When it comes to property management firms, sometimes bigger is better. And sometimes, small is what you need. And sometimes, as Goldilocks discovered, something somewhere in the middle can be just right. Whether it’s large companies with hundreds of managers or a boutique firm with a handful of staff, when it comes to choosing what type of management firm is right for you there can be pros and cons on both sides of the coin.
These days, larger firms seem to be more prevalent than their smaller cousins. “The industry has gotten so regulated that it’s become more difficult for smaller companies to compete,” says Michael Packard, PCAM, CPM, senior vice president of Associa, one of the country’s largest management firms, serving close to three million members in associations nationwide.
Large and small firms can differ in a number of significant areas, some of them obvious and others more subtle. Perhaps the biggest difference rests with the question of personnel. The simple fact of the matter is that larger companies have more staff. “You want to be able to have a firm that’s large enough that they can hire the staff and provide the expertise to give you a fully integrated company,” says Jerry Ragosa, president and owner of The Niles Company of Quincy, Massachusetts. “You want expertise in maintenance, administrative support, accounting—and you have to be a certain size to get that. So when an issue arises, regardless of if it’s flu season or not, you’re going to get a live person to help you with your problem and you’re going to get someone who’s familiar with your property.”
Walt Williamsen, owner of Condominium Consulting Services in Torrington, Connecticut, agrees. “The advantage of a larger firm is that if something happens to the manager, the larger company has someone they can put right in there,” he says. “It’s a fairly high burnout business. Managerswill often give two weeks’ notice and they’re out. A smaller company might have more difficulty covering that.”