Now that budget season is in full swing, it is the time to talk budgeting with your vendors. Of course, the board has several goals for their property, but at what cost? Are they willing to increase their association fees or a special assessment? What can we do with your current budget? The best way to answer these questions is to do three things: understand which service provider you need and what they can offer you, visit the property with your service provider, and share your budget with your business partners.
The right business partner can offer you deals that can help your budget and give you the expertise it takes to make your property the best it can be. Understanding the difference between service providers is crucial to your budget management. There are two types of service providers: those that provide reoccurring services and those that provide project specific services. Reoccurring business partners are the service providers that are on your property on a daily to weekly basis. Examnance services, trash collection, and property management. Working with an ongoing business partner allows you to have long-term plans in place for projects. Project specific service providers are ones that are required for certain projects that only happen periodically. Examples of project specific service providers are roof replacement services, parking lot striping, or concrete repair services. To ensure that you have competitive pricing, it is good to have three bids from trusted service providers.
In addition to finding the right business partner, walking the property and identifying property needs are vital when deciding where your budget dollars are going. From a service provider’s standpoint, having the opportunity to see and discuss problems with the board is a must in making decisions on what takes priority. Property walks provide the board with an expert opinion and allow everyone to see areas that can be improved, and they open discussions about priorities in the property. Many of these jobs can be evaluated on the spot. However, if a community has multiple needs that may be scheduled over a period in order to take care of the board’s budgetary needs. There is a multitude of projects that can be addressed through a multi-year plan. Most business partners can create a multi-year plan that can be budget friendly, but get the top priorities of the community done.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to share your budget with your business partners. Although it may seem like too much information is being shared, it can get you what you want faster. Finding business partners you can trust with an open dialogue about budgets is vital in this industry. It allows your vendors to have a goal to work toward. If they want your service, they will talk with you about ways to change the scope of work to get the services you need at a budget that fits everyone.
Finding a balance between your budget and your preferred business partners can be challenging. However, using these tools can help find this balance faster and easier and can build a stronger relationship between you and your service providers.
By Sarah Cross
Sarah is the Loudoun County marketing representative at Heritage Landscape Services (HLS) in Sterling, Virginia. She is a member of the Events and Quorum Committees. Sara has played a key role in WMCCAI projects such as the Ronald McDonald House Landscaping Day and the Anniversary Cruise. Sarah won the “Rising Star” award in 2016.