Interviewing and selecting vendors to provide maintenance and services for your property management company should be done carefully and thoughtfully. Just as property managers would screen a tenant, they should also screen vendors. There are many questions and qualifications to ask when shopping for vendors. At Specialized Property Management in Orlando, we have a list of approved vendors and what services they offer. With more than 30 years of experience in Orlando rental investing property management, we know a thing or two about how to vet vendors. Below you will find criteria to look for and questions to ask when shopping for vendors. After all, vendors are representatives for your business, so it is imperative that you do your research and ask the right questions.
Determine what services you need to hire out and what services you will perform yourself. Keep in mind that do-it-yourself projects can put the liability on you as the landlord, something that is not always the best option. If something were to go wrong with a repair that you did as the landlord that caused harm to the tenant, you are liable. Further along in this post, we will clarify how and why vendors take liability away from landlords, thus protecting them from a lawsuit. Compile a list of services that you intend to hire out, and start researching vendors in your area. A simple search online such as “plumbers near me” can be a quick and easy starting point for Orlando rental investing landlords.
Licensed and Insured
The most important qualification of all when shopping for a vendor is to find out if they are licensed and insured. Licensing helps clients know if the vendor is legally allowed to perform a job. In other words, if they have taken proper certifications, education, and training to be able to complete a job. Find out if the vendor is insured and what amount they have on liability insurance. Tufts states that general contractors should have liability insurance no less than one million dollars per occurrence, or two million dollars aggregate. Insurance is important because if there is a problem with the work performed by the vendor and it does cause harm to a tenant, the vendor is on the hook for a lawsuit instead of the landlord involved in Orlando rental investing. A job that requires a specialty, such as an electrician, is also more likely to get the job done correctly than a do-it-yourself landlord who is Youtubing the job. This also takes liability away from the vendors, as they are generally highly trained with proper certifications.
Learn how each vendor company screens for employees and contractors. What qualifications do they seek from those applying for their jobs? Do they require work experience and if so, how many years? Do they perform background checks on employees? A vendor should carefully screen employees because if they hire someone who is dangerous or irresponsible, it reflects poorly on them and causes a liability for them. Inquire as to how they screen employees.
Availability and Accessibility
No property management company, private landlord, or tenant wants a vendor to supply service to them or for them if they cannot even get in contact with the vendor. Make sure that the Orlando rental investing vendors you select are responsible enough to answer the phone when you call. If they cannot pick up right away, do they return phone calls quickly? How do they prefer to be contacted? Pick a vendor that responds quickly and is able to schedule a day and time for service within a reasonable amount of time. No one wants to have a vendor who is so busy that they cannot fit them into the schedule for two weeks. Learn their protocol for scheduling appointments and find out if they have a 24/7 hotline for maintenance emergencies. In the event of a maintenance emergency, time is of the essence for all parties involved. For example, a vendor that provides plumbing services should have an emergency hotline since plumbing emergencies can cause a lot of damage to properties and big inconveniences for tenants. However, a tenant that supplies cabinetry repairs or trash services does not need an emergency hotline. Find out where the vendor is located in proximity to your real estate investments in Orlando that they would be supplying service.
Reputation and Ratings
Just like with an individual, a reputation can speak volumes about a person or a company. Ask for referrals from fellow landlords and Orlando rental investors. Find out who they like to hire for services. Star ratings and reviews can also be very helpful. Keep in mind that it is uncommon for any business to have a perfect Five Star Review. Often clients who comment and leave reviews either have exceptional experiences or very dissatisfactory experiences. Pick a vendor who has many years of experience and expertise in the field. It can also be wise to look up the rating with the Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau will provide a grade rating as well as reviews.
Maintenance expenses can quickly eat away at rent profit. That is why it is important to not only consider vendor reputations, but also to consider pricing. Most competing companies will offer similar prices, but it can sometimes be startling to see the difference between competing companies. Whichever companies you choose to hire to be on your preferred vendor list, ask them to provide you with Orlando rental investing preferred pricing. At Specialized Property Management in Orlando, we received preferred vendor pricing from our vendors. We are happy to say that we then pass those savings onto our clients. When it comes time to hire a vendor, ask for a written quote prior to hiring a vendor. Compare and contrast quotes to see that the scope of work is the same. Remember that the cheapest is not necessarily better. If there is a vendor that you would prefer to hire, even if the price is higher than another vendor, that is acceptable. Keep in mind that it is also possible to negotiate prices and quotes with vendors.
Vendor Policy for Orlando Rental Investing
Now that you know the criteria that is important to learn about prospective vendors, it is also important to create a vendor policy as a real estate investor or property manager. This can be a formal compliance policy between you and the vendors. Below are some items of business that you can mutually agree upon:
- Timeline: discuss expected timelines for reviewing issues, providing quotes, and completing the work (if the estimate is accepted). Also, list what action can be taken for failure to complete a job within the specified time frame.
- Contact: determine a preferred method of communication for each vendor. Some may require formal contacts while others may accept text messages from real estate investors in Orlando
- Documentation: Require that all vendors supply you with documentation about licensing, insurance, photographs of work performed, copies of paperwork, and invoices.
- Anti-discrimination policies: discuss Fair Housing practices with vendors and ensure that they also understand and practice anti-discriminatory policies.
Put these formal mutually agreed upon practices in writing and get the vendor to sign the document. Make sure that each party has a copy of the agreement.
As an Orlando rental investor, you need to be ready to do your part when your tenant calls with a maintenance request. The first step of accepting a maintenance request is to acknowledge it and document the request in the computer system. Then determine if this is a job for an in-house maintenance technician or a vendor job. Assemble a list of approved vendors and have it organized by fields of work such as general contractors, plumbing, electrical, clean up/hauling, cleaners, carpet cleaners, and more. This allows you to quickly determine what type of job needs what industry. If a tenant calls about a possible leak in the bathroom, you can quickly flip to your “plumber” section of your vendor lease and pick from possible plumbers. It is helpful to have this approved vendor list ready to go before you actually need to use it. Having a reliable group of contractors that you can trust when an emergency or other situation arises can be very calming when it comes to Orlando rental investing. It also increases the property manager’s value by providing established and vetted services to tenants and owners.
How Specialized Property Management Can Help You
At Specialized Property Management, our clients are able to lock in preferred vendor pricing, thus saving thousands of dollars on maintenance yearly. They know that they are getting licensed and insured workers who fit our screening criteria, have outstanding reputations, and can be trusted inside their investment properties. Our full-service property management team is located in Orlando and ready to serve you today. For more information on our services, to read our customer reviews, or to learn pricing, contact a member of our professional team today.