5 Tips for Preventing Problems on Your Next Community Project
Negotiating contracts with vendors is rarely an easy process.
Because many people are involved -- some who aren't familiar with your community -- misunderstandings are common. But there are some simple steps you can take to ensure negotiations on your next community project run smoothly.
1. Have your board create a subcommittee. By forming a subcommittee, you ensure there's a clear understanding of each piece in the proposed project. This single step will save you time because it helps avoid confusion when you begin the bidding process.
2. Consult a specialist in advance. If you're not clear on how a specification should be drafted for your project, bring in an expert who can give you precise guidelines. Of course, once the project is complete, you'll want that same specialist to come back and confirm the work is performed to your specification -- before you make a final payment. (For example, you want to be certain the drainage patterns are correct and the substructure is intact on an asphalt replacement project.)
3. Draft all points discussed during interviews and contract negotiations in writing. To avoid any possible conflicts, the specifications should be attached to the final contract.
4. Allow one person to work on negotiations with the community manager. Typically, when you hire professional management, you allow the community manager to draft the specifications and get the bids. If you designate one board member to work with that community manager during the bid solicitation process, you can then bring the entire bid package (with recommendations) back to the board.
5. Work with people you like. You'll often enjoy the process -- and avoid disputes -- when you get along with the people performing your project. So bring in bidders for an interview and request references.
Remember, when you receive a contract, you -- as a board -- have the right to add addendums and counter offers. Also, always must make certain you're completely clear about the product or services being offered. That way all parties involved know exactly what is expected.