Handling the day-to-day business of a community association is no simple task, even for boards overseeing a relatively small property. There are books to balance, residents to placate, repairs to schedule, and a multitude of other boxes that need to be checked--all of which grow exponentially more complex relative to the size of the community. Fortunately, a board can outsource much of the grunt work to a qualified community manager.
But shopping for the right advocate for one’s community is not without its own set of hurdles, as boards need to take into account multiple factors when deciding on a manager or management firm. Does the manager have experience dealing with properties of equivalent size? Does the company as a whole have adequate resources to meet all their client communities’ needs? Does the agent’s general personality and demeanor mesh with those of the board?
Before entering into a long-term – and hopefully fruitful – relationship with a community management company, it’s wise for a board to compile a thorough list of criteria it wants to have met, and to take rigorous care that the person or firm they hire can meet them.
While some attributes of a good community manager may seem like commonsense characteristics you would want in any professional – think punctuality, attentiveness, passion, etc.— it is still worth evaluating one’s prior experiences as a board or association and assessing which traits are most essential for your unique association’s current and potential needs.
David Swenson, vice president of business development with Nevada Association Services, Inc., in Las Vegas, suggests that boards find a management company that has been in the business for a while and has established a good track record with other clients. “You also want to assess the turnover with managers,” he recommends. “And, if yours is a master planned community, you will want to find someone who has worked in similar situations before, as they are large and involved. Some management companies specialize in condo associations and high-rises, while others focus on single-family homes, yet others still work solely with the large master planned communities. It’s all about finding the right fit.”