What Size Management Company ? Is Bigger Always Better?

We live in a world of add-ons. Ever since the term supersize was coined by the fast food industry back in 1994, the idea and its implications have spread to many aspects of the American lifestyle. We've become accustomed to 'value added elements,' buy-one-get-one offers, and other perks when we make purchases. Because bigger is better, right?  

Well, maybe...or maybe not! Whether we are talking hamburgers, sneakers, or property management, is it really the size or sheer quantity you're after, or is it the value and the quality of the goods or service that matters? When it comes to property management, what types of services does your building or HOA really require? How much is enough - and how much is overkill (or over budget)?

Don’t Assume - Do Your Homework

When a board is shopping for a new management company, there's often a tendency to seek out a larger firm with the expectation that bigger will mean better. Before making that assumption however, the board should first identify and define the services their individual property actually requires, and be sure they are clear on what is wanted and needed. Once the board has drafted a list of goals and objectives for a prospective management company, it will be much easier to judge whether a particular firm can deliver the desired outcomes. As Dan Wurtzel, president of FirstService Residential New York put it, “The more boxes you can check off, the better the fit.”

Wurtzel oversees the departments that collectively manage nearly 500 condominiums and cooperatives, as well as 78,000 rentals. Despite the size and scope of FirstService, says Wurtzel, “The key to successful management is not size, but providing exceptional service.”

The ability of a management firm or agent to provide that service depends not only on your board's expectations, but also the size of building portfolio each manager at a given firm handles, and the location, type, and size of those buildings. You may want to look for a management company with a low building-to-manager ratio; that could indicate that your agent will be more accessible and responsive to your needs than one who's juggling more properties might be. 

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2 Comments

  • I think it's dangerous to toss out definitive numbers for a manager's portfolio as there are many factors that influence the amount of time committed to any particular association, such as number of meetings and inspections, cohesiveness of the board, as well as responsibilities of the associations. To simply state 6 is the magic number is like pulling a rabbit out of a hat! Metrics, facts and data are needed.
  • Every company says their agents manage about 6 properties. But it depends on the size of the building, the philosophy of the company and the particular moment. For example, if a company gets a couple of new buildings they do not just go hire another agent. And from my experience most companies give agents a lot more buildings than they sell to the Boards. Its just the nature of the business More important than all of this, go visit the companies operation and ask to spend some time with the agent that will manage your building. Rule of thumb: if you are a small building the big company is not for you. Stay within reality.