Property management isn’t simply about collecting ground rent and service charges and keeping a building and its grounds well maintained (although we’re sure many companies behave like it is). The reality is that the bulk of a managing agent’s time is spent on dealing with issues that arise.
Just a few weeks ago, one of our Directors spent a whole day dealing with one particular issue. And had she not spotted it so quickly, the problem could have taken far longer to resolve.
As it’s such a good example of why choosing the right contractors is so important, we wanted to share it with you here.
The careful selection of contractors is a subject which is not discussed enough in forums and on training courses. Any contractor employed by a managing agent to work on a residential building should be thoroughly assessed and subject to due diligence. After all, these companies are representative of the managing agent and if they do a bad job, this reflects badly on us.
On the flip side, if they do a good job or you have a good contractor who communicates well, it can become your lifeline for years to come.
Unfortunately, as our Director discovered a few weeks ago, our assessment of a new contractor had not been as thorough as it should have been. She learned that one of our contractors had started sub-contracting work out (at greater cost to the residents) and then not paying their sub-contractors. This meant that despite the fact that we had paid them, we were being contacted by their works asking for payment again. Alarmingly, this sub-contractor had also notified our resident, which made us inadvertently look as unprofessional as the people they were employed by.
When we contacted this company, we were met with defence, resistance, and a lack of customer service to discuss this topic or rectify the problem.
So how did we respond? We promptly took this contractor from our approved list, retrieved the funds and briefed another supplier to carry out the work at the same price. Therefore, from the resident’s point of view, the work was completed to a high standard at the originally agreed price.
From our perspective, it gave us a wake up call. While we pride ourselves on having so many long-standing contractor relationships, we do still need to keep adding to our list of suppliers to meet new demands and cover wider areas. We thought our due diligence was strong enough but this incident has driven us to make it even stronger.
The board has since discussed the information we collect, the due diligence we do and the reviews we undertake when putting contractors on to our list and we have compiled new procedures for our maintenance team to make this happen.
Bring on the next issue…..we’re ready.