How do you tackle the challenge of replacing a poor performing managing agent in as successful and stress-free way as possible? Clear Building Management offers practical advice to leaseholders and RMC directors keen to make the change.
Writing this just before Christmas, with people mandated to ‘work from home if they can’ and a further lockdown looking ever more possible, we can expect leaseholders to be continuing to spend more time in their properties. And with people spending more time at home comes a greater pressure on managing agents to deliver excellent levels of service.
For many developments this is also playing out alongside the challenge of implementing – and funding – fire safety measures, all of which can prompt directors and leaseholders to question if they have the right managing agent in place for their property.
Sounds familiar? We get regular calls from leaseholders and directors who are fed up with poor service from their managing agent and want to switch to Clear, but are anxious about the process -including how to manage the handover.
Here’s our practical advice on how to secure a smooth transition to a new managing agent.
Getting other leaseholders on board
Not all leaseholders are created equal, and it can feel like a challenge getting support for a switch, particularly in bigger developments and in blocks with non-resident leaseholders. So how can you get support for changing managing agent?
Ask your prospective agent how they will support you with this process. For example, at Clear we would propose a range of tactics from helping with satisfaction surveys through to leafleting, meetings (virtual or face to face) and regular, transparent communications. We also recommend involving tenants as this can help to secure buy-in to the handover process and longer-term community engagement.
Avoiding a ‘frying pan into the fire’ situation
No one wants to be accountable for persuading fellow directors and leaseholders to switch managing agents, only to find out that they are no better than the old ones! So how can you make sure you get it right?
When speaking to potential building management companies, ask if you can talk directly to directors in other similar sized blocks that they manage. Ask them about the management company’s best and worst qualities: unscripted feedback can be very useful.
Check out their communications; if they don’t impress you at the pitch stage, what will they be like once they’re managing your block?
Ask them how they measure performance and what redress you will have if their service is not as promised. For example, Clear Building Management offers clients a guarantee (as yet unused!) where directors can leave, penalty free, if they are not happy. We will even help them to move to another agent.
Overcoming inertia and lack of time
We are constantly being told to switch to get a better deal, whether for our broadband, TV package, car insurance…. the list goes on. With life so busy, it’s no surprise that the job tends to fall to the bottom of the to do list, even though we know it will probably lead to better service, a reduced cost – or maybe even both.
How can you make changing agent as streamlined and fuss-free as possible?
When choosing a new managing agent, ask them to talk you through the handover process; they should be able to reassure you that they will handle it all for you, ensuring a smooth transition for your block.
At Clear, we make it even easier, by giving RMC directors a ‘one signature switch’ process, which takes care of all the administration, from informing the outgoing management company to overseeing changes in utility contracts. Clients retain the control and the decision making but are freed of the paperwork and handover hassles – it’s a popular solution for time-pressed directors.
Escaping the fear of conflict
You’re wanting to change managing agent so it’s likely that relationships are fairly strained with the incumbents, and you may not be relishing having to tell them you’re sacking them!
A good managing agent should however take care of this difficult part for you, removing you from the line of fire and saving you from an awkward conversation. Talk to your prospective managing agent about handling this on your behalf – they should be very used to it.
Changing managing agent can be a nerve-wracking process and, all too often, a ‘better the devil you know’ mentality can prevail. However, whilst changing managing agent may feel daunting or too time-consuming, it can be achieved smoothly and painlessly with the right support. And, a fresh approach to your property management really can bring a new lease of life to both your development and the community within it.