Keeping tabs on your condo's vendors

By keeping tabs on their vendors, condo boards will be in a better position to maintain and improve their buildings at reduced costs. Here we describe three keys to successfully managing condo vendors.
Salim Dharssi's Profile Picture

Written By Salim Dharssi

December 23, 2021

Keeping tabs on your vendors

Condominium boards and strata councils[1] spend a bulk of their time vetting, hiring and evaluating work done by vendors. They also spend most of their condo budget on vendors.

The difference between a well run and efficient building and one that is inefficient and not well maintained, will depend on how a board and their property manager (if they have one) manages their vendors.

By keeping tabs on their vendors, condo boards will be able to weed out the bad ones and reduce overspending. Over time, boards will be in a better position to stop hiring the inferior vendors and their buildings will be better and more efficiently maintained.

Who are vendors?

Condo boards are responsible for governing their buildings – they decide what work needs to be done, how to prioritize it and how the condominium’s budget should be spent.  Vendors hired by the condo board do everything else.

Vendors can be security companies hired to be at the front desk, or they can be property management companies hired to help manage the day-to-day operations of the building and to do the bookkeeping.

Vendors are also all of the trades, contractors, engineers and lawyers hired to perform specific work like painting or roof repair or to provide opinions and advice.

Some vendors will be hired under contract for terms of one, two, three or more years. They can provide ongoing services like property management, HVAC maintenance, elevator maintenance or other services that recur and are not one-off.  

Other vendors will be hired on a project basis to complete discrete work, like to conduct an engineering study or to replace a window.

Three keys to find success with vendors

A condo board can set their condo up for success by keeping tabs on vendors by:

  1. Keeping notes on the work performed
  2. Saving contracts and key contract dates
  3. Organizing records and making them easily retrievable

Keeping notes on vendors

Before a condo board or strata council starts working with a vendor, they won’t know how efficient, reliable, trustworthy or what the vendor’s quality of work will be. But during the course of contract or project, a board will learn a lot about that vendor.

These learnings should be captured and saved for future reference by the board and their property manager.

There is one certainty in condos: change. A board’s membership will change 20-40% per year and can turn over completely every few years.  A condo’s property manager and staff will routinely change. Even if the company hired by the condo stays the same, individuals in key roles will be promoted or will leave their positions. This results in never-ending change in key personnel.

By saving notes on their vendors, condo boards will start building institutional memory.  So they and their future boards will be able to look back on the notes for their vendors to help them decide whether to use them again, or to use someone different.  

Without knowledge of a condo's experience with vendors, future boards may engage the same sub-par vendor hired years before, without even knowing it.  This cycle can be broken by keeping notes.

Saving contracts and key dates

A good portion of a condo’s budget will be spent on its contracted vendors. For condos of a certain size (e.g., those with part-time or full time property managers), spend on contracted vendors can easily be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

Vendors under contract include property management, security, concierge, cleaning staff, superintendent services, HVAC maintenance, elevator technicians, telecommunication providers, and other routine building services.

Having the contracts of these vendors saved and accessible is valuable because condo boards need to be able to check whether the services being provided meet the commitments made by the vendor in their contracts.

If contracts aren’t findable, a condo board will be stuck with the level of service they are getting, whether good or bad, for the duration of the contract term. But if a contract is accessible then the condo board can ask the vendor to step up their game by pointing to their obligations in their contract.

Expiry and renewal dates

It is also critical for a condo board to have top of mind the expiry and renewal dates for their vendors under contract.

Several months before a contract will expire, the board should think about the quality of services it has received and whether it should renew or start looking for a new vendor. It can take many months to find a new vendor, so the earlier this process is started the better.

A condo that does not keep track of expiry and renewal dates will often be reminded too close to the expiry or renewal. This rarely leaves enough time to search and find a replacement vendor, even if they wanted to.

Even if a condo board likes their vendor and waits to renew, fees can be suddenly increased prior to renewals. So by making inquiries well before renewal, a board can avoid surprises and will be in a better position to negotiate renewal fees.

Keeping vendor records organized

Vendors provide condos with a lot of records.

Vendors under contract will provide written updates, work orders summarizing work done, and invoices. Vendors working on one-off-projects will provide preliminary or periodic reports, assessments, quotes, work orders and invoices.

Vendor records serve many purposes and can be immensely valuable to condo boards. Invoices that require review can and should be cross-referenced against quotes and work orders. Reports and assessments should be available for review when determining the scope of a project.  When equipment breaks down, a condo board will want to be able to check the warranty information provided by the vendor.

A vendor’s records should be saved and organized in a manner that makes it easy and possible to find them later. Otherwise, the condo board will lose out on their value.  Documents should be saved and linked to the vendor who provided them as well as the project they belong to. By saving vendor records in this way, condo boards will be able to search and find them later. Doing so also saves the property manager time because they will have fewer email requests from their boards, for copies of documents sent by their vendors.

***

By keeping notes, saving contracts and organizing their vendors’ records in an accessible way, condo boards will have an easier time managing their vendors. Over time, their buildings’ maintenance and services will improve and cost overruns will be reduced, which benefits their condos’ owners and residents. Learn how managemate helps boards keep tabs on their vendors.

Note 1: Multi-tenant residential buildings like condominiums and stratas are governed by different regulations across Canada, the United States of America and abroad. While we generally refer to these buildings as condominiums or condos and to their governing bodies as boards, the information provided can apply to multi-tenant residential buildings in a variety of provinces, states and countries.

