Changing strata managers – how to choose the right manager for your scheme

Published: Tuesday 8 December 2020

Like all relationships, communication is important. When this breaks down it is not always necessary to change the agency you are with. If it is simply a clash with the current account manager, some agencies will transfer the management to another within their organisation. 

This is the better option if possible because they will be more willing to assist someone in their own organisation regarding providing history, information on past issues and answer questions as needed.

Of course, this is not the solution to all things that go wrong with a relationship, and so if you find that you really do need to find another agency to meet your scheme’s needs, here are some helpful tips on how to go about this process

Prepare a brief

Think on what you like about the current agent.  Do not assume that the new agency will do the things you like. It is important to communicate in writing at the outset your expectations. 

Then add to this, what does need to change, and what would be the “nice to haves”.

Include a brief on any current issues, from difficult people within the scheme, contractor problems, communication – how you would like this done, and so on. It is good to obtain feedback on your ideas to solve your issues and what they see as alternative ones and how that would be performed.

It is important to be open. Nothing is to be gained by hiding the facts as it will come out eventually and you will only hamper their ability to perform as required if you are not frank at the time of tendering.

Information withheld may mean your prospective agents do not have the experience or resources to help your scheme and the issues will continue.

This would lead to frustration on both sides and you do not want to have to change agents again in short succession.

Check the tender has met the brief

Once you have your new manager submissions, draw up a spreadsheet and check off that the agent answered any queries and covered the points in the brief. The “must haves” should be at the top, the less important (nice to haves) – in order of importance further down.

Check each proposed new agent has met your listed requirements – confirming how they will perform each of them. If they have missed something, but overall covered most of your points, go back and seek clarification. It could be an oversight, or it may be that they are unable to meet that aspect. This process is what project managers do when assessing large building tenders. There is nothing wrong with having a chat to clarify. How they handle that is also part of their assessment.

After the must haves, did they have solutions to what is prompting you to change, or any concerns raised in your brief? 

Many agents will simply provide a stock standard submission with their fees. This provides no assurance that they will do what you require. No matter how low the fee, if they cannot meet the criteria, bin the submission and do not consider it any further. Even if you paid $10 a month, there is no point if they will not do what you require. You will only end up having a further frustrating experience and owners will lose confidence in the committee if it becomes necessary to change agents again after a short time.

If the cost of management is the top priority, then perhaps look at if an accounts only service will work for your scheme. If the committee are willing to organize repairs and there is no breach of bylaws, or legal advice needed, then this may be an option. Not all agents offer this service. So, identify what are your top 8 criteria and look for an agent who ticks those boxes for you. Be abundantly clear as to what these are.

If the agent has met the brief, rate their responses out of 10. A value based on how important that items is, then, score the agent in the first column did they say they could do it, and then a second column with a number out of 10 as to how happy you are with their proposed solution.

This is easiest performed with a spreadsheet. List absolute priorities at the top. 

Separately list the “nice to haves” in order of preference and give a value to each of these in a column, out of 10. Eg If performing zoom meetings is very important – then give this a weight of 9 out of 10. If it is not so important, then maybe 2/10.

The agents with the highest overall total matching your requirements should then be interviewed by the committee.