Choosing a community manager is one of the most important decisions that a HOA and condo board will make. Talk about pressure! You need to be careful in your selection because the people who work on your community’s management team—especially those on-site—will affect quality of life for residents. So it’s important to make a smart choice.
When you hire a community management firm, they run the day-to-day operations of your community. It’s crucial to do your research when hiring a community manager so you’re confident they have what it takes to fit into your community and run things properly.
Apart from having good communication and conflict resolution skills, community managers need to have certain traits in order to be successful. Here are five tips for finding the right fit for your community:
Evaluate your last manager.
Unless you’re hiring because your community is moving from a self-managed model, your existing manager either quit or was fired. So when you choose another community management firm, board members should evaluate the last one for clues about what was missing. Be objective in your evaluation. Make a list of what you liked about the last community manager and what needs to be improved under the new firm.
Shop around, with intelligence.
Your HOA’s other service providers likely work with a number of community management firms, so ask them for recommendations. Check with people you know living in other communities, too—happy residents usually have good managers. Make a short list of the best candidates and research their reputations. Search them out online; ask for references and follow up to see how they performed for past clients. Ask references about their strengths and weaknesses as a manager. Are they accountable? How are their accounting, deadline juggling, and communication skills? If you’re evaluating large management companies, ask for the names and credentials of the team members who will provide the actual service in your community (such as the senior manager, onsite manager, or administrator) so you can research them online and check their references.
Ask the right questions.
Find out exactly what services are offered by the different community management companies you’re considering, and ask for a complete list of management fees so there are no hidden surprises. Ask about their expectations from the board, too: sick days; time off for professional development; offsite meetings; etc. Ask about their vendor relationships (do they get multiple quotes for services and have relationships with multiple vendors for the same service?); back office skills (is a live person available 24/7 in cases of emergency? Are HOA finances kept by a qualified, certified financial expert? Are they up to date on all laws governing the running of a condo or HOA?); and about their experience as community managers (for example, a gated community HOA wouldn’t hire a firm that has only managed high-rise condos).
Look for experience and credentials.
Not all property management companies are created equal. Firms that have been in business for years have a longer track record of staying current with best practices and regulatory changes. But make sure their experience covers all aspects you need: landscaping, governance, pest control, waste and recycling, special projects, etc. Verify the firms’ and individual managers’ industry designations to make sure their credentials meet your standards.
Meet with them in person.
All board members should have a chance to meet prospective managers and talk face-to-face. This way you can evaluate how well they listen and relate to people. A good community manager needs great communication skills and the ability to interact with many different people and personalities, while keeping the community’s logistics in order. You want someone proactive and resourceful who is also personable and level headed. Someone responsive, who returns calls and keeps open lines of communication so everyone in the building—residents and workers alike—feel heard. (Bonus points: give extra consideration to prospective managers who are savvy enough to use Evercondo to communicate, manage, organize and optimize operations.)
Have you ever hired a property manager? How did you choose the right person or firm for the job? Share your stories in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
Evercondo is the leading web and mobile platform that facilitates quick and useful communication between property managers, HOA board, and residents. Contact us for a demonstration or sign up for a free trial to see how we can keep your HOA and condo communities happy while saving your community managers tons of time.