CAM Has An Outstanding Suggestion

By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA / Published January 2020

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Managers are problem solvers, but even more, they learn from painful trial and error how to avoid future problems and difficult situations. Those of us who are wise learn from other people’s mistakes and take their suggestions. Here are some great CAMs with terrific suggestions.

From Stephanie Wyland, Director of Rental Services/CAM, Coastal Realty & Property Management, St. Augustine

My suggestions for every CAM or board member: 

  • How you think and communicate is not the way that everyone else does. If you have a problem working with someone, try and see the situation from his or her perspective.
  • Approach a negative situation diplomatically. Use facts, not emotion, to support your case.
  • You can never please everyone. (This is the hardest one for me.)

From Mario Guevara, CAM, CFCAM, Florida CAM Services, Fleming Island

     Assessment payments—Fewer hands reduce the opportunity for human error as well as fraud. I recommend BB&T WebVault services.

     Pet waste—Doggy stations/pet waste stations throughout the community are a plus. For a monthly fee, the company comes out weekly to restock the doggy bags, take away the pet waste, and replace the trash bags.

     Invoices—Insist that vendors go paperless and email their invoices. Paperless invoices are easy to save electronically.

     New communities—When onboarding a new community, recommend the current board attend a board certification class. The class helps set expectations for board members that are realistic.

     Software—TOPS CAM software provides all association records and financials in one place. The work can be performed on your phone.

     The Florida Community Association JournalBy far the best place to get information and stay up to date on current issues taking place in Florida.

From Cyd Busko, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA, AMS, at Harbor Oaks Homeowners Cooperative, Inc., Fruitland Park

     It’s a given that employees need to have the training and CEUs to maintain their licenses and certifications, and they must know the proper procedures for their positions. Just as important is that they have the skills and confidence to interact with residents. It’s important for employees to know that resolutions to touchy situations are managed while you have their backs.

From Andrea LaVallee-Maggs, CAM, Director of Association Services, Coastal Realty & Property Management, St. Augustine

     Make a “cheat sheet” for each association, especially for portfolio managers. Include information like the following:

  • number of board members and terms
  • capital contribution amount, if any/li>
  • voting requirements/li>
  • budget approval process/li>
  • quorum count/li>
  • board approval of sales/leases, if required/li>
  • budget meeting notice, 14 or 30 days/li>
  • year of last insurance appraisal/li>
  • late fee and/or interest policy per governing documents/li>
  • fine committee names, if established/li>
  • pet and/or rental restrictions/li>

     Always look back in your governing documents; don’t presume to know or remember what they say. Don’t hesitate to say, “I’ll have to get back to you.” A response that you don’t have an answer is better than no response at all. But, be sure to call them back!

From Tyler Brown, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, The Heritage Ormond Condominiums, Ormond Beach

  • Be nice. It costs you nothing, and your attitude can affect the attitude of every resident on the entire property.
  • Never assume you are the smartest person in the room. Someone knows more about the topic than you do.
  • Strive to be relentlessly honest with your board and owners.
  • No matter what interactions you have had with an owner, resident, or board member, today is a new day and you must start fresh.
  • If you don’t know the answer, don’t make something up. People actually do respect you if you say, “I don’t know, but I will find out.”
  • Sometimes you have to respectfully push back against owners or board members.

    Being a CAM is not about agreeing with everyone about everything. It is about providing guidance, direction, and insight that best serves the collective association.

  • When investigating water leaks (these never happen, by the way), always search until you find the source of the leak.
  • Your association is a business. Treat it as one.

From Colette McBreen, CAM, CFCAM, Altaira at The Colony Bay Club in Bonita Springs

     Condominium associations are governed by the Florida Statutes, and any questions regarding the interpretation of the Florida Statutes should not be second guessed but advised by the association attorney.

     Remember—You do not own the circus, you just work for it and have no virtual control over what the board members may do, try as you might!

     Embrace the job and love it! Where else can you be involved in something that typically provides positive results, makes every day in life an adventure, introduces you to many people, makes you think, provides you with  a passionate group of support from fellow CAMS, allows you to feel as though you accomplished a goal, and makes you smile at the end of the day?

     Every manager should believe in a strong commitment to each team player’s ongoing development. After all, these are the people in front of your residents every single day. Be encouraging and complimentary, and at the end of every day remind them of a job well done and that they are appreciated!

     And my favorite morning quote, “Every day is an adventure in the world of CAM management.”

From Thomas Renner, CAM, CFCAM, Tradewinds Management Office, New Smyrna Beach

     When signing a contract for any type of work, only give a deposit after you have received something in return. If you are asked to put down a 25 percent deposit, request that the materials for the job be ordered and delivered to your property before releasing the deposit.

     When delegating tasks to staff, be sure they are properly equipped. Be involved in the daily activities of your staff so you know what they need and if improvements or adjustments should be made. Get out of your office, walk around, and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!

From Sheila McCollum, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA, New Smyrna Beach Association Management, LLC

     One of the biggest obstacles is the new owner who thinks she can do the same thing in her unit as she could in her single-family home. When she finds out there are rules and regulations that restrict her homeowner rights, those negative reactions are hard to turn to positives. Be sure the realtors you regularly deal with have a complete electronic set of your governing documents to give to buyers.

     Create a new owner letter that addresses issues such as this list:

  • Where and how to make payments
  • Rules for unit or home modifications
  • Website information, meeting calendar, office hours, emergency protocols
  • How to communicate with management and the board
  • What the bulk contract does and does not provide
  • Requirements for their vendors and contractors
  • Explanation of what the association insurance covers and why they need their own insurance.

From Jonathan Peterson, CAM, Four Points Community Association Management, LLC, Tallahassee, Florida

When board members won’t listen to the CAM’s advice, remember these thoughts:

  • It’s frustrating, but try not to take it personally.
  • To cover yourself, document everything.
  • Sit back and watch; the board will eventually come back around to seek your advice.

Our Florida CAMs have outstanding suggestions!

Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA

Florida CAM Schools

Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA, guides managers, board members, and service providers in handling daily operations of their communities while at the same time dealing with different communication styles, difficult personalities, and conflict. Effective communication and efficient management are her goals. Since 1999, Betsy has educated thousands of managers, directors, and service providers. She is your trainer for life! Betsy is the author of Boardmanship, a columnist in the Florida Community Association Journal, and a former member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. For more information, contact, (352) 326-8365, or