As property managers, our approach is to generally think about addressing the current crisis, or as I like to describe it: “Triage the Problems”. What’s that? Triaging the problems means that you must take an inventory of which issues are “bleeding” the most, and deal with them in order of importance with the goal of minimizing any ancillary issues related to health, safety, welfare and further damage. For example, you should address the flood in the seventh floor unit; temporarily cone and rope off the broken sidewalk pavement (until later), and then address the broken office copier; after the first two have been contained.
While we are in the midst of a crisis, perhaps we should think beyond the current problem. What is the origin of the problem? How can we avoid the problem in the future? What latent issue may arise as a result of water damage, broken sidewalks or continuing to repair an office copier that may be past its useful life? By extrapolating the current and past problems, we can make better choices and recommendations to our owners, board members and peer managers.
Property managers have very demanding jobs. We are required to be part amateur psychologist, accountant, landscaper, repairmen, police, purchasing and procurement agent, advisor, mediator, inspector, comforter, complaint department, encourager and counselor! Many property managers love their careers and the challenges presented to them daily. A good manager is confident, a self-motivator, possesses strong organizational skills, and has a can-do attitude!
Some of my top tips for new and experienced managers that may help navigate and mitigate current and future crises are:
Sidewalks or Pavers
Does it make sense to remove the sidewalk because of damage due to tree root growth or water intrusion? Rather than replacing the sidewalk, consider recommending a paver walkway instead. If the tree or hedge is not removed, the roots will be an issue in the future. Mitigate the need to replace a concrete sidewalk by installing pavers. When the roots begin to push through the pavers, simply remove them, address the roots (including installing a root barrier) and replace the pavers. This option is much less expensive, less intrusive and less time consuming.
Test the Railings
It sounds basic, but you’d be surprised how many times this simple inspection is missed. Inspect the integrity of the stair railings. Look at the stairs, handicap walkways and restroom stalls. Are the railings easy to move or are they too loose? Is it an immediate hazard, or just an area to monitor? Any safety hazards should be addressed immediately. Post a sign and place cones and caution tape around the area until it can be completely repaired.
Trim Overhanging Foliage
Who wants to duck tree limbs or get smacked in the face by a palm frond or tree branch? Walk the property and determine if any foliage is invading the walkways, or if there are any tree limbs hanging too low. These overgrown items will cause people to have to duck or walk around them thereby taking them off the path which could be a trip hazard. Trim foliage and trees regularly to avoid any unnecessary risk liability issues.
Preventative Maintenance Contracts
Review the repairs performed on the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electric, elevators, fire sprinklers and backflows over the past year. Perform a cost/benefit analysis to determine if a preventative maintenance agreement with a reputable and reliable mechanical contractor is a good investment for the community. Often during an inspection, the technician will identify issues before they become more costly and difficult to repair. Suggestion: also consider a maintenance contract for the computers and copiers in the office. How often do you require tech support? It may help you manage future costs by including it in the budget for next year!
By employing a few of these tips, property managers may be able to avoid the “uh-oh’s” inherent in the day-to-day operations of common-interest communities, apartment complexes and individual residential management.
There are many more tips in store for you in the book! If just one person is helped by these tips, I will feel extremely grateful.
Enjoy the journey…
Tanoa Lynne Poirier is the Managing Principal at Poirier Enterprises Inc., specializing in the management of community associations, commercial and investment properties, and individual residences in South Florida.
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