Operating as the sole point-of-contact for the communities I serve provides my community clients with several unique advantages and a level of dedication from me that my larger competitors can’t match.
YOU’LL KNOW YOUR MANAGER
When you inquire into services with other management companies rarely, if ever, will you meet the community manager you’ll be working with long-term. And the management company often won’t know who that will be even up to the point they begin managing for you. The manager they ultimately select may not be a good fit for your community. The manager may be a good fit, but may eventually leave as turnover in the field is high.
With my company you’ll know who you’ll be working with on a daily basis, because it’s me. You’ll have the chance to ask me questions and determine how good of a fit I am for your community from the get-go. And you’ll never have to worry about turnover in the position because even if my company grows and new managers are hired to meet the need, I will continue managing communities under my care for as long as they remain clients.
THE BUCK STOPS HERE
Most management companies divide duties between managerial, administrative and accounting departments. But it creates some disconnects. Most questions from board members and homeowners go through the manager, but if it relates to the duties of the accounting or administrative departments they likely can’t provide answers without meeting with those departments. In the manager’s absence the administrative department usually handles calls and emails, but they don’t have the community-specific knowledge or authority to handle issues beyond the very basic. This arrangement can make getting a straight answer a lengthy and frustrating process.
With my company, there’s just me. I’m your managerial, administrative and accounting contact all-in-one. I don’t need to check with an administrative department to see when a letter was sent because I’m the one who wrote and sent it. I don’t need to check with the accounting department to explain an odd-looking journal entry because I’m the one who entered it. When I emphasize Excellence in Community Association Management, I equate that to the service level and quality of having a privately-hired manager on your payroll. This operational method is how I achieve that experience.
PROACTIVE, NOT REACTIVE, MANAGEMENT
In my experience working for my now-competitors, when you’re spread too thin the best you can do sometimes is to put out fires as they pop up. That’s not a professional or cost-effective way to manage a community.
My goal is to minimize the need for reaction-driven maintenance requests by being on top of issues before they become issues. Some of my management service packages include the development of annual and long-term maintenance plans. If the board finds my proposals acceptable, we shouldn’t have many issues with overflowing gutters because we’ll have scheduled gutter cleaning to keep them clear. We won’t have as many downed tree limbs after storms because we’ll have a tree trimming plan in place. And because I’m not spread as thin as my competition I’ll be on-site more often to identify problems early. This helps prevent issues from becoming costly, unsightly or even dangerous because there’s a good likelihood they’ll be identified and handled before that happens.
When you call or send an email, there is no customer service department. It’s me you’ll be speaking with every time. And while I’m always happy to speak with homeowners and board members, through the use of some of the best technology in the field many questions can be answered and issues resolved 24/7 through any computer or smartphone without even needing to make a call or write an email.
YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION
Management companies divide duties among managerial, administrative and accounting departments because it allows a small number of people to manage a large number of communities. The majority of the career I spent working for some of these companies I managed 18 to 22 communities at one time. (But I was never supposed to tell my clients that!) Sometimes the administrative and accounting staff members were assigned to specific communities like me, and they were spread just as thin as me. Sometimes those departments worked collectively for the entire company’s portfolio, leaving no one person specifically knowledgeable of any one community. Assigned staff members like me being spread thin negatively impacted our ability to deliver timely and thorough service. Departments working collectively led to a lot of errors, most commonly with the accounting department misallocating income and expenses between different communities.
If I’m essentially doing the work of 3 people for your community, the only way that’s manageable is with a much smaller number of communities in my care. Instead of 18 to 22 I’m aiming for 5 to 8 depending upon the workload of each community. While that will be enough to fill my schedule under this operating format, it means my time isn’t nearly as divided and I’m not being pulled in as many directions. This allows me to deliver timely and thorough service with less chance for error. When a number of communities sign up with me that exceed that volume, I’ll hire other well-rounded managers capable of performing these duties that will work in the same manner as me and deliver the same Excellence in Community Association Management I strive for.
