What Size Management Company ? Is Bigger Always Better?

We live in a world of add-ons. Ever since the term supersize was coined by the fast food industry back in 1994, the idea and its implications have spread to many aspects of the American lifestyle. We've become accustomed to ‘value added elements,’ buy-one-get-one offers offers, and other perks when we make purchases. Because bigger is better, right?  

Well, maybe...or maybe not! Whether we are talking hamburgers, sneakers, or property management, is it really the size or sheer quantity you’re after, or is it the value and the quality of the goods or service that matters? When it comes to property management, what types of services does your board or HOA really require? How much is enough—and how much is overkill (or over budget)?

Don’t Assume - Do Your Homework

When a board is shopping for a new management company, there's often a tendency to seek out a larger firm with the expectation that bigger will mean better. But before making that assumption, the board should first identify and define the services which its individual property actually requires, and be sure it is clear as to what is wanted and needed. Once the board has drafted a list of goals and objectives for a prospective management company, it will be much easier to judge whether a particular firm can deliver the desired outcomes. As Dan Wurtzel of FirstService Residential, a management company with offices throughout the Chicagoland area, puts it, “The more boxes you can check off, the better the fit.”

Richard Holtzmann, president of Prairie Shores Management in Chicago, recommends that associations start the managerial search by compiling a “detailed and lengthy RFP,” a request for proposal bid document, which includes the history of the building, how frequently the board meets, what projects it plans to undertake over the next year, etc. “Boards should disclose as much information as possible up front, so that the right management company can decide if it wants to partner with that association and that board.”

A Matter of Scale

For his part, Wurtzel oversees departments that collectively manage nearly 500 condominiums and cooperatives, as well as 78,000 rentals. Despite the size and scope of FirstService, says Wurtzel, “The key to successful management is not size, but providing exceptional service.”

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