The key to long-lasting business relationships is better communication with your vendors. Here are 8 tips to help you build partnerships for the long haul.
The key to any good relationship is communication, and that goes double for the relationship with vendors supplying services to your community. Here are eight tips to foster better communication with HOA vendors.
1. Outline the details of projects
You won’t be able to manage anything if you don’t know where you’re going. Draw up an outline for every project, whether it’s repaving the roads around the community, building a new playground, or putting up fencing.
Here’s one example for building a playground:
- Where will the playground be built?
- What equipment will be included?
- What look do you want? (wood, plastic, modern, traditional)
- What is the age range of the kids who will be using it?
- What is your budget?
Once you know the details, you will know exactly what questions to ask when vetting companies so you find the right one.
2. Hire the right vendor
A good relationship starts with hiring the right vendor. Do proper vetting to make sure the company is capable of doing the job. Start by searching their website to see whom they’ve worked with before, especially on similar projects.
Investigate vendors with business rating organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau or online review sites such as Yelp.
Verify that all vendors have the proper insurance, certifications, and other legal documentation.
3. Communicate your needs from the beginning
The relationship with your vendors should start during the vetting process. When speaking to potential candidates, be clear about your expectations and include these directives in the contract.
Ask yourself some questions:
- What services do you need?
- What expertise is required?
- How many hours do you expect the work to take every day/week?
- How do you expect services to be rendered?
- What is your budget?
- How much will you pay?
4. Create a checklist to ensure work is being done
Make a checklist so you can track when certain goals have been met. These goals might be met within a certain timeframe or completed on an ongoing basis, whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
Be sure to account for delays, such as weather events, equipment malfunction, or unexpected problems that might only be discovered after the project has started.
When going over the checklist, be sure to provide positive feedback and praise when the vendor has done a good job or gone out of their way to provide service.
5. Maintain communication throughout a project
Once you’ve hired a vendor, communication should not stop. Keep your vendors in the loop. Inform them of updates to projects or changes to the timeline. Also, be sure to let vendors know about new policies or regulations that will affect their work.
It might be a good idea to invite vendors to project or board meetings so you can discuss changes face-to-face. This way everyone can have his or her questions answered at the same time.
6. Decide who will do the communicating
Often communications problems stem from too many hands stirring the pot. Try to designate one person as the point man or woman with all your vendors or at least each particular vendor. This way you will have a consistent message.
7. Determine how often you will communicate with vendors
It’s important to keep a consistent schedule when overseeing vendors. Will you have periodic check-ins? How often? Decide now when you will have reviews to make sure vendors are meeting contract obligations and that the delivered work matches what was promised.
8. Be a good partner with your management company
Many HOAs and condo associations work with a community manager and/or a management company to handle day-to-day operations. It’s vital to maintain a good relationship with them as well. Decide who will take care of certain tasks, such as hiring, managing, and invoicing of vendors.
A management company that has years of experience — and has access to a database of companies to handle one-time or long-term jobs — can help in all aspects of dealing with vendors.
Check out this previous blog of more tips on nurturing vendor relationships.
Let VendorSmart help you manage vendor relations
VendorSmart can be your HOA management partner from the moment you start the vetting process. We also provide ongoing vendor support, including risk management and compliance management. If you are looking to hire a vendor or manage the certifications of current vendors, contact us to get started.