Olivia Pope, the main character on ABC’s Scandal, is a professional fixer. If you have a problem—any problem—she can fix it. Over the past two seasons plus, she’s rigged elections, covered up murders, employed professional hit men, exposed secrets, made and ruined countless lives, and played hard to get with the President of the United States. But the most amazing thing about Olivia Pope is that she’s always available. Walk into her office, she’s there. Call her cell, she’ll pick up. And when she answers, she can make even the biggest problems disappear.
In another life, Olivia Pope would be a terrific association manager—the best association manager who ever existed. After all, if she can rig presidential elections, she can handle complaints about noise and leaky pipes. But Olivia Pope is fictional in more ways than one. No one answers the phone every time it rings.
Whenever a problem arises in a community association or homeowners association—whether it’s a leak, a noisy neighbor, or some procedural question that has come up—it’s the impulse of many board members and residents to pick up the phone and immediately call their association manager. Most times, this is the right thing to do: the manager is first in line in an HOA’s administrative hierarchy. That said, there’s a right way and a wrong way to call your manager—and sometimes, it’s not appropriate to call at all. Enough calls at the worst possible time, or for the most trivial matters will only make you a total pest, and could even make your manager less enthused about helping you with future problems.
When to Call
Association managers and management companies work for condo associations and HOAs, which operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so association management is not a nine-to-five job by a long shot. But that’s doesn’t mean its okay to call your association manager at 2 a.m. in the morning because of your neighbor’s yapping Jack Russell terrier. If it isn’t urgent, use a little discretion.
“You can call our office 24 hours a day, seven days a week because we developed our own customer care center,” says Dan Wurtzel, president of FirstService Residential in New York City. “How it works is that you call a managing agent, you get a voice prompt saying if you’d like one of our customer care representatives to assist you press #1. Then you get a live person. You ask your question and we have a record of that call. If it’s a simple question like ‘What do I have to do to hold a private party in an amenity space?’ that’s a simple request. The customer care representative will send out the proper forms and boom, it’s done. If it’s a more complicated request they will take down the information and call you back. We manage close to 600 properties and each of our buildings has anywhere between 400 and 600 questions that are building specific. Just about every question that’s asked can be answered immediately. Last year our customer care center handled over 100,000 calls.”