Ten Common Complaints from Board Members and Property Owners
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t choose my career path.
I went to school for engineering and am a full-fledged engineer. But, like a lot of people, along the way a series of chance encounters and events eventually led me down a path... and my path landed me in the property management business.
So I guess this career chose me!
Now, just because I didn’t choose this career doesn’t mean I don’t like it... I like it a lot. In fact, I would even say I’ve embraced it. I’ve worked hard to earn two professional designations to learn more about how the business should be done.
But, over the years, I’ve found that a lot of property owners and community board members are unhappy with their property management companies. I’ve done surveys and talked to lots of these people in an effort to understand what is causing their frustration and aggravation.
The result of my research was the founding of my company – Corner Property Management – and a passionate belief that there is a better approach to serving our client communities than the industry as a whole provides. I'm setting a new standard of service for this industry to be the best in the business.
What Are the Most Common Complaints About Property Managers?
Let me tell you what I found to be the most common complaints from board members and property managers, and how Corner Property Management’s service platform addresses these matters. These are more-or-less in order (the top three are addressed in more detail in another article called “The Three Biggest Problems with Property Management Companies... and How to Avoid Them”)
- The number one complaint is that Property Managers are not accessible or responsive. “We can’t seem to reach them or get a call back.”
To me this is unacceptable practice. Our policy is to answer the phone live during business hours, and return EVERY message left after-hours – whether phone or email –by 10:30am the following business day. Our clients have found that this single provision of our service platform does away with most of the frustration they have in dealing with their property manager. So easy...
- Self-dealing by the property manager is another common complaint. Board members are never really able to tell whether they are getting the best value in maintenance and service providers engaged by the property manager, and whether using these providers and vendors is at their expense.
This is a tough one. Using service companies and vendors recommended by your property manager can result in savings for your community, but the process must have integrity. We have developed performance standards for all companies that we engage to provide services to our client communities. Those that we recommend are subject to the same criteria, and must submit competitive bids just like everybody else. You can be assured that you are receiving top notch services at competitive pricing.
- Confusing Financial Reports provided at the monthly board meeting is a very common complaint. Since most board members aren’t accountants, they have difficulty deciphering the various reports. We have developed easy-to-read financial reports so that all board members can interpret and understand what the financial reports are telling them.
- Failure by the property manager to provide status updates – or even simply to close out work orders – is a big frustration we hear.
We provide monthly status updates on all open work orders so that, when a homeowners asks you what’s happening with a specific job, you don’t have to track us down to get them an answer. In addition, the technology platform we use allows board members – and even residents – to check the status of work orders at any time.
- Dealing with delinquent owners who have not paid their association fees is a real hassle for property owners and board members. It’s difficult and awkward to have that discussion with your neighbor. Yet it affects the community when dues go unpaid.
We have developed an automated system and flow chart to track delinquent homeowners so that delinquencies do not “fall between the cracks.” Our process removes pressure from board members and is specifically designed to keep communication open and expectations clear.
- Cost overruns by maintenance and service contractors is something we hear about a lot. Why is it that these companies can’t seem to stick to their original bids when they get done with a job?
The problem, as I see it, is in the bidding process. You see, many property managers fail to prepare bid specifications with sufficient detail. So the bidder makes some assumptions... and, since they want to get the work, their assumptions are usually going to result in a lower bid. When they get into the work itself, they charge for the work they’re required to do, which probably wasn’t priced into their bid, making costs higher.
Since I am an engineer, I know how to prepare detailed bid specs so that contractors know at the time of the bid what the expectations are. The happy result is that we are able to hold contractors to their bids because the specs included the details of what was expected. If they underbid, then it’s their problem.
- “We never see our property manager.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that statement. Honestly, I cannot understand how a property can be managed from a desk. In order to do our job effectively, frequent site visits are a necessity. Only by seeing your property can we stay current on its condition, and spot evolving problems to head off a large expense down the road.
- Maintenance and service contractors that employ unskilled or unsavory workers. None of us likes to have these characters in our homes and yards.
There are many service providers to choose from, and pricing varies widely. A low priced provider who performs poorly, or uses the lowest paid, unskilled labor is not a good value. We have established performance and evaluation standards for all service provider, suppliers, and vendors. And we manage them closely by performing frequent site visits.
- Construction projects don’t turn out the way they should, or run over budget.
The problem here is very similar to cost overruns for service providers... poor specs in the bidding process. There’s an added component with construction projects because contractors have their own language, and can talk in circles about why a project is costing more than the bid, or why it’s not progressing as you may have expected.
Here again, my training as an engineer means that the bid specs will be detailed and complete. Also, I will be on site often – even daily – to manage your construction project. And, since I speak the contractor’s language, they won’t get away with any double talk!
- “Changing property managers is too much work... it’s agony!”
In my travels, I've found a surprising number of communities that continued with their property manager – even though they were getting poor service – just because the thought of changing this relationship was too much for them. And I must agree that changing property managers can be complicated and time consuming.
I've developed a transition plan and checklist that makes the process of changing much smoother and easier for everybody. There’s no longer a reason to continue in a relationship that is not working well for you.
I think you’ll agree that we have set the bar pretty high for service to our clients. We would love to welcome you as our next satisfied client community.