As a board member you know the importance to keep your community running smoothly. To ensure all work is completed and a professional manner is certainly a team effort. For most associations, they rely on the relationship they have with their vendors and management team to guarantee the required tasks and requests are completed. But it can be difficult to manage vendors, their contracts, timelines, obligations, days of service and payments. Here are some suggestions to make help your association run effectively and efficiently!
Prepare a Scope of Work and Interview Your Vendors!
The members of your association pay their monthly assessments in part to upkeep the community, make sure they feel that they are getting value for their money. There’s no worse feeling for a homeowner than to use a community amenity only to realize that the vendor has not been properly maintaining it!
The best way to guarantee a positive experience it to select a vendor who can exactly meet your needs of service. Review multiple vendors who have experience in providing the service you need and look for reviews from other clients and customers to get an idea of both the negative and positives of each vendor.
If you have a trustworthy property management company that has developed relationships with trusted providers, this should always be your first request for vendors. However, you should feel confident with the vendor you choose, so many board members turn to referrals from their peers, and many look to their social network on Facebook, NextDoor and other online platforms for people they trust to possibly refer them to a honest and experienced vendor.
Once you have a list of potential or preferred vendors, compare and contrast what they bring to the table. Costs are usually the #1 concern when contracting a new vendor, but remember the old saying “penny smart and pound foolish” sometimes the cheapest vendor won’t always be the best choice and make sure exactly what you are paying for in your contract. Sometimes a cheaper service has more additional hidden costs that could wind up costing you more for the services you are requesting. Another important consideration is communication and responsiveness. You want to make sure that you have a vendor who will complete the work in a timely manner and keep the board or your community manager in the loop during the service process when necessary. Many issues can be solved quickly with simple communication between client and vendors, so make sure you contract a vendor who respects and adheres to those requests.
Limit Your Beginning Expectations.
Always have a clear understanding of the scope of work and make sure you don’t expect more than any vendor may be capable of delivering. It takes time working with a new service provider and building a relationship where they begin to better understand the needs and priorities of a community. Also, work to understand the service your vendor is providing. By understanding a little bit about how each vendor’s business works and the challenges it faces, you can better manage your expectations about the value it can provide to your community. For example, take a landscape company. After a day of heavy winds your community may be covered in leaves blown off trees, it is not reasonable to expect that the landscapers will have all leaves removed by the morning. The longer you work with a company the better you will understand their needs and hurdles, as well as they will know exactly that is important to the board and the members of the association and this will lead to a better working relationship.
Keep Communications Open
Communication is crucial when developing a connection with your vendors and doing so will help ensure that your needs are being met. Misunderstanding can be costly, so it is essential that both the board and contractor agree on what services are required or necessary. Communicating your requirements from the start and responding quickly to their questions will ensure the community receives the best level of service.
If your association has contracted a property management company, it is vital to ensure that your association manager is actively in contact with your vendors and that they are able to answer all questions and concerns in a timely manner. It may also be prudent to designate a board member who is familiar with the vendor services and can act as an on-site contact for the contractor.
Always Pay On Time
This should go without saying, but it is by far the most important aspect of the relationship between associations and vendors. Your vendors have to ensure that their employees receive their paycheck on their designated timeline. If you are not paying your contractors on time, then it makes it difficult for vendors who now have to track down payment, pay their employees out of pocket, or worse not pay their employees at all. If you are having trouble keeping your outgoing payments organized, you should look to contract a management company if you don't already have one. If you have a management company who can not ensure timely payments to vendors, it may be time to begin looking at new management!
Many associations decide to self-manage and quickly learn that it is a very encumbering project, especially for those who work or have other obligations. But a good management company will help your association run smoothly, ensure all business is completed in efficiently and that the needs of the board, homeowners and vendors are all met. If you need help with your community, association or property, Contact Core Management and we can develop a management plan specifically for to suit your needs!