We all know the basic chemical elements that give every living thing on Earth their ability to function. For example, combining hydrogen and oxygen produce water. Phosphorus plays a role in our metabolism and energy storage. However, if you look at one chemical element or a combination of two or three, the same can be said about the makeup of a Request for Proposal (RFP).  

Perhaps you’ve noticed gaps in service or, as a matter of due diligence, your governing documents stipulate that your association investigate other management options.  Either way, you’re leaning toward a company where both parties can help each other create an ideal living environment for residents. 

You’ve had several phone conversations with a management company representative to discuss the vision for your community. So, you and your fellow board members take the next step and decide to request a proposal.  But first things first.    

As you do your research to find the right management for your association, a detailed RFP should thoroughly spell out your community's needs and how the right company can address them.  

  

What is an RFP?  

According to the balance small business, an RFP asks businesses to provide a proposal that outlines the services and solutions they believe can solve your community’s pain points. As with any vendor, your association needs to spell out the scope of the services requested so a provider can address specific needs.   

Effective RFPs require precise wording, demonstrated knowledge and experience handling the subject at hand. The elements that make a great RFP are then reviewed by the board of directors who, with sufficient expertise, confirm or reject the company's credentials competing for their partnership.   

And that's just generally speaking. If we want to get into the fundamentals of what a RFP looks like, here are the basic elements you should require management companies to provide during the bidding process.  

  

Element T: Table of Contents  

This one's pretty simple. Before you dive into your RFP, there should be a clear general overview to prepare you and your fellow board members for what you'll be reviewing.   

  

Element Ci: Community Information  

Now's your chance to inform your prospective management company about the unique structure of your community. Other than the name and size of your community, have you discussed how many board members there are or the common areas in your community? These details should be made plain so any prospective company can fully assess your association, its pain points and make straightforward recommendations.  

  

Element Ms: Minimum Services Offered  

This is a crucial part of your RFP: What services are they promising to provide for your community and do they directly address your needs? In other words, is what's being presented paramount to the success of your association? For example, these services should include:  

  • Providing daily operations and administrative functions  
  • Regularly file and audit all community records with the appropriate agencies or governmental authorities  
  • Organize and provide detailed reports of monthly meetings, including financial statements, compliance issues and statuses of ongoing projects  
  • Make communication with boards and residents a priority (usually responding to requests within 2 business days)  
  • Maintain and update all resident and HOA information while providing an accessible online directory for homeowners and board members only.  
  • File, process and facilitate all legal activities  
  • Coordinate insurance coverages and use their leverage to give your association the best rates  
  • Provide a code and compliance check for the entire community regularly  
  • Develop a secure association website where residents can access important documents and learn more about their community's governing documents.  
  • Assist existing committees in reaching various goals  
  • Offer welcome packets to incoming residents  
  • Provide initial board member orientation  
  • Support the creation of new guidelines, including collections, fees, service inquiries, etc.  
  • Supervise, coordinate and evaluate the performance of all contract service providers  

  

Scenario: More residents are moving into your association and it’s harder to keep everyone informed using quarterly mailers. So, the board decides it needs a secure website where residents can get around-the-clock  weather, community and project updates. With the right management company, you’ll get a website that not only mirrors the spirit of your community but provides a one-stop-shop for your communication needs.    


Remember, these services may not always be included in RFPs; however, the main goal is to ensure the board is satisfied with the proposed services and confident the management company will address specific challenges.  

  

Element Mc: Management Company Information  

This RFP element pretty much speaks for itself. "Mc" essentially legitimizes the management company, from the date it was founded and their stance on employee training to the number of properties they manage, to name a few.  

  

Element S: System Features  

While “Ms” outlines what services are expected, this element outlines how those services will be executed. Based on your prior meetings with the management company, the RFP should include how they intend to manage your association, including your community's website features, assessment methods, how vendors are tracked and paid or architecture change requests and financial and operational reporting.  

  

Scenario: Your pool’s water filtration system is in the process of being replaced. You’ve already hired vendors to make the update, but with a potential management company taking over, it’s important to make sure they’re in the loop about your project financials, the duration of the project, vendor information and how to save money!  

  

Elements Pd: Proposal & Pricing Details  

These elements come in two parts: proposal details and proposal pricing.  
  

Proposal Details:  Detail how you should receive the RFP and if any extra documents are required, like:  

  • Providing one electronic copy of the proposal  
  • A cover letter detailing the business name, location and primary contact information  
  • Company organizational chart  
  • Biographies of proposed staff and managing principles  
  • A management plan with proposed organizational and staffing plans  

      

Pricing Details: Spells what data should be included in the pricing quote, including:  

  • Initial setup fees  
  • Proposed monthly management fees  
  • Proposed monthly management fee after the transition period, if developer-controlled  
  • Itemized list of additional benefits with fee descriptions, often called “Exhibit A” or “Schedule A”  
  • How fees are determined  
  • Proposed sample contract document that shows details including termination guidelines  

    

Gather Your Data

Much like the periodic table, an RFP has its own elements that act as building blocks to choosing a great management partner for your community.  

Think of it as window shopping. You may be happy with where you are now, but there's no harm in seeing what else is out there. There's no better time to do your due diligence as a board member than to keep one eye open for the best possible partnership with your community in mind.  

  

Looking to get started on an RFP? Reach out! Complete your request today.

Friday September 18, 2020