For your community to be as safe, clean, and well-kept as possible, your board probably depends on various vendors to carry out all those services. It can take a village to maintain a homeowners association. It’s excellent that those tasks are being taken care of, but having multiple contracts, deadlines, and payments at the same time can get a little hectic. Here are some ways to help manage your vendors easier and more efficiently, saving you some time and stress.
Choose Right Vendor
The first thing you can do to make managing vendors a little easier for yourself is to choose the right contractor for the job carefully. It might take some legwork, but it is worth it. You will get quality work at the best price and have a piece of mind.
Before you even request bids, review your HOA’s governing documents to see if there are any restrictions in place. Your request for proposals should outline the specifics, with deadlines, payment, and any other details related to your project. Try to compare at least three contractors, and get their bids in writing. Below are some factors to consider for your comparisons.
First, these are documents all HOA boards should collect from any contractor:
- Liability Insurance
- Surety Bond
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- State Licenses
- Business License
Permits are one of the most common things that get overlooked. But having any necessary permits will save you many headaches. Even if you like a contractor’s work and price, you still need to be wary and make sure they have the proper paperwork.
Second, price. Budget pressure can make choosing the cheapest bid appealing. But basing your decision solely on the lowest bid usually leads to problems that can cost you more in the end. Weigh the cost and the experience and quality of the work. Picking the cheapest contractor is not always the best solution, just like choosing the most expensive is not the best solution. It is helpful to understand how contractors price themselves. Contractors don’t have a guided system on how to price themselves. They usually pick a price and a value that they feel they are worth. Sometimes they overprice themselves and others under the price. Both situations can cause pitfalls. Find someone that does good work and go over the bid with them and be prepared to expand your budget contract your budget.
The third thing to weigh in your decision-making is the quality of the work.
Also, ask for some examples of the contractor’s work. Have the contractor give you a list of past clients or past work so you can drive by and see their handy work. Asking for and checking references will also give you a good idea of how to compare their work. Check out their website to see their portfolio, check out their reviews on Google, Yelp, and another website. A review can tell you a lot about a company, as well as an absence of reviews.
Keep Expectations Reasonable
One thing that will keep the relationship smooth is to understand a little about that vendor’s business. By having some idea of the potential obstacles that could come up, you will better know what to expect. Know what questions to ask and what is indeed reasonable to ask of them. For instance, if there is a hurricane in your area, several clients could be facing emergencies. Ask how they prioritize in those situations and understand they may not be able to immediately get to you if your issue is less of an emergency. It is also a good idea to ask about any emergency pricing. Knowing what is reasonable to expect will keep your relationship with the vendor healthy and allow you to communicate effectively.
Which brings us to the next way you can improve the management of your contractors—good communication. Discussing early and clearly what is expected of them, listening to their issues or concerns, and reaching mutually beneficial solutions, will help with the services you receive. Letting them know if you have any deadlines imposed on you or any other specific needs will go a long way towards good service. If anything, such as deadlines or details, change for you, let them know right away.
If the contractor reaches out with any questions or concerns, get back to them as soon as possible. Doing this helps contractors rely on you for valuable and timely information; remember, communication is a two-way street. When something happens in your community, it is essential to know that both of you can work efficiently and professionally. Also, make sure that you have something in your contract that will help you resolve any problems.
If any work is unfinished, communicate this right away and figure out what went wrong and why can prevent future problems.
Just as you expect for your contractor to meet agreed-upon deadlines, they expect to be paid on time, following whatever is outlined in your contract. Making sure you do this consistently will ensure better work and a better relationship. Worst case, if there is any reason your payment will not be on time, let them know as soon as possible. You will want to see if they have any hiccup on their end.
Consider Getting Help
If managing all of these vendors is becoming overwhelming for your board, you might think about hiring a property management company. They oversee the day to day operations and implement the direction of the board. Depending on how many outside contractors you have hired, keeping track of all invoices and payments, overseeing the work, managing the contracts, constant communication, and solving issues can be time-intensive. Hiring a company with the experience to handle all of those details will give your board more time for other responsibilities.