I’M NEVER “OUT OF THE OFFICE”
Being spread less thin allows me to be on-site more than my competitors, but without an administrative department to answer calls and resolve basic issues I can’t be unavailable to take those calls and resolve those issues. Unlike my competitors, my operations aren’t chained to an office.
I utilize a VOIP phone system, so I can forward calls to my cell phone when I’m away and answer them as seamlessly as if I was sitting at my desk. Like most people, I carry a smartphone with email always at my fingertips. But unlike most of my competitors, I use web-based management software and carry a tablet with an internet plan. The combination of these technologies allows me to work just as efficiently on the go as I can from the office.
INSTANT ANSWERS ARE AVAILABLE 24/7
While I’m happy to answer as many calls and emails as homeowners may want to make to me, and while I’m equipped to do so just as efficiently in the field as I am from the office, the most common reasons homeowners contact management don’t require speaking to me. They don’t even require the homeowner to take action during business hours.
All management service packages above the Basic accounting-only plan include access to the Community Portal feature of my management software. Homeowners can log-in from their computer or smartphone 24/7 and do a number of things at a time that’s convenient for them. They can view their account balance, including a detailed account ledger, and make payments online with very low processing fees. They can submit maintenance requests, and they can check in later to see the progress of those requests all the way to completion. They can download important documents and forms in PDF format. There’s even a private social network where information can be exchanged between neighbors without the “noise” of social media platforms like Facebook and Nextdoor. And when events occur that many people will ask questions about, such as a power outage, a water main break, a major project that may impede day-to-day living, etc we can send out community-wide emails and text messages through this platform. Again, I have no problem fielding calls and emails, but if your homeowners wish to use the Community Portal the most common reasons homeowners contact management can be addressed without the need to speak with anyone or even be mindful of business hours.
The same platform that provides homeowners all of these instant answers and solutions includes some great features for board members. Board members enjoy access to almost all of the same information and reports that I see through the management software. You won’t need to contact me to get a hold of a certain report, check the status of a maintenance request, etc. because all of that information is available to you as quickly and easily as it is to me.
The most common reason board members contact management is to follow up on the status of certain board directives and projects. With this information contained in the management software, you won’t need to wait for my reply to learn where something stands. You can even check my progress without me even knowing you’re looking over my shoulder. The expedience this provides in obtaining answers and the transparency into the work I’m doing for your community is unparalleled. And as old board members resign and new members are elected, changing access between homeowner and board member levels is quick and easy.
One of the things that bothered me most working in this field is that every company I worked for had at least one practice or policy that I found highly deceptive or unethical. I make transparency and ethical business practices among my highest priorities for my community clients.
YOUR COMMUNITY’S MONEY ISN’T COMMINGLED
If your assessments are paid to the name of your management company, not your association, and you don’t receive copies of bank statements for all accounts with your financial reports, you should start asking your manager some tough questions. There’s a chance they’re commingling funds, and the risks are immense. They could be skimming interest off the funds. They could make mistakes that allow communities to overspend their funds and tap into the funds of others. They could cover up mistakes through manipulating financial reporting. They could be acting more nefariously than “mistakes”, as has happened in Missouri before when a manager ran off with hundreds of thousands of dollars of their clients’ funds. When funds are commingled you are 100% reliant upon the manager to produce accurate and honest financial reports. You have no way of knowing if they aren’t.
With my company your accounts will be held in bank accounts specific to your community and bearing your association’s name. I will be the signer on the account, so you won’t have to make the deposits or sign off on all of the checks. But with every financial statement you’ll receive a copy of the bank statements to ensure my reporting accurately matches the bank’s. I can’t make a mistake or act nefariously with your community’s money because the discrepancy would be obvious with every financial report.
