Condo Media - November 2020 - 27

This issue's cover story (on page 18) focuses on the challenges confronting
condominium association managers and boards. For an industry perspective,
we asked two experienced managers to describe some of the strategies that,
in their experience, keep associations running smoothly and help them thrive.

Ryan McGowan,
CMCA, President,
Mercantile Property
Management Corp.,
AAMC
McGowan emphasizes
the importance of tailoring strategies
to fit the unique makeup, needs and
priorities of different communities.
"We work with the board to develop the
right approach for each association,"
he says. An important component of
that work is guiding boards to set fees
at realistic levels, sufficient to finance
the community's operations, maintain
its property, and adequately fund its
reserves. Also on his list:
Consider several years of expenses,
not just the prior year, when setting
the annual budget. McGowan suggests
using a five-year spreadsheet so boards
can see line item averages and avoid
basing the current year's estimate on
years in which costs were unusually
high or low. That multi-year perspective can also help identify patterns,
he says. "The board can see that
maintenance costs for the roof have
been rising every year and consider
the possibility that the roof should
be replaced."
Encourage board members to prepare
for meetings. A board member who is
opening the information package when
the meeting starts clearly hasn't reviewed any of the material, hasn't identified questions or concerns, and won't be
able to participate fully in the discussion.
"That drives me nuts," McGowan says.
If board members ask questions or request information in advance, managers
can do the research and respond at the
meeting. The board can discuss the issue
and possibly make a decision instead of

tabling the discussion for several weeks
or scheduling an additional meeting to
deal with it. If all board members do their
homework, McGowan adds, the discussions are more focused, decision-making
is faster, "and the meetings don't last
for five hours."

boards expect. And that can be problematic, McGowan observes, because it raises
the expectations bar. "If you say you will
make an exception and attend one Saturday meeting, the board will decide that it's
ok to schedule all their meetings on Saturdays. The extra becomes the expected.

If all board members do their homework, the discussions
are more focused, decision-making is faster, "and the
meetings don't last for five hours."
Create transparency. Make information about association finances and
operations readily accessible and
comprehensible to board members so
they can monitor expenses, track work
orders, track the number and types of
maintenance requests, and assess how
quickly they are being resolved.
Set realistic expectations. Boards
need to be clear about what they want
and managers need to be clear about
what boards can reasonably expect,
McGowan says. He uses this example:
If board members identify 15 tasks they
want the manager to complete before
the next meeting, the manager should
ask, "If I can't complete all 15, what are
your priorities?" Without that information, McGowan says, the manager may
complete 14 of the tasks, but unknowingly omit the one the board considered
most important. "When people aren't
on the same page, when expectations
aren't aligned, that's where things go
awry," he notes.
Setting expectations is one thing, he
says; operating within them is equally important. It can also be difficult. Managers
care about their clients and want to do
a good job for them. Their instinct is "to
go above and beyond," doing more than

The moment we do something out of the
ordinary - something that is not required
in the contract," McGowan warns, "we set
ourselves up for failure."
Patricia Brawley,
CMCA, AMS, PCAM,
Principal, Central
Management and
Consulting Services
Communication
tops Brawley's list of essential management strategies, essential not just
between boards and managers, but also
between boards and owners. And it is between boards and owners, Brawley says,
that communication often breaks down.
Many boards prefer to operate
quietly, she has found, revealing a
problem to owners only after the
board has collected all the information,
discussed alternatives, and decided
on a solution. The roof may have been
leaking for months, but owners won't
know anything about it until the board
announces that the roof must be
replaced and a $500,000 assessment
will be required to pay for it. The roof
problem will be a surprise she says,
and the assessment will be a shock.
Shocks and surprises make owners
angry and suspicious.
November 2020 CONDOMEDIA

27



Condo Media - November 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Condo Media - November 2020

Contents
Condo Media - November 2020 - Cover1
Condo Media - November 2020 - Cover2
Condo Media - November 2020 - Contents
Condo Media - November 2020 - 2
Condo Media - November 2020 - 3
Condo Media - November 2020 - 4
Condo Media - November 2020 - 5
Condo Media - November 2020 - 6
Condo Media - November 2020 - 7
Condo Media - November 2020 - 8
Condo Media - November 2020 - 9
Condo Media - November 2020 - 10
Condo Media - November 2020 - 11
Condo Media - November 2020 - 12
Condo Media - November 2020 - 13
Condo Media - November 2020 - 14
Condo Media - November 2020 - 15
Condo Media - November 2020 - 16
Condo Media - November 2020 - 17
Condo Media - November 2020 - 18
Condo Media - November 2020 - 19
Condo Media - November 2020 - 20
Condo Media - November 2020 - 21
Condo Media - November 2020 - 22
Condo Media - November 2020 - 23
Condo Media - November 2020 - 24
Condo Media - November 2020 - 25
Condo Media - November 2020 - 26
Condo Media - November 2020 - 27
Condo Media - November 2020 - 28
Condo Media - November 2020 - 29
Condo Media - November 2020 - 30
Condo Media - November 2020 - 31
Condo Media - November 2020 - 32
Condo Media - November 2020 - 33
Condo Media - November 2020 - 34
Condo Media - November 2020 - 35
Condo Media - November 2020 - 36
Condo Media - November 2020 - 37
Condo Media - November 2020 - 38
Condo Media - November 2020 - 39
Condo Media - November 2020 - 40
Condo Media - November 2020 - 41
Condo Media - November 2020 - 42
Condo Media - November 2020 - 43
Condo Media - November 2020 - 44
Condo Media - November 2020 - 45
Condo Media - November 2020 - 46
Condo Media - November 2020 - 47
Condo Media - November 2020 - 48
Condo Media - November 2020 - 49
Condo Media - November 2020 - 50
Condo Media - November 2020 - 51
Condo Media - November 2020 - 52
Condo Media - November 2020 - 53
Condo Media - November 2020 - 54
Condo Media - November 2020 - 55
Condo Media - November 2020 - 56
Condo Media - November 2020 - 57
Condo Media - November 2020 - 58
Condo Media - November 2020 - 59
Condo Media - November 2020 - 60
Condo Media - November 2020 - 61
Condo Media - November 2020 - 62
Condo Media - November 2020 - 63
Condo Media - November 2020 - 64
Condo Media - November 2020 - Cover3
Condo Media - November 2020 - Cover4
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