This is a concern of many prospective clients. There are a number of measures in place to ensure that no one gets “lost in the shuffle”. Before we tell you about those measures, here are some important facts to illustrate that even our smallest properties do not feel that way.
Crossbridge currently manages 54 condominiums that have fewer than 100 units. Fifteen have been managed by Crossbridge for over 10 years and 18 for over five years. We are successful in managing any property because:
- We keep the portfolios of our property managers low enough to allow those Managers the time it takes to deliver our commitment to outstanding service
- We provide a high level of support to all of our property managers.
- Our company is structured so that there are a lot of small companies working within it. The largest mini company would be the portfolio of a regional manager and would consist of that individual’s property managers and site administrators. A smaller mini company would be your regional manager, the property manager and a site administrator or the team structured in our Accounting Department to service a portfolio. That team includes a senior accountant, an accountant and two support staff for payables and receivables. You won’t be dealing with a large company but a small group of individuals focused on the needs of your building.
- One of our 4 steps to service is “Individual Responsibility”. It doesn’t matter who you contact in the company, that individual is responsible for ensuring that your problem is resolved. You won’t be put on hold, you won’t be told to call someone else, you won’t be transferred to someone else. That individual may not have the authority to resolve the problem or be the individual who can resolve it, but that person will do whatever is necessary to personally contact you with a resolution. You have one point of contact for the solution.
- The training and support provided to our staff and the creation of our Service Excellence program allows us to easily roll out the benefits of Crossbridge to every client.
- Volume discounts from many of our suppliers are based on the entire Crossbridge portfolio. You will receive the same percentage discount regardless of the volume of business you do individually with that supplier. It will certainly cost less than if you were on your own or with a smaller company.
- Large or small you will experience the benefits available from Crossbridge. A small company culture, a customer service culture, manageable portfolios, qualified and supported employees, volume discounts regardless of the size of the invoice to you and a number of other measures ensure that you get personalized services and a human approach to the needs of the board, the building and your residents.
The needs of buildings and required level of staffing change over time. Crossbridge regularly modifies the staffing model in consultation with the board of directors and management fees are adjusted accordingly. Our mutual objective is to set the right staffing model with the right people in place to deliver the service you are expecting and to be flexible over time as a building moves through its life cycles.
The pricing of a management contract will be determined by the board’s service expectations for their residents and the building’s life cycle requirements. Crossbridge and the board will weigh these factors, together with the board’s assessment of historical staffing practices, in coming to an agreement on the most appropriate staffing model and the costs.
All in all purchasing decisions, you have to consider value as well cost. Crossbridge offers the most experience, the depth of resources and the best property management talent in the industry. In addition, we have the industry's only Embedded Energy Manager provided by the Ontario Power Authority. Our energy manager helped our clients save over $3.5 million in utility costs since mid-2010. He has also evaluated coutless utility-saving products - many have not survived his rigorous scrutiny. In so doing he has helped direct our clients away from investments with no or poor return. The value of our services more than offsets the cost.
There are a number of things, that once blended together, produce the culture of a company. Everything probably starts with the customer service focus. Our job is to make the lives of the residents in your building better and every task of every employee is designed to make that happen. Crossbridge has a small company mentality that supports that endeavour.
Crossbridge employees are made to feel part of a family with a strong support network, recognition and training. Our employees are loyal to us and the access to resources gives them a confidence level and a pride from knowing we can tackle any problem presented to us. They are working for a company that has an outstanding reputation in the industry and that has a focus on providing a quality service and a quality career for them.
Our company is committed as one that creates a true sense of partnership with its board of directors and residents. Most directors have a high sense of responsibility to the building. Crossbridge shares that sense of responsibility. We have managed some of the finest addresses in the GTA for over 25 years and have worked well with hundreds of directors that have been elected during our tenure. We spend time with our boards creating a commonality of purpose and creating a vision and strategies to achieve that vision.
Crossbridge has a good understanding of its agency relationship with its corporations. We are subject to the overall direction of directors acting collectively as a board and we recognize what our day to day responsibilities are and when we need board input and authority. We also recognize that boards are dependent on us. A good management company should not be afraid to make recommendations to you and give you the benefits of its experience elsewhere. Boards need full, accurate and timely information in order to make proper decisions.
Crossbridge Condominium Services Ltd. is a Crossbridge Asset Management company. The business ethics, reputation and focus on integrity start at the top and are fully integrated into our operation. Trust is the medium through which all information flows. Our boards trust us, respect us and rely on us and we feel the same way about our boards.
Unequalled experience, a focus on customer service, attention to individual needs, a family feeling, a confident and loyal employee base, an ability to partner closely with our clients, an understanding of our role and a high level of integrity and trusteeship are the ingredients that form the culture of Crossbridge.
- Can’t I have more time to pay my common expenses ?
- Can’t you just pretend I don’t have a dog?
- So I forgot to talk to you before I put in a hardwood floor, what’s the big deal ?
