|Re: Handling Maintenance||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)|
|Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2014 09:19:20 -0800 (PST)|
On Nov 2, 2014, at 4:58 AM, R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at] comcast.net> wrote: > Although “saving money” is sometimes advocated as the rationale, there is no > reason why cohousing should be notably cheaper than “ordinary” apartments, > row houses, and condominiums — and indeed, it isn’t. The difference between cohousing and other condos is the comparatively large common facilities -- the amenities. Work on the part of community members is required to off-set the cost of those facilities. This is onne reason new communities need to think twice before building common houses and grounds that are too large for them to maintain. One of our construction engineers who does engineering and reserve studies for many communities said it would take 400 units to pay for all our common facilities through condo fees alone. > I’ve always had a "family plumber" and “family electrician” holding the keys > to my house. Something goes seriously wrong, I make a call in the morning, > and by evening, it’s fixed. They know I pay rather than complain, so I get > excellent service at a fair price. Not a cheap price, but a fair one. At > Cornerstone, we’re working on developing the same kind of relations. Exactly. People who know you and your facility are worth their weight in gold. Below is a long but excellent article from the HOA Pulse Newsletter on getting the best out of service providers. Main point: They are business partners, not vendors. A good newsletter to subscribe to. The role of the manager is the facilities team in cohousing. http://www.hoapulse.com/index.php/component/k2/item/12560-getting-the-best-out-of-your-service-providers Getting the Best Out of Your Service Providers Written by Chuck Miller Most managers tend to know a little bit about a lot of things, and may even be experts in a few aspects other than Association management. But there are generally large gaps in other areas of their knowledge. As a result, managers often rely on various service providers to provide expertise for the Association that they are lacking. This certainly doesn’t minimize the manager’s role; it enhances it. The manager still retains overall authority, pulls projects together, and communicates results back to the board of directors who are ultimately responsible. The Association’s service providers are actually a critical element in the overall success of the Association. The industry has quietly begun recognizing this over the last few years and has modified terminology accordingly. While the term “vendor” is still used frequently, the term “business partner” is becoming a more commonly used term. The Community Associations Institute (CAI) has taken the lead in this effort by creating a Business Partners Council as part of the management structure of CAI. That action has caused many in the industry to reevaluate how “vendors” are treated. The term “business partner” is more appropriate. The term "vendor" simply implies one who sells to the Association, without recognizing the added value that a business partner can bring to the table. In contrast, the term "business partner" conveys the added value that service providers can offer, and infers to managers and service providers that “vendors” are not simply disposable objects, but are also valuable resources that can help improve the entire management effort. Association management has grown more complex over the years, and the constant development of new methods and materials channels the manager towards collaborative relationships with what were formerly just “vendors.” Service providers are partners in creating excellence in community management service to their mutual Association clients. Below are some suggested guidelines for “getting the best” out of your business partners: Respect the business partner’s time - Just like managers, business partners are busy. They don’t want their time wasted. Those who serve the industry are well aware that most products and services are competitively bid by associations, and accept that as the norm. But, they also don’t like to be “used.” If the manager or board has effectively already made a selection, then the bid process just becomes window shopping. Most business partners will quickly see through this type of sham, and, at an extreme, may even stop providing bids for you. The bid process takes time, and that time is wasted if the business partner does not occasionally “win” a bid. You should only ask business partners to bid jobs they actually have a fair chance of getting. Typically, the larger the job, the more effort is required in the bid process. If you “burn” a service provider with too many “no win” requests for proposal (RFP), that partner may just be too busy to help you out when you need him most. You also need to provide the business partner with complete information so he can prepare an accurate bid. You will quickly lose the trust of your business partners if you withhold information, either purposely or by simply being too busy, that would help a prospective bidder. Respect the business partner’s knowledge - Business partners provide the manager with a path to expertise in their various disciplines. Managers should pay close attention, even if - and especially if - that business partner is giving information that the manager doesn't want to hear. When receiving surprise information, the manager shouldn’t simply dismiss the information, but rather should attempt to use it as a learning experience, recognizing that your business partner probably has more expertise than you do. If the expert advice you are receiving isn't what you were hoping to hear, ask questions and gain clarity. The wider your