Once you’ve landed a contract as a condo association or HOA vendor, how do you keep it? You don’t want to be blindsided by a termination. It’s not unusual for boards to review contracts annually. They may put a contract out for bid again even if they’re satisfied with your services just because it’s part of their bylaws or they want to do some price shopping. This means you can’t rest on your success. Don’t wait until the contract is up to try to win your customer back. Instead, continue to earn the HOA’s business throughout the year to secure your place as a preferred vendor. Here are a few ideas for how to solidify the customer relationship for these lucrative recurring contracts.
1. Focus on Continuous Improvement
If you want to get in line for the big projects down the road, actively look for ways to improve services while keeping costs stable. This is a great way to make your company indispensable. HOA and condo association boards are required to do their due diligence before spending big sums of money. Show that you can help them look out for the fiduciary interests of their community. When you do, they can feel confident that they are making a sound decision.
2. Stay in Frequent Touch with Clients
Poor communication is the #1 reason vendors lose HOA and condo association contracts. Good communication means more than answering questions quickly. Be proactive, reaching out every couple of months even when you think things are going well. Clients may be letting an issue fester instead of bringing it to your attention. The sooner you know about a problem, the easier it is to fix.
3. Be Realistic about Price Increases
Do you need to raise prices to keep up with inflation, operational costs, increased scope of work, or other reasons? Communicate this well in advance of the price increase whenever possible. Remember, the board is likely going to put the contract out for bid anyway, so you have nothing to lose by being transparent. Giving the board a heads up so they can budget appropriately will make the price increase go down a bit easier.
4. Ask for a Favor
Asking for a favor is an easy want to keep your status as a preferred condo association or HOA vendor. Soliciting positive feedback from satisfied clients is smart for a couple of reasons. First, it helps you land new contracts with other HOAs in the future. Second, once a board gives you a glowing testimonial, they tend to feel more invested in the client/vendor relationship. That’s good news for you when it’s time for contract renewal.
5. Become an Educator
Is there something you can give back to the neighborhood in terms of insight and education in your area of specialization? For example, if you run a pest control company, can you offer education to the community on reducing infestations? This may not be a glamorous topic. But sponsoring a lunch and learn for HOA or condo association members could earn you some goodwill.
6. Make It Easy to Do Business with You
Simple things like invoicing electronically and accepting payment online can make the month-to-month interaction with clients smoother. However, if the HOA likes old-fashioned mailed invoices and paper checks, roll with it. If they become delinquent, start with a friendly phone call instead of just sending a past due notice. This gives you the chance to find out if your invoice was overlooked or if there is a more serious reason that payment is late.
7. Keep Every Commitment
One other pet peeve for HOAs, co-ops, and planned unit developments is quality control. Too often, the property manager gets stuck double-checking that vendors are doing what was promised. For example, a landscaper may commit to a lot of fancy upkeep and hedge trimming but end up just doing a mow and blow. Having a supervisor on site during services or performing a walk-through afterward would prevent this problem. When you have QC built into your service delivery processes, it may cost more up front. But clients stay happy—and keep renewing contracts. Or, if they do go with a competing vendor, they come running back after being disappointed by poor service elsewhere.
8. Plan to Be a Hero
For condo association and townhome association clients, disaster recovery is an area where you can make a big impact. Let’s say you provide construction and remodeling services to an HOA. If a dozen units are damaged during a severe weather event, chances are your plate will be pretty full handling repairs. That’s especially true if you serve several communities that were all hit by the same storm. If you have a contingency plan to scale your work crews to address damage fast, your clients will appreciate it.
Want to learn more about being the kind of condo association or HOA vendor and that mixed-use associations want to keep around? Go through the process of becoming a preferred vendor with Ardent.