NO HIDDEN CONFLICTS OF INTERESTS
One of my previous employers and now competitors has an insurance broker they prefer their clients to work with. In the event of a disaster, they have a restoration company they prefer their clients work with. There is a specific out-of-state bank they require all of their clients to keep their operating funds with and prefer they establish their reserve accounts there as well. They also have a company that processes all of their resale documents. None of this is necessarily out of the ordinary, and I have a few similar contacts myself. But what isn’t apparent on the surface is that all of these companies, even the bank, are owned in full or in part by that same management company. The potential for conflicts of interests should be obvious for the management company, yet their community clients are often in the dark on this.
Your management company has a fiduciary and agency responsibility to your community first and foremost. Having subsidiaries of their company that provide certain services can be a convenience and a cost-saver. But if comparable options for independent companies that perform the same services aren’t being given equal consideration and, worse, if they don’t disclose their relationships with these subsidiaries, they are failing in their fiduciary and agency responsibilities to your community. I have no such conflicts of interest or hidden skimming operations. When you ask for my recommendations in these circumstances, you will get multiple recommendations based on my positive experiences with these companies. If there is a company I work exclusively with, it’s based on positive experiences for my clients and not hidden ownership or illegal kickbacks. My only incentive when providing guidance is what is in the best and direct interests of my community clients; not my own bottom line.
I DON’T PLAY “GENERAL CONTRACTOR”
One of the advantages of having a management company is the ability to tap into their relationships with quality contractors and enjoy volume-based discount pricing on the work they perform for your community. All of that advantage is lost and the potential for conflicts of interest is ripe when management companies charge a percentage for themselves and act as a general contractor.
I don’t charge a premium on work performed by the contractors I work with. Leveraging my relationships with contractors and enjoying the benefits of the volume-based pricing I receive is part of what I owe you for the management fee you’ll pay me. When I introduce a contractor to fulfill a certain need, the board will sign the agreement with that contractor directly. It’s my job to be a valuable middleman, not to try to skim off the top from communities that trust me to act in their best interests.
Board and committee members are unpaid volunteers with only so much of their time available to donate for the benefit of their communities. One of the main reasons communities stay with management companies whose work they aren’t satisfied with is because nobody has the time to dedicate to ensuring a smooth transition to new management. So I take almost all of the work out of it!
SWITCHING IS EASY
Many community associations that are dissatisfied with their current management don’t make a change because they can’t handle the hassle of a change. The board members often have to be heavily involved to ensure a smooth transition, and as volunteers with other personal obligations they simply can’t dedicate that much time.
I take nearly all the work out of it. When you sign a management contract with me I will write a termination letter for your current manager that accounts for all of the requirements of the agreement. The letter will instruct your current manager to work with me and provide the necessary information and funds to facilitate the transition. All you have to do is sign the letter!
YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT TO DECIDE
Switching management is usually a cumbersome process on the board members whose time is limited to begin with. Part of what makes that process difficult is that shopping management companies usually needs to be done within a certain timeframe. I can take the urgency and time restraints out of it.
When I provide you with a quote, it’s valid for one year. The price isn’t going to change, and when the time comes I will still be your manager even if my company has expanded by then. In order to lock in the price and reserve the space for your community, I’ll need you to sign a contract within 90 days of receiving the quote, but we’ll set the start date for the contract to begin after your current contract expires as long as it’s within one year.
CHOOSE YOUR SERVICE LEVEL
The needs of a small homeowners association are substantially different than those of a large condominium association. Every community is different and has different needs. Management companies tend to probe the depths of those unique needs, often times well into the minutiae, before they’ll provide a quote that they believe will meet your needs.
While my proposals will also look into and incorporate those unique needs, the questions I’ll need answered are typically common sense in nature and minimal. I’ll use that information to provide a quote for your community at the 4 service levels I offer. While I’ll offer my opinion as to which service level is most appropriate for your community, the choice is ultimately yours. A brief summary of the service levels offered and the differences between them is provided below.