Regardless of whether you live in a co-op or a condo, or whether your community is a small, self-managed one or a sprawling development with hundreds of units managed by a professional property management company, there is or very well should be a system of checks and balances in place to help the administrative side of the operation run smoothly.
Part of that system should include keeping track of how day-to-day supplies and maintenance items are ordered and reordered, organized, and kept track of. Preventing wasted supplies and inventory shrinkage (to borrow a phrase from the world of retail) is an essential job component for both managers and building staff members.
Track Your Orders and Expenses
It usually starts out innocently enough but could snowball into a problem if no one is watching the fox in the hen house to use a popular analogy, managers says. According to Larry Vitelli, a senior vice president with Manhattan-based Douglas Elliman Property Management, a coordinated ordering system should exist. "Normally, the super should not order supplies directly. He should requisition the supplies he needs, the account executive should approve the requisition, and the purchasing department of the management company should do the ordering."
Management pros note that the most common source of loss in a residential building is probably due to wasteful spending due and incorrect ordering of supplies and materials. Smaller purchases for parts or supplies may go unnoticed, while the larger expenses are most likely red-flagged and monitored very cautiously.
Peter Grech, a resident manager and building consultant, who is with the New York City Superintendents Technical Association, says that in his 35 years of experience, he has never been given any guidance regarding inventory control. Management companies usually don’t get involved unless an issue arises. It is, however, important to track all purchases and receivables, through use of a computer or maintenance log of some sort, he says. “Inventory should be done monthly for large buildings and quarterly for small buildings,” Grech says, “but then again, there is no set standard.”