Looking for an Effective Condo Management Services Company?
Do you live in a Chicago based condo association? Or perhaps a townhome association or an HOA? What are the most important questions to ask your new potential management partner? How do you insure that whatever company you hire actually delivers on all the promises. Are you feeling frustrated with the vetting process? Have you hired and fired a few condo management companies and are now fed up with the churn and burn process? Does it make you angry? Wouldn’t you rather hire a company that is the right fit and get on with your life? Are the condo management companies you have previously hired not following through with their promises? Unfortunately, the standard approach for many condo management companies is to over promise and under deliver.
What are the reasons you are looking to fire your current management company? Is it because you have to ask for something to get done several times? Or are they spending money without the proper authorization? Are things falling through cracks the size of the San Andreas fault? Are you tired of getting a new property manager assigned to your association every 6 months because the last property manager quite, got fired or was convicted for fraud? Well the good news is that there is HOPE.
PROPER VETTING IS KEY
The secret to hiring the right condo management services company is to ask a few key questions and to visit their management office. Don’t let the management companies sell you on all the great things they do. You need to know the GOOD, BAD and UGLY truth about all the companies you are vetting. Most board of directors don’t invest the proper amount of time in the vetting process and end up hiring a company that is not a good fit. In order to find a good company that turns into a mutually beneficial long term relationship, you must follow a detailed vetting process. Here is my recommendation:
1. Create a basic bid specification or RFP (request for proposal). The RFP must have the right questions so that you can understand the methodology and approach of the companies that you are vetting. Feel free to contact me if you would like a bid spec template that you can use to search for a new condo management company. Some of the recommended questions are as follows:
2. How will the management company make money? Ask for them to disclose ALL the ways that they make money? Do they make money transparently or secretive ways? Do they charge vendors to be on their preferred list? It is critical that you have a clear understanding of all they ways each company makes money. They all use a different approach. Transparency is best. You should know exactly how your management company is making money and obviously you should want them to make a fair amount of money. It is not about saving money, it is about hiring a company that will take care of your association needs and help run it cost effectively.
3. Verify Experience. Check the experience of the management company. Do they have specialty in your type of association? Just because the company says they provide property management services is not sufficient. They must have the right type of experience. Check them out on social media sites. Does the owner/president have a LinkedIn profile? Does the owner/president blog about the industry? What is the company culture? Check out their ratings. Take negative ratings in stride. Sometimes people give management companies low ratings simply as a way to vent about a frustrating experience even though the management company is not at fault.
4. Visit their office. This is critical. Is it a real office? Is it in a basement? Is it in a garage? Are their people in the office? Is there something suspicious about the office? Meet the entire staff that is going to provide your association the community property management services.
5. Online support system. Ask them to demo their online support system. Do they even have an online support portal? Are they simply using someone else’s and putting their name on it? Did they custom develop their online tool? How will it help the homeowners with their needs?
Asking the right questions is critical to vetting and hiring a new condo community management services company. If you don’t ask the right questions, you might find out within the first year that you are going to start the process all over again. Properly vetting a community management company is very time consuming so if you are going to take on that process, invest the time to do it right and hire a company that will result in a long term mutually beneficial relationship for the board members, homeowners, management company and vendors.