Tuesday, August 26, 2014

To Call or Not to Call, That is the Question

In a world of text messaging and email, we have all become accustomed to an immediate solution for almost any problem.  As a service to clients, most management companies offer a 24/7 emergency number so that homeowners can alert us to situations that threaten life and property – after all, disasters do not keep normal business hours.  

As managers, almost all of us have received a call that is a true emergency, not the metaphorical fires we often speak of, but actual fires that cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. We receive calls on a weekly basis from communities (most likely condominiums) where a pipe has burst and is flooding multiple units in the building. Other emergencies include gas leaks, water service disruption or electrical outages. Under any of these circumstances, it’s almost always a homeowner or board member that alerts the on-call manager, so that immediate action can be taken to prevent further damage or begin repairs.  When contemplating calling your management company to report an emergency – ask yourself the following questions:
  • Does this threaten life or property? Meaning, if left unattended will this cause property damage or hurt someone?
  • Should I call 911? In the event of a fire or personal injury ALWAYS call 911 first.

Although many emergency calls are actual emergencies, management companies receive dozens of calls that are in fact NOT emergencies. Some calls are because something is important to the homeowner and the situation is causing some sort of inconvenience.  While we understand the frustration, emergency managers do not address the following situations (we regularly received calls for these items):
  • My amenity access card isn’t working
  • Someone towed my car, but I don’t know who
  • Sunday is the 10th and I can’t log in to the website to pay my assessments
  • My ceiling fan isn’t working
  • An Electrical outlet in the clubhouse is not working and I have a party tonight
  • The front gate is stuck in the open position

While it may seem as though some of these situations could be easily resolved with a call to a vendor, it’s important to remember that weekend and evening service from plumbers and electricians often cost 50-75% more than normal business hours rates.  In order to protect your community from unnecessary expenses (and possible assessment increases as a result), emergency managers may direct you to contact the office on the next business day.  

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