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Managing the Relationship When Changing Business Partner Vendors

06/01/2024 7:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

By Jessica Azzarano, Westwind Management Group

We all know in the world of community associations, or any other industry for that matter, deciding to make a change from one business partner to another can be normal practice for a variety of reasons. Usually, but not always, the change does not come easily or without a lot of thought from the board of directors. Navigating a new territory with a new relationship is often difficult enough in and of itself but facilitating a smooth transition doesn’t have to be.

Whether the change was mutual - usually not - or severed on not-so-great terms, a business partnership may be lost, but a new opportunity is available to set your community and your new partnership up for success. Be professional, courteous, reasonable, and ethical to both companies during the transition. Be helpful and supportive to the new company by providing accurate and informative details about the community and defining clear and concise expectations. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your new business partner and more importantly, be receptive to their questions and/or concerns, as well. This is the best time to align the partnership’s goals and nurture the relationship; the more hurdles you can clear prior to the beginning of the relationship, the smoother the transition and the road ahead. A good relationship can be immediate (after all, that is likely why a particular business partner was chosen), but sustaining that relationship can prove difficult if there isn’t clear communication from the start.

Communication is key – before, during, and after – in any partnership, and respecting a businesslike mindset will keep the association operating in forward-motion. Documents are also a substantial necessity pertaining to any request for proposal or contract; be sure to provide clear specifications for the services being proposed, contracted, or performed. Do not assume the business partner understands things as you understand them; make sure expectations are reasonable and measurable, and communicated both verbally and in writing. Meetings with association representatives and business partners are essential, at least initially, in order to places names with faces and to interact on a personal level in a businesslike setting. The more time you can invest in this new partnership in the beginning, the less time you need to invest during the course of the partnership. There will be trust earned, and trust retained, allowing less room for human error.

Be sure you do everything in your power so the business partner can succeed – purge your past experiences, don’t pass judgment or criticism of the past partnership, turn negativity into a learning experience and give the contractor room to bloom where they’re planted. Remember, your partnership is only as good as you make it, and as there is always a learning-curve to a new partnership or contract, providing as much information and detail as you can to avoid common pitfalls in any relationship and investing in your new venture is sure to pay off if you allow it the attention it needs.

About the Author: Jessica Azzarano, PCAM®, is new to Colorado but has been in the association management industry since 2000. She was a member on several committees on the Washington Metropolitan Chapter of CAI and served on the WMCCAI board of directors for six years. After 16 years in VA, her career moved her to San Diego, CA, and now to Colorado. She is an Association Business Manager at Westwind Management Group located in Englewood, CO, and manages a portfolio of condominium and townhome associations.

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