THE MERIT DIFFERENCE
Many management companies are available to manage your Association, and they all provide the same type of services. Each company will provide a financial package, attend your board meetings, complete community inspections, and perform all the other duties you request in your scope of work. The difference among these different companies is not in what services are provided but rather in how they are provided.
At Merit, we believe that what makes us different is our recognition of the fact that your residents may not always be pleased when they contact our office. They may have recently received a letter asking them to address a maintenance issue on their property, or they may have received a late notice that crossed in the mail with their assessment payment. While phone calls about issues like these may start off on a rough note, we strive to make them end positively by doing whatever we can to assist your residents in a pleasant and professional manner.
In addition to providing all of the services that every other management company provides, we also provide the additional services below at no additional cost to your Association:
Our industry requires managers to be in the field for a good part of their day, and this sometimes means they are unavailable to their client communities. This is why we assign two licensed community association managers to each client community. This means that if you need to speak to a manager right now, we will do our best to ensure that one of our managers is available to you right now!
Merit Management is dedicated to providing accurate and timely financial reports to your Association from experts in the field. Merit partners with Bashor & Legendre, LLP, who are certified public accountants (CPAs) specializing in community association accounting. Your monthly financials will be reviewed every month by a CPA prior to being presented to the Board of Directors. Few others in our industry provide CPA-reviewed financials on a monthly basis.
Many of our new clients tell us they never knew when the old management company was in the community, and they were concerned that they did not meet their contractual obligation for onsite visits. Since most managers visit your community during the work day, it is not so easy for you to keep up with these obligations.
We make this easier for you, as we will leave a card for the President or assigned Board member every time we are in your community!
We do regular inspections of the community in order to make sure the properties meet the standards set by the Association’s governing documents, and we will send homeowners a professionally written reminder if something requires their attention. Moreover, we believe that if we can point out a deficiency to one of your residents, we can also point out to a resident when their property looks tip-top! When we see a home that is well-maintained and looks beautiful, we will send that homeowner a letter as well, congratulating them on the awesome job they have done for their community.
While we work hard to reach perfection, which is truly our goal, there are also times when we drop the ball. There could be a transposed number in an address, resulting in a maintenance request letter being sent to the wrong house, or a resident’s name could be misspelled in the Annual Meeting minutes. When we make a mistake that is obviously our fault, we have a special way of making it up to your resident: we buy them lunch! We will willingly admit our mistake and send a letter of apology to your resident, along with a gift card for lunch on us at a local eatery.
A new service that Merit is offering all new clients is to video the community from the street, showing the conditions and properties at the time we start management. In the past, we have found that we sometimes wished we had photos of a particular lot or situation to see when an issue or structure was created. So now we drive the property and take a video that we can go back and reference if needed in the future.
We also partner with an aerial videographer for those communities that want to go a step further and use drones to view the entire community, including rear yards, for an additional cost.
We understand the need for homeowners to locate quality vendors to provide services such as screen repair, roof cleaning, annual A/C services and pressure washing. Many of these types of issues are seen during our community inspections and may be issues with multiple residents. If the Board is interested, we will locate a vendor who will come into the community and provide these services at a reduced rate, because they can work on multiple properties within the same community.
Merit will check the business licenses, insurance policies, and references of these vendors in advance and then negotiate a price that a single homeowner will not usually be able to arrange. Merit does not charge the vendor, the Association or the homeowner any fee for this service. The savings negotiated are fully passed through to the resident. On the rare occasion that there is a dispute with the vendor, a simple phone call from Merit will usually resolve the issue, as vendors appreciate the opportunity to work in the Partners in Quality program.
Hillsborough County Associations are fortunate to have access to several different grants through Hillsborough County government. These include grants for community cleanups, tree purchases, and low-volume irrigation, as well as the general mini-grant for a variety of different products or services. Merit Management can complete these grant applications for the Association and assist in the project management when possible. Our team has been quite successful over the years at procuring a substantial amount of grant money for our client Associations.
Merit employees believe strongly in giving back to our communities. Each spring, we award two $500 scholarships to students whose immediate families own homes in our managed communities. These scholarships are given to students whose high school careers exemplify dedication to community service and volunteerism. Interested students can request applications in January of their senior year for more details.
Title companies and closing attorneys frequently wait until the last minute to contact the management company for closing information when a resident is selling a home in one of our communities. We used to get calls from panicked closing agents telling us the buyers and sellers were sitting in the other room and had just found out there was a mandatory homeowners association in the community. The closing agent needed information from us in order to be able to close the sale, and they needed it right away! This situation is very common in our industry, and many management companies charge a hefty premium for a rush closing letter.
We knew there had to be a better way, and we found it. When we do our regular community inspections, we also look for “For Sale” signs in our residents’ yards. When we see one, we send a letter to the owner and the realtor explaining what they need from us to make sure their closing goes smoothly. As a result, we usually get the closing packet request weeks before the actual closing, and we rarely get those panicked, last-minute calls from the closing agents.
Many realtors have told us how much they appreciate this free reminder service.
The recent trend in community association management has been consolidation and many local firms have been purchased by larger companies based in other states. Merit is still a local, family owned business based in Brandon, Florida and we understand the unique needs of Tampa area associations. We believe in providing specialized services to our clients and that includes our very first client who started with us in 1998 and remains a Merit client to this day!