Selecting an HOA Vendor
How do you know where to start, who to trust, and how to find companies that will provide the best quality workmanship for your Association?
Below are ten helpful tips that will guide you in the right direction when selecting a new HOA vendor:
1. Research what other clients are saying.
Once you have a list of potential vendors you have identified, go online and look at what their clients are saying about them. Google and Yelp reviews are always a good place to start. Consider the following when looking at reviews: Did the vendor get the work done? Did they meet project deadlines? Were they communicative during the process? Are there any common issues in customer complaints? How does the company address these concerns? Etc. As you go through reviews, keep an open mind and try to be objective.
2. Make sure vendors have the proper documentation in place.
Depending on the type of vendor that you are dealing with, proper documentation might mean insurance (such as liability, auto, workers' compensation) licenses, certifications, or any other type of credential documents. Also, make sure to check that the coverage is current and will continue to be during work.
3. Ask for customer references.
Ask vendors for references to inquire about their performance, preferably other community associations. In the case of landscape businesses, which is generally the largest contract in most homeowners associations, visit some of the communities where they provide their landscape maintenance services.
4. Check for complaints.
When applicable, check for complaints with the Registrar of Contractors (ROC) or the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
5. Solicit at least three competitive bids.
After comparing multiple vendor options, make it a best practice to solicit at least three competitive bids, if possible.
6. Give each vendor you ask to bid an RFP or scope of work.
Having a defined outline of the work that needs to be performed and the expectations the Board has regarding materials, deadlines, and pricing will allow each vendor to provide you with a more detailed proposal.
7. Schedule meetings with each potential vendor.
Meet with each vendor to review the proposal, clarify unanswered questions, and ensure that the services proposed are what you are expecting.
8. Make objective comparisons before choosing the winning bid.
Create a vendor evaluation matrix to guide your final decision. Choose the vendor that best aligns with your community's needs and requirements. Keep in mind that the lowest bid is not always the best bid.
9. Get a formal contract reviewed and signed by both parties.
Ensure there is a standard 30-day termination clause with or without cause, should the work performed not meet contract requirements or circumstances change. In addition, we recommend having an attorney review the contract for very technical projects to make sure that your Association's best interests are being represented.
10. Consider hiring an HOA management company such as AAM to alleviate the stress of the vendor selection process.
With more than 31 years in the industry, AAM has plenty of experience when it comes to helping Boards select the right vendors for their communities. Our Community Managers will assist you in preparing bid specifications and the subsequent solicitation of competitive bids. Additionally, once the Board awards a contract, AAM will monitor vendor performance and keep the Board aware of any updates or issues that arise.