Switching management companies for your community association may sound like a rather daunting task, and, in many ways, it can be. Though you may not be satisfied with your current management partner, making changes can be difficult. Selecting a new company will involve carefully reviewing your current management contract, researching new management companies, requesting proposals, and deciding who you'd like to bring on to manage your community. Any reputable professional management company will have an onboarding process in place that will allow your board to be relatively hands-off during the transition once you've signed your new contract. Keep reading for reasons you may be considering a change and some tips on beginning the process.
Why make a change?
Before diving into some best practices for transitioning to a new management company, let's discuss why your board may consider a new management partner.
Lack of communication: Is it impossible to get in touch with your current management company? Or, when you do get in touch with them, do you get passed around to eight people before you speak to the person who can help you? Not only is that inefficient, but it's also impolite. Instead, you need a management partner who will promptly respond to calls and emails. And, if they're unable to answer your questions or solve your issues quickly, they will keep you updated on where they are in the process of getting the information you need.
Another issue might be that the only way to contact them is by phone. Though being able to chat with someone on the phone is still very much necessary, most people like to have the option to send a quick email. Suppose your current management company doesn't have an online portal that allows you to send messages to your community manager, submit maintenance requests, and keep track of communication. In that case, it may be time to partner with a more modern company.
Lack of financial transparency: One of the primary responsibilities of a professional management company is assisting the board in keeping up with the association's financials. And the company must provide 100% transparency to the board when handling their accounts. Does your current management company regularly provide you with financial reports? Do you know when to expect those each month, or do they show up randomly? Do board members have 24/7 access to the community's financial information? If you've answered no to those questions, you may want to consider looking for a new management partner (and may also want to take a hard look at your finances to ensure everything is as it should be).
Outdated technology: As we said earlier, online portals and other electronic communication means are vital for operating a business efficiently, but it goes further than that. For example, does your management company provide convenient ways to pay your assessments online? Are you able to submit ARC requests electronically? Are they able to meet with you via Zoom or other similar platforms? As we all learned during the Covid-19 pandemic, the ability to conduct business and other day-to-day activities online is crucial and, sometimes, necessary.
So you've decided to start looking for a new management company, but what do you do next? Here are a few tips on getting the process started.
Review your contract and speak to your attorney
When considering switching management companies, the first step you should take is to review your current contract. Does it expire soon? If so, then you need to send your cancellation notice. Most contracts have a deadline by which you have to submit your cancellation (perhaps 30, 60, or 90 days before it expires), so be sure you take care of that promptly.
Are you in the middle of your contract and seeking to terminate it? Unfortunately, that can make things more difficult as each company's contracts will have different requirements for cancellation. For example, some may require termination fees or have other stipulations surrounding early termination. As a result, early termination can get complicated, so the best thing your board can do in this instance is to consult your association's attorney to help you explore your options.
Researching new companies
Once you've figured out when and how to terminate, you'll need to research some other management companies and decide which ones may be a good fit for your community. Fortunately, you can do this pretty quickly online. Any reputable management company will have reviews left by current and previous clients that should give you insight into how the company operates and what others have experienced under their management. You may also want to talk to some friends who live in communities managed by the companies you're vetting for feedback.
Request a proposal
If you've decided on a few companies you'd like to learn more about, the next step is making contact and requesting a proposal. This stage of the process will allow you to tell the potential new management company about your community and provide them with the details they need to provide a proposal.
Proposals will differ for each community as pricing can vary depending on the size, location, and type of community. The proposal will also give you some insight into what services the new company can provide and give you a chance to think about your community's needs and budget.
So, what information will you need to provide the potential new company to get the ball rolling? They'll typically want to know:
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