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Start the Year Right….Get Planning!

Start the Year Right….Get Planning!

by Victoria Garner, CMCA, AMS, PCAM - Executive Vice President

It's the start of another new year.and we are all looking forward to a fresh, productive and rewarding year. We are bustling with energy and ready to hit the ground running. But, wait…what’s your plan?

Often times, when we partner with a new community association we find they have little planning in effect to set the pace for their year. The Board may have a vision in their minds and perhaps their reserve study in front of them with a list of projects they want to tackle, but no defined plan of attack. There are important deadlines that must be met each month, meeting schedules, contract expirations and administrative tasks throughout the year that require your manager’s full attention. Proper planning and organization is required or it is all too easy to drop a ball resulting in serious impact to the community. An experienced, or even a brand new manager may tell you at any one point, there are multiple tasks and deadlines to meet for a community – and in the world of portfolio management, you can essentially multiply that by 8. So, one may ask, what’s the solution? How can I as a board member or manager make sure my community is set up in the new year for success. How can we tackle all that we need to get done and meet our deadlines?

Well, it starts with a good Annual Planning Calendar. At Cardinal, we provide each of our client partners with a calendar each January, broken up by months and earmarking important dates, deadlines, project starts and finishes, and so much more. Preparation of the calendar starts with the basics, when are the Board meetings? The Annual Meeting? When do meeting notices and assessment coupons need to be sent by? When is the draft budget due to the Board? When is the budget due to membership? Then, our professional team of managers digs deeper. What contracts are set to expire this year? What are the deadlines for providing notice of termination or non-renewal? What month do we need to solicit bids and/or make a decision on contract renewal? All of these important dates are placed on the Annual Planning Calendar as a tool to ensure they are always front of mind and never overlooked. No one wants a poor performing contract to auto renew for another 5 years because the manager missed the deadline for noticing the contractor.

So those are the basics, the bare minimum. But what else? What else is a Planning Calendar good for? Take a look at the Association’s reserve study and consider what projects are anticipated for this year and in which month you will need to develop an RFP, solicit bids, select a bidder and perform the improvement. Placing items on the calendar that are required obligations of outside vendors and contractors will help you as the manager or board ensure the Association’s is getting the services they are paying for.

In summary, you can make the most of your year with putting a little extra time and thought into preparing your Annual Planning Calendar. Time well invested on the front end will bear dividends later.