You may not realize it, but your building may be hemorrhaging money. Not in the form of disastrous lawsuits or maintenance crises like a collapsed roof or exploded boiler, but in a steady trickle coming from your method of ordering supplies and keeping tabs on small, seemingly inconsequential bills or maybe even theft.
“I have heard that associations without control can sometimes be havens for maintenance personnel who are renovating their own homes or doing work on the side outside,” notes Joanne Willoughby, vice president at Association Services of Florida, AAMC, an Associa member company. A key to avoiding such problems, she says, is to “always use a purchase order system and an updated inventory.”
Light bulbs. Cleaning chemicals. Mops. Screwdrivers. Paper towels. The list of products used by janitorial personnel is extensive, and it can be easy for board members’ eyes to glaze over when faced with inventory reports—but associations across the nation have learned the hard way that even small items can add up to big money over time.
And the financial bleeding may not be due to supplies walking out the door—but by supplies that are purchased even though they’re not needed. “An association we took over about four years ago is one of the reasons we have such a comprehensive control system,” says Anthony D’Amato, assistant director of property management at Seacrest Services in West Palm Beach.
“The supply room on every floor had about five years worth of supplies. We’re still using it; we haven’t had to order more in all this time. There had to be at least $100,000 worth of janitorial supplies in there—and the janitorial company they had ordered from went out of businesses, so we couldn’t even try to return it or get a credit.”