Understanding the roles and responsibilities of a community manager is critical for a homeowners association (HOA) or condo association board. Many HOA and condo associations don’t have board-controlled, onsite community managers. Many communities with more limited human capital contract with a community management firm that provides a community manager to oversee the relationship. Often, this community manager has a portfolio of HOAs or condo associations that he or she manages.
The roles and responsibilities of a contracted community manager will vary based on the parameters of the contract agreed to between your HOA and the community management firm. That said, knowing what is and is not within the purview of your hired community manager helps board members evaluate performance by comparing a community manager’s work to established industry norms and best practices.
Let’s take a look at what to look for in a strong community manager.
They Act as an Expert Advisor and Guide
An HOA or condo association is really a business and needs to be run as such. A strong community manager from a reputable, experienced community management firm will provide your board with reliable, expert advice and guidance across a wide range of functions. Leveraging their own experience with other associations, an effective community manager will ensure that your board and community meets its fiduciary responsibilities in the following areas:
- Financial management: Your community manager will provide guidance and structure around financial reporting, transparency and regulatory compliance.
- Legal compliance: While your community manager is likely not a lawyer, he or she should be well-versed in your CC&Rs (covenants, conditions & regulations) and the state and federal laws that govern HOAs and condo associations. Your manager should be knowledgeable enough to raise red flags when the board is treading in risky legal territory.
- Day-to-day operations: A strong community manager will stay on top of day-to-day operational concerns including managing maintenance contracts, collecting fees and helping to resolve homeowner disputes.
- Alignment with the board: An effective community manager will understand the goals and objectives of the board and community. He or she should understand the board’s strategy and mode of operation, working with the board and pushing back against it as needed.
There is no more important quality of a strong manager than responsiveness. In this day and age, connectivity and responsiveness are expected and your community manager should deliver an outstanding customer experience via extreme responsiveness.
If an issue arises and you reach out to your manager, they should get back to you immediately, within reason. A responsive community manager needs to be both proactive and reactive; while they don’t work onsite every day, a strong community manager will make the board feel as if they did.
They Share Experience-based Recommendations
An effective community manager should leverage his or her experiences with other communities to the benefit of yours. They should not keep information siloed; experience and learnings from communities similar to yours or HOAs that have faced similar challenges should inform the counsel and guidance provided by your manager.
Andrew Schlegel, CCAM®, executive vice president of community management for Orange County and Los Angeles at FirstService Residential offered this in a recent HOA Leader article: “A good management company has enough experience with enough associations that it can bring ideas to the table ... a good management company will interject what it's seeing at other communities ... What we'll do is share policies we've seen other boards adopt so you don't have to create everything from scratch. Things like good parking, pet, or smoking policies, practices for renting out the clubhouse, or for allowing liquor to be served at a rented clubhouse.”
A community manager that can utilize his or her experience with other successful communities is invaluable for HOAs and condo associations looking to improve performance.
They Push Back When Necessary
Your board will know they’ve hired the right community management firm when their assigned manager pushes back at appropriate times. As a board, you don’t want a community manager that is an “order taker.” You need a collaborative partner that will support a strategy or tactic when it makes sense and speak up with objections or suggestions when it doesn’t. President Abraham Lincoln had his “Team of Rivals”; your board needs a community manager with the courage to be a countervailing force to bad or questionable ideas.
They Are Transparent and Honest
An outstanding community manager will be straightforward, transparent, and honest; he or she will be accountable for mistakes and will not compound an error by hiding it. Just like your homeowners expect transparency and honesty, you should expect this from your community manager. Instead of passing the buck, a strong manager will fall on his or her sword, and then present practical solutions to the problem at hand.
They Reduce Risk and Enhance Efficiency
You hired a community management firm to reduce risk, increase efficiency, and preserve the lifestyle and home values your stakeholders have come to expect. Your community manager should be on the front lines with your board, seeking ways to mitigate risk and exploring better approaches to day-to-day management of your community.
At Comsource, we hire only the best, highly certified, and experienced community managers that approach every community with an owner’s mentality. We understand that the quality of your community manager is a direct reflection of the community management company that hired them. Reach out to us today. We’d love to learn more about your community, and connect you with one of our seasoned community managers to see what we can do for you. Contact Us