- I need a satellite dish for foreign language programming; just let me have one!
Management is retained and directed by your board of directors, for the benefit of all owners and residents. Our role is to ensure that the condominium corporation and your community is well maintained and operated in accordance with the Condominium Act and your condominium’s declaration, by-laws and rules. Under Section 17(3) of the Condominium Act, 1998 the board and management have a legal duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure that owners, residents, visitors and staff comply with the provisions of the Act, declaration, by-laws and rules. Section 119(1) and 119(2) require that the board, owners, occupiers of suites, visitors and staff comply with those same legal authorities. Finally, under Section 119(3) residents have a right to require owners and occupiers of units to comply and they fully expect that management and the board will take the necessary actions to affect compliance. None of us can ignore those duties. Nor can we be inconsistent in our efforts to ensure that all parties abide. Through case law, the courts have established that condominium corporations must be consistent in their application of the law.
Living in a multi-residential building has its inherent challenges. Residents live in very close proximity, with neighbours beside, above and below. The lifestyles and behaviours of one resident can easily and negatively impact several others. Without the board’s and management’s attention to compliance with the Act and your condominium’s declaration, by-laws and rules, the condominium concept would cease to be viable. In the absence of timely payment of fees by all owners, revenues would be unpredictable and insufficient for necessary maintenance and basic utilities. If provisions governing how residents occupy, use and maintain their suites were not enforced, residents would come into conflict over issues such as inadequate sound attenuation under hardwood floors or leaking plumbing fixtures causing damage to suites below. Use of common elements would also cause tensions between residents over issues like damage and noise caused by pets and by improper uses of parking spaces, moving elevators and party rooms.
Consistent enforcement of, and compliance with, the Condominium Act, declaration, by-laws and rules are both a legal duty and a practical necessity which your board and management must address for the well-being of the entire community.
All of our efforts are dedicated to making the property manager as efficient and effective as possible. Our training programs, our staffing model, the support from our regional managers, the integration of functions between the site and head office, the products and services we offer and the tools such as our employee portal are all designed to ensure that the/your job gets done. Our systems and practices will provide the time to follow up and address those items that cause the most frustration for boards of directors.
Everyone wants to get value for money. Condominium owners are no exception.
Condominium fees and the underlying annual budgets vary from one condominium corporation to another. Maintenance and repair responsibilities vary as does the responsibility for some utilities. In some buildings, the corporation pays for cable TV. In newly constructed buildings suites are sub-metered for hydro so that unit owners pay directly for electricity consumed in their suite. However, in most buildings built prior to 2006 all electricity consumed in the building is paid for by the condominium corporation and passed on to owners through maintenance fees. Some buildings also have expensive amenities like indoor and outdoor swimming pools, exterior waterfalls and fountains, others do not. Any effort to understand your maintenance fees and how they compare to fees in other buildings really requires a careful apples-to-apples analysis. With that as background information, condominium fees, in general , breakdown as follows:
- Utilities (hydro, water & gas) 30%
- Contracts (cleaning, security, landscaping, preventative maintenance, management…) 20%
- Reserve Fund Contribution (required by law) 25%
- Minor Repairs & Maintenance 10%
- On-Site Wages (superintendent…) 4%
- Administration, insurance and other (shared facilities) 11%
As you can see, utilities and the mandatory reserve fund contribution account for more that half of the typical monthly maintenance fees. Major contracts like security (10%), cleaning (3%), landscaping & snow removal (1.5%), management, HVAC maintenance and others account for another twenty percent in total. Minor repairs and maintenance to common elements such as windows, walls, roofs, plumbing, electrical and interior finishes accounts for ten percent, leaving the balance for the superintendent’s wage, insurance and administrative expenses such as telephone bills, lawyers and consultants, office and meeting costs.
Your condominium’s annual budget is initially developed by management in consultation with the board of directors. The board reviews the budget in detail and may make adjustments before approving it. Some condominium owners believe that owners should approve budgets. However, the Condominium Act and many rulings by the courts make it clear that the board is duty-bound to make such decisions and that boards cannot delegate that responsibility to owners. Condominiums must be properly maintained to protect resident safety and property values. Budgets must always be responsible before they are politically popular. Keep in mind that your directors are almost certainly owners, too. As such, they must pay the same fees and therefore share your overall concern.
To assist our clients understand how their condominium corporation’s costs compare to others, Crossbridge prepares an annual Common Charge Survey. The survey helps your board understand how it compares to other condominiums in key expense categories. The board and management work very hard to keep costs down. Energy audits are conducted to look for opportunities to keep ever-rising utility costs under control. Crossbridge, as the management company for more than 260 condominium corporations, uses its purchasing power to negotiate favourable pricing in numerous bulk purchase arrangements. Effective internal controls and contractor supervision help ensure maximum value. Competitive bidding on contracts and purchase/work orders above a few thousand dollars in value also helps ensure that costs are kept as low as possible.
