Measuring Value in a Condominium Setting
Value in a business environment is a concept that has many different interpretations. In our personal lives we all know what we value most – our families, our homes, our friends, our happiness. In business, the focus is different. Or is it? At its most basic, business value is deﬁned in terms of dollars and cents or economic value, for example, monetary savings. Our condominium boards strive to get the best value for money spent and for work performed. It’s not always about the lowest price. It’s about what meets the board’s and residents’ needs and makes everyone feel satisﬁed.
How else do we measure value in a condominium community? Perhaps, these are the more intangible deﬁnitions of value. A person’s value – the skills and qualities does an individual manager, concierge, administrator or superintendent bring that makes that person valuable. Skills like decision-making, attitude, planning, critical thinking.
In this article, Steven Christodoulou, RCM, president of ICC Property Management and past recipient of ACMO’s Leader of the Year award, discusses value in a condominium situation.
Q: How does a condominium corporation board of directors define value?
Steven: Value has very many deﬁnitions and is entirely dependent on how one perceives it. Generally, a condominium corporation board of directors deﬁnes value in terms of dollars saved for a rendered service. A board of directors will perceive this as a win for the owners by paying a lesser dollar amount for a good or service which in turn will reﬂect lower maintenance fees through these savings. This, of course, is a generalization as not all directors view or deﬁne value the same way.
We have found that in the past few years there has been a major shift in boards of directors’ knowledge and education and the need for more than the minimum one can provide as a condo manager. Not all boards of directors are created equal and as condo managers it is imperative that the right questions are asked of our clients in order to ensure we are able to deliver on their expectations.
Q: How should a condominium corporation define value?
Steven: In my view, a condominium corporation should deﬁne value as receiving the best possible service at the best price available for that service – comparing apples to apples. As an example, one may deﬁne value by asking:
- How much more would I be willing to pay for a true land- scaper over a grass cutter?
- Would I be willing to pay an extra $100.00/month in maintenance fees to have valet parking in my building?
- Would I pay more in management fees to have a more qualified and experienced property manager managing my single biggest investment?
As a condominium manager, I know that I’ve delivered true value to my clients when they enthusiastically renew our management agreements.
Q: How do you, as an executive and leader, strive to bring value to your condominium communities, clients, employees and other stake- holders?
Steven: We make an effort to educate our clients to perceive value in terms of the cost of managing their single biggest investment, and consistently manage with a view to increasing property values along with attracting the best talent to execute on this vision. But how does this happen? Bottom line, the key factor in providing value to our clients is PEOPLE. Installing front-line staff that will execute on the board’s vision and being supported by a senior team that will hold them accountable for ensuring this outcome, is crucial to the success of any community.
It’s an unfortunate reality that there are more condominiums in Ontario than qualiﬁed condominium managers. As such, it is imperative that value not only be brought to our clients, but to our employees as well. Providing an environment whereby all staff feels a sense of belonging, are consistently being educated, trained and very well supported by senior staff, is essential to ensuring our clients are being taken care of AND managers are remunerated at a level which is commensurate with their skills and efforts. This will attract more qualiﬁed people to our industry with the skills that our clients are desperately looking for in effectively managing their communities.
In addition, as managers, it is so important to partner with quality and trusted trades and professionals to ensure that any product purchased or service rendered is delivered at a level that would satisfy the most discerning client. Whether it’s front-line staff such as concierge, housekeeping, landscaping or consultants, most of our clients would be willing to pay a little more to ensure that the property is secure with great customer service, that the property is always clean, the grounds are immaculate and work is carried out efﬁciently and effectively. Working with quality partners truly makes the job of the condominium manager much easier.
Steven Christodoulou, RCM, is Chief Visionary Officer of ICC Property Management Ltd. and a proud 21-year RCM veteran.