When it comes to routine maintenance, self-managed communities are at a disadvantage. Large Boston property management companies like ours are able to use their size to reduce costs and attract vendors to each individual community, but a self-managed community doesn’t have that kind of leverage. Large management companies also have more resources in place to learn about vendors and minimize risks. To help even the score, self-managed communities should consider the tips below.
One of the most important aspects of self-managing a community involves making sure that the community is abiding by all relevant laws. When it comes to vendors, this includes paying payroll taxes when applicable. In general, each vendor may be considered either an independent contractor or an employee. If the vendor earns more than 50 percent of his income from your association, he may be considered an employee, and you must pay the applicable payroll taxes. Conversely, if the vendor earns less than 50 percent of his income from your association, you can consider him and independent contractor and simply issue a 1099.
Shop carefully for your vendors and always remember to choose someone who isn’t involved with the association. For example, agreeing to hire a board member’s uncle to perform maintenance work may be a recipe for disaster, as the vendor may expect special treatment because of his relationship with the association. To ensure that you get the best possible vendors, try to network with other associations and make connections with some of their vendors.
Clear, frequent communication is absolutely essential to the success of your projects. When dealing with vendors, make sure that you clearly explain the project through the use of diagrams and written specifications. You should also make sure that each vendor is providing you with a detailed proposal that includes information about the cost to the association, the type of materials they would use and the amount of time it would take to complete the project. After you choose a vendor and allow him to begin work, continue to communicate with him about the status of the project as it progresses.
Never hire a vendor who doesn’t have sufficient insurance. If something goes wrong during a project, the vendor should have an insurance policy capable of fixing the problem and repairing any damages your property sustained. Before hiring a vendor, ask for proof of insurance. The certificate he provides should show that he possesses automobile insurance, non-owned automobile insurance and general liability coverage. The policy should also name your association as an insured party. For more information, consult your insurance agent.
Finding good vendors can be challenging. After you enter into a relationship with a respectable vendor, take good care of him. Pay all of your bills on time, keep the lines of communication open and treat him with respect at all times. If a vendor completes emergency and routine repairs to your specifications, show your appreciation to that vendor by allowing him a priority bid on your larger project. A vendor who feels a sense of loyalty to your association will be more likely to complete jobs accurately and efficiently, even when you’re in a bind.