Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bad service....is the Board to blame?

As I spent the better part of a workday waiting for a well-known electronics store to deliver a television I purchased on Labor Day, I pondered who I should blame for the bad service I was receiving. Should I be annoyed with the sales person who inputted my address incorrectly, the delivery company who could not understand the directions I gave them or myself for walking into the store in the first place?

It got me to thinking about association members who become annoyed with vendors hired by their associations to perform maintenance or repairs in the community. If the board hires a company to perform a lengthy concrete restoration project and that company's workers drop concrete on owners' cars and other property in the process, is the board to blame?

If the contract was properly prepared to hold the contractor responsible for all incidental damages that might occur during their course of performance, the association shouldn't be on the hook monetarily but that doesn't mean the board won't suffer in terms of public opinion.

It is important for directors to remember that the vendors and contractors they "welcome" in to the community act as ambassadors of sorts for the board. Pick a rude or incompetent ambassador and the board's reputation suffers. Conversely, pick a great vendor who delivers flawless service cheerfully and the board has scored a big win. It is important for boards to perform their due diligence when selecting their community partners such as accountants, property managers, roofers, etc. Call references, check with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Better Business Bureau to ensure that no complaints have been filed against the vendor you wish to use and require proof of insurance and licensure.

Even if a board takes all the right steps in advance there is no guarantee you won't occasionally pick a dud. However, you minimize your risks and increase member confidence in the board if you pick the best people to do the job for your community. In this blog, I will be writing a "How to Pick the Right...." series about picking the right manager, attorney, roofer, engineer, etc. Stay tuned!

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