In uncertain economic times it’s never been more beneficial for a strata scheme to have a resident manager.
It has been proven time and time again that resident managers save a scheme money and provide much better service than any outside source. But in an age when trades are now routinely charging $100 an hour or more – and that’s if you’re lucky enough to find one to do the work – a good on-site building manager has become the one-stop shop for all maintenance needs and repairs.
Resident managers are on a fixed contract with their body corporates and on average are receiving about $45 an hour for their caretaking duties –a big difference when compared to what other service providers are charging.
Try getting someone out to do your lawns or trim your trees these days and you just about need to take out a personal loan.
Maintenance costs for all services required in strata schemes have risen astronomically.
Prices for lift servicing, pool servicing, landscaping, electricians, plumbers, garage door repairmen and fire services technicians have all gone through the roof. Roof repairers are hard to find because so many are doing insurance work. In Brisbane, most of the plasterers are working for big money on the new casino along with most of the experienced painters and tilers.
I know of some schemes which have employed the same tradesmen for years but in a search to find someone cheaper have only found people not as skilled who are charging even more.
Resident managers can and do provide unit owners with great savings through their work as building managers because of the economies of scale, batching jobs together, and saving a small fortune by overseeing preventive maintenance that can significantly reduce repair work and insurance premiums.
Many resident managers even save schemes money by retaining service providers with whom they have a good working relationship, especially plumbers and electricians, because if those tradesmen have worked at the same scheme for a long time they literally know the scheme inside out. They can get work done much quicker, more efficiently and with less expense.
The resident manager is able to make significant savings by batching jobs together. There might be three or four tiling jobs or two or three plumbing jobs and he or she can arrange the work to be done together so unit owners can keep costs down by gaining discounts on bulk jobs and saving on individual call out fees.
Organising multiple jobs at the same time represents a significant saving over each individual owner organising their own repairs or maintenance.
The resident manager is also the person on the spot to ensure the complex is up to the minute with preventative maintenance. That manager is in a better position than anyone to perform this vital, cost-saving work.
Often if an owner or resident tells the manager there is an issue with a unit it’s almost a given that the same issue will be affecting other units as well.
The resident manager not only saves money for owners in the short term by having the work done promptly but that action stops costly long-term problems escalating. A really good example of that is those flexible water hoses that you find in the bathroom, laundry or kitchen. There’s a metal hose that runs from the mains water and they’ve got a limited shelf life, somewhere between 15 and 20 years max. When they do fail they fail catastrophically. It will often cause flooding in the bathroom and inevitably the loungeroom and it becomes a big insurance battle between the body corporate and the unit owner.
When I was a resident manager I noticed one of the hoses failed and it caused a problem in the laundry. Fortunately it wasn’t a huge failure but when the plumber came out he said to me: “Look, all of these flexible hoses are the same age and they would all be just about ready for replacement. You might consider replacing them all”. I could see he wasn’t just trying to drum up extra work so I wrote to all the lot owners and told them I could get a bulk deal done and that the plumber would be out to replace them all over the course of a week.
I negotiated a better deal if the plumber was engaged straight away and told the owners it would be a lot cheaper to do it now than after a flood clean-up and repair of carpets. So I got a big uptake of people who said, “go ahead” and in some apartments there were three or four hoses that had to be replaced. But at least I then knew that at a certain date all of those flexible hoses were replaced.
Any unit owners who said no – and there were some who didn’t replace them – I then had a record that I’d alerted them and it was up to them to effect the replacement.
Insurance companies want preventive maintenance to occur and that brings in another benefit of management rights in that resident managers can keep the cost of insurance down by making sure the scheme has a schedule of preventative maintenance in place.
By batching jobs together at a complex for a tradesmen with whom you already have a good relationship, you not only get a cheaper price for everyone, but you know you’re getting good quality work done.
I once put in about 50 air conditioning units at a building on the Gold Coast back in the day and it saved a heap on the cost of both the air-conditioners and the installation.
That’s what a good resident manager does – they facilitate those sort of things on behalf of their clients to give them better value. It’s an add-on value of having a resident manager at a complex.
If you didn’t have an on-site manager in place doing that work then each of those unit owners would be either blissfully unaware that their hoses were about to perish, or they would each have to pay a call out fee for a single job and it would take them forever to get work done if they could get the tradie to turn up. Tradesmen have become very scarce and picky these days.
Another area where a good resident manager can save his scheme money is in the maintenance of smoke alarms. A good building manager will write to the unit owners and say, “I’ve negotiated a rate to replace or service all the smoke alarms together at the same time each year” and they’re done for 12 months.
If an individual lot owner tried to get a smoke alarm detector serviced it’s usually “I’m not going to come out for one and if I do it’ll cost a lot more”. But by batching the work together for something that’s a legal requirement everybody wins.
Building management software provided by the company MYBOS is also really helpful for a resident manager to schedule regular maintenance. It allows the manager to produce reports in advance and update them and to send those reports to unit owners to say, “this is the scheduled maintenance that has occurred in the scheme”.
One of the great things is that at the end of the month you can print or view your reports and it will list all the jobs that you have to complete or any maintenance defects, and it shows the schedule of maintenance that has to be done. It is simple software to use and it makes it much easier to manage a building, keep on top of the work, and keep costs down.
ARAMA has industry partner organisations such as Programmed Property Services and Wilko Painting which have plasterers and tradies as well as their core work which is painting. Programmed has huge maintenance companies that work with them. If you go to Programmed you’re more likely to get trades responding quickly.
Good on-site building managers want to go the extra mile by helping owners as much as they can because it’s a two-way street.
Any time that an owner comes to a resident manager wanting repair or maintenance work, that owner benefits from the resident manager’s knowledge and experience. We’ve had many instances of managers helping owners get work done, and saving them money, and in return being given the letting contract for the unit when the owner moves out.
There are many opportunities to provide additional services for owners and when you do provide additional services it creates a sense of loyalty between both parties.
So when you ask for something like a vote on your top-up, or when an owner-occupier decides to rent out his unit, they will first consider the helpful on-site manager before some dodgy off site reals estate agent who they don’t know.
That’s not the only reason why good resident managers offer these extra benefits for owners, but there are certainly benefits for all that come from providing excellent service.
Everyone in Management and Letting Rights is in the service industry and good service like bulk buying is beneficial for everyone – its win win!
This article was contributed by ARAMA.
You can find more information at: https://www.arama.com.au/