Knowing When to Call Your Manager Response to Calls is an Essential Part of the Manager’s Job

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 property manager—the best property 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 condo 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 property 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

In my years interviewing property managers and other professionals for The Cooperator, I have determined that the best time to call a source is at 9:30 in the morning on Tuesday—not quite the beginning of the week, not quite the beginning of the day. Nine times out of ten, this has worked for me. It was ironic, then, that when I called the sources for this piece at that time, no one could come to the phone.

“First thing in the morning is bad,” says Michael Rutkowski, president of First Community Management in Chicago. At that time, Rutkowski says he is busy catching up on e-mails, handling urgent matters, and otherwise determining the day’s plan of attack.


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  • A board member should be able to contact the management any time. {The management has been hired to serve the board, not the board to serve the management company.} Communication should be flagged as to importance, and then it is up to the association manager to recognize and respond to board member communications. The manager should let board members know ahead of time that unless requested otherwise, the response will come when the management person has new information or has started to resolve the issue. It is important for everyone to know that web applications and even email for the most part do not indicate whether communication was received or not.