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Getting the Most For Your Management Dollar

If you examine the specification for management services, either prepared by a management company seeking business or by a board of directors seeking bids for management of their association, you will likely note that most do not include such things as:

  • Purchase paper goods for the clubhouse washroom
  • Buy gas for the golf cart
  • Have coffee and donuts with Mrs. Jones once a week
  • Rent a wet-vac and clean up when there is a leak in the laundry room
  • Bake a cake for the block party
  • Take Mr. Smith to the doctor, when his son is not available

The reason you don't see such items is that they are NOT management duties and are not how the association's management dollars should be spent; nonetheless some managers fall into this trap- the trap usually set by a well meaning "community minded" individual on the board.

One must be wary of such expectations, on many levels. First, this is not facility, building, or community association management. This is work for other trades and professions- caretakers, bakers, crafters, contractors and go-phers; not for professional community association managers.

This is not a good use of the owners' money - - meaning all the owners all together as a group. If the job being done does not relate to the common areas, the common good, and the association as a whole, likely it should not be done at association expense.

Even witnessing the manager mopping up the floor in the laundry room is not a good use of association funds, even though it may appear to be quick relief for an emergency situation. While the manager is off doing this, what is happening to the tasks that you actually hired management specifically to attend to? You know that answer- they are not being attended to! Making purchases - - while it may serve the community - - is still not a good use of management dollars and it detracts from the manager's professional image. Anyone can purchase paper towels; the manager did not participate in intensive ongoing education in order to properly make a purchase in a grocery store.

Is it okay with the general membership that the budget goes out late because instead of attending to that, the manager was working on a fabulous 6 layer cake with holiday frosting? The cake would be nice, but aren't you paying for management ? When the budget arrives with errors (because the manager was rushing, short of time due to baking!) is the error forgiven due to the special creaminess of the frosting? I think not.

Board Members - if you want the manager to do something beyond the scope of the contract, ask yourself these questions: could someone else more appropriate do this?; is this truly a management function, or is it a committee function, a volunteer's function; would I ask for this if I was being billed specifically for the time? If you do think it's a management function and you would be willing to pay for the extra time involved- ask! And ask what the additional cost will be.

Managers- if you value your professional skills and education, show it by doing the job in an outstanding manner that sticks to the specifications within the contract. Do no confuse this with shunning the building of community relations- that is certainly a goal and something you need to assist in, but be sure the work you do is the work of the manager. Don't be the manager who tries to do a good deed, like going to pick up the tile for the lobby to save the association on delivery costs, and ends up in an accident that results in your inability to do the very jobs for which you were hired by the association!

Christine Evans, PCAM®, CMCA®, Association Times, March 2007


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