Working with vendors is a large part of serving on the board of a managed community.
Every community has outside partners for services like landscaping, sanitation, cable and Internet provision, pool maintenance, plumbing, blacktop, valet services and more. Finding and learning what they do and how they can help. Many people ask if its the Management company to find the best companies for the properties? Well we have found that Boards help in the selecting of the right companies. They give their suggestions to the Management companies. This way favoritism does not take place. Laws are being changed as we speak that will prevent this for Florida’s Property Management Industry.
Open and effective communication among the board, the management company and the vendors employed by the association is an important part of making the most of any community’s operating budget and improving the lifestyles of its residents. Focusing on great communication and why it matters.
What can happen if communication among those entities isn’t consistent, open and effective? “Ineffective communication with vendors can cost your community money, but more importantly, it can result in loss of trust,” according to Frank Mari, executive director of SFPMA.ORG “That means trust that the residents have in both the management company and the board, and also the trust the board has in the management company to manage vendors and recommend the right vendors for the community. As they need qualified vendors they find many on SFPMA’s Members Directory to select from.”
Poor communication with vendors can cost your association money too. If you don’t understand the details in a contract and don’t keep an open line for questions and clarifications, you may not realize that your community isn’t getting the services you think you are signing up for…. and then you will need to pay for the missing elements separately, impacting your operating budget.
Mr.Mari says “Talk to your landscaper in the middle of winter, not just spring and summer,” he directed. “If you’re an auditor, check in with the board and management company a few times of year, not just when the audit needs to be done.” Call them ask them to do a walk through of your buildings and communities, Preventive Maintenance is Key.
If you aren’t sure whether or not your current property management maintains open communication with vendors, ask! It’s important to make sure that outside vendors operate in the best interests of your community. We are all well-versed in the importance of vendor relationships and effective communication,” Frank explained. “Boards appreciate that we bring that additional level of support. Because of the trust we create with our vendors, almost any situation between boards and vendors can be resolved fairly.”
Speaking the language A basic part of communication is simply understanding the language each party is speaking. Most board members are not going to be experts in all the areas of running a
managed community, but it’s important that you have a basic knowledge of the terminology being used. Board members are expected and required to execute contracts related to things like
landscaping and other topics they may not be previously familiar with,” Talk to your Property Manager and include your Law Firm with contracts. “That fiduciary responsibility means that they need to understand what they are signing, what the work entails. It’s not enough to just consider price. Board members need to know more about what vendors are doing in order to make sure it’s being done.”
All HOA and Condo boards should be involved early in vendor selection discussions and leave the details of execution to the management company. It is important the board communicate any critical elements of their vision for the community to the vendor and be clear about what they require from each potential vendor they meet with. Board members must know enough to
understand what they should expect, what level of service is being provided for their community and what reasonable expectations are for that vendor. A landscaping company
that cares for a dozen large properties isn’t going to hand-prune every shrub, but that may be what some board members expect because they don’t yet understand the basics of large-scale landscaping,” “Of course, a self-managed community is going require more knowledge from the board members as far as monitoring the work being done and knowing that contracts are being fulfilled properly. Having a professional management company involved takes that responsibility off board members, because we know best practices, thanks to our experience managing multiple communities.” If you are looking for a Management Company
How can boards and management companies know they are up-to-date on the terminology and jargon being used by their vendors? Many management companies are SFPMA Members themselves, With this membership there are educational seminars or round tables that let board members hear directly from vendors. “In addition to our in-house educational opportunities, I suggest that board members go to home shows, garden shows and other trade events so they can interact directly with vendors and pick up literature on the latest techniques and products,”.
I tell my members to spend time at meetings, seminars and expos at every one of them get to know the vendors, Collect brochures. Build those relationships. Listen to the keynote speakers as well. Over the years, vendors have shared with me how they have been impacted by SFPMA and how it makes them want to be part of our success. Obviously, you learn a lot that you take back to their boards and educate them on new information.
All of our members, partners and board members are asked to focus on professional development and educational opportunities that are offered by our Association to our Industry. vendors in many different disciplines host events that allow property managers to earn continuing education credits, and that many welcome board member attendance as well.
When you get to know vendors, you’re ready to work with them as partners, to optimize your community association’s budget and improve the lifestyles of the residents in your community.
South Florida Property Management Association can help you work with vendors to make the most of your association’s budgets by learning about the Top Companies working in our Industry.
Tags: Budgets & Finance, Building Maintenance, Education - Property Management