Moving from Self-Managed to Professionally Managed: What You Can Expect

June 1, 2021

You love serving on your building’s Board. There’s a satisfaction that comes from making your property a welcoming, safe place for all your residents. But it’s a lot of work managing your building. You and your fellow Board members put in a lot of hours to make everything run as it should, overseeing staffing, budget planning, insurance, banking, and more. Maybe it’s time to consider a professional property management partner so you can enjoy your beautiful building instead of spending so much time working on it.

When you choose to work with a professional management company, you should know what you can expect. Transitioning from self-managed to professionally managed is a process, and the right management company will have the staff, training, and resources to make it simple.

What’s involved in that transition to professional management?

1. Review of budget and conversion of financial records. Your transition team will import or input all your financial records, including accounts receivable and payable, payroll, and taxes, into their own system. They will review your spending and look for ways to save you money immediately. Your utility bills, for example, may have parts of your building mis-classified and you may be paying too much for water or power. You may be able to leverage your management company’s buying power to get better value for your money or to pay less for some items and services. The right management company will be large enough to have that power – and share it with you.

2. Contract reviews. That budget review extends to your vendors. Housekeeping, landscaping, valet, cable and internet services – all these contracts may offer places for your association to optimize value or save money. A great management team with local knowledge will know what you should be paying for these contracts. They’ll be able to negotiate for the best deals with your current vendors or find ones who will provide the best value for your community. 

3. Staff evaluation. You may already have on-site staff. But are they the right staff? Do they need more training or different training? Your management partner will make sure that you have the right people in place in every role, whether that means recruiting them or simply offering new skills and training to the people you already employ. After all, who knows your community better than people who already work there?

Bonus: a professional management company will take on all the human resources concerns you’ve had to manage. Because they’re a larger business, your association will get better prices on group insurance plans for staff. They’ll make efforts to recruit and retain the right staff for your building with a focus on hospitality and service to your residents. HR concerns occupy a lot of time for self-managed community board members, time you can spend relaxing poolside or doing other things you love in your neighborhood.

4. Benchmarking. A larger professional management company will be able to compare your building to similar ones it manages in the area. That comparison can also potentially identify places to save. If your building is spending twice as much on power as others in the area, for example, your management team will see that difference and know to arrange for an energy audit from their own experts or your local power company to find out why, then address the problem.

5. Insurance review. As a self-managed community, you likely relied on the expertise of your local insurance agent to protect your property. A professional management partner will be knowledgeable enough to review your insurance policies and identify, then close, any gaps in coverage you might have. That bulk buying power? It can apply here as well; a management company with the right relationships may be able to get better coverage for your insurance dollars or help you save on the coverages you already have.

6. Reserve fund and reserve study evaluation. When did you last have a reserve study done? It should be updated every few years or whenever a major capital project is completed. Your reserve study is the roadmap for managing contributions to your reserve fund and how you should spend it. How is that important fund invested? Your management partner may be able to help you get a better interest rate so your money does more for you.

7. Energy management and savings guidance. If your management partner has energy experts, they can evaluate your building and property if your on-site team finds it necessary. They may identify places to save energy like improving insulation around windows, replacing windows with more energy efficient ones, LED lighting retrofits, and more.

8. Review of policies, delinquencies, and violations. A professional management team will have the knowledge to best enforce your building’s policies and to collect outstanding delinquencies and violation fines. Those efforts will improve your accounts receivable and, ultimately, your property values.

9. Create or update emergency plans. Effective emergency planning is a big undertaking. Whether it’s planning for hurricanes or a water main break, having the right plan is important. If you don’t already have those plans in place, your new management team will work with your board to create them and communicate them to the members of your community.

10. Implement a preventive maintenance plan. The best time to fix things is before they break. Your new management partner will create an effective preventive maintenance plan that will include regular inspections of building-critical systems and scheduled maintenance efforts, so your building runs smoothly and without pesky, costly breakdowns.

A common fear of self-managed Boards is that they will lose control of their building if a professional management partner is brought in. But nothing could be further from the truth! The right management partner will consult with your Board every step of the way, leaving you in complete control of vendor choices, contracts, policy, and every other aspect of running your property. What they will do is take over the daily task management, freeing you and your fellow Board members to focus on bigger issues around the community. They will offer guidance, always working on your behalf and in the best interests of your association. But your Board remains in control.

Moving to professional property management is a big decision. Choosing the right partner will improve the service your residents see, elevate your property values and make the most of your investments. To learn how AKAM can work with your Board to manage your building so you don’t have to, contact us today!