Chances are, you’ll have to work with a vendor or contractor someday if you’re on the HOA Board. Homeowner associations require many services—landscaping, accounting, legal counseling, pool maintenance, etc. A little upfront work and reading contracts can help you manage vendors more effectively and with fewer problems.
It’s important to develop meaningful specifications for all association vendors. When a Board accepts a contractor bid that is much lower than others, they may be agreeing to less service. When you request bids, make sure that you have solid specifications and check bids to ensure that everything is covered. Get everything in writing, and follow through to ensure that the final contract includes all services and specifications.
Managing the vendor relationship well can help avoid underperformance problems. A process for prompt and ongoing feedback can identify potential performance issues. The check-in process doesn’t have to be cumbersome. It can be email, a quick phone call or checklist. This is an excellent way to track key contract services. Regular face-to-face discussions between the HOA Board and the vendor can also bring issues to light on both sides. Addressing problems early can prevent the issue from escalating and allows the contractor to address it with minimal disruption.
Seek input from an attorney upfront instead of later. It’s good business to ask an attorney to review a vendor contract before you sign, especially if it covers multiple services or contains specifications. He or she can pinpoint errors, omissions and potential problems that you may have missed. Plus, it’s much less expensive for a lawyer to review a contract than handle a breach of contract in the future.
It takes time to find good contractors, so give yourself ample time to check references, ask questions and do your research to separate the best from the rest. If your HOA Board is spending a great deal of time on vendor selection and contracts, it may be time to engage a property management company for vendor management. This can free up your time to focus on more strategic issues in the association. Selecting the right vendors and managing those relationships correctly can set your community up for success.
*** Wise Property Solutions is a property management company serving the Tri-Cities TN area, as well as the Knoxville, TN area. Specializing in Condominium Association Management, Home Owners Association Management, HOA Management and Gated Community Association Management. Tri-Cities, TN: 423-926-7373 – Knoxville, TN: 865-643-8989