Working with an association management company can be a great way to increase the quality and efficiency of your community. But unless you know what to look for, bringing on the wrong management can potentially cause more trouble than it’s worth. To avoid the latter, here are a few tips on what to look for when searching for your ideal management company.
Understand Your Needs
Before you can find the ideal manager for you, you need to get clear on the needs of your association. Most community association management companies will provide a range of management services, so narrowing down your main needs will help you look for companies that specializes in delivering them. Does your community need full-service management? Or do you need help with less-frequent but important tasks like assistance with finding quality vendors?
Be prepared to interview at least three different companies to find out the services they provide, their costs for the services, and how the information aligns with your association’s needs.
Have a Thorough Contract
Any professional relationship you have with a management company should include a contract, no matter the services or length of service. And there are two important areas to make sure are included in the contract:
- Termination: In case your association finds the services unsatisfactory, you’ll want to be sure there’s an easy and affordable way to end the contract. Have a termination arrangement clearly stated. It can save you a lot of frustration—and money—by having these details spelled out upfront.
- Financial reports: A lack of timely and accurate financial reporting is a common management problem experienced by boards of directors. To keep this from happening to you, make sure your contract contains specific dates by which financial reports must be received. You’ll stay protected in case the company fails to meet your requirements, because they will be violating the contract terms.
Hold Onto Your Funds
Most association management companies are perfectly capable of handling funds for you, but that doesn’t mean you should hand over the control of them. That duty is best left assigned to a designated board member you can trust. If your board was to decide a company wasn’t a good fit and needed to get out of your contract, the last worry you’ll want to have is them holding onto your community funds as you request an early termination.
Discuss Contact Specifics
Talk with the management company about when and where calls should be directed to if you choose to work with them. It’s better not to just assume they will take calls for every resident problem or complaint. Get specific about what types of calls will go to your board versus the management company so you can determine what works best for you association. You also want to make sure owner calls are going to the best community information source.
Consider the Professional Relationship
The truth is that sometimes different personalities just don’t meld well. Get to know your potential manager beforehand so you can determine how they will work with your board and your homeowners. Ask questions about how they plan to handle and communicate during common situations in your community. And always speak up if you notice a disconnect between your association and the assigned manager, as that could mean it’s time to make a change.
Clark Simson Miller is dedicated to providing each community association with the best association management services. For more information, contact us today.