Your association is only as strong as its leadership. Make sure you're prioritizing these tips when managing the relationship with your community association manager (CAM).
Working with a community association manager (CAM) has many perks for your association. These industry professionals can take on everyday duties you may not have time for, and they are already familiar with regulations and best practices. CAMs can take on tasks like budgeting, maintenance coordination, vendor management, and member communication.
But bringing in a CAM can also create friction with the association board or other leaders. It's important to focus on creating a positive, professional relationship that starts when they're first hired.
So, how do you maintain a good relationship with your community manager? These six tips will help:
- Be clear about expectations
- Review the contract each year
- Establish open communication
- Make sure you're on the same page
- Keep things friendly and professional
- Get legal help when needed
1. Be clear about expectations
As soon as you begin a relationship with your CAM, establish expectations right away. Their duties as well as the association's needs must be addressed and outlined clearly and effectively. For example, if the CAM should take on fee collection and vendor negotiation tasks, but the board would like to remain in charge of complaint resolution with members, that needs to be established at the beginning.
Clarity upfront avoids confusion and potential conflict down the road. Everyone involved in association management should feel confident to take on their assigned tasks, and that requires a deliberate assigning process.
2. Review the contract each year
Your CAM will initially sign a contract that outlines all the details of your relationship. But consider the contract a living document that should be reviewed and potentially updated every year. Once it's signed, don't let it collect dust in a drawer. Changes can happen fast in a community, and your CAM may need to take on new responsibilities or relinquish a duty they had at the start.
It's often wise to work with a legal professional when you and your CAM are sorting out contract details so everyone is satisfied with the agreed-upon terms. More about that later.
3. Establish open communication
Once your relationship is established, maintaining open lines of communication is a must. Whether you communicate regularly over the phone, in person, or over email, both parties should always feel comfortable reaching out. Setting up consistent check-ins can be helpful.
Also, ask for feedback from your CAM regularly. Allow them to share any struggles they've encountered, what they think the association could do better, and how you can help them be most successful in their role.
Transparency and open communication are cornerstones of positive professional relationships.
4. Make sure you're on the same page about priorities
When you establish clear expectations and write everything out in the contract, it should be clear what the highest priorities are for the community. However, it's worth discussing these matters frequently. Make sure your CAM is spending time on priorities and goals you set up together. Discuss what needs the most attention each day, week, or month.
You may want to set up a time to meet each week where goals are written out and everyone can discuss what the focus should be for a given time frame.
5. Keep things friendly and professional
Over time, the relationship with your CAM will likely become more casual as you get to know each other. Always make sure the needs of the association are put above all else. This requires that you keep interactions professional. There should be a level of mutual respect where no one talks over the other person and everyone gets to share their opinion.
While you want the relationship to be positive and friendly, the community should always be the main priority for everyone involved. Keep this in mind in all meetings, communications, and decisions that involve your CAM.
6. Get legal help
Working with an association attorney is wise when you're trying to manage a community and create a positive relationship with your CAM. Attorneys can help you review your contract and establish procedures that ensure you're always in compliance.
Talk to the association law attorneys at PeytonBolin. We help condo and homeowners' association boards put best practices in place and represent them in disputes. Contact us to learn more about our legal services or to set up a phone consultation.