Interviewing HOA management company representatives for the position of HOA manager is no easy job. To determine whether a candidate is right for your community, here are the top HOA interview questions that you should ask. As a bonus, we’ll also take you through the process of an interview with HOA management companies.
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What Are the Top HOA Interview Questions to Ask?
One of the toughest jobs the board of directors can face is interviewing an HOA management company. By their very design, homeowner association boards are comprised of homeowners from all walks of life. This means the expertise, experience, and talents of the volunteers serving on a board can vary widely. It’s also possible that board members have never interviewed anyone for work before. Thus, they may have no idea what questions to ask or how the interview should be structured.
To make the process much easier for you, we have compiled the best and most crucial questions to ask when interviewing an HOA property manager. These are also questions you can ask HOA management company to determine if they’re a right fit for your community.
1. How Many Years of Experience Do You Have?
Experience is a major factor in establishing the qualifications of an HOA manager or a management company. Since you’re entrusting your community to a third party, it’s important to make sure that they are qualified to handle the job. If an HOA manager has years of experience, you can be more confident about his/her ability to handle the intricacies of community association management. However, years of experience does not automatically equate to quality service. As such, it’s important to ask other HOA interview questions to establish a company’s skills and capabilities.
2. Do You Have the Proper Licenses, Certifications, and Insurance?
Not all states require HOA managers to be licensed. Nevertheless, community association management licenses and certifications can speak to the qualifications of an HOA manager. They can show that your candidate has the skills and training to manage your HOA community according to the best practices, current laws, and established regulations.
Meanwhile, insurance is a non-negotiable requirement. Managers should be indemnified by the association. However, an HOA management company should also carry enough errors and omissions, liability, and fidelity bond insurance. This helps to assure you that, for whatever reason may arise, you can mitigate the fallout. Make sure the manager and/or management company has sufficient coverage for an error or omission that may occur.
3. Can You Provide References?
If an HOA manager or management company is experienced and skilled, there shouldn’t be any reason why they cannot provide references. Refusal to provide references is a major red flag. It might mean that a candidate has had problems or issues with their previous clients. You wouldn’t want to do business with someone who isn’t forthcoming about matters like this.
4. What Are the Core Values of Your Company?
It might not seem like it, but this is an important interview question to ask an HOA management company or manager. A candidate’s values can give you an idea of how they will be managing your community. Ideally, you want someone who shares the same values. For instance, if your HOA values community togetherness over profits, you will not be happy with HOA management that prioritizes the bottom line — and vice versa.
5. What Is the Scope of Your Services?
Not all HOA management companies provide the same scope of services. Some provide full-service HOA management while others offer financial-only services or remote management services. You won’t want to hire a manager or management team that cannot meet the needs of the community. Prior to the interview, prepare a list of services that your HOA needs. You can refer back to this document to check if a candidate can meet your requirements.
6. How Much Do You Charge?
HOAs should also know how management companies structure their fees. There are some that charge a standard fee for their scope of services. Meanwhile, there are also others that have a smaller monthly fee but will charge for add-on services, which can end up costing you more. Make sure to ask about a candidate’s fee structure so that there will be no surprise or hidden charges. This also ensures that the fees are within your HOA’s budget.
7. How Many HOAs Are You Currently Managing? What Is Your Company Size?
These two questions go hand in hand. It’s important to know the current workload of your potential HOA management company. Do they have the manpower and resources to take on a new client? The number of clients should be proportional to company size. If your candidate is juggling more than it can handle, your community might end up being ignored later on.
8. What Is Your Preferred Method of Communication?
Communication is crucial in maintaining a good working relationship. However, not all people have the same methods of communication. You need to know how your candidate prefers to communicate so that there are no disappointments. For instance, if they prefer to handle communications via text or email, there’s no reason to wait by the phone for updates. Once they give a preferred method, make sure to ask for specific details (such as phone numbers or email addresses) so that you can contact them when needed.
9. How Long Does It Take You to Respond?
Response time is also important for effective communication. When there are emergencies, you need to know that your manager or management company can respond in a timely manner. Ideally, a candidate should be able to respond within 24 hours. Even if they are busy with other things, it’s important to acknowledge your message and reassure you that they will get back to you at the soonest possible time. For emergency situations, make sure to ask for the name and details of your contact person for a faster and efficient response.
10. How Often Do You Conduct Routine Inspections?
Routine inspections fall under maintenance services. Choose a manager or management company that can inspect your HOA at least once a month. With regular inspections, they can identify minor issues that need to be addressed—before they become a major and costly problem for the association.
11. How Do You Manage Maintenance Issues?
Does the HOA manager perform maintenance tasks or do they have to hire a professional? If the former, make sure that your candidate has the necessary skills to address these maintenance issues. Meanwhile, for the latter, check if they have existing relationships with local vendors. You may be able to receive better service — and at lower prices, too — if your HOA manager has an extensive network of professionals.
