Tips for Choosing your Building Management Company

Choosing the right Building Management Company is challenging for many Owners Corporations – often there is little research undertaken beyond the price tag.

EXCEL’s experience with pre-opening and subsequent management of new sites, coupled with the taking over of existing sites from other management companies, has provided us with vast experience in identifying the key considerations in assisting Owners Corporation make more considered choices to better suit their specific requirements.

Does your Strata Scheme need a Building/ Facility Manager and/or Concierge service in the first instance?

The answer depends upon the context of the site and the scale of the complex. Smaller, older and less complicated Strata buildings can dispense these services and rely on the Strata Manager to fully manage their requirements remotely. Larger and more complex environments require the services of a Building/Facility Manager and a Concierge.

Modern building environments often have a range of security systems installed including CCTV and access control as well as operational systems such as Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS), Lift Management Systems (LMS) and Computer Management Systems (CMS).

Large buildings need to cope with intense visitor movement throughout the day and into the evenings – contractors for service, deliveries for apartments (ever increasing with the advent of internet shopping), resident enquiries, moving in and out of residents etc. All these activities need to be effectively controlled and administered without any adverse impact upon the amenities of the residents and building users generally.

On-site services of professional Building/ Facility Managers and Concierge in these environments are an essential, not a luxury. Without them the building may deteriorate at a rapid pace, and the values of the Owners assets will diminish correspondingly.

Seek recommendations from others.

These may include Strata Managers, Developers, Executive Committee Members and residents in buildings. Strata Managers are usually very accessible and have direct experience working with a range of building management service providers.

They often have an understanding of the information you may require. Developers have an appreciation of the services in the initial stages of the building’s lifecycle leading up to the inaugural AGM and often beyond. Residents have firsthand viewpoints and can relate from direct experience.

Visit the websites of different building management companies.

This will give you an insight into the professionalism, experience and services the organisation provides.

Research the portfolios of your candidate building management companies.

Are any of these buildings similar to yours in terms of complexity and scale? Is there a list of actual buildings managed with real information, or is the text copy generic and pictures non-specific?

Source the Executive Committee Members of candidate buildings

Ask them to share their experience with you. Are they satisfied? Is there a problem with their communication; level of service; responsiveness; professionalism; ethics, etc.?

  • Is the Manager responsive to their requests?
  • Is the building being maintained in a satisfactory manner?
  • Have there been sharp increases in levies or special levies?
  • Is the Executive Committee satisfied with the level of service generally?

Look for credibility.

If the company claims they are “a leader in the industry”, do they have the history and Client base to back this up?

Look for clients’ testimonials and endorsements.

Is there anyone who can step forward and recommend this company (and put this in writing)?

What is the retention rate of the Client base?

How many contracts has the Company lost and why?

Complex buildings require sophisticated management techniques.

Look for a company which has experience managing complex buildings.

Does your building have specific installations such as sea water air conditioning plants, Co Gen boilers, gas fired chillers and others that require specific expertise?

Caretaker or Building Manager?

Depending on your building’s complexity you may consider the traditional model of the “Caretaker” for simpler buildings. Alternatively consider the Building/Facility Management model which provides a stronger administrative and innovative approach when dealing with complex installations.

The Price and The Value Adds.

Directly compare the services offered. What is included in the service fee? What level of experience and service will you be receiving?

Are there any Value-Adds – something that the company is willing to provide as part of the overall package to show its dedication and care for the client. What areas of particular expertise does the Company possess that can add value?

For example does the organisation have any in-house financial expertise that can assist with budgeting; project management expertise to run larger projects; contract management expertise to formulate maintenance projects; site set up expertise for new projects and most importantly communication expertise to deliver information in a timely and comprehensive manner?

All of these areas add substantial value, resulting in cost savings that would have otherwise been expended on third parties to fill in the gaps.

Reputation, values and principles.

How did the Company commence business? Are they reputable within the industry amongst competitors and clients alike? What are their values and what do they represent?

Are the services provided in-house or outsourced and subcontracted out to third parties?

In-house services are better at delivering a quality, responsive service as there is a direct relationship with the client. Having staff in-house also enables better synchronisation between services.

Sub contracted services tend to have less alignment with the client (and correspondingly lower levels of service and response).

Know exactly who you are dealing with and those you are contracted to, and ensure that all necessary insurances are in place (including sub-contractors).

A single operator or a solid stable company?

While a single operator or start-up company might appeal, chances are they are lacking in the requisite experience and expertise. Managing a modern building is fraught with complexities and requires a broad skill-set (and the managerial nous to make it all happen, on time, on budget, and with minimal disruption).

Other concerns are regulatory compliance with insurances including Workers Compensation, Public Liability and Professional Indemnity.

A stable and reputable organisation with in-house services, well developed systems, policies and procedures and experienced staff ensures your assets and liabilities are in good hands.

Meet the Managing Director of the Company to discuss your particular concerns and specific needs.

This will help you evaluate the driving force behind the Company.

Does the Company have leverage in the marketplace with Contractors?

What contractor network do they have? Can the Company obtain corporate rates from contractors leveraged across multiple sites resulting in saving?

Does the Company have leverage with Suppliers?

Can they order consumables such as lighting supplies in bulk across multiple sites and pass on the cost benefits to the client?

What sort of training and support is available to the staff of the organisation?

Does the Company provide training in-house and from educational partners to ensure the staff is properly equipped and knowledgeable for the duties they perform?

Visit sites serviced by the Contractor.

An easy way to get an impression of how a company operates and performs is to visit a site and see firsthand. Request to visit sample sites for comparison.

Visit the Head Office of the Company.

Are they based locally? What infrastructure is available? What expertise in support of the staff is available?

Staff Presentation is another key consideration.

This is especially important for Concierge front of house as they represent the face of the building. Are uniforms provided, what protocols does the Company have regarding appearance and uniforms? Can you see a similar presentation doing justice to your building?

Check Industry affiliations.

There are several industry affiliations including Strata Title Association (STA), Facility Management Association (FMA) and others. What commitments to the industry does your selected organisation have?

How robust and developed are their management systems?

They should be tested and proven, with a sound development history. Do the systems cater for the specific needs of the site? How are they monitored and implemented? Is performance monitored by Head Office?

How is your intellectual property and information being stored?

Does the company have secure back-up of all information collected during the life of the site? Are you able to retrieve this information upon request?

How is staff selected for your site?

There should be a robust recruitment procedure in place. Can the Executive Committee be involved in the recruitment process if they so desire?

Does the Company have relief staff on the payroll?

A staff member on personal or annual leave is no excuse for a lapse in service or function. To prevent any disruption, relief staff should already be familiar with the systems of the building.