Is Your HOA Management Company a Poor Match for Your Association?
One of the most reported reasons for HOA boards to switch management companies has to do with the partnership being a poor match. This could happen for a variety of reasons. Generally, it has to do with a large management company being paired with a small HOA (or vise versa), or just overall dissatisfaction. If your board is in this situation, we’re here to help you find an HOA management company that’s the right fit for your community!
Is It Time for New Management?
While not a comprehensive list, the following reasons are often key contributors as to why boards feel a change in management is necessary:
- Overall Dissatisfaction
Whether it’s lack of experience or expertise, poor response times, inadequate knowledge pertaining to financial matters, or inability to complete projects, the outcome is the same: the membership is not impressed. If your board is not happy with the way things are currently going and attempts to correct any issues or remedy concerns have not been successful, then it’s probably a good time to make the switch.
- Lack of Follow-Through
Community projects are always ongoing, and it’s imperative that your community manager can follow through with everything from simple tasks to capital improvement projects. Otherwise, your HOA may fall into disrepair or overspend to compensate.
- Inconsistency with Enforcement
Because managers are responsible for enforcing the association’s rules and regulations, enforcement must be consistent across the board. The community manager should always be on top of compliance issues and ensure that enforcement is carried out in a non-discriminatory manner.
- Lack of Communication
As with all things, communication is key! You need a community manager who is adept at communicating clearly, concisely, and in a timely manner. From board members to homeowners to vendors and everyone in between, the community manager must be able to respond appropriately to all through various forms of communication.
- Unexpected Costs and/or Hidden Fees
By partnering with an HOA management company, the board agreed to certain things. Your contract agreement should clearly outline monthly management fees, as well as regularly included services. If additional fees and charges keep popping up and the board is feeling a strain on community funds, it causes a lack of trust and degrades the partnership. If you’re experiencing this, it’s time to reconsider the partnership, for sure!
No matter what the reason(s), if your board is thinking about switching management companies, or if your board is considering hiring a management company for the first time, there are some steps you should take and things for the board to consider prior to signing that contract. Let’s take a look:
- Shop around. Create a search committee comprised of competent volunteers with specific areas of expertise, such as those with legal, finance, construction, and administrative experience. Be sure that the committee includes at least one board member who will serve as a liaison between the board and the committee; this will be important when it comes time to review potential HOA management companies or community managers.
- Know what you want and what your HOA can afford. Specify bidding parameters. Decide what type of service your association requires and review the budget to determine how much you can, or are willing, to pay. Realize that it may be necessary for the board to take on more work as a compromise for any lack of budget when it comes to hiring the management company.
- Request a proposal. Once your board has the basics laid out, it’s time to request a written proposal. Be sure to include all critical details and discuss expectations with the potential management company.
- Review your options. Once you’ve sent out your requests for proposals and reviewed the responses, it’s time to evaluate the potential management companies based on your specific criteria. Look at the service proposal before moving on to the fee proposal. This will allow the board to consider the merits of service without being influenced by cost. Remember, the most expensive fee doesn’t necessarily mean the best service, nor does the cheapest fee indicate worse service!
- Draft interview questions. Before you set up interviews with potential candidates, the board should draft a specific set of interview questions. To help you with this, check out our article on Questions to Ask an HOA Management Company. Of course, there may be other questions your board will need to ask, based on your specific association and needs, but this is a good starting point to get you headed in the right direction as you prepare for interviews with prospective management companies.
- Interview potential management companies. Now that you’ve come up with interview questions, reviewed potential candidates, and narrowed down your options, it’s time to interview the prospective management companies that are under consideration. Schedule meetings with your candidates, just as you would if you were hiring an employee.
- Make an informed decision. At this point in the process, you’ll want to get the committee together again to go over all of the pros and cons of each management company. Through the process of elimination, your board can narrow it down to the best candidate. Once a decision has been made and agreed upon, it’s time to move forward.
- Review and sign the contract. Now that the board has made the decision to hire a management company, your association’s legal counsel should review the contract carefully. If everything is agreeable, it’s time to sign the contract and start your partnership!
- Evaluate performance. After hiring an HOA management company, the board should track performance to ensure that they’re living up to their end of the deal and delivering on all the non-negotiables.
So, we’ve covered the process of how to find a good fit for your association. Now, let’s talk about a few other considerations that should be taken into account when partnering with a management company:
- When it comes to choosing (or switching) management companies, some careful reflection is called for. For example, what does the board need most from a partnership with a management company? Why is the current situation not working out? What would the ideal partnership look like for your association, and how can the board ensure that this happens?
- Consider client history. Does the management company you’ve selected have to experience with an association similar in size and scope? Do they have references and good reviews? Do you feel confident that they can serve the best interests of your community?
- Is the board being realistic when it comes to the number and quality of services in comparison to cost and availability? It will do no good to hire a company that the HOA cannot afford to maintain a long-term relationship with, nor will it benefit membership if the management company is not readily available (within reason, of course).
As you may have experienced, the wrong partnership can affect your entire community
Not every HOA is a match for Spectrum Association Management, and vice versa, but we still want you to be satisfied with the management company you partner with. In such cases, we have handpicked referral partners you can potentially be a better match with. By partnering with an HOA management company that is a great fit for your community, the board can rest assured that the association is in good hands, quality of life is enjoyable, property values are maintained, and members are well pleased.
Related: Need more tips on how to be a Better HOA Board member. Check our free webinar today!