Someone asked me a few years ago to describe a normal day in the life of a community manager and I had to laugh normality and community management seem such a contradiction in terms. Then I began to think of my normal day.
As community managers, we wear a multitude of hats:
We are Financial Advisors : We advise our Boards of Directors on how to spend reserves, how to budget for repairs and how to collect dues. We oversee the smooth operation of millions of dollars of real estate every day.
We are Accountants : We have to be able to read and explain financial statements and answer that most asked question, What do you do with all of our money?
We are General Contractors : We must be able to look at a plumbing leak and determine immediately (with 20 possible sources) where the leak is coming from and who is responsible for taking care of it.
We are Lawn Professionals : We must be able to tell if a dry brown spot within the grass is due to fungus, lack of water, or too many pets.
We are Pool Professionals : We must have an immediate answer as to why the pool suddenly turned algae green overnight.
We are Horticulturists: We must know every species of botany known to man in order to explain to residents that those weeds are not really weeds but flowers.
We are Pest Control Coordinators : We surely know the species of the critter invading kitchen pantries and its access hole into the building!
We are Sewer Experts : We know exactly why most sewers back up at 5:01 on a Friday night of a holiday weekend.
We are Plumbing Professionals : We turn the water off in an emergency situation in the middle of a man’s shower just to aggravate him.
We are Community Police : We should rush right over to referee a domestic dispute. . .often among two people twice our size.
We are Feces Inspectors : We can determine the DNA on each and every dropping throughout a community and spot the work of Mrs. Jones’ little poodle FiFi at 200 paces.
The point here is that if you are looking for a low-activity normal workday, then community management may be more of a challenge than you first expected. Community management is hard yet rewarding work and you have to maintain a sense of humor and a positive outlook to succeed in this profession.
A LIST OF DO’S AND DON’TS FOR COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT:
- Customer service. Answer your calls and emails within 24 hours of receipt. Even if you don’t have an answer, let your client/homeowner know that you are working on it.
- Know your community. Set your goals to be proactive, not reactive.
- Be respectful. Treat that nasty, arrogant man or woman with respect; they may be your next Board President.
- Maintain your cool. If a homeowner is calling you names and yelling, don’t take it personally. Nine times out of ten, they are just having a bad day and you have been chosen to take it out on. Surprisingly, after they have vented, they will often call you back to apologize.
- Support staff. Acknowledge and appreciate those that are there to support you. It only takes a second to add a line to your email after they have gathered information for you to say, Hey, I appreciate all you do for me.
- Never, ever lie. If you have forgotten or not completed a task given you by the Board, tell them I am sorry. I overlooked that directive but I will follow up immediately. The Board will understand that sometimes unforeseen things happen. If you are straight forward and provided you don’t make a habit of overlooking your assignments, they will understand.
- Rumblings of dissatisfaction. Working for a management company means client retention. If you feel, hear or suspect any dissatisfaction, then you need to address this issue with your supervisors. What begins as a tempest in a teakettle ultimately could lead to a hurricane. Less clients for your company can mean cuts backs in the work force.
- Ask questions. No one has all the answers all of the time. Ignorance is not bliss if you have read the documents wrong or given your Board misinformation. Better to say, I don’t have an answer at this time, but I will research the issue and report back promptly.
- Stay focused. On the days that every call you get is from a cranky homeowner, every email seems full of hate, you feel sure that your supervisor appears to be looking at you with thoughts of terminating your employment, and you are ready to just give up. . . you might be surprised that the next call is from a homeowner or Board member telling you how much they appreciate you, the next email is one giving you a glowing reference on a job well done, or you are paged to come to the reception desk and find a floral delivery from a grateful Board/Homeowner, and you see your supervisor in the hallway and well, three out of four ain’t bad.
Remember this quote:
Be bold in what you stand for, careful what you fall for. Be yourself. No one else is better qualified.
With these tips, and an occasional aspirin, you’re sure to be a hit in this profession. If you like excitement, enjoy people, and thrive on being busy and serving others, community association management might just be the right fit for you!
This article is provided by Riverside Property Management Inc.