What Makes a Good Strata Manager
Posted by Dino Biordi
The role of a strata manager is to support owners in meeting legislative and administrative needs, as well as helping owners in meeting the specific goals for their community. So what makes a strata manager great and what should you be looking for when you go to tender? Here’s what we reckon makes a good strata manager based on our experience and exposure to them over the years:
1. A good strata manager is responsive and gets back to you in a timely manner.
Nobody wants to be waiting a fortnight to hear back from their strata manager. It does not matter if a strata manager has the best technical skills in the business; if that strata manager leaves owners without answers for weeks at a time in respect of their homes, then your AGMs are going to be full of angry owners (rightfully) demanding a response rather than working together to solve the problems of the building. With the technology available to assist managers these days, it is both fair and reasonable to expect same day response from your manager;
2. A good strata manager is not overworked.
It’s no secret that it’s a lot easier for a strata management company to bring in new work than it is to hire new strata managers, particularly if fees are cut. The temptation is always there to just keep loading the strata managers with more buildings to manage. For context, the average strata manager in NSW manages around 80 buildings each. To those outside of the industry, that’s a mindboggling number. If your strata manager has that many buildings, then they are running, on average, a bit less than two AGMs a week and are probably going to be so flat out in issuing notices, minutes and work orders that they won’t have time to do much else. This is not the case for every strata management company, though. Strata Sense averages about 22 buildings per manager and there are other companies who likewise priorities lower portfolio sizes;
3. A good strata manager is well matched to the building.
The needs of a block of townhouses will differ greatly from the needs of a large, mixed use complex. If yours is a small building, a low cost strata management company with a strata manager whose main attribute is the ability to handle large volume might be fine. If yours is a complex development, a new development (particularly with defects), or a large building, then an experienced and often tertiary educated strata manager might be the way to go. In any event, if you are considering a change in strata manager, it’s always a good idea to ask to be introduced to the proposed strata manager so you can get a sense of who you will be working with rather than just the company salesperson;
4. A good strata manager is well organised.
A strata manager’s client is not solely the strata committee and it’s not any one individual owner, but rather it’s the building as a whole. Strata managers need to be disciplined to not only keep on top of the volume of work but also to prioritise work based on importance and fairness. Disorganised strata managers too easily end up letting the loudest clients get the best service, while other (often more patient and reasonable) owners are neglected. A good strata management firm will have processes in place to track tasks to ensure items are actioned within a timely matter. This provides the strata managers with the resources and guidance from upper management that is required to maintain their high level of service;
5. A good strata manager might have a combination of a long tenure in strata management, experience in professional fields outside of strata management, and/or tertiary education.
Strata management is an industry with a very high turnover rate in the first couple of years. This reflects that the qualifications to entry are very low but the skills required are actually quite high. It’s not always possible to get a strata manager who has been in the game for a decade, but if not then look for some sort of professional background or tertiary education that would indicate their aptitude. Hiring a strata manager that comes from a non-professional background and has barely been in the industry could work out well, but it's just as likely that they will burn out of the industry in a short time. Strata Sense has strata managers of all different backgrounds including legally qualified, accountants, project management background and business degrees. Sometimes these professional backgrounds can be as good an indicator of management potential as would be long tenure in the industry;
6. A good strata manager has a good level of skills in customer service, managing people, accounting, reading and understanding legislation, and understanding how buildings function.
These are the core areas of strata management (customer service, managing meetings, managing the money, managing compliance, and arranging repair and maintenance). It’s not necessary or even realistic to think that your strata manager will be an expert in all of those areas, but being very good at even just two or three of those areas will make a huge difference, and then it will be onto the support in the strata management company to fill the gaps;
7. A good strata manager is, above all else, adaptable.
If it was ever possible for a strata manager to simply operate from a company’s operations manual, that’s definitely not the case now. A strata manager can’t immediately know how to handle every single challenge that they could possibly face in strata. If they are, however, able to hold a professional conversation and be up front about gaps in their knowledge while being able to quickly plug those gaps when the need arises, then you will be in good stead with that manager.
If, reading the above, you feel that your strata manager isn’t quite there to meet the needs of your building, reach out to one of our preferred providers, Strata Sense, to see if we might be able to work together to provide you with strata management services to be proud of.
Contact: Hannah Leckie
Ph: 02 8488 9933
Mobile: 0414 327 094
Email: [email protected]