People and organizations are often afraid of evaluation because they’re afraid of failure. If we don’t fail we can’t learn, and if we aren’t given the opportunity to learn, we can’t grow. It’s in the best interest of the homeowners association for the HOA board to take the time to intentionally evaluate the HOA manager, ask questions, give honest feedback, and decide how the relationship can improve or if it’s time to part ways. Below are questions to help guide the evaluation process.
Did the manager meet the criteria laid out in the initial contract?
The contract between the Association and Management Company is a management tool used to evaluate if the scope of work has been effective or needs to be adjusted. Some of it is very cut and dry and easy to evaluate, such as the duties of the HOA manager and the financials, but also ask if the manager has been helpful to the Board’s understanding of how the HOA is running in general or if there are duties the manager should or shouldn’t be doing.
Did the manager do more than what was contracted?
If so, it’s important to ask why. For example, if it was contracted that the manager spend 20 hours a month on correspondence, but actually spent 40, it should be addressed and then allocated accordingly if necessary.
Did the manager help the Board manage the budget?
The manager should be frequently going over the financials and reviewing them with the Board. They should also be asking questions if they notice anything unusual so they are informed, can notify the Board of any discrepancies, and provide answers if the Board members ask questions.
For example, notifying the Board of a reserve item that will be charged in the upcoming month for road repairs. The HOA board then knows that the manager has been looking at the budget and is keeping the Board informed.
Did the manager stay in direct communication with the Board?
Communication is key! Especially between the HOA manager, President and Treasurer. The manager should be in contact with the President on a regular basis, and respond in a timely manner when contacted by other Board members. The manager can be proactive by asking if there are any questions or issues. If there are, then they can be resolved early and won’t build up and fester. This is often easier said than done because people get too busy or fear hearing bad news and don’t want to deal with it.
How has the manager interacted with residents?
Managers don’t always have direct contact with residents, but if they do, talking with residents is a good way to get a sense of how the manager handles issues. For example, if you know of an owner who had some water leaks, you can ask them how the manager dealt with the issue – was it in a timely manner, were they polite, was the experience positive overall, etc. If you receive complaints from multiple residents, then you’ll have a good indication that the manager isn’t very, shall we say, personable.
A lot can happen in a year. If your Board is ready to talk about renewing the contract, be sure to make any needed adjustments first. If the Board isn’t ready to renew, be ready to address the specifics of what’s not working and how the HOA manager can help and improve.
Remember to keep the best interest of the homeowners association in mind and that it’s the duty of both the Board and manager to work together to protect, enhance and maintain the Association.