Communication—there is probably no single concept more important to fostering and maintaining the relationship between homeowners, board members, property managers and professional service providers within the industry than clear, effective communication. From the perspective of a firm providing professional engineering services, this communication typically parallels the progress of a co-op or condo board or association’s reserve study preparation, or capital improvement project.
Often, before a proposal for services is even drafted, an engineer—or other service provider such as an accountant or attorney—will have already been informally tapped for expertise regarding an upcoming project that is under consideration by the association. Board members and property managers should utilize this resource, and take advantage of the fact that, often, a service provider will be willing to come in and speak with association representatives at no cost in order to help explain options and define a project path.
Seek Expert Advice
The proposal itself is a critical medium of communication between an association and a service provider. Again, if association representatives are unsure of exactly what services they need in order to address the problem within their community, they should not be afraid to ask for the professional’s guidance in establishing an appropriate scope of work to answer their needs. For example, suppose a community was experiencing water infiltration issues, they could simply request a proposal to address generic water infiltration issues. Alternately, they could request that an engineer make an initial site visit to help the property manager or association representative preliminarily narrow down the root of the water infiltration to something more specific, such as a malfunctioning retention basin, and draft an appropriate proposal.
Once the study or project is underway, it is more important than ever that a consistent, informative dialogue continue between the association and the service provider. At a roundtable discussion with my managerial staff recently, an evaluation of key priorities revealed that communication is of unparalleled importance in ensuring that a project is successful. The responsibility to communicate effectively, appropriately and with the proper frequency – in order to keep association representatives informed with regards to the project schedule, budget, occurrence of site visits and progress of construction – lies with the service provider. However, a property manager or board member should not be afraid to ask questions, in order to achieve a level of comfort and understanding with regards to the ongoing project.