Professional service providers or contractors are vital to the day-to-day operation and maintenance of any condo or co-op community. Since it's rare for a residential community to retain an on-site staff of landscapers and unheard-of to keep a team of roofers on hand for minor repairs, contracts are arranged with any number of vendors to provide certain services, either on a by-project or ongoing basis.
Ultimately, you'll never know if a vendor is right for you until he or she starts working on your property. But by prioritizing, conducting a little research, communicating and understanding intricacies of the vendor-board-manager relationship, the process can be kept relatively painless. Doing everything right can also improve your chances of hiring the vendor or vendors, who are most suited to the task and your community as a whole.
Typically, the managing agent and board work together to choose vendors. Your managing agent should know all the particulars of the hiring process—which vendors have good reputations, deliver quality work, and maintain fair prices—but since the board ultimately makes the decision, it's best for board members to get involved and become knowledgeable as well.
"It's a team effort," says Robert Hastings of MAMCO Property Management in Mt. Laurel. "When we pick vendors, communication is the name of the game, and I try to get a committee or a board member involved in the selection process."
The best way to get an idea of the quality of service a potential vendor will provide is for the property manager and board members to do a little leg work and look at some of the work the vendor has done.