Do you struggle to deliver the service which your clients expect? Work more efficiently with block management software and your clients won’t be the only ones to benefit, your cash flow will improve, allowing your business to grow too!
Whether you are an established block manager or an agent/landlord looking to offer the service, this guide is here to help you deliver a better more for your clients without increasing costs or your time.
What Is Block Management?
In simple terms, managing the communal areas in blocks of residential flats or commercial offices.
This is unlike most traditional areas in property management but its importance is growing as more and more blocks are being built.
In a typical block, whether residential or commercial the properties inside are generally owned by leaseholders, sometimes they are the residents but they are often rented out. It is the leaseholder who is responsible for everything within that property. The owner of the building is a landlord.
Unlike a house, blocks have areas that are shared by more than one resident. If you have ever had to share with strangers you will understand that not everybody plays fair.
Here is where block management providers are essential and with knowledge, experience and the right tools it is easier to succeeed and have happy clients.
What services do they offer?Block management (sometimes called property management) companies are brought in to avoid potential disagreements amongst residents blaming each other for the weed-filled garden or dirty hallways.
Professional block management companies specialise in this service. With experience and knowledge they are able to commit to the job more efficiently than most landlords could.
The list of services a block management company can provide varies company-to-company and the requirements of the building (such as lift maintenance, not every block has a lift) but here is a general overview:
· Organising contractors to deal with work inc; Gardening, Rubbish Disposal, Lift Maintenance, Cleaning and Maintenance of Hallways
· Understanding the needs of the leaseholders clearly
· Ground Rent collection
· Health & Safety in the building and surrounding area
· Building Inspections
· Building Insurance
· Legalities and compliance with the latest changes in the law including landlord and leaseholder rules and regulations
· Provide full and transparent accounts throughout their management period highlighting where money has been spent and future forecasting
Some services are more extensive than others, it all depends on the company and the block. Generally, the service is bespoke to the buildings requirements.
To win new business a block management company will have to create a proposal for the landlord (or a selected group of leaseholders representing the block if they have acquired a Right to Manage act). Understanding their requirements is essential.
Who are Block Management provider’s customers?
This is where the role of a landlord differs from standard renting of a house. As managing blocks of flats brings more challenges and complications they will turn to a block management company to look after the property on their behalf.
Initially it is the landlord of the building who arranges a management company for the building.
The landlord has the rights and responsibilities to instruct the management company. Keeping leaseholders happy is