12. Who Is Responsible for Day-to-Day Operations?
An HOA’s day-to-day operations may be too much for a single person to handle. As such, it’s better if your HOA manager is backed by a team of professionals. Make sure to choose an HOA management company that has a roster for accountants, lawyers, maintenance workers, and administrative staff. This makes it easier to finish essential tasks by the end of each day, ensuring smooth operations for your HOA.
13. Do You Have Additional Services or Programs?
Apart from the basic scope of services, what does the HOA manager or management company bring to the table? What makes them different from other candidates? For example, a management company that has a strong digital marketing team can help your community expand its online reach and attract more homebuyers. You may also want a technologically-adept company so that they can implement the latest HOA innovations.
The following are strategic questions for board of directors to ask when interviewing HOA managers. By asking situational questions, you’ll get a sense of how the candidate will handle different scenarios that may take place in your HOA.
- Please share a time that you had to deal with a difficult homeowner. How did you handle the situation?
- Describe a time when you had to mediate a disagreement between a resident and the HOA board. How did you resolve it?
- In your opinion, what is the most effective method of dealing with delinquent homeowners?
Interviewing HOA Management Company Candidates? Keep These Tips In Mind
Before your board decides to assign a member to interview with HOA management companies, it’s a good idea to prepare. Before calling management companies and asking for bids and interviews, here are a few helpful tips. These can help make the process of asking HOA board interview questions easier. Also, it helps you make a clear choice for the ideal manager for your homeowner association.
1. Make an RFP
The board should take the time to create an ‘RFP’, or ‘request for proposal’. This will help you to work out ahead of time just what is going to be expected from the manager and management firm. This will help in managing expectations, as well.
Expectation management is critical to creating a good working relationship. Do you need a full-time, on-site manager? Should the management firm expect to be performing bookkeeping services as well as administrative duties? What is it about your current management scheme that is lacking? Also, how could it be improved? Make sure to keep those in mind as you make your RFP.
2. Pre-screen HOA Management Companies for Expertise
The proper management of your homeowners association can have a profound impact on the value of your home and your community. This means choosing a management company out of the phone book might be ill-advised. So make sure you have a good pool of companies to choose from.
Contact the local chapter of the Community Associations Institute or other professional homeowner association industry organizations in your area for a list of members. Also, ask other professionals for recommendations or look through online databases.
Reputable management companies invest in and provide education, technology, and expertise in community management. On the other hand, an out-of-work real estate broker might have little expertise concerning homeowner associations.
3. Have a Plan
Decide what sort of format you’d like to use to conduct the interviews, and which questions to ask ahead of time. You might have the treasurer ask questions concerning the company’s bookkeeping practices.
The secretary will also want to ask about record-keeping. There are resources available for organizing management interviews through the Community Associations Institute and the Executive Council of Homeowners.
4. Allow Enough Time
More often than not, boards do not allow enough time between interviews. This means interviewees have to rush through their presentations. It also happens that the boards get more focused on asking their questions than hearing the answers.
It’s understandable that HOA board members don’t wish to spend hours and hours interviewing HOA management company candidates. However, it is difficult to get a real feel for a company’s history, abilities, and management philosophy in a quick twenty-minute interview. So, you may need to allow at least forty-five minutes (or longer) when interviewing HOA management company staff.
5. Be Frank
But exercise restraint at the same time. Let the interviewee know what is going on in your homeowners association. Also, highlight recent events that have an impact on managing your community.
For example, are your reserves so low you might need a special assessment? Is there something going on in your community that the manager might have to deal with? It may have to do with crime, political in-fighting, or more. These issues can have quite an impact on any manager’s success with your association.
6. Don’t Let Cost Be the Only Consideration
The cheapest is not always the best, and not actually always the cheapest. As the economy tightens and cost considerations are paramount, think about how much impact an inexperienced, poorly organized manager or inept management company could cost your association.
Also, find out if they have cost-saving programs like group insurance or low-cost web sites. Also, check if they can get better pricing on goods and services because of economies of scale and long-established relationships. Factor in this information when comparing costs and interviewing HOA management company prospects.
7. Let the Interviewees Know How They Fared
Don’t just leave the manager or company hanging – call or write with a thank-you, and let them know your final decision. If you would also provide feedback so that they can learn from it for the next time. For many companies, the way the board handles the interview process can have a bearing on providing new quotes or added services.
Asking the Right HOA Interview Questions Is an Investment for Your Future
As a fiduciary duty, hiring competent management is one of the most important jobs you have as a board member and one you can’t really delegate. But if you do it properly, you will find the manager/management company that makes your job as a board member much easier. It will also reflect well on you and your community.
An HOA management company interview is not something you should leave to chance. It’s always a good idea to prepare your interview questions for HOA managers ahead of time. You can use these top HOA interview questions as a starting point and then add more queries that are specific to your needs. In addition, heed these HOA management interview tips to help you secure a high-quality HOA manager for your community!
If need help looking for qualified candidates, make sure to use the HOA Management online directory for a list of HOA management companies and vendor services in your area.
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