Test it for 45 Days

Fully functional. No credit card.

November 8, 2021

Keeping tabs on your vendors

Condominium boards and strata councils[1] spend a bulk of their time vetting, hiring and evaluating work done by vendors. They also spend most of their condo budget on vendors.

The difference between a well run and efficient building and one that is inefficient and not well maintained, will depend on how a board and their property manager (if they have one) manages their vendors.

By keeping tabs on their vendors, condo boards will be able to weed out the bad ones and reduce overspending. Over time, boards will be in a better position to stop hiring the inferior vendors and their buildings will be better and more efficiently maintained.

Who are vendors?

Condo boards are responsible for governing their buildings – they decide what work needs to be done, how to prioritize it and how the condominium’s budget should be spent.  Vendors hired by the condo board do everything else.

Vendors can be security companies hired to be at the front desk, or they can be property management companies hired to help manage the day-to-day operations of the building and to do the bookkeeping.

Vendors are also all of the trades, contractors, engineers and lawyers hired to perform specific work like painting or roof repair or to provide opinions and advice.

Some vendors will be hired under contract for terms of one, two, three or more years. They can provide ongoing services like property management, HVAC maintenance, elevator maintenance or other services that recur and are not one-off.  

Other vendors will be hired on a project basis to complete discrete work, like to conduct an engineering study or to replace a window.

Three keys to find success with vendors

A condo board can set their condo up for success by keeping tabs on vendors by:

  1. Keeping notes on the work performed
  2. Saving contracts and key contract dates
  3. Organizing records and making them easily retrievable

Keeping notes on vendors

Before a condo board or strata council starts working with a vendor, they won’t know how efficient, reliable, trustworthy or what the vendor’s quality of work will be. But during the course of contract or project, a board will learn a lot about that vendor.

These learnings should be captured and saved for future reference by the board and their property manager.

There is one certainty in condos: change. A board’s membership will change 20-40% per year and can turn over completely every few years.  A condo’s property manager and staff will routinely change. Even if the company hired by the condo stays the same, individuals in key roles will be promoted or will leave their positions. This results in never-ending change in key personnel.

By saving notes on their vendors, condo boards will start building institutional memory.  So they and their future boards will be able to look back on the notes for their vendors to help them decide whether to use them again, or to use someone different.  

Without knowledge of a condo's experience with vendors, future boards may engage the same sub-par vendor hired years before, without even knowing it.  This cycle can be broken by keeping notes.

Saving contracts and key dates

A good portion of a condo’s budget will be spent on its contracted vendors. For condos of a certain size (e.g., those with part-time or full time property managers), spend on contracted vendors can easily be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

Vendors under contract include property management, security, concierge, cleaning staff, superintendent services, HVAC maintenance, elevator technicians, telecommunication providers, and other routine building services.

Having the contracts of these vendors saved and accessible is valuable because condo boards need to be able to check whether the services being provided meet the commitments made by the vendor in their contracts.

If contracts aren’t findable, a condo board will be stuck with the level of service they are getting, whether good or bad, for the duration of the contract term. But if a contract is accessible then the condo board can ask the vendor to step up their game by pointing to their obligations in their contract.

Expiry and renewal dates

It is also critical for a condo board to have top of mind the expiry and renewal dates for their vendors under contract.

Several months before a contract will expire, the board should think about the quality of services it has received and whether it should renew or start looking for a new vendor. It can take many months to find a new vendor, so the earlier this process is started the better.

A condo that does not keep track of expiry and renewal dates will often be reminded too close to the expiry or renewal. This rarely leaves enough time to search and find a replacement vendor, even if they wanted to.

Even if a condo board likes their vendor and waits to renew, fees can be suddenly increased prior to renewals. So by making inquiries well before renewal, a board can avoid surprises and will be in a better position to negotiate renewal fees.

Keeping vendor records organized

Vendors provide condos with a lot of records.

Vendors under contract will provide written updates, work orders summarizing work done, and invoices. Vendors working on one-off-projects will provide preliminary or periodic reports, assessments, quotes, work orders and invoices.

Vendor records serve many purposes and can be immensely valuable to condo boards. Invoices that require review can and should be cross-referenced against quotes and work orders. Reports and assessments should be available for review when determining the scope of a project.  When equipment breaks down, a condo board will want to be able to check the warranty information provided by the vendor.

A vendor’s records should be saved and organized in a manner that makes it easy and possible to find them later. Otherwise, the condo board will lose out on their value.  Documents should be saved and linked to the vendor who provided them as well as the project they belong to. By saving vendor records in this way, condo boards will be able to search and find them later. Doing so also saves the property manager time because they will have fewer email requests from their boards, for copies of documents sent by their vendors.

***

By keeping notes, saving contracts and organizing their vendors’ records in an accessible way, condo boards will have an easier time managing their vendors. Over time, their buildings’ maintenance and services will improve and cost overruns will be reduced, which benefits their condos’ owners and residents. Learn how managemate helps boards keep tabs on their vendors.

Note 1: Multi-tenant residential buildings like condominiums and stratas are governed by different regulations across Canada, the United States of America and abroad. While we generally refer to these buildings as condominiums or condos and to their governing bodies as boards, the information provided can apply to multi-tenant residential buildings in a variety of provinces, states and countries.

Test it for 45 Days

Fully functional. No credit card.

We're here to help.

Ask about how our collaboration software works, request a demo, or anything else.