BDC Magazine 2016 - Keepmoat Freemont Property Managers - Page 4

Freemont.qxp_feature 2 17/03/2015 11:01 Page 128 PROPERTY MANAGEMENT: FREEMONT PROPERTY MANAGEMENT Poole, where Freemont has worked in conjunction with residents to improve the estate in a number of ways. They included ensuring the local supermarket keeps the site clear of litter and is part of the progress, activity and commitment that residents like to see on their behalf. ESSENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS “The thing that annoys me most is a lack of information and communication,” explains Nigel. “If you get problems in any business, it always stems from communication so we talk to people more regularly and provide them with better financial information. It is common practice for management companies to provide financial information once a year, even at the larger or more complex developments, which is not good enough. We provide a financial summary to include performance against budget, bank balance, debtors and balance on sinking funds on a quarterly basis. After all, these are the people who pay the service charges; it’s their home, their money and we’re just acting on their behalf. Whe ther we’re appointed by the landlord or the residents, we see it the same way and it’s about information and communication they both want and need.” The changes to the market mean companies are appointed more frequently by residents and that increasingly requires presentations to residents before they vote on the appointment. Such appoint- WE PROVIDE A FINANCIAL SUMMARY TO INCLUDE PERFORMANCE AGAINST BUDGET, BANK BALANCE, DEBTORS AND BALANCE ON SINKING FUNDS ON A QUARTERLY BASIS. ments can come through residents approaching their landlords directly or via the Right To Manage process.The latter is a service Freemont can provide although in Nigel’s view it’s best avoided due to its bureaucratic and long-winded nature. In general, the better route is for landlords and residents to agree to appoint a manager together and that’s the approach the company favours. Either way, Freemont has to live up to the expectations of the initial appointment. In that respect, it is keen to talk to residents and establish what they’re looking for.That, explains Nigel, includes how services are provided: “One of the first questions we ask at a property we look at it is if they are happy with the services supplied and those supplying them. In most cases, people want their contractors and suppliers to be local and I think mistakes are made sometimes by bigger property management companies appointing large national contractors. 128 BUILDING DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION MAGAZINE LOCAL SUPPLIERS “We’re trying to go local because we know that’s what the residents want. Those that are operating for us centrally and advising us, whether solicitors, debt collection agencies or system suppliers, are people we know. On a local basis, we will build up a bank of people we trust and we’ll be looking very closely at how they perform over the period, although residents will tell us if they don’t like the way something’s been done. In the retirement schemes in particular, people are not only very interested in their homes but they have a little more time available to take an active interest in these things and we’re very happy when people do that.” Trust is crucial to Freemont’s operation because it means there’s an assurance that everyone will just get on with their jobs properly. This helps the company’s aim of putting customer service at the heart of everything it does, which is something it truly