If you’re running your homeowners’ association (HOA) like a business, it’s important to conduct performance reviews on all your employees, especially your HOA manager. While nobody really likes being scrutinized, routine evaluations are a healthy practice. It’s an opportunity for the board to be open about their expectations and provide valuable feedback that your HOA manager can use to improve. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s how to evaluate your HOA manager.
7 Important Criteria to Evaluate Your HOA Manager
Here are some important points to consider when evaluating the performance of your HOA manager:
1. Initial Contract Requirements
The easiest place to start when evaluating HOA or condominium association managers is with the HOA management agreement you initially signed. The contract will include a clear HOA manager job description. Are the criteria present in the contract being followed? Are duties being upheld as expected?
After going through the scope of work outline like a checklist, you also want to evaluate your HOA manager on a qualitative level. Is the manager doing more than what was mentioned in the contract? Or, did the association have to adjust to accommodate the manager’s inadequacies?
If they are spending more or less time than expected on specific tasks, these areas may need to be addressed and adjusted accordingly. This is also a good time to question whether there are things not mentioned in the contract that you wish were there, and you can bring this up with your HOA manager.
2. Communication Skills
Communication between the HOA manager and board members is very important. Your manager should, at the very least, have contact with the board president and treasurer on a regular basis.
Also, to evaluate your HOA manager, consider these questions: Does the HOA manager respond in a timely manner? This is crucial when dealing with urgent community matters. Is your HOA manager proactive? Does he merely follow orders or provide suggestions that will improve the community?
3. Relationship with Community Members
You can get a good idea of how your HOA manager is handling community matters based on his/her relationship with homeowners, guests, vendors, contractors, and other employees. Does the manager speak to homeowners and ask how they are? Does the manager follow up with contractors on upcoming repairs?
You can also see if your HOA manager has a personable demeanor by asking these questions to community members. Their responses will help you know if your manager is working well for the residents and the community.
4. HOA Budget and Financials
A good HOA manager should be regularly going over the budget and financials with the board. Pay attention to whether the manager is asking questions and notifying the board or reserve items. These can indicate whether the manager is carefully managing the budget. Does your HOA manager pay attention to detail? Your HOA manager should be able to catch discrepancies and point out anything they are unsure about.
6. HOA Insurance and Legal Matters
You want an HOA manager who doesn’t expose your association to liabilities. Does your HOA manager regularly monitor your insurance coverage and ensure that it is not inadequate or lapsed? The manager should also be vigilant when it comes to licenses and insurance for vendors, contractors, and other third-party companies. Determine whether your HOA manager has a systematic approach when dealing with insurance matters.
The manager should also have regular contact with your HOA attorney to ask questions or consult when it comes to legal matters. When you evaluate your HOA manager, you want to see whether he/she is able to limit your association’s exposure to liabilities.
6. Conduct and Ethics
Accomplishing tasks is one thing, but you also want to check the way your HOA manager conducts himself/herself when dealing with community matters. Is he professional? Does he react well to comments, suggestions, or criticisms from the board? You want an HOA manager who is open-minded and takes criticism as an opportunity to improve.
Ethics and integrity are also two aspects to consider when you evaluate your HOA manager. Does he look out for the interest of the entire community? A good HOA manager will always recommend best practices and avoid harmful policies. Does your manager have the courage to stand up to the board? This shows that the manager isn’t afraid of risking his relationship with the board if it means that he/she is able to protect the community.
7. Certifications and Training
Some states require HOA management companies and managers to be certified. While there are no legal requirements for the Carolinas, you still want an HOA manager who has considerable expertise and experience in community management. Does your HOA manager attend seminars and training to improve his skills? A knowledgeable manager can empower boards and help them make the best decisions for the community. You shouldn’t settle for a manager who is complacent and just doing the bare minimum.
The Next Step in the Evaluation Process
After you evaluate your HOA manager, the board needs to decide to renew or terminate the HOA management agreement. If the association is happy with the performance of the HOA manager, the board will not hesitate to renew the contract. However, you should still use this opportunity to discuss what aspects of the contract have been working well and what aspects need to be adjusted or renegotiated.
If you decide to terminate the services of your HOA manager, check the termination policy in your contract. Do you have the right to terminate based on your management’s inadequacies? If not, you will have to provide adequate notice and may even have to pay a cancellation fee. Consult your HOA attorney throughout this process. After termination, you can start looking for new HOA management.
Does Your HOA Manager Work Well with the Community?
Even if you have an HOA manager that deals with daily operations, maintenance, and other community matters, the HOA board is still ultimately responsible for the community. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your HOA manager — to ensure that the community’s needs are being taken care of. You can have informal weekly or monthly evaluations that you can refer to during the official performance review at the end of the year. What’s important is that you have all the information you need to properly evaluate your HOA manager.