There are many reasons why a community association
must select a management company. The association may
be displeased with their current management company,
they may wish to replace a company appointed by the
developer, professional management is required in the
governing documents of the association, or the existing
management company has resigned the account.
Whatever the cause, the selection process can be time-
consuming and confusing.
There are, literally, dozens of management companies who
want your business. Each believes it has the management
plan that is right fro your community, but each has its
strengths and weaknesses.
So how do you determine which one is best for your
association? Where do you begin your search? Is
there a definitive plan that ensures you get the best
quality of service for the best cost? How do you
evaluate each company’s offerings? How do you
manage the bidding process?
These are difficult questions to answer, but the
following guidelines may help in the selection
process. By using any or all of these suggestions,
you may find it easier to select a management
company that will provide your association with
quality service at a fair price for a long and mutually
Know what you want and expect from the
management company. Be familiar with your
governing documents and understand the
standards they stipulate for the management
company, your Board of Directors, your
committees and all of your association
Plan ahead and set deadlines for the entire
process: submission of written bids, oral
interviews, finalist selection, second
interviews and, finally, awarding of the
contract. Once you have made your decision,
allow your new management company
sufficient time to obtain your records from
the previous company and transfer those
records to their systems.
During the first oral interview it is important
to use your criteria to ask the questions
necessary for the evaluating both the
experience and capabilities of the bidding
company. For comparison, it may be helpful
to ask each company the same standard
questions. Remember that you are the
interviewer—you control the interview
session. Consider asking the following
How long has the company been in business?
What is the company’s ownership structure?
Can the company provide a list of references?
What is the average tenure of employees?
What is the average tenure of corporate officers?
Does the company manage any similar properties?
Does the company participate in professional
property management education?
What professional property management groups
does the company belong to?
Is the company involved in more than one type of
property management service.
Is community association management the
company’s primary business?
How does the company handle a typical complaint
or maintenance request, during both work hours
and as an after-hours emergency?
How is the company staffed? What departments
does it have and how do they serve theirs clients?
Is the company tied to any particular supplier,
vendor or developer group/
How accessible are the officers of the company?
What is the management company’s perception of the
responsibilities of the Board of Directors and committee
members? How does the management company fit in?
What problems, if any, has the management company
had in the past concerning community management?
How were they resolved?
What relationship does the company have, if any, with
your attorney and/or Certified Public Accountant?
Has the company been involved in litigation concerning
the management of other properties? If yes, how so?
It is important to know what the management
company can and will do for your association.
Does it provide services that can save you
time, aggravation or money? If so, do any
require an additional fee? It is a good idea to
take detailed notes or minutes throughout
the interview process and incoporate them
into the final contract, either as specific line
items or an addendum.
It is essential that you do this prior to selecting a
company. An on-site visit will tell you a lot
about each firm, such as whether they have
adequate equipment and staffing to handle your
needs, and the attitude and demeanor of their
Arrange in advance to meet your prospective
community manager and to speak with a variety
of employees in other departments. Also meet
with the corporate officers and have them detail
their management philosophy and the company’s
structure. Again, ask any questions that you feel
will help you reach the best possible decision.
Read and understand the company’s
management contract before you make the ffinal
decision. Is it negotiable? Are all services you
previously discussed outlined within the
contract? What is the cancellation clause? Are
there penalties? Are there automatic escalation
It is much easier to evaluate the management
contract prior to hiring a new company than to
select a company only to find that you cannot
agree on contract terms.
Typical management contracts are bid on a monthly per-
unit basis. Does the company expect you to pay for any
extras, such as postage or hard costs? Make a fair
comparison of any additional charges for all of the
companies you interview. Remember a company with a
higher standard fee may offer programs that save you
money, making the total effective management fee lower.
Be sure to ask how long the fee remains in effect and
whether it is negotiable. Also determine whether a lower
initial fee can be raised automatically if the management
company meets specific performance clauses. By all
means, understand the fee structure and know what you
can expect to receive for your money.
Selecting a management company is an
important decision for every community
association. You deserve the best
performance for the best price from a firm
that embraces your goals and will work with
you to establish a long-term, productive
Sentry Management has established a long history of creating outstanding communities for
homeowners to live in. For over 30 years, Sentry has placed a priority on individual attention, providing
it to each and every homeowner’s association (HOA) that is managed. As a full-service community
management company, Sentry couples the individual service with a highly skilled, professional staff of
community managers, leasing agents, bookkeepers, administrative and maintenance staff to anticipate
and meet clients’ needs.
With a staff of over 600 some may think Sentry is too large to deal with each account personally,
however, each HOA is assigned a community manager dedicated to the unique and specialized needs
that come with each association. What's more, Sentry keeps the ratio of manager to number of
associations low, understanding that personal attention and a committed focus create a long term
relationship that builds better communities. Every community manager is supported by a team of
subject matter experts to ensure that each intricate detail is handled with the highest level of service.
Additionally, Sentry has been accredited as an AMO® (Accredited Management Organization) by the
Institute of Real Estate Management, providing clients an independent evaluation that Sentry has one of
the highest operating and financial standards in the industry.
Company President, James W. Hart, Jr., founded the organization in 1975 and has worked in the
community management field since 1968. Jim is a REALTOR®, CERTIFIED PROPERTY MANAGER® and is
a past President of the Community Associations Institute (CAI). Mr. Hart also maintains membership in
the Institute of Real Estate Management, the local and state Board of REALTORS, the Homebuilders
Association and the Multi-Housing Association.
If you would like a brochure on how Sentry can assist you or if you would like to be contacted by one of
our managers, please click here. Whatever your community management needs, Sentry has the
solution. Call Jim Hart, President, at (407) 788-6700, extension 224, or e-mail us at