7 Factors to Consider When Hiring a Property Management Company
Your association has decided to hire a professional property management company. Partnering with a property management company is a big step that will have a decisive impact on your community for years to come. Before making this decision, you and your board should conduct research to ensure that the company you choose is the best one to meet your community’s needs. Read on to learn 7 things to consider when deciding which property management company is right for you and your association.
1. Availability Around the Clock
Communication and responsiveness are critical to effective management. Problems, concerns and questions aren't limited to regular business hours, so it's vital that your residents can reach someone when needed. Some property management companies provide 24-hour customer service, an invaluable resource, and online portal services, which include customer care and after-hours emergency support – providing residents with easy, interactive ways to communicate with the management team. Knowing your property management company is there for you and your residents at all hours will put everyone's minds at ease.
2. Size and Depth
Small businesses can sometimes provide friendly and customized services, and many people look to them for that reason. But it's also important to consider whether they have the depth of experience and resources to provide your community the expertise it needs to operate effectively and the buying power to save you money. The best property management companies will have the ability to offer a combination of the friendly service provided by smaller companies and the resources supplied by larger ones.
There's an adage that says, "you get what you pay for," and, in most cases, it's true. While getting a great deal is attractive, it shouldn't be the sole focus when searching for a property management partner. Boards should not automatically discard management companies that charge more for their services; they should explore their service offerings to determine the value a partnership might provide. The right property management company should aim to find your community savings, leveraging their business relationships to negotiate better prices and/or elevated services. It should help minimize risk, including managing your insurance costs. It should help you design a preventive maintenance program to get the most from your association's physical assets. And it should provide access to better banking and investment programs to optimize your annual budget. Don't just look at the bottom-line fee for services—examine and compare those services' total value.
4. Company Experience and Reputation
When you last interviewed for a job, you were expected to answer questions related to your background and experience. You also likely asked your potential employer questions about their company to make sure they were the right fit for you. Boards can use the same process when searching for a property management company. Ask questions about the company. How long has it been in business? Is the company local or national? Do they provide full management services? Do they have lifestyle experts on their team? How many properties do they manage? How do they approach a community’s finances, maintenance and major projects?
A good property management company should provide references for communities they manage. Talk to other board members who have worked with them. Learn about their experience. Has the property management company been responsive to their resident needs? Have they become a trusted advisor on communication, budget preparation, emergency planning, meeting procedures?
Online information can also be helpful when researching property management companies. Review the company’s website and their social media pages. Read reviews to learn customer insights. The more information you have about the company, the more your board will be better equipped to decide whether it’s right for your community.
5. Your Community’s Needs
Boards should be aware of companies that take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to management. You’ll be in for a surprise if you choose a property management company that applies the same process as they would any other property. The more a property management company understands your unique needs, the more they can provide you with the tools to help you prepare the right plan to take care of your community. A good property management company can help customize recommendations to accomplish your goals. To avoid the one-size-fits-all scenario, ask questions that get into the specifics of what your property needs.
6. Maintenance Expertise
As we all know, maintenance issues happen when we least expect them. A good property management company will have procedures in place to respond to maintenance and other unexpected problems that may arise. Find out how the management company handles these issues. Do they have an in-house maintenance crew or use preferred vendors? Will they solicit multiple quotes, negotiate to get the best price and pay the bills on the board’s behalf? The best property management company will be proactive in saving your community money by providing cost-effective maintenance solutions.
Looking for tips to help you get your predictive maintenance schedule started? Read: Avoid Maintenance Surprises with a Property Maintenance Plan
7. A Dedicated Team
Yes, your selected partner should provide property and financial management services. But dig deeper. What else does your property management company have to offer? Picking the right partner comes with more benefits than you might have imagined! The best management companies come equipped with an entire team of professionals to help make each aspect of your community work at peak efficiency. These experts include regional directors whose experience in the field can help guide your community’s needs, accounting and financial managers, and specialists in a variety of areas, such as hospitality, procurement, food and beverage, technology, security, lifestyle, marketing, and human resources.
Hiring a property management company is a major responsibility. Asking the right questions, doing research, and avoiding some of the most common mistakes can ensure you hire the right one. A good property management company will make your role as a board member rewarding – and it will make your community more inviting, attractive and desirable for your current and prospective residents.