What does an association manager do for the board of directors?

What does an association manager do for the board of directors?

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A property/community association manager should be assisting your Board of Directors and association in virtually every aspect of its operation, whether you have an on-site manager, a portfolio manager or a part-time manager. The degree to which an effective manager can lead and assist you in the nine major areas of association operations are influenced by their experience, workload, management contract and professional drive.

Let’s discuss these nine essential areas of a manager’s responsibilities:

  1. General Administration – including but not limited to:
    • Maintaining the operation in a positive, effective forward path.
    • Providing a high level of customer service – timely answering of phone calls, responding to emails and other correspondence.
    • Answering questions and going the extra step to assist the client.
    • Documenting and maintaining records
    • Reviewing policy and making recommendations for policy generation and implementation procedures such as but not limited to the:
      • Areas of common area rules
      • Deed restriction enforcement
      • Collection of assessments
      • Amenity operations (pool, tennis, access, hours, guests)
      • Communications, advertising, etc.
  1. Maintenance of Common Areas – The manager is responsible for overseeing all aspects of maintenance on behalf of the board including:
    • Knowing the common areas like the back of his or her hand and work closely with the relative service providers to ensure all common areas are:
      • Safe
      • Well maintained
      • Properly insured
    • Ensuring contracts for services are appropriate, competitive and performed according to specifications
    • Completing special projects on time and within budget
    • Ensuring services get performed within budget.
    • Educating the Board ahead of time of forecasted budget overruns and given options on other ways to deal with expense variances
    • Implementing effective preventative maintenance schedule
    • Documenting and revising schedules as appropriate
    • Knowing who does what, when, where and why and have a schedule and associated costs so that you can:
      • Track compliance with contractual obligations
      • Oversee expense forecasting and future budgeting
      • Assist when coordinating multiple contractors to work in the same area or project
    • Planning, communicating, implementing, evaluating, and adjusting accordingly
  2. Provision of Common Services – The association’s governing documents; management contract; budget; and Board of Directors are the drivers for this area.
    • The manager needs to fully understand what he or she is obligated to do:
      • The manager must understand that he or she has a moral obligation to uphold the association’s governing documents which have higher authority than any board of directors.
      • Conflicts in instructions or being asked to do something that is illegal or immoral is not a contractual obligation.
      • The manager has an obligation to honestly and legally perform services and should never do anything he or she feels against the law or potentially liable to the association.
    • In providing common services, the manager is responsible for several areas including but not limited to:
      • Developing or updating contract specifications to assist in bidding out contracted services.
      • Managing contracted services.
      • Communicating any deficiencies of services to a contractor, issues to be resolved and effects of non-resolution.
      • Researching more appropriate vendors, better services, better prices (low price is not always better service), more efficiencies of services such as:
        • Share services with neighboring communities to get a better price.
        • Share maintenance or portering contract employee with other communities.
        • Reduce janitorial or other services in slow use periods.
        • When possible, buy in bulk.
        • For large scale evaluate hiring on-site maintenance person vs. all the paid out dollars to various general contractors.
  1. Internal communications – The manager is responsible for:
    • Coordinating communications among Board members particularly when conducted via email; summarize results and ask Board to ratify at a future meeting, so it is read into minutes.
    • Compiling to-do and action items lists for Board, Manager, and Support Staff; with updates, so all can track progress throughout the month.
    • Asking for clarification when he or she receives conflicting direction or doesn’t understand the information.
    • Managing Board communications point of contact(s):
      • A manager should not have five different ‘go to’ or ‘take direction from’ people on the board as this can create confusion
      • It is best when it can be agreed that, while the manager works with all the board members, he or she funnels his or her communication via the President and/or Treasurer
  1. Financial Management
    • Understanding the association’s financial position
    • Reading and reporting on the financial statement
    • Monitoring the budget and forecasting the income and expenses monthly looking forward
    • Explaining the positive and negative variances of actual vs. budget as well as recommending how to deal with cost overrun
    • Managing accounts payable to ensure invoices are paid correctly and only when services are verified, etc.
    • Implementing and managing a professionally aggressive assessment collection policy that adheres to the association’s documents yet provides results
    • Exhibiting sound budgeting finesse from a historical and forward-thinking perspective
    • Conveying adaptability, flexibility, and accountability
  2. Procurement of Insurance and Loans– no contract for insurance or loan should be secured without Board review and approval. However, the manager is responsible in:
    • Assisting in seeking viable insurance bids, preparing the applications, etc. and presenting the options to the Board
    • Recommending appointment of finance committee to work with treasurer and manager when seeking a loan
    • Looking to the documents for the authority, obligation, and requirements first.
    • Knowing what maximum thresholds must be met.
    • Documenting the assets in a list, with values as well as photos.
    • Bringing competitive information and options to the Board in both arenas.
  3. Preparation of Tax Return and Other Reports
  • Ensuring that the board seeks and obtains insight and feedback from qualified, respected professionals within the Association Management industry including:
    • CPAs
    • Attorneys
    • Reserve specialists
    • Landscape architects and horticulturists, engineers, etc.
  • Presenting a variety of experienced bids to the board based on his or her depth of experience and business association relationships.
  • Developing and presenting a monthly manager’s report with topics including (some large-scale on-site communities request weekly reports due to the high walk-in traffic issues).
    • Financial report and high-level summary
    • Collection report including accounts at or going to attorney
    • Deed restriction enforcement including those requiring board action
    • ARC including any requiring board action
    • Service Contracts – summary of all contracts as well as any that have been put out for bid for board consideration
    • Special requests, issues from residents or special projects
    • Operational trends
    • What is on the horizon for next 30-60-90 days
  • Knowing the deadlines for the state and federal required reports and working with the Board and their selected vendors to ensure reports are filed accurately and timely.
  1. Assist the Board on Policy Matters
    • Evaluating current policies to see if they:
      • Comply with governing documents and state law
      • Are effective or need to be updated or extinguished
      • Even exist or not
    • Looking at all policies with these questions in mind:
      • Is it enforceable?
      • Is it necessary?
      • Is there a better way?
      • What is the best practice?
  1. Environmental Standards – The manager should work with the board to adopt resolutions based on identifying and defining different approaches to energy conservation based on the specific needs of the community including:
    • Evaluating common areas for green operations such as:
      • Utilize more energy efficient equipment and lighting
      • Reduce schedule for exterior and landscape lighting
      • Install modern timers on filtration systems
      • Plan sustainable landscaping
    • Looking for more ways to conserve natural resources such as water and electricity without detrimental effects to services or community curb appeal
    • Implementing Horticultural practices that can reduce landfill use:
      • Reduce lawn clipping waste
      • Consider more natural herbicides and fertilizers
      • Compost clippings and tree debris
      • Re-use as mulch after it is properly cured
    • Encouraging the residents to be more energy friendly and conservation-minded:
      • Institute a recycling program to the community
      • Introduce water and electricity saving tips through newsletter and website articles
      • Seek out city and county incentive programs
    • Developing and adopting rules and procedures to address energy conservation activities including:
      • Clotheslines
      • Solar panels
      • Street lighting
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