Steve Ghertner,

An important criterion in selecting a management company is responsiveness. Board members will sometimes ask how many properties a property manager handles assuming the number of properties managed is a good indication, or “thing counted,” of a manager’s ability to respond.  But, the real measure, or “thing that counts,” is the proportion of a property manager’s time available for using their knowledge and experience to respond to board member and property needs. A property manager only has a fixed amount of time each day. Our goal is to maximize the amount of time our managers get to use their knowledge and experience to respond to board member and property needs.

An older management paradigm, which is still employed by many companies, had the property manager handling all property related tasks, even many tasks that we would classify today as accounting and administrative tasks. We work to find ways to lessen the administrative burden on our property managers, so they can spend more of their time on value added work for their Boards. The managers provide value by having time to use their knowledge and experience to solve problems.

For example, we use databases, which are frequently updated by our managers with information based on their property knowledge, to allow routine homeowner, real estate agent and appraiser phone calls to be handled by our homeowner services staff.

Not only are our property managers relieved of answering all of these routine phone calls, but also
the callers receive a much quicker response than if our managers tried to answer all of these calls. We monitor the response time on all calls to our homeowner services center and average about
15 seconds per call.

Likewise, our managers don’t fill out every closing form.  They enter the information into a database and administrative support staff ensure those documents are handled in a timely fashion to facilitate real estate closings. Many other tasks such as new owner packets, late notices, pool key requests, and meeting mail-outs are executed more efficiently using support staff and information technology. 

Many management companies still burden their property managers with many of these tasks, and thus make it very hard for their property managers to have time to do what they do best, solving problems.
Wanting to know how responsive your property manager is going to be is an important question for any board member to ask.  What “counts” most is how well the management organization supports the manager to allow them to best utilize their time responding to their board of directors.

The key questions to ask of your management company are what support staff, systems, and technologies are in place to make sure the management company is responsive.  Also, what metrics and benchmarks are used each day by the management company to ensure that they know they are providing responsive service.