We all want to get the most for our money, and your community association is no different. When hiring a management company, it’s easy to focus on the bottom-line price and not understand the differences in real value among the proposals you see. The right community association management company will provide you with so much more than a good manager.
David Readinger, executive director at FirstService Residential, explained that “baseline service” as an expectation is a thing of the past. “In the past, associations both big and small might have been fine with basic services: someone who can collect the fees, pay the bills, handle the contracts, create a general financial report and handle calls and emails. That’s not enough anymore,” he said.
Why isn’t that basic service enough?
What is it that today’s better educated, more sophisticated boards are looking for? “In the 10 years I’ve been speaking to prospective clients, the number one issue is lack of communication,” Readinger said. “That can mean the manager not getting back to the homeowners. It could mean that the manager is not communicating updates nor issues in a transparent manner. It could mean lack of availability of communication technology, poor writing skills or failures in communication from the board to manager and then manager to community. It usually boils down to the amount of time that the manager has to do the job.”
Readinger asserts that, when associations want to go with the lowest-priced option for management, they are likely to get a portfolio manager who is responsible for far too many communities. The more properties that a manager has, the less time can be spent on any of them. “I’ve talked to many boards who say ‘We have a manager, we like him, but he never gets back to anyone.’ Then I find out they are paying an extremely low price for their management services. The only way to pay that amount and have technology, company structure, education opportunities, board support and a career-minded manager – someone invested in certification and continuing education – is for that person to manage about a dozen properties in a portfolio. Of course they don’t have time to respond to anyone.”
What should associations look for in a management company?
Of course, a talented community association manager is critical.
But looking beyond that, it’s important to make sure that the management company has the ability to offer a depth of resources that includes: