Ask Jack: The Role of Vendor Relationships Post Natural Disaster
After a historic storm like Hurricane Irma, we are reminded just how important our firm’s strong vendor relationships are for the communities that we manage. While there are always going to be lawns that need mowed or pools that need to be swept, the arrival of a hurricane or other natural disaster multiplies a community’s needs. Associations should be able to look to their management company as a bridge to the professional services they require.
A list of reliable vendors can be an Association’s most valuable asset. The great relationships that we maintain with our vendors year-round benefit the Associations we manage in times of need: because of their history of working with our firm, they are willing to help as quickly as possible after a natural disaster like Hurricane Irma. After 25 years in the industry, we’ve learned that building a strong working relationship with key vendors is tantamount to having a smooth post-storm plan.
The very first person on site after a storm is generally the landscape vendor. As soon as the municipality lifts the curfew for emergency and service vehicles, the landscaper sends their crews to each property to clear debris from the roadways. Their immediate goal is to remove trees and safety hazards from the roadway, and they brief the manager on any damage they observe. This step is critical in planning the next steps for recovery for our communities.
Our roofing contractors were quick to act after Hurricane Irma, heading to many of our communities to tarp and do emergency repairs as necessary. While each Association will have different and unique needs, the vendors work closely with our managers in times of emergency to ensure that the properties we manage are protected. The roofing contractor’s assessment of each property helps managers determine whether or not an insurance claim will be necessary.
After severe damage, one of the often forgotten but most valuable vendors to contact is a trusted public adjuster. We find that it is wise to use a public adjuster, who is licensed by the state and registered with the DBPR, to work in the best interests of an Association to get them the maximum due from an insurance claim.
An added benefit: sending out a public adjuster with a repair vendor who is assessing damages at one of our communities maximizes both of their efforts. The public adjuster packages and presents claims together, filing one claim with one deductible — not multiple smaller claims — thereby saving the Association money. The presence of a public adjustor also helps us make the most of our vendor’s time, as we avoid sending them back and forth to properties to repair damage when the adjuster could have pointed out the bulk of the damage at one time. This is where the public adjuster becomes a valuable advocate.
We like to remind our clients that they can look at us as their coordinator of professional services. While your manager may not be able to climb your townhouse roof to fix broken shingles, they certainly know someone who is able to do so quickly and efficiently when the need arises. As a management company, our ultimate goal is to prove to our clients time and time again that they can depend on our firm to connect them with vendors who will fight on their behalf. That goal is especially evident after a disaster.