Having been a community association manager for 25 years, I’ve learned many valuable tips and techniques through trial and error, and can recommend several proven successful methods to effectively manage a property.

First, you must have the proper personnel in place and once you have them, figure out how to keep them. Our solution for keeping good personnel is to pay them on time, show them respect, and to say “thank you” for a job well done. You must have a clear understanding of the tasks that need to be accomplished. This starts with two-way communication between the board members, the manager, and association personnel. Whether you outsource projects using subcontractors (always make sure they are licensed) or hire employees, you must ensure that everyone works together as a team. Since contractors and employees are visible on the property, they need to have a level of professionalism so everyone feels comfortable. The primary focus should be the scope of the project, the quality of work, and the way they interact with residents. Without a team work concept the association runs the risk of projects not being completed to specification, cost overruns, delays, and many unhappy people. That’s when the association pays an even higher price – good will. Sometimes new managers and board members want to cut corners and do not realize that cheap is not always the best the way to go. Don’t get me wrong, you must work within your budget, but it doesn’t mean you always award projects to the lowest bidder. Remember, do your homework and check these things out thoroughly. It really is cheaper to do it right the first time. The worse thing to have happen is to have to do the project over. This can be very costly and get you fired as a manager or voted out as a board member.

Second, you need focus on collection of assessments, especially during these times of economic difficulties in our country. The board and manager must follow the guidelines set in their documents and adopt innovative collections procedures. You must have compassion, yet be able to communicate the importance of timely assessment payments. Your documents should state when assessments are due. The first time an owner is late paying the assessment, send a soft letter as a reminder in case they
forgot to mail the payment. This usually happens at the first of the year with owners just finishing the holiday cheers. If payment has still not been received within a reasonable amount of time (within 10 or 15 days), then a second letter should be sent basically spelling out that if payment is not received by a certain date (usually 30 days) the account will be turned over to the association’s attorney for collection. This would add unnecessary costs to the unit owner because they failed to pay. Usually this will catch their eye and initiate the payment or some communication of a payment arrangement. Of course, there are certain times you will have to turn it over to the association’s attorney for collection. Using this approach, we have taken an association with a 24% delinquency rate down to only 2%. I highly recommend that your attorney handle the collection matters because of the legalities. Most importantly, take the time and effort to stay in contact with the owners so they understand that associations can’t run properly without timely assessment payments.

Third and most critical is to make sure the board of directors and managers are fully aware of the Florida Statutes and any changes to them. This would also include rules and regulations that are in the association’s own documents. Mr. Fred Schultz, President and Director of one of the associations we manage says, “I am glad that we have a management company that keeps us abreast of all the changes that are happening in the condo community; especially the things not to do.”

In conclusion, I believe that if managers (or board members if self managed) do all of the above, the association will be very successful, property values will stay stable, and the communities will be a very pleasant place to live.