Associations Depend on Professional Management Services
Byline: Jordan I. Shifrin
Would you shop in a clothing store with a sign that said "one size fits all?" Sometimes associations hire property managers and the agreement resembles a 150-pound man wearing a suit made for a 300 pounder.
It is a fact of life that most associations, regardless of size, need some degree of professional management services. Whether it is bookkeeping, collections, payable, bid review, inspections, etc. These services can be obtained from experienced and qualified professionals.
However, what happens too often is a board will be presented with a standard form contract by their chosen manager, without understanding what they are really signing.
Who is going to manage the property? This does not mean which person, but rather, it is a question about the board's intent. All too often, a board of directors will hire a manager, sign a standard full-service contract, pay top dollar for quality service and then micro-manage the property themselves. This does nothing but create confusion.
A board of directors is typically composed of a diverse group of personalities with different backgrounds. Sometimes a board will have members who feel comfortable overseeing all of the daily activities, regardless of how competent their manager. This is an unnecessary duplication of effort. If the board is going to take a hands-on, caretaker approach, then they need to have a customized contract for specified services.
On the other hand, sometimes a board is composed of busy people who have neither the time nor inclination to monitor the property on a daily basis. This is when a full-service agreement is appropriate, but then the board must let the manager manage.
Check references. It is not enough to get a list of names that the manager represents. A conscientious board should get references for similar types of properties.
The inquiry is not whether they do a good job, since only positive references will be provided.
Rather, the inquiry should deal with how specific situations get handled and whether the manager's approach to a similar property is compatible with yours.
You get what you pay for:
Boards that consistently hire the lowest bidder will never reach their full potential appreciation in value. This is particularly true in hiring a property management company. If a company is bidding a fee proposal that is lower than industry standard, that also means that their employees are being paid below standard.
Are highly qualified professionals going to work for a company with a substandard wage structure? …