Every homeowners association receives emergency after-hours calls from members. But, is it really necessary to hire an on call HOA manager to deal with those calls?
Why Some Communities Hire an On Call HOA Manager
Anyone who has ever served on the board of their homeowners association knows that after-hours calls are nothing new. Homeowners will sometimes run into emergencies that require HOA assistance and, for that, they call the board.
Board members already do a lot for their community. They enforce the rules, manage the association’s finances, and make important decisions. Adding emergency after-hours calls to that list seems excessive, but that is just the reality of the job.
Of course, that does not mean there is nothing board members can do to reduce the stress of fielding homeowner calls. For many associations, the solution comes in the form of an on-call HOA manager.
An on call HOA manager can answer calls from homeowners as well as board members, day or night. They assume the responsibility of responding to and taking note of any emergency reports. This alleviates the burden from the shoulders of the board members.
If you already have an HOA manager or management company, there is a good chance they offer extra services such as emergency after-hours calls. For communities still looking for a management company, make sure to ask about this service.
The Benefits of Hiring an On Call HOA Manager
It is easy to understand the reasoning behind hiring an HOA manager to take emergency calls, even those that occur after hours. Yet, many communities don’t take advantage of this service because of cost-related reasons. The benefits of having an on-call HOA manager, though, generally outweigh the cost.
1. Fewer Disturbances to the Board
Perhaps one of, if not the, most practical benefits of having an on call HOA manager is the resulting reduced work for the board. As a board member, how many times have you gotten a call from a complaining homeowner in the wee hours of the night or right in the middle of a workday? An on-call HOA manager can field those calls for you.
Of course, in no way does this mean that you have to give your HOA manager absolute power. You must come up with a protocol that outlines how your manager should deal with emergency calls. They must still receive guidance from the board. Often, this comes in the form of pre-approved emergency work or actions when certain conditions come up.
Sometimes, though, your HOA manager will get emergency calls that don’t appear on your list of pre-approved actions. In this case, the manager will usually need to call you for assistance. You can also ask your manager to contact the board in the event of overnight issues.
2. Knows Your HOA Inside and Out
Although it is expected of them, not all board members know their community all too well. In fact, far too many members only run for a position on the board to fix an issue that’s been bothering them. In other words, they aren’t really into helping the association and are only interested in helping themselves. How can you trust someone like that to handle your emergency calls?
In comparison, an on call HOA manager will take the time to get to know your community inside and out. They will study up on your association’s governing documents, as it is quite literally part of their job. Thus, they will know exactly when an emergency call falls under the association’s umbrella of responsibility.
3. Established Relationships With Reliable Vendors
Management companies often have existing relationships with thoroughly vetted vendors. Thus, when you enlist their help to deal with emergencies, they already have a list of reliable vendors that can address the issue.
This is not only more convenient but also better for your community. Quality vendors are hard to find, and it is even harder to cultivate a long-term relationship with them. Emergency situations require immediate attention. But, vendors have many clients, so it is usually difficult to get a spot on their priority list.
With an on call HOA manager, you can avoid long wait times and have issues addressed at once. This will prevent the problem from worsening and allow you to avoid more costly damages.
Running a Self-Managed Community
There are many associations that take the self-managed route. Smaller communities, in particular, typically operate without the help of a manager or management company. But, one of the major drawbacks of self-managed communities is that the board assumes the responsibility of answering emergency after-hours calls.
If you have a self-managed board, it is imperative to set up a system for emergency calls. For instance, you may want to assign a different board member to be on call per week. This rotation system will make it easier for all board members, though generally harder for homeowners because they need to keep track of who’s on call on a weekly basis.
Your system should also define what exactly constitutes an emergency. Sometimes, homeowners will call you late at night only to complain about a small issue. Common examples of emergencies include fires and plumbing-related problems (as these tend to worsen in only a short period of time).
It also helps to review the type of calls you get over a 6-month period. See if you can identify any trends in these calls. For instance, if you get a lot of reports of broken pipes, that could mean you have a larger plumbing issue in your building.
Since you don’t have a management company, you also need to form relationships with vendors on your own. It is a good idea to have reliable maintenance companies, electricians, and plumbers on your emergency contact list. Knowing the contact information of your local fire and police departments’ community liaisons also helps.
Beyond that, if you personally don’t like receiving calls from homeowners (especially at night), you might want to consider hiring an answering service. Keep in mind, though, that answering services have limited actions they can take.
A Valuable Asset to Every Association
As you can see, there are many things an on call HOA manager can help your community with. If your association has the budget for it, consider hiring an on-call HOA manager or management company to answer your emergency calls. Of course, smaller self-managed communities can get by just fine without them, though it will take more work on the board’s part.
Cedar Management Group offers emergency after-hours services in addition to a variety of other HOA management solutions. Call us today at (877) 252-3327 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help you.
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