In theory, keeping your residents happy should be fairly easy as their interests align with yours, since you too are a resident. However, serving on the board can become very political since you as a board member have been voted in to that position, not unlike a politician voted in to theirs. So what can you, as a board member, do to keep your residents happy?

First you have to identify what residents want and prioritize what that entails. We are going to go out on a limb and speak for your residents. Your residents want a safe home in a nice looking and friendly building; probably with as many amenities as possible while paying as little as possible.  Not an easy task to accomplish, especially since you’ve all got jobs, families, hobbies and other activities and commitments. 

Providing a safe home is something that the Managing Agent does an amazing job at. They make sure that the building is complying with all the laws and regulations. According to Mark B. Levine, RAM of EBMG, LLC, they utilize a variety of web-based platforms in order to process and track all the regulatory inspections for their buildings in real-time. They also have extensive training programs for their managers as well as the staff throughout their portfolio.

A friendly home is often a reflection on how you treat your staff and neighbors. We often come across boards that refer to their relationships with fellow residents as “we” and “them,” or don’t speak to their neighbors at all! Like all other organizations, that doesn’t result in a friendly building, let alone a healthy board/ fellow owner environment.

To have a nice looking public space representation is something that is costly, but not necessary, hence something boards can “put off” upgrading since they often don’t have the funds to pay for it. Gary Eisner of BuiltInStudio says that renovating the lobby and hallways is certainly a plus for a building: “A nice lobby also helps sell the apartment; nice amenities increase property values.” That is of course, when it’s finally done!

To pay as little as possible from reserves for a project can only be achieved by either selling assets, increasing debt, or cutting costs. Expert RE attorney Stuart Saft of Holland & Knight recently spoke about exploring selling the air-rights, which could potentially be a very substantial payday. However, not all buildings are lucky enough to have air-rights available to sell.  Everyone knows how to increase debt; what about cutting costs?

We offer an industry-changing cost reduction service. Since we do not perform administrative functions of a managing agent, we are able to spend 100% of our time analyzing a building’s financial situation; poring through financials, vendor contracts, etc.  We also compare the building’s line items to our proprietary benchmark buildings. We typically help buildings cut their fixed and variable costs by 5-10% of their annual budget and our services are paid for by a percentage of actual realized savings.  This directly benefits residents while eliminating any financial risk!

The Folson Group is a leading financial & efficiency expert for apartment building boards and managers.