- the Board makes decisions based on that advice,
and other appropriate criteria
- the management company carries out the decisions
made by the Board
- the Board, as the executive body responsible to
the condominium corporation, monitors the management
company’s execution of the Board’s decisions
That sequence describes the absolute basic minimum
requirement as far as the relationships between the
Board and management, management and the corporation,
and the Board and the corporation. Does it describe
your condominium environment?
Simply put, today’s management industry has
established a more than adequate routine of preventive
maintenance. And there is a decent understanding of
the legislation and the lifestyle. But as often as
not, there is a lack of what I’d consider an
appropriate response, in general terms, to concerns
and inquiries made at the Board level. It too frequently
ranges from “leave us alone and let us manage”
to outright hostility. (Been there, seen it.)
And I’m allowing for the fact that some Boards
tend to micro-manage, which, if taken to extremes,
is usually a big mistake.
Some ten years ago, I coined the quotation with which
this article begins. I say that only because it reflects
the most basic principle, in my opinion, of the entire
condominium environment. Part of my job is conducting
interviews of management companies, in the presence
of the Boards, based on questionnaires I’ve
designed for the occasion (so as to compare apples
to apples). During one such session, one of the management
candidates, a former associate of mine, answered one
of the questions by referring to the quotation in
question as if it were his own. While imitation is
indeed the sincerest form of flattery, I’d have
been more impressed if these words had indeed reflected
his principles, rather than being a collection of
“spin” meant to impress a potential client.
(It didn’t help his cause that my introductory
literature to my clients includes multiple references
to this quotation. Needless to say, his company didn’t
get the gig.)
Remember Y2K? Were there concerns about accounting
in your condominium? Did things go smoothly during
the conversion to new accounting systems? Was the
communication process to your satisfaction, while
the problems were being sorted out, or not sorted
out, as the case may be?
This’ll surprise you: I’m stating unequivocally
that today’s management fees are too low. It’s
difficult to find decent property managers who are
willing to work nights, take heat from Boards and
owner-residents, and be knowledgeable in eight or
nine different areas ranging from finance to psychology
to mechanical technology to legislation, for what
the industry can currently pay them.
It’s management’s role to educate the
Boards in this area. But the industry must do so from
a position of strength. That is, they can’t
pursue this pattern of not relating to the client,
then go ask the client for more money. The industry
must first show its mettle, not just with competence
in, for instance, preventive maintenance. They must
also demonstrate, beyond any doubt, that they truly
understand what it’s like for a Board Member
to answer to a neighbour on an elevator, at 6:30 p.m.
on a rainy night, when Board Members are tired from
a long tough day facing problems that they’re
paid to face.
If this can be accomplished, I believe Board Members
will be more receptive to hearing about the economic
realities of the condominium management industry.
Notice I keep saying industry, not profession. Never
mind governmental designations, and standardized exams:
when the industry adopts the above quotation as a
sincere credo, it’ll take the first giant step
toward becoming a profession.
Alan Rosenberg is President of A. R. Consulting,
which provides a variety of advisory services to Toronto-area
condominium boards of directors. His long, rewarding
career with a large condominium management company,
most notably as Vice-President, included client liaison
and counselling, legislative advice, financial reporting,
creation of maintenance specifications, organizing
building inspections, and editing of newsletters and
other communications materials.
A. R. Consulting now assists
condominiums in improving their own management situations.
Alan’s comprehensive investigative and interviewing
methods are renowned throughout the condo community.
Phone: 416-932-9510; Fax: 416-932-9769