Choosing the best-fit property management company is one of the most difficult decisions an HOA or commercial property owner can make. Choose correctly and you’re on your way to a productive and stress-free relationship. Make the wrong choice and you can inadvertently set yourself up for a long and difficult road ahead.
When evaluating a management proposal from a residential or commercial property management company, remember that you’re not just looking at what’s on the page; you’re trying to evaluate the best overall fit for your needs.
Use the following guidelines to help you determine if the management companies under consideration can provide the high standard of service you deserve.
Get organized to create a clearer picture
- Draft your own statement of work (SOW) and distribute it to your management candidates. This ensures that sure you can compare “apples to apples” when evaluating various companies. Your SOW doesn’t need to be complicated or lengthy; it should simply be a clear statement of your needs and what you expect from your management company.
- Create an excel spreadsheet and enter information on separate lines for each company or ask candidates to fill in the lines themselves. This will help you get a better idea of per-service pricing and ensure that all proposals address every element in your SOW.
- Internally identify your budget range. Knowing what you can afford will help you weed out inappropriate candidates right away.
- Define the process your board will undertake to reach a final decision to reduce the risk of stalling midway through the process. Share this timeline with your potential candidates so they have an idea of when to expect your decision.
Evaluate customer service during the proposal phase
- Look for property management companies who are eager to get to know your community personally. Do they offer to visit the site? Do they want to personally meet with your HOA board? Management companies that strive to establish a personal relationship right away will likely offer more attentive service when under contract.
- Does the management company issue a boilerplate proposal or did they read your SOW closely and develop a proposal tailored specifically for you? A boilerplate response in the bidding phase might indicate boilerplate service in the future.
- Take note if the management company asks YOU questions. Look for a property manager who has a genuine interest in how they can help you, instead of a manager who sees you as just another account.
- Don’t be afraid to candidly discuss your challenges with management candidates. By being open about the obstacles your community faces, you give the management company the opportunity to not only address your needs but also demonstrate how closely they listen.
- Interview the specific manager the company proposes to handle your account. Get to know them personally by asking about their qualifications, account load and strengths. If you’re not sure if that particular manager is the right fit, don’t hesitate to ask the management company to set up an interview with another manager. Remember you are hiring the property management company, not that particular manager.
Look closely at the proposal contract
- It pays to closely evaluate the specifics of a contract to ensure that you will receive the service you request. Don’t simply assume that the company has included all the specifics you have asked for. Take the time to make sure.
- Compare details across all proposals. How many walk-throughs does each management company offer per month? How many board meetings are they contractually obligated to attend? Understanding these details will help you evaluate service level and compare pricing more accurately.
Seek additional resources
- Speak with the management company’s current clients. Ask for specifics regarding the management company’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Ask local association resources such as Community Associations Institute (CAI) for any additional recommendations on selecting the right property management company.
Ultimately, when selecting a residential or commercial property management company, you’re evaluating the level of trust you can place in their service. If you get an uneasy feeling during any point in the proposal process or details don’t seem to add up, feel free to keep looking until you find the perfect fit.