In short, your board and management work diligently to provide the necessary services, meet statutory requirements and perform the required maintenance and repair while keeping costs reasonable so as to ensure that your condominium corporation is competitive in the real estate marketplace.
If the supplier is delivering a service to the building pursuant to a purchase order on a time and materials basis, such as repairing a garage door, or if the supplier is providing a commodity to the building, such as cleaning supplies, and we believe the product or service is at a competitive price, neither the Board nor Crossbridge would have a reason to change that supplier. Frequently, your current supplier is most familiar with your building and its needs and can supply the proper product or perform the service required in less time and at the best price. In each case, the corporation will be the beneficiary. If we don’t believe it’s the right product or if we don’t believe the supplier is charging the most competitive price or is doing the work as efficiently as it could be done, we will recommend a change.
Crossbridge has access to a wide variety of companies who have been successfully delivering services to our portfolio for many years. Because of the volume of business these companies have with our properties, many supply volume discounts that are provided exclusively to Crossbridge managed buildings.
The employee portal is a library of resource material available to all Crossbridge employees in a secure internet site accessable only with a password and user I.D. The site contains hundreds of documents that are used by staff everyday and would include among other items generic specifications for some 60 different services a condominium might need, job descriptions, performance review forms, templates of commonly used letters, manuals, training programs, all forms used by the company, templates of forms used by properties including an owner’s manual, a party room agreement, a guest room agreement, an elevator reservation agreement, budgets, utility consumption histories and a wide variety of other documents.
This employee portal allows us to effectively and efficiently provide every employee with all of the written resources of the company in an instant. An employee can download any document, modify it to become specific for your site and store it as a corporate document for the condominium. New documents are regularly added and, if we improve a form or a letter, the latest version is loaded. When faced with a task, no one has to start from scratch. Countless hours of management time are saved. The starting document has been reviewed by senior management staff to ensure a quality start.
The short answer is no. Much of our approach will be determined by the Board’s satisfaction with existing contractors and our assessment of the value they provide. If a company is under contract to the Corporation, we will work with that contractor and supervise that contract. When the contract is up for renewal, we will ensure the specifications for the contract reflect the wishes of the board and then tender those specifications to companies we believe are capable of fulfilling the agreement. That process often includes your current contractor. Results of the tender process are presented in a report to the board and the board and the manager jointly decide which company will provide the best value.
Crossbridge is more concerned with the process of selecting a contractor and the value they will deliver than who is selected. Specifications need to be established first. Qualified suppliers will be suggested to you. Tenders are compared on an “apples to apples” basis and the result is a carefully costed out service that will produce the best value. The contractor will sign a Crossbridge standard form of contract to ensure that the interests of the Corporation are protected.
The setting of a good specification for the desired service is the key to this process. It acts as the benchmark against which performance can be measured and also defines for everyone, including your residents, the service that is delivered for the common charges being spent.
Our success as an organization is dependent on the quality of our property managers and every other individual working for us. Placement of the right person in your building is as important to us as it is to you.
We believe that we will be more successful in this endevour than our competition. Almost everything we do is designed to select those individuals with the right caring attitude and to train, educate, support and mentor those individuals. Those activities occur in a wide variety of ways. It starts with our Service Excellence Program shortly after the employee joins Crossbridge. This is followed up with a specific training program in Crossbridge’s approach to condominium administration and then another course in proper budgeting using our budget template. All Crossbridge property managers must have a professional designation or be working in obtaining one. The Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario has sanctioned staging of the 4 ACMO courses in-house. All mid-term and final exams are marked by individuals appointed by ACMO and would have no relationship with Crossbridge.
In addition to our internal training programs there are many other ways to develop the competencies of our employees.
- Monthly property managers’ meetings are held to address a wide variety of issues including changing legislation and regulations, changing technologies, the latest in case law, detailed training by third party experts in everything from using the correct paint to adjusting insurance losses and new products, services or ideas that have been developed by either senior staff at Crossbridge or some of our most creative property managers;
- Our e-Library provides a wealth of information that is invaluable to our property managers and allows them to research or complete a task more efficiently;
- All of our staff are kept up to date with everyone’s e-mail address. Our managers network with one another when checking a reference for a supplier, looking for someone with a similar problem to solve or informing everyone of a great solution that worked;
- Our regional managers have fewer managers and fewer sites to oversee than required by our competitors. This allows them to spend more time with our staff on-site and to provide them with the benefit of their knowledge and experience;
- When a problem needs to be solved, there are no reporting lines. Our property managers have instant access to any one of our 12 regional managers, 3 regional vice presidents, and our senior management. Those individuals alone have 300 person years of experience managing condominiums.
Crossbridge works extremely hard at not only being the supplier of choice to the condominium market but also being the employer of choice to those who have chosen a career in this industry. Our employees are our only asset. Competitive compensation, superior benefits, training, manageable work loads, opportunities for advancement and having a shoulder to tap on sets us apart and results in the placement of a qualified and professionally designated employee who has the vast experience and expertise of others at his or her finger tips.