As a full service association management company, we are always assisting our communities with obtaining quality contractors, and service providers for our association communities. We are constantly involved with reviewing repairs specs, obtaining contractor bids, and overall oversight all major maintenance or building projects.
We as a company have evolved tremendously with technology over the last 10 years. We constantly strive to keep our HOA managers and staff equipped with technology that will both improve our efficiency as a company, and always with the goal to improve communication between our communities, our management office, and all outside vendors.
We have spotted a very noticeable trend over the years with our communities and the contractors being selected. The companies that were consistently winning bids on big building projects and being chosen for repair and re-construction jobs all had one big similarity: They all were actively using several forms of newer technology.
What’s the connection you ask? Its simple: COMMUNICATION. When contractors are able to share their knowledge and expertise on their trade effectively with both the association manager and the HOA board members, it makes everyone’s life easier. Contractors are not depending on the HOA management company to translate their estimates and ideas, and the HOA board members are ensured that their community is going to receive what they want, and what they paid for.
We wanted to review some technology basics that all HOA contractors should be familiar with. We have them listed in order of necessity for effective and time efficient communication.
You would think that us being in 2013 that this would go with without saying, but we’re still saying it. We still occasionally run into a contractor that still only uses a land line for their business calls. That tends to give off a “half-interested” kind of vibe to HOA management companies calling to get bids. Also, having a cell phone, or smart phone also means that you have to answer it and return calls as well. Contractors that pick up their phone on the first call, or immediately return calls have a much higher chance of securing jobs.
This is another very obvious “must” nowadays. You can go dozens of places online and get a free email address for your business. HOA and condo communities don’t want just a verbal bid over the phone. That works in some cases, with familiar contractors, but doesn’t work on medium to large size projects. Associations and the management companies want bids, specs, and final prices to be in writing, to help protect both parties. No one wants to get in any kind of he said / she said argument about dollar amounts and project materials
Photos / Video
Photos and videos tend to go hand in hand with smart phones or cell phones mentioned earlier. Practically every phone made these days, have these capabilities. If you are like me (visual right brained) then being able to see things in photos or video form is an absolute must. HOA board members come from all walks of life, and not necessarily familiar with construction or engineering techniques. Being able to show them visually an issue, or bring a project to life with photos and video, puts a whole new perspective on things.
A website isn’t necessarily a must, but we really do recommend it. There are the obvious reasons like, getting noticed online, and having a good search engine ranking in your area. There are also the not so obvious reasons like, looking for appropriate credentials (insurance contractor’s license number), gathering references, or looking for a project portfolio or similar preformed work. It is so much easier to convey all this information if its on a nice, organized website. I know we receive a ton of phone calls and inquiries just based on our website. So if you are a HOA contractor, and you don’t want to totally rely on your community association relationships for projects, investing some time or money in your online presence would be great idea.
This is our favorite new technology to use with our association contractors. What if you could tour a property and review several maintenance issues without having to physically be on site with the contractor? Our HOA management team uses this tool constantly. Our managers get to feel like they are physically walking the grounds (which is always the best option if available) while still being able to log some office time. It really does help when it comes to scheduling and moving forward with projects. As cell phone carriers increase available data plans and network speeds, this option will only get easier to use.
Bid / Work order systems
Online bid and maintenance work-order systems are starting to find their way into everyday use with many property management type businesses. These systems basically take all the prior mentioned technology elements (cell phone, email, photos, videos) and combines them into one and secure location online. These systems help organize all of your community projects into one location for board members and association managers. These systems will also allow your contractors to generate many more leads from other communities and other similar property managers as well.
HOA and Condo communities rely on quality contractors to help build, maintain, and repair their communities. Use of great every-day technology, helps bridge the gap between HOA communities, their management partners, and the skilled contractors and service providers. We will continue to encourage our HOA contractors to not be afraid of technology, but rather embrace it.