“What exactly does a community association manager do? What makes one successful?”
The scope of a management contract lists various duties - ranging from basic accounting operations, up to the frequency of meetings and community inspections - but a manager is defined by more than just a collection of tasks.
Center-most, managers are navigators of a landscape populated with legal, engineering, accounting, psychological, insurance and maintenance challenges. When an Association selects a management professional, it is adding another layer of protection against potential pitfalls and missteps. A manager may not have all the answers, but guides the Board of Directors to effective resources for overcoming or avoiding each obstacle. Some specific ways a manager accomplishes this include:
- Serve as a liaison between the Association/Board of Directors and legal counsel
- Provide information and guidance to the Board as it sets policies and makes decisions
- Educate and advise the Board of its role and responsibilities
- Organize and participate in meetings of the membership and of the Board
- Maintain insurance coverages (e.g., casualty, fidelity, liability, property, workers comp) in accordance with governing documents, statutes, and Board policy
- Represent the community association to the outside community (e.g., interface with local government, media, local public agencies)
- Analyze trends when preparing the budget
- Develop and update a multi‑year expense and reserve projection, seeking professional assistance as necessary
- Analyze the financial statements and reports, and report significant variances to the board
- Identify the exposure to potential loss
- Develop and implement safety programs and disaster plans
- Develop and implement preventive maintenance policies
- Ensure preparation of bid specifications and requests for proposals
- Review a contract for key elements (e.g., parties, scope of work, compensation)
- Ensure compliance with local ordinances prior to commencement of contracted work
- Seek interpretation of and invoke contract warranties as necessary
- Develop and implement effective assessment collection and accounts receivable processes
Five years is considered normal for a manager to become “seasoned” and able to operate efficiently in all of the above. Those not “making the cut” normally drop out during year two or three.
If considering a career in community management, just realize that the job interview never ends! Each Board meeting is another examination where your words and actions can be scrutinized. You are constantly working to instill confidence and to bridge potential credibility gaps. Only the strongest in customer-service skills need apply!