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Homeowner associations (HOAs) and condominium associations (COAs) often need repairs and maintenance As an HOA/COA manager, you’ll often interact with vendors and contractors on the association’s behalf. me associations also employ private security for their community.

In addition to hiring vendors and contractors for the HOA/COA, part of your job may include handling service contracts, communicating with the vendor or contractor, monitoring work, and paying invoices for the association. In some cases, you’ll be working with a vendor or contractor for a short-term project, such as painting a common area. Other times, the vendor or contractor will have an ongoing relationship with the association, as is the case for maintenance workers, landscapers, and private security.

It’s important to choose reliable vendors and contractors who deliver quality work. As an HOA/COA manager, your clients trust you with great responsibility for the well-being of their community. If you hire someone who does a poor job, their performance may reflect badly on you.

That’s why it’s important to vet anyone who performs work for the association. When you’re hiring a new vendor or contractor for the HOA/COA you manage, we recommend looking for the following conditions.

Effective, Prompt Communication

First, how well does the vendor or contractor communicate? Do they answer your questions in a clear, patient manner? When you send an email or leave a message, how long does it take them to reply?

Strong communication skills usually reflect integrity and hard work. It’s important that you develop a positive professional relationship with all vendors and contractors you hire for your clients’ associations.

To get a sense of a potential vendor or contractor’s communication skills, make sure you conduct an in-person interview. This is especially important for long-term contracts for any workers who will be a regular presence in the community, such as security guards.

When you interview vendors and contractors, pay attention to your gut and look out for any “red flags.” Ask yourself: would you hire this vendor or contractor for your own home? If not, don’t hire them for your clients.

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State and Local Licensing

Next, look for state and local licensing. Licensing requirements will vary from place to place. They also depend on the type of work being done. For example, a handyman hired to perform a small repair job probably won’t need to be licensed because most states have a legal precedent called a “Minor Work Exemption.” However, a contractor hired to do renovations needs to be fully licensed for the state and county.

Do your homework and figure out what kind of license each vendor or contractor needs to have before you hire them. Ask the business owner about their licensing, then confirm their answers on your own. Business licenses are public record, so you’ll be able to search online at the country registrar or local Better Business Bureau. When you vet potential vendors and check for the business’ licensing, remember to make sure that their license hasn’t expired.

Insurance Compliance

Certain types of vendors and contractors are also required to carry insurance. Again, this will vary depending on the circumstances and it’s something you’ll want to research as you begin the vetting process. Your client’s association should have its own liability policy, however, it’s important to make sure that vendors and contractors also have the necessary minimum coverage, including Workers Comp insurance

As you consider a vendor or contractor for your clients’ HOA/COA, ask them to provide copies of any applicable, required insurance policies. Keep a copy for your records and call the insurance company to verify that the policy is currently active.

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References and Reviews

When vetting vendors and contractors for an HOA/COA, ask for references from the business’ previous clients. Most businesses will be happy to do this (it’s a big red flag if they refuse). Talk to these previous clients and bring a list of any questions you may have. Ask them about the process of working with the vendor or contractor, as well as their overall satisfaction with the work completed.

Bear in mind that the vendor or contractor won’t offer a testimonial from an unhappy former customer. That’s why we also advise doing your own research on the internet. Use sites like  Facebook, and Google Reviews to see what others have to say about the business.

However, with online reviews, remember that people often exaggerate–especially if they’re posting on a semi-anonymous site like Yelp. Use your judgment. If a vendor or contractor has mostly four and five star reviews but one reviewer says they’re terrible, that reviewer may be holding a grudge or complaining about something unreasonable. If you find a really bad review, it’s okay to ask the business owner about it.

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Employee Background Checks

As an association manager, it’s your responsibility to consider the safety of your client’s HOA/COAs and the residents who live there. Therefore, you may wish to perform background checks on workers before you hire a new vendor or contractor. This is an extra important consideration if you are vetting workers who will regularly interact with residents, such as security guards.

There are many free or low-cost online services that allow you to search public criminal records and perform your own background checks. Use one of these services to search for the names of anyone you’re considering hiring for the HOA/COA.

Privacy Policy and Terms of Service

Finally, talk to the vendor or contractor about their privacy policy and terms of service. Since they’ll be working near homes, it’s important to confirm that anyone performing work for the HOA/COA will use discretion and respect residents’ privacy.

Don’t forget to discuss the terms of service. Ask for a written document called a Service Level Agreement (SLA). This will clearly define the work being performed by the vendor or contractor, including the timeline for the project and expectations about payment. A trustworthy, reliable professional will have no problem giving you an SLA. If they refuse or seem hesitant, that’s a red flag.

Try CINC Systems Today

When you’re managing vendors or contractors for your HOA/COA clients, the right software will make all the difference. Try CINC Systems today and see how our association management platform can help your business. To request a free demo call (855) 943-8246.

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