Interviewing HOA management company representatives for the position of HOA manager is no easy job. So we’ll take you through the process of an interview with HOA management, as well as questions to ask association management companies interested in working for you.
In this article:
Interviewing HOA Management Company Candidates? Keep These Tips In Mind
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. So this means the expertise, experience, and talents of the volunteers serving on a board can vary widely.
It’s also possible that many board members have never interviewed anyone for work. Thus, they may have no idea what questions to ask. They could also need help on how the interview should be structured.
So before a board decides to assign a board 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 interviewing association management firms a bit 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 also 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 (www.caionline.org) or other professional homeowner association industry organizations in your area for a list of members. Also, ask other professionals for recommendations. Try the attorneys, accountants, or landscape contractors you know and trust.
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
I have participated in a good number of management company interviews. Thus, I can attest to the fact that 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 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. Ask About Insurance
Managers should be indemnified by the association, in most cases. However, they 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.
7. Follow-up on References
Trust, and also verify. Be sure to call around and find out if the company’s references are favorable. If you have a chance, also ask questions about topics important to you. You can ask them “Do they do a good job of giving advice?”, or “Does your manager communicate well with the board?” “Is there anything you’d like the manager to do better?”
8. Check on Licenses and Certifications
Make sure that licenses are up to date and that claimed professional certifications and designations are still in force.
9. Don’t Let Cost Be the Only Consideration
We often ‘get what we pay for’; 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.
10. 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. You never know – I’ve been called back on more than one occasion when a board’s choice didn’t work out, and my interest in providing a new quote is always affected by how the board handled this part of the process.
Sample Interview Questions for HOA Management
- Please share a time you had to deal with a difficult tenant. How did you handle the situation?
- Describe in some detail how you organize your community management tasks
- If you have an opportunity to meet a prospective resident, how would you approach them?
- Describe a time when you had to negotiate a disagreement between a resident and the HOA board. How did you resolve it?
- Describe the most effective method, in your opinion, on collecting fees
Interviewing HOA Management Company Candidates Properly 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 easier and reflects well on you and your community.
An HOA management company interview is not something you should leave to chance. So it’s always a good idea to prepare your HOA management company interview questions ahead of time. Use these sample interview questions for HOA management while interviewing association management firms. We hope these HOA management interview tips help you secure a high-quality HOA manager for your community!
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