When your community, co-op or condominium building is externally managed, the bills get paid, assessments get collected, light bulbs get changed, and lawns get mowed. And believe it or not, it’s not little elves that take care of these things, but often a team of pros that work under the umbrella of your property management company. Those are just several of their many duties. If managers are doing their jobs right, homeowners might not even realize how many different things, both big and small, that their property management company does. The job description is as varied as a day in the life of a property manager.
“There is no such thing as an average day,” says Lisa Evans, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, a community association manager with Schaumburg-based Vanguard Community Management. “Daily, we are answering emails, returning phone calls, reviewing open tasks, preparing monthly management reports for board meetings, checking in with vendors regarding current or potential projects, procuring proposals for work or contracted services needed,” Evans says.
Can We Talk?
The most time-consuming daily tasks can simply be responding to homeowners’ requests, concerns and complaints. Management companies may have slightly different work-flows and procedures, but typically there’s a point person to deal with daily tasks like these. At Chicago’s Connected Property Management, these folks are called operations managers and they act as the first responders for each of the company’s small- to mid-sized properties. “They’re there for two things,” says Connected’s president and owner Paul Houillon. “First and foremost, to be very fast at responding to issues that come up at the building and to be there for the board,” he says. “A lot of it is reactive, but that’s what these buildings need,” Houillon says. “Where we hear complaints about the management industry in general is that people call their management and don’t hear back for days or weeks.” On the contrary, a successful property manager responds quickly and is expected to handle the unexpected.
“You come in, in the morning and you have five projects you want to do,” says Jim Stoller, president of The Building Group, a Chicago-based property management company specializing in co-ops and condos, with over 7,000 units in Chicago and Evanston. “And you look up at 5:30 in the evening and you may not have gotten to any of them, because part of what we do is deal with emergencies and occurrences that are unplanned at every building.”
What often happens, Stoller says, is that a unit owner will wait until the 11th hour to alert the property manager about a problem that’s been going on for a week. “It can be anything from a minor water problem, to a boiler’s down, city water’s been disconnected, elevators broken, you name it we’ve seen it.” That’s the truth, he says.