One of the hardest decisions an HOA board will have to make is who to hire for their management company. Often, once you make a choice, your community will be locked into a contract for a year or longer. So, how will your board determine who is right for the job? We've identified 10 questions to help. Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to ask your potential HOA management company the following crucial questions.
1. What will it cost?
Price will always be a determining factor in the decision-making process. However, make sure you understand what's included in the price you’re quoted. One of the best ways to compare your rates is by comparing the services you will receive as part of the deal. Take into consideration their reputation for customer service, too. Like most things in life, you’ll get what you pay for when it comes to management companies. Make sure their Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating or other reviews match the price they are asking.
2. How will your association be billed?
While exploring the potential costs, ask about how and when your association will be billed. Try to get a better understanding of the value of each service, and whether or not there will be additional initiation or exit fees along the way. Your state may also have a set fee structure for certain HOA management services. If not, you’ll need to carefully do your homework and compare what other management companies in your area are charging.
3. Can they really get the job done?
Often management companies are let go because they’re unable to complete a job on time or in a satisfactory manner. If your community is struggling with specific duties, whether it’s maintenance or installing new amenities, then be sure to ask how they would approach the situation. Your HOA is likely not always working under ideal conditions. It's fair to see how your future management company can think on their feet to solve the real problems you’re facing.
4. Do they have additional resources or partnerships?
A big component of completing a job on time and under budget is knowing the right vendors and contractors to help. Ask about the management company's partners and whether or not they can help provide discounted services or pre-vetted contractors for the projects your community is working on completing.
5. How will they add value to your community?
Every community is unique. Make sure that your management company's specialty aligns with the needs of your community. For example, if you have special amenities like clubhouses or golf courses as part of your association, verify the management company you’re interviewing is familiar with and experienced in handling similar amenities. Also, if your community has a particular vision for its future, will that company be able to help bring that dream into reality?
6. How will they communicate with your board?
Communication is the backbone of any good relationship, and that’s especially true for an HOA and their managing partner. Be sure to ask about the frequency of their client communication and the tools and channels they use to communicate. Are multiple options provided, such as text messages, apps, emails, or websites? Will there be a way to reach someone after hours if needed? Also, will they provide your board with opportunities to give feedback?
7. Are they up to date with current HOA regulations and laws?
Since most HOA boards consist of part-time volunteers, you’ll want your management team to bring more in-depth industry knowledge to the table. This knowledge includes current rules, regulations, and laws that could affect your community and the roles and responsibilities of your HOA. These guidelines can differ from state to state or even city to city, so you may want to prioritize companies with a long history of local experience.
8. Do they have the proper licenses, certifications, and insurance?
When asking about their experience, be sure to look into all of their applicable licenses, certifications, and insurance. Your state may already have requirements in place for doing business, but that will not always be the case. There are several nationally accepted certifications you may want to ask about, including those from the Community Association Institute. Each one of CAI's certifications requires rigorous training and course work to ensure the individual is prepared for the job. Their highest certification is the Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM).
9. What truly sets them apart?
Many communities are looking for more than your average management company and want an organization that cares about more than their bottom line. If you can relate, then you may also want to ask the company about their philanthropic efforts or if they give back to the broader community. If your association is environmentally conscious, then you may also want to ask about their efforts to limit their environmental impact while they do business. Whatever the values of your community are, try and see if your potential management company has values that are compatible.
10. Ask for references.
Finally, be sure to ask for references. Learning how they have helped other communities in your area will give you a better understanding of what to expect.