Aside from a financial or legal misstep, the most common reason an HOA board decides to hire a new property management company is that the previous manager was inattentive or lax and routinely failed to follow through with responsibilities. The result is that the primary focus of the manager interview process becomes all about ensuring a new manager understands and can perform all aspects of the job in a timely and professional manner.
“In our view, this is the bare minimum of the building manager’s responsibilities, and anything less is unacceptable,” said John Ribando, GNP’s vice president of residential management. “At GNP, we take pride in going above and beyond the job description and proactively seeking opportunities to enhance the community and the owners’ investment.”
Upon assuming management for a residential property and working with the prior manager to ensure a smooth transition of data files, records and funds transfer, we meet with HOA board leaders to ensure mutually aligned expectations and communication protocols. Then it’s time to get down to the business of actively caring for the building and its tenants.
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Checking the building’s “bones”
“We start by focusing on the mechanicals, or the ‘bones’ of the property,” said Ribando. “It’s essential we know what we’re working with in terms of furnaces, water heaters, roof and window condition, the building façade and fire protection systems.” A thorough understanding of the building’s structural components and mechanicals allows GNP to create a roadmap to address any issues and ensure the property remains in good working order.
“We can dispatch CMPS—in-house our maintenance arm—for most repairs,” said Ribando, “Using our team ensures the work is done when we need it done.” Also, GNP property managers can promptly dispatch CMPS for in-unit repairs went a resident reports a problem. Residents get to know the maintenance team that services their building.
A security assessment is also a top priority in the first days of management. “The Chicago area is full of older buildings, many of which lack a modern security system, and there are likely many duplicate keys out there,” cautions Ribando. “This is especially true if the owner uses the property for rental income and there have been multiple tenants over the years.” If the HOA supports it, GNP installs an app-based keyless system that provides residents with a higher level of security, e.g., integrated two-way audio and video for secure visitor and guest management.
Security upgrades also provide an enhanced living experience, according to Ribando. “We were among the first property management companies in the Chicago market to provide secure package delivery with dedicated access,” said Ribando. For example, an Amazon driver obtains a one-time access code to a secure space. Amazon installs the complementary system to reduce package theft, so HOAs reap the benefit of a value-added service for residents at no cost to the association or owners. (Did you know that 12,000 Amazon packages are stolen daily in the Chicagoland market?) This service is increasingly commonplace for large multifamily buildings in Chicago, but GNP has used it since 2019.
Connecting with building residents
“Our property managers take pride in being part of the community,” said Ribando. “As part of our initial outreach, we try to meet every resident and owner.” While email is practical for building-wide notices, GNP finds it highly beneficial for residents to put a face and a voice to their building manager and vice versa. “The personalized approach is a win-win,” said Ribando.
“In the residential property management industry, the typical tenure of a building manager at a given location is roughly 18 to 24 months,” said Ribando. “Building managers move on to a different property or change jobs altogether. I’m proud that most of our managers have been with the same property for more than five years. It’s good for the community as they get to know the manager, and it’s good for the manager, who is not spending a lot of time learning the building and the people.”
Dean Kutrumanes, CEO of GNP Realty, said John Ribando is a great example of the long tenure of GNP building managers and the value it delivers to homeowner associations. “We promoted John to a senior management role after ten years assigned several residential buildings. In accepting the promotion, John asked to retain day-to-day building management for one of these properties,” said Kutrumanes.
“I had a strong relationship with the board president,” said Ribando. “I knew he didn’t want to continue as president, but the building was struggling to fill the role. The president said he would stay on as president if I remained as manager, and I was happy to do so to help keep things running smoothly.”
“Our people are our greatest asset,” said Kutrumanes. “We hire building managers who consider property management a career—not a job, and then we support them. The result in long-term building managers who establish strong relationships with HOA boards and building residents.”