“What do we pay you for?” asks a member of a community association. Anyone who is in Association Management has heard this before. Typically it is a response from a homeowner or board member that was looking for a different response than the one you gave them. Deep down inside they knew what your answer would be, but they had a small bit of hope that you could work some magic and give them the favorable response they wanted.
I started thinking that there is no way (from the most disinterested homeowner to the most dedicated board member) that the inquirer could possibly know all of what encompasses the management of the community. In association management, the phase “just when you thought you saw everything, something new happens” sums it up. Here is my attempt to illustrate how much goes into the management of an association.
The Manager. This professional is the face of the management company as board members and homeowners meet and discuss their issues. The manager attends board meetings, annual meetings and various committee meetings. Usually, the manager serves as the recording secretary at these meetings. The manager deals with arranging the projects that result from these meetings. The manager must maintain relationships with vendors to be able to obtain quotes for these projects. Once several quotes are obtained, the manager must acquire the board’s consensus on which vendor to use and then make arrangements with the vendor to carry out the work. These projects vary from landscaping to pond maintenance to building repairs. The manager is tasked with the oversight of projects staying on time and on budget. Although the board of directors takes responsibility and ownership of the budget, it is the manager that has the greatest participation on the budget development and presentation. Through the manager’s contacts with vendors, utility companies, insurance agents and other professionals the manager creates and presents an initial budget. The board then modifies, if it wishes, and ultimately approves the budget. The manager then follows the budget in the operation of the association.
The Administrative Coordinator. This professional receives the majority of communication from the association’s members. The administrative coordinator receives calls regarding complaints about anything from why the homeowner received a fine to a complaint a homeowner wants to file about a fellow homeowner. The administrative coordinator essentially acts as a junior manager who is in the office and available when the manager is unavailable. The administrative coordinator organizes and expedites many aspects of documentation ranging from vendor contracts to meeting minutes to information files. The administrative coordinator also administers the collection policy which includes mailing statement of account notices and contacting attorneys to collect delinquencies when required. The administrative coordinator is responsible for the distribution of annual budgets with coupons, newsletters and meeting minutes.
The Accountant. This professional is responsible for the preparation and reporting of the association financial statements. The accountant maintains all homeowner accounts which involve the posting of all regular and special assessments and fines as well as the posting of all cash received for the association to the specific homeowners account. The accountant also prepares all checks paid by the association to the association vendors for any funds owed. A check is only cut to vendors after the vendor has an IRS form (W-9) and proof of insurance. The accountant prepares the monthly financial statements for the association by making entries that reflect the financial business the association has conducted in a given month. When preparing the financials, the accountant compares the actual revenues and expenses to the budget and identifies variances that would need to be explained to the board of directors. The accountant also works with an independent auditor to ensure that the association’s taxes are filed and the audit is prepared in a timely manner. Additionally, the accountant files any personal property tax returns and IRS forms (1099) the association may have.
Thus, the response to “what do we pay you for?” is very much more than anyone can imagine.