By Ellen Calica, Business Development, MMI
As a Board member for an association, deciding on a new management company may be one of the easiest or hardest decision you must make. Maybe you aren’t happy with the service you are currently receiving or think you may get a better deal elsewhere. If you are having those types of thoughts, its best to start the preparation process early to give your association the greatest chance for success.
The first step we’d recommend is to create a detailed request for proposal (RFP). In the RFP document, you’ll write out what you expect for your new management company to perform under its contract. You’d list things like:
· How many board meetings your association requires/holds
· How many property inspections the community manager will be performing
· What you expect your property manager to perform on a daily, weekly or monthly basis
· Financial requirements for the association – bank accounts, document retention, payments received homeowners.
· Notification requirements to homeowners in your association (website, printing, emailing, etc)
Be as detailed and honest as possible. Its best for the management company to understand what your requirements are so that they can better serve you. It is also important to put deadlines for proposal submission so that you can ensure you’ll receive the proposals when you need them. Another benefit of having an RFP is that it helps the management companies provide proposals with the same criteria so you can compare apples to apples.
Once you have your RFP complete, its time to hit the streets to find your new management company. Just kidding…. Just head to google! There are lots of ways to find a new management company. One way we recommend is through referrals. Do you know any other association board members out there? If so, ask them who they use as management. If not, you can google association management companies near you.
We recommend finding at least three management companies to request a proposal from. It is best to have at least three to ensure you are getting a good perspective on the cost and type of management options out there.
Although it’s an attractive choice to save money on your management fee, it may not be the best choice. A lot of management companies are able to provide a low fee because they heavy load their management teams with a lot of properties. Imagine one property manager handling 20 communities. In turn, the managers are too bogged down to provide exceptional service, a lot of times providing frustratingly slow communication or none at all.
Get familiar with the tools and software the management company uses. Find out how they keep track of work orders, financial records, and homeowner records. If they allow it, ask them to walk you through their processes so you can be sure its what you want for your community.
This is a big one. How the management company treats homeowners and the Board is important. Ask them how they correspond with homeowners and board members. What is their communication policy and what is their average response time? The best way to really find out this information is to call the company and go through the process as a homeowner. Notice how long it takes for someone to pick up the phone or return your call. Are they friendly and courteous when they do? Think about if you would want to call them when you have an issue in your home and you need assistance from the association management.
Making the decision to change management is not a decision to take lightly. It can cause a bit of a disruption for your community but if you are not happy with the service you are receiving, it can be well worth the effort. Choosing the right management company for your community can mean a wonderful partnership and a happier community.
MMI is a Carlsbad based association management firm serving the West Coast and Montana. We enjoy educating the new and well versed association board members and homeowners with current events information regarding homeowners associations. We are always happy to answer questions regarding community management. Contact us today.