knowledge base, the more valuable you are to your boards and your employer. The information business partners have to impart is invaluable - if not for the problem at hand, then for the next. Rejecting a business partner's expertise is risky if you’re the manager, as it will reflect poorly on you if you’re wrong. While the board of directors can’t expect the manager to always be right, they do expect him to bring the best knowledge and expertise to bear on any given matter. Remember that business partners underwrite industry events and education - Business partners provide the funding for almost all industry events, often spending thousands of dollars each for the opportunity to get your attention in a non-bid situation. Talk to them. Let them educate you about their products or services. While they’re engaged in a marketing activity, you are engaged in an educational activity. Business partners want you to be educated about their products and services, because they know that the more you know, the more likely you are to request a bid from them. By making you more knowledgeable and successful, they also make themselves more successful. It is this mutually beneficial relationship that brings the “partnership” concept into play. Don't blame the partners – What? Never? I had a hard time trying to figure out how to phrase that. The fact is, some business partners, even very good ones, will occasionally make mistakes. In those cases, they may deserve blame. But the point I’m really trying to get at here is something I’ve seen too many times, unfortunately, where the business partner is blamed (“thrown under the bus” is the current terminology) for bad outcomes that are completely beyond their control - or even worse, to deflect blame from the person actually responsible. Sometimes, that person has been the manager. (A couple of stories below illustrate this point.) Chances are, most managers have done this - maybe not knowingly, but it does happen. Don’t ever deflect blame by pointing towards the business partner. Your temporary benefit will likely be short-lived, and the potential long-term damage to yourself is much larger than any temporary gain. Once this type of deception is discovered, your credibility will suffer. This industry is still so small that word gets around. Story # 1 – This was told to me by a CPA that I have used in the past. The manager called the CPA to say he needed the audit report for a board meeting that night. The CPA responded that the manager had still not provided the final information that would allow the CPA to complete the audit, and reminded him of the two emails requesting information to which the manager had never responded. The manager stated that he would just inform the board of directors that he had requested the audit report from the CPA (and he had), and that the CPA said he didn’t have it completed (which was true), and that it was the CPA’s fault that the manager couldn’t present the draft audit report at the board meeting (which was completely false). When the CPA protested, the manager told him that he (the manager) was in charge and had the ear of the board, and he could tell them anything he wanted to. Here’s an egregious example of a purposeful act of blaming the service provider. Story # 2 – This was related to me by a reserve study professional with whom I have worked in the past, and found to be very knowledgeable and reliable. A month after receiving the draft reserve study report for review, the manager called the reserve professional to express his extreme frustration with the reserve study report: some cost numbers were too low; he couldn’t find certain components in the report; and why didn’t the report look just like the prior report that had been prepared by someone else? This guy was loaded for bear. He had already decided that the reserve professional was wrong, and nothing was going to change his mind. In discussion, the reserve professional pointed out that certain component costs had been decreased because the manager indicated that a lesser scope of repair work was to be performed. The manager pushed back, saying the cost on one component was far too low, as he had bids for the work. The reserve professional asked why that information had not been provided if it was available. No response. Regarding the “missing” components, the reserve professional pointed to a report by location to demonstrate that the components were, in fact, included. Again, no response. Regarding report formats, the reserve professional indicated that he could provide reports in exactly the same format as the prior reserve study report, but that he felt they were not the best format to present the report. The manager said he didn’t care at that point. The manager should have contacted the reserve professional far earlier in the review process to avoid the frustration that built up, and should not have acted in such a belligerent manner when contact was made. One can’t back down from a belligerent position without losing face, and this manager was not willing to lose face. Can this manager cause the reserve professional some damage? Yes, but he would be very unwise to do so because (1) other managers do know and respect the reserve professional, and (2) it is more likely to be perceived by knowledgeable people that the problem lies with the manager, not with the reserve professional. This is an example of an inadvertent misunderstanding where the service provider got the short end of the stick. Business partners can work collaboratively with management to form a better team in solving problems that face community associations. They can leverage managers to make them more effective.
- Handling Maintenance Norman Gauss, November 1 2014
- Re: Handling Maintenance Sharon Villines, November 2 2014
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