A new member has been elected to your HOA board. Suddenly, you learn that they seem to have a general mistrust of any current vendors of the association, perhaps because they did not choose them. They call for at least three bids on every project, no matter how small. This person seems to be trying to fix something that may not have been broken in the first place.
A board of directors will have its fair share of challenges with new board members automatically calling for new vendors, even when the ones they are working with are really solid.
If you've been a board member for any length of time, you most likely understand that good vendors are hard to find. When you do find them here are 4 tips to help your HOA keep them.
1. Find contractors/vendors that care about the project, not just getting a paycheck
Example: A vendor was on vacation and saw a construction project that was using siding materials that could work as a solution for one of the associations he did work for. He stopped, found out information about the product, and brought it back to the association. In the end, the association began to use this product.
Result: the product was better than what the association had been using and came at a considerably lower price. Thousands of dollars have been saved and the community has been improved in the process. That's the kind of vendor/partner you want!
2. Use vendors that take pride in their work and in a job well done
Example: A community went through a bidding process and picked a painting company for their project. This painter had very clear perspectives and expertise in how to paint their T-111 siding in such a way to protect it and bring life back into it. It was clear that they took pride in their work.
Result: The Board could not have been happier with the result of this combination. Other communities have since benefited from this same vendor. The job that they did could not have been better marketing for future jobs.
3. Value your vendors
Example: Don't be like one board member that micromanaged and called the city to come out and check if their vendor had indeed gotten a permit for the work they were doing. The contractor had done nothing wrong, but it showed distrust from the board member.
Result: When you value them, they'll value you and your project as well. It will make a difference from the moment they step onto your project.
4. Always keep in mind that you can and should strive toward a win-win relationship
Example: When board members appreciate the work a contractor is doing, the contractor appreciates working for the association. When a Board has no desire to micromanage, usually the vendor consistently shows them why they don't need to.
Result: The Board benefits from a job well-done, and fair pricing. The contractor benefits from getting good, consistent work in a positive, appreciative environment. It's such a win-win relationship that this contractor will go well above and beyond -- for instance, coming out to the project late at night to close up holes made by raccoons so that the raccoons are trapped outside of the building rather than inside. (Yes, this actually happened!) That's gold!
You may not be aware that many contractors simply do not want the headaches of working with homeowners associations because of the challenges of working for a committee and the politics involved.
If you're an HOA board member, recognize when you have a good contractor and value them, strive to work in partnership, have a win-win relationship, and be prudent about getting multiple bids when necessary. Finally, relax and enjoy the results!