, it can be hard to know where to begin. Some say smaller, local management companies can be more closely involved with the community, have strong area vendor connections and can more easily navigate important local ordinances and assessments. On the flip side, nationally-based management companies may provide a depth of resources, training and technology services that many local competitors will be challenged to match.

Here are a few considerations that may help you decide what type of HOA or condominium association (COA) management company is right for your community.

Exceptional customer service
If you ask fellow board members to define what matters most in a good management company you will likely get many different answers. However, one thing many would agree on is the impact excellent customer service can have on resident and board satisfaction. Whether you’re considering a large or small management company, be sure it has the ability to quickly respond to customer needs.

As issues arise, it’s good to know you can get answers and resolutions without a lot of hassle. For example, with a local company you may be able to reach the top of the command chain easily enough, but will they have the resources to resolve your concerns?  The best companies will have both a depth of resources and the ability to easily reach real decision makers at a local level when a need arises. All execution and decisions that affect the customer should be made locally by a team empowered to make those decisions.

We also know that resident issues, and certainly emergencies, often do not follow normal business hours. On that point, be sure to ask about evening and weekend accessibility to management. Residents should be able to get answers at any time, and a solid management company will provide 24/7 customer service. This will give you and your residents peace of mind and help to ensure a positive service experience. No management company is perfect, but finding one that is genuinely helpful and puts customers first is worth adding to the top of your list.

Technology and communication
Without a doubt, responsiveness is a key element to successful management. And while this basic best practice can essentially be executed by a company of any size, in many cases smaller management companies may not have the technology and communication tools to effectively communicate with residents.

In our fast-moving digital age, the ability to connect with residents and conduct business with board members at any time is essential. Prioritizing companies with advanced, web-based technology should be a top consideration.

Things to look for in technology might include:
  • Easy-to-use tools for community managers and board members
  • Instant violation and management reporting
  • Simple invoice approval and online financials

In addition, these technology tools should enhance homeowner communication and accessibility beyond the basics of online bill payment. The best technology offers more advanced functions like news alerts, events calendar, community message boards, online amenity reservations and other tools that facilitate better community connections.

Value-added services and resources
It may be true that local companies are more familiar with city building ordinances and other laws. And they typically can provide solid business connections with area vendors that may provide cost-savings opportunities for clients. However, this point may not necessarily come down to being nationally versus locally owned. It’s more about having operations that are in tune with the local market.

A good HOA or COA management company makes a point of knowing the ins and outs of the local industry and legislative requirements. And in some cases, larger companies can also deliver even bigger cost savings through national partnerships, providing resources like insurance savings, competitive investment products and preferred vendor relationships.

Training and development
Delivering exceptional service and ensuring a quality resident experience not only requires a depth of resources, but also well-trained local professionals who understand the complexity of community association management. Companies that invest in associate training programs demonstrate their desire to deliver on the promise of excellent customer service. Make sure the company you select offers ongoing associate training.

Even better is a management company that offers training for its board members. As an educated board member, you are able to make good fiduciary decisions, which translates into an exceptional experience and improved property values for the residents of your community.

When it comes to selecting a new management company there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Every market and community is different, and ultimately requires a company that can tailor its services to fit their unique needs.
Thursday November 17, 2016