Communication With Your Condominium Management Company – What Should you Expect?
We hear it repeatedly: communication is the key to a good relationship. This holds true for all relationships, even the one you have with your condominium management company. But just as individuals differ in their ability to communicate effectively, management companies can differ significantly, too.
To stay connected with your community, your condominium management company should use a variety of communication approaches and be forthcoming with a range of information. It also shouldn’t be a challenge for residents in your community to reach someone at the company when needed. So how do you determine if you are in a relationship with a communicative management company or you’ve partnered with the silent type? Consider how you’d answer the following five questions.
1. Can you reach someone from your condominium management company whenever an issue arises?
Problems often don’t stick to only showing up between the hours of nine and five, so it’s inevitable that a variety of issues will arise at inopportune times. Perhaps a bad storm will reveal a leak in your roof in the middle of the night, or a malfunction will prevent your front gate from opening on a weekend. Your condominium management company should provide you with a number you can call around the clock for problems that just can’t wait for normal business hours.
But it’s not just about being able to reach someone in the event of an emergency. You as board members along with community residents have questions that need to be answered in a timely manner. Is your condominium manager backed by a team of professional support that can help answer pertinent questions quickly? Or is your community manager riding solo and too busy with day-to-day operations to respond to questions or concerns in a reasonable amount of time? A vast depth of resources can do a lot to improve the communication between a community and its condominium management company.
2. Does the company provide 21st-century communication tools?
Sure, there are times when you may want to use postal mail, keep hand-written notes, or talk to someone face to face. But electronic tools often simplify basic tasks. Your condominium management company should offer software or tools that enable you to use your laptop or mobile device to obtain community-specific information, manage fees, access condominium documents (such as community bylaws, newsletters, calendars, or planned events) and request repairs at any time.
One such tool, FirstService Residential Connect™, is uniquely offered by FirstService Residential. It has several benefits, the most important being that it provides residents the ability to make online payments, manage fees and account statements, any time, any where and from any device. Residents can use FirstService Residential Connect™ for an assortment of additional applications, including communicating with the manager or the board and accessing important forms and documents. For board members, FirstService Residential Connect™ allows them to communicate easily with residents, convey important information via their community website, maintain a calendar to let residents know about upcoming maintenance and scheduled events, along with other important information.
3. How does your condominium property management company communicate in an emergency?
In the event of an emergency, such as a wildfire or flood, you’ll want to get real-time information about what’s happening and what you should do. Your condominium management company should offer a way to receive these critical alerts. When in the process of looking for a new management company, be sure to ask how they communicate with residents in the event of an emergency.
4. Does your condominium management company help you understand vendor contracts?
It’s important for you as a condo board member to understand your vendor contracts. A good management company knows this and will provide an easy-to-read summary containing costs, service frequency, as well as critical updates and dates (expiration, renewal, etc.). They will also help you through the process of finding a new vendor should you wish to change service providers and ensure potential vendors are being transparent with regards to their services, costs, and contracts. Annually they will assist with reviewing all vendor contracts to ensure service expectations are being met.
At FirstService Residential, our exceptional vendor management ensures that the vendors we work with are vetted and have all the proper credentials, insurance, and licensing. We have a large database of reputable vendors for our communities to choose from, but boards also have the freedom to work with vendors outside of our database.
5. Does your condominium management company give you the opportunity to provide feedback?
Your condominium management company should want to know if you are happy with the services provided and if not, how they can improve to meet your needs. Encouraging feedback with surveys or another structured approach lets you know that the company is open to hearing what you have to say. FirstService Residential implements one such system to obtain annual feedback from condo boards. It is also the first condominium management company to create a scorecard system so it can make ongoing improvements to its customer service.
Communication is a two-way street
It’s important to remember that communication is a two-way street, so as a board member you have to do your part to maintain open lines of communication with your condominium management company. Keep your property manager informed of any issues that arise in the community that are brought to the attention of the board. Should the management team need to help find a solution they need to know what’s going on and not be surprised by an on-going issue that they are only hearing about once a problem gets worse. If you have questions or concerns about how management performs their duties, ask questions. Both the board and condominium management should feel comfortable communicating with each other.
Good communication should be top priority
The benefits of good communication between a community and its condominium management company are endless. Good communication helps create a harmonious community that runs smoothly. It builds trust within the community and a company that prioritizes communication demonstrates its commitment to providing you with great service. Contact FirstService Residential, Alberta’s leading condominium management company, to find out how we keep the lines of communication open with our clients.