Communicating with Your Service Professionals Unlocking Effective Homeowner, Board and Association Relations

 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.  

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