Few things are more important for a building than having a competent managing agent willing to work closely with board members to make their home a safe, harmonious place to live. A big part of any good managing agent’s job is to be "on call" when emergencies arise, and to address board members’ concerns about their building. When board members show disrespect for their managing agent’s time and professional expertise, however–by calling them at home with problems that could be addressed the next business day, or constantly bothering them with minor concerns–they strain the relationship with their agent and hobble the agent’s ability to get things done. While it is crucial that board members feel free to talk to their managing agents to voice their questions and concerns, it’s also important for them to understand both the point at which constant phone calls become counterproductive, and the ways in which they can cultivate a positive relationship with their building manager.
To Call, or Not to Call?
Like everybody else, managing agents value their time at home with their families. Obvious as it sounds, it is important board members show respect for that by only calling their agents at home only when it is absolutely necessary. "I hope that in the natural course of business people would know enough not to call someone on a Saturday morning unless there’s an emergency," says Gerard Picaso, president of property management firm Gerard Picaso Inc., in Manhattan.
Steven Pinchasick, president of Carlton Management in Holliswood, New York, says that board members should call their managing agents at home only in the case of "fires, leaks, no heat, no hot water, or any situation where danger might arise–such as if two employees get into a fistfight, or if there’s any problem with essential employee services." However, he adds, "it is inappropriate to call at night with a bookkeeping question–or anything else that could wait until the next business day."
Although board members should always notify their agent of a serious emergency, they should remember that the building superintendent is the first person to contact with day-to-day building repair issues. If the superintendent is unavailable, or unable to help with something that needs immediate attention, it is acceptable to contact the building manager.