It is important for community associations to foster positive, lasting relationships with vendors. Here are some tips to make that a reality.
Managed communities require a lot of work to stay in tip-top shape. There are many responsibilities for HOAs and their teams to keep up with – community amenities, encouraging resident compliance, landscaping, maintenance, and so on. Anyone who is involved in their HOA knows how much time and effort it takes to ensure that the neighborhood is looking great and running smoothly.
A big part of that process involves the HOA vendors. Without good vendor relationships, regular maintenance and upkeep can be a nightmare. A great, reliable team of vendors whose work is trusted is invaluable for any HOA. So, how does someone responsible for managing the vendors make sure they’re nurturing the best possible relationships? Here are our top tips for making vendor partnerships strong.
Carefully screen vendors
The most important component to creating a great team is to get the right people involved. Managers can save themselves a lot of headaches if they choose vendors who are reliable, priced fairly, ethical, and great at their jobs. Beware of choosing the cheapest option just to save a buck – you might find that the low price corresponds with poor quality work or flaky providers.
Ask local professionals for referrals, and seek out the people who have a reputation for excellent service. Great vendors will come with good references, will communicate responsively, and will share the HOA’s commitment to serving the community. Managers can also check references and online review sites to get an idea of a provider’s reputation.
Have clear expectations
It is important to communicate expectations clearly to anyone doing work in the community. The HOA might take it for granted that certain standards are the norm, but often relationships sour when a vendor and a manager don’t have the same idea of “quality work.” In all fairness, vendors aren’t mind readers – if the HOA expects certain procedures or a tight timeline, the management needs to be upfront about those expectations.
For example, the HOA may need its landscaping company to work more frequently during warm and rainy months so the lawns don’t get overgrown. Don’t wait for your company to notice and change their usual schedule – communicate upfront that you need them to increase their frequency until cooler temperatures arrive. Your working relationship will be better for it.
Also, the HOA should be sure to communicate with the vendor if there are any performance issues before things snowball into a larger problem. Set up a vendor performance management process with regular evaluations to communicate any complaints – and any praise for work done well.
A frequent gripe among vendors is the pressure that comes from infrequent pay. Service providers who work hard and do a great job serving the community won’t stick around if the HOA dawdles on paying them fairly and regularly. After all, how can anyone expect great work without paying for it?
Being prompt and correct with payments shows that the HOA is professional and values the vendor relationship. It displays management’s respect for their work, and it signals that it is an ethical and appreciative community. Many times, delayed payments are not intentional but merely a matter of chaos and lack of organization on behalf of the HOA.
So, make sure to write clear, thorough contracts with your vendors that spell out all payment details, and make it a priority to stay up to date with all incoming and outgoing invoices. Vendors will thank you and, hopefully, keep you at the top of their client list.
Nurture relationships to improve the community
In the end, a great team of vendors is an invaluable resource to the community. Property management is much easier if the managers have amazing workers who can make the neighborhood sparkle and shine. It is worth investing the time and energy into choosing the right vendors, communicating expectations, and being professional.
Finding and keeping quality vendors ensures that your managed community will be at its best for years to come. If you are having difficulty hiring and managing great vendors, we’re here to help. VendorSmart is a comprehensive web-based marketplace that connects vendors and community managers in one place. At VendorSmart, we understand that third-party vendor relationships are critical to the success of any association or condo. Our software and team of industry professionals guarantee full compliance vetting for every vendor employed by your management company at no cost to you or the vendor. Want to learn more? Schedule a demo today.