So you have finally had enough of the constant chasing, new property manager every 6 months, lack of information from your current managing agent and you have got together with your neighbours to decide which London block management company to use.
Good, YOU deserve better after all don’t you!
And the good news is, the property management industry as a whole is changing, evolving you could say, so you really don’t have to put up with the lack of customer service anymore!
Whilst the process for finding a new block management company can be time consuming, frustrating and sometimes plain old boring, if you get it right from the start you will be in a much better position in the future.
You also need to remember, a managing agent can be the difference between careful capital expenditure planning so you know where you stand at all times……and an agent who sends you an invoice for £10,000 one day out the blue!
Whilst there are different routes to changing agents such as the Right to Manage process, we have described the most common situation where there is a Residents Management Company and the Directors of that company are flat owners.
Lets walk through the perfect path to finding your new London block management company:
Step 1 – Meeting with your neighbours
You may not know everyone but this is the perfect opportunity to have a real discussion over the current state of the building and where you all want it to be in the coming years. A open discussion over the issues needs to be had and the best way really is to grab some food / wine and simply let it all out.
There will be people more interested than others but its quite simple, this is their opportunity to have their say, if you don’t turn up, you can’t complain later.
After you have put all your issues on the table, its now time to start the process of finding a managing agent.
From experience, the best way to do this is to ask either the Directors of your Residents Management Company (RMC) or a small number of interested residents to go away and complete their own searches within the next 7 days to bring 1 company to the table.
This can be good and bad (and we have seen both!).
On one hand, you can bring back a small but varied sample of companies that people believe are worthy of your building, you can also see any trends appearing, for instance if a few people come back with the same company, there must be some synergy there!
On the other hand, you could come back with 10 different companies and it turns into a real struggle to whittle them down!
Lets just assume you have scenario 1 and you now have a group of 4/5 companies that have provided initial proposals and quotations for the management of your building.
Step 2 – Find out which London block management company is best for you?
Here is the slight problem that many Directors of RMC’s face….your lease will say what the responsibilities are for the managing agent, what needs to be maintained, what needs to be charged and so on. This means that the question ‘What can you offer us’ is now void because each managing agent has to provide what is legally contracted in the lease.
You therefore need to be asking ‘How do you manage a building’ rather than ‘What services do you offer’.
I cannot tell you the amount of times Directors have discussed new management proposals with us and they have said ‘oh, you all seem to offer the same service’. Which of course is true because we have to.
It really comes down VALUE.
- Here are some questions you may want to ask:
- What will the management structure for our building be?
- How often will we see you here?
- How easily can you be contacted?
- How quickly do you respond to requests?
- How will you manage the capital expenditure of the building?
- What is your strategy to resolve the current issues we have?
The above questions are all based on company behavior rather than the services on offer, therefore allowing you to really delve into the experience, structure and personality of the company to find out which one is right for you.
These questions will separate the good from the average and give you a good feeling of what value the London block management company will bring to your building and you will be in a position to create the shortlist.
Step 3 – Meet with your shortlist
The next stage is the ‘meet and greet’ which is a vital part of the process.
We know it takes time to get all the Directors together to meet 2 or 3 different agents but it is necessary.
During the meeting, which is typically a Q&A style meeting, you get a real feel for who you will be working with and how well you get along with them.
It is also essential to actually meet the property manager that will be undertaking the management of your building. You can be sold any type of dream management service but if you never meet the person carrying it out until after you have signed the contract, you may be in line for a surprise that could have been avoided.
So by this stage you will have found out all the problems at the building from your neighbours, you will have received proposals from a number of London block management companies and whittled them down to a shortlist. You will then have met each of your shortlist to find out who you could work with.
Now all that is left is to make a decision……..
P.S. to make things EVEN EASIER, we have compiled our three steps into an easy, printable checklist below: