- March 20, 2015
- Posted by: @dmin
- Category: Property Managers
What are some of the key benefits that condo owners expect from living the condo lifestyle? Different experts of condominium and other property management services throughout Toronto might have different answers, but a common response is that their residents like the low-maintenance aspect of condo ownership.
Condominium owners have less to do in the way of repairs and self-service when compared with owners of single-family homes, instead opting to pay a monthly maintenance fee. This fee goes to a Toronto property manager, who then arranges for various services, including repairs and maintenance of many common elements throughout the building or complex. This fee can vary greatly depending on a number of factors.
- Maintenance fees tend to average at about 50 to 60 cents per square foot in Toronto, regardless of the amenities the condo building has.
- On average, maintenance fees have been increasing about 3.4% per year for the past decade.
- In 2005, a typical condo measuring about 1,000 square feet had an average maintenance fee of $440; this has increased to about $590 in 2015.
There are many things that Toronto property management companies can do to fight these rising costs on behalf of their boards, owners, and residents. At ICC®, we follow careful protocols to save money on maintenance costs by handling all service calls in an efficient and effective manner. Through this process, we keep fees down while still delivering exceptional service to our clients.
The right place to start in handling service calls and maintenance requests is having a plan in place. This plan should cover every step of the process, from how you receive incoming calls and submissions, where you will direct them, and who will be responsible for following up on them to ensure they were addressed in a timely manner. Let’s look at each phase of the process:
1) Receiving requests. Many property managers in Toronto opt to receive maintenance requests via email, or set up special forms on their websites that residents can log in, fill out, and submit. Others prefer a phone-based system. At ICC®, we utilize a proprietary system known as ICC® Connect. This is integrated with other communications systems, but one of the functions it provides is tracking maintenance activities and reminders.
In addition to ICC® Connect, we also offer a 24 hour emergency line. This allows residents to contact us immediately in the event of a time-sensitive issue, such as one involving immediate damage to property or danger to residents. Using our computer-based system and hotline allows us to determine the urgency of a given request, so we can prioritize incoming submissions accordingly.
2) Evaluating requests. Experienced property management companies in Toronto will usually have someone on-hand who can determine the severity of a maintenance request, and who can determine if an on-staff member of the maintenance team can handle the request, or if a skilled contractor will be needed.
3) Communicating requests. This step is perhaps one of the most critical of the entire process. Once the property manager determines how the request is to be handled, then he or she must make at least two points of contact: first, to the person who will be responsible for making the actual repair, and then to the resident or owner to let him or her know the details of when and how the maintenance request will be handled.
This step is critical, as it is here where a maintenance request can often get lost in the shuffle and go unaddressed, leading to sometimes expensive ramifications. At the very least, you may be dealing with an unhappy resident. At the worst, the maintenance issue may grow in severity when left unaddressed, and you could end up with multiple angry residents and a likewise unhappy board.
Part of your communications request should involve follow-up calls if you do not hear back from your chosen maintenance crew member or contractor in a timely fashion. Property managers in Toronto also often keep a back-up list of other skilled tradespeople available in case their first choice is unavailable. If you are a property manager, what do you do to ensure your customers’ requests do not go unfulfilled? Do you have an effective system in place for keeping track of unresolved maintenance issues?
4) Scheduling and completing requests. At the end of the communication process, you should have a solution ready to implement and deploy. Once the maintenance request is fulfilled, you should also have a second round of communication ready to go, ensuring that the repair was made to the satisfaction of your client and taking any follow-up actions that are necessary. You should also make sure that you promptly receive and pay any invoices from your contractors, in order to foster a good relationship and ensure your requests are prioritized in the future.
Getting Condo Residents Value for the Money
Residents who choose to live in condos often feel that paying a maintenance fee is worthwhile if it offers them added convenience by relieving them of having to worry about many repair and maintenance issues themselves.
- 40% of condo dwellers living in Toronto are willing to pay Toronto property management companies over $400 per month in maintenance fees; another 17% feel that up to $600 per month is reasonable.
- Only 30% of those living in condos have specifically planned for possible maintenance fee increases in their budgets.
With these figures in mind, it is important for us as property managers to handle maintenance requests responsibly, and to foster good relationships with contractors so that we can keep costs reasonable for residents and owners.
ICC® is always looking for skilled property managers to join our team. If you are seeking the best property management company in Toronto, contact us directly to submit your resume and learn the value of building a career with us.