Planning for Success: Tips for Short- and Long-Term Planning
We all know that Condos are “not-for-profit” corporations acting within specific regulations set by governments, Corporation’s Declaration, rules and policies with a view to all other Acts, Codes and Laws with limitations. But with so much at stake, why not take some best practices from other successful organizations and businesses and apply them to our industry? Why not operate like a successful business?
While a condo doesn’t operate to turn a profit, it should act to protect the investors’ property and develop the value of the real-estate by maintaining and advancing the facilities and infrastructure.
What tools and knowledge does a property manager need to reach maximum benefit for investors, tenants and shareholders?
One of the practical tools is to have a Strategic Plan for each Condo. I will explain some basic information for condominium managers to consider when creating a Strategic Plan, including short-term and long-term goals.
Strategic Planning is a process involving a number of steps and analysis that identify the current status of the organization, including its mission, vision for the future, operating values, needs, goals, prioritized actions and strategies, action plans and evaluation strategy.
A strategic plan includes more than day-to-day activities and future preventative maintenance. Every condominium needs strategy plans, goals (short and long terms), and policies to guide future leaders, Board of Directors and operational decision makers. With a clear and concise strategic plan, your board and unit owners will enjoy a roadmap that helps them stay focused on the important tasks and goals that will provide high-quality lifestyle and long-term benefits to the community.
Other benefits of a strategic plan include activities that advance the condo’s goals, expose the factors that may impact condo resident’s quality of life, and reveal the external perception of the condominium and how it may influence the marketability and value of its properties.
How to Start
One of the best and important tools to use for effective Strategic Planning is the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis:
Strengths. Identify the organization’s internal characteristics that enhance the condo’s ability to meet its mission and vision. Some examples: Property location, facilities, committee volunteers and access to public amenities.
Weaknesses. The internal characteristics that detract from the corporation’s ability to meet its mission and vision or put it at a competitive disadvantage over other neighbourhood condos. Examples include poorly reserve funded projects and deferred maintenance.
Opportunities. The external factors that may enable a condo to meet its mission and vision. Some examples include property management company support, technological advances, professional contractors and government subsidies for community enhancement projects.
Threats. Capture the external factors that may prevent the condominium from meeting its mission and vision. Some examples include theft, weather conditions, natural disasters, a high foreclosure rate, undesirable local government projects and new neighbourhood development that may undermine resale prices.
Once the SWOT is complete, you can move on to short- and long-term planning.
A short-term plan (annual plan) is something you want to do in the near future for your condo. The near future can mean today, this week, this month, or even this year. A short-term goal is something you want and have to accomplish soon.
A long-term plan is something you want to do in the future. Long-term goals always require time and planning. They are not something you can reach this week or even this year. Long-term plans usually take 12 months or more to achieve.
Tips for Setting Long-Term Goals and Plans
Work backwards. Think about what you want to achieve in the future then plan steps going back to what you can do right now.
Create a picture of where you want to be in 5 and 10 years from now.
Think about what you need to do in three years, in one year, and in six months to get to your long-term goal.
Write down what you need to do each month to achieve your objectives.
After each monthly objective is achieved, look at your long-term goals and adjust them as needed.
After identifying and evaluating the SWOT for your condominium and setting SMART goals with action plans which support your mission and vision, your condo will be well on its way to becoming a well-oiled machine that meets the needs of the owners and tenants in the community. Depending on the size and complexity of your buildings, a modest investment in strategic planning can return large dividends in the form of satisfied owners and increased property values.
You may ask why a reserve fund study isn’t enough for short- and long-term plans.
Generally a condo board along with management will rely on a reserve fund study to map out future projects and major expenditures, but unless otherwise guided, reserve funds studies will aim for major replace or repair within the scope of current drawings.
If windows are set to be replaced in 15-years, the engineer will set cost guidelines to replace the windows at a similar grade. It won’t factor in the opportunity to replace it with new and better energy efficiency and functionality plans or designs.
I strongly recommend all property managers to have an annual plan on their desk and a binder of wish lists, long term plans for projects and activities for their usage, Board’s decision making and budgeting proposals.
Daniel Mousavi, MBA, RCM is a Property Manager with Dell Property Management.