'Tis the Season: Community Decor & Vendor Management
Holidays are life’s mile marker. They interrupt monotonous routines and habits for a moment of cheerful order. Even today, Fourth of July and Memorial Day traditions have given us time to sit these routines out and live in the moment, if only for a little while.
There's just something about living among a community with lights stretched around each tree, festive wreaths hanging near the entrance that welcome homeowners back to their sanctuary or driving passed reindeer-trimmed hedges that inspires a childlike enthusiasm for what lies ahead.
However, none of these nostalgic feelings would be possible without the planning and coordination between vendors, board members and community managers. For instance, budgets, contracts, and property management experts all play a part in reviving the holiday spirit.
Tina McWilliams, senior community manager for FirstService Residential, has spent nearly 9 years learning a thing or two about what residents look forward to once temperatures drop.
"Many existing communities already have set decorations in place that we follow unless their manager recommends changes that still work within their budget," says McWilliams. "We usually start in late August, early September, because we have contractors who specialize in these services. It's a very busy time of year and, specifically, the high-end communities want to make an impact."
Managing the placing and optics of these operations don't come without closely followed insurance procedures.
"Our requirements will cover everything and if vendors don't carry worker's compensation, there's a Texas waiver that can be signed. But mainly our general requirements are sufficient because we expect them to be on ladders and working with electrical equipment, says McWilliams. "But I think most vendors have sufficient insurance coverage."
3 Things Boards & Community Managers Should Keep In Mind
- Managers should walk with the installer before putting decorations up.
- Vendors are required to check the lights each week in case bulbs need to be replaced.
- Keep all decorations in communal areas that make the biggest impression.
Thinking about adding holiday cheer to your community? Here's what board members should look out for when shopping for vendors.
- It may be easy to go with "mow and blow" companies but "it's imperative to select vendors who have larger reputations that regularly check their work during the holidays. It's not worth it just to save a few bucks."
- Choose vendors that have the means and insurance to back up their services.
- Ensure your manager is in constant communication with the vendors and the board for an accurate project timeline.
Where can HOAs find reputable vendors?
VIVE (Vendor Information Verification Experts) is a great tool where contractors in your area are compliant, insured and rated to help communities feel confident in their decision. With over 20 years of experience in property management and real estate, VIVE manages a vendor database that " provides insights to a host of business operations and products suited to effectively manage vendor compliance for its clients and their vendors."
How often should contracts be renewed for these services?
There should always be a standardized clause that allows for termination within 30 days for any reason. This, of course, is to protect the financial stability of communities who may already be dealing with COVID-related budget strains. On the other hand, if communities are happy with the services they receive, it’s best to check in every other year to make sure your HOA continues to get the best deals.
There's a lot that can go into planning a design, including recruiting residents to volunteer their ideas. It all starts with the board, but the months-long process involves many creative minds to get their decorations on display just before Thanksgiving.
Whether it's stringing lights throughout every tree and shrub, aligning fluffed bows and wreaths, securing garland or ensuring it all looks consistent, the process is a highly anticipated end to one of the most challenging years communities across Texas have faced in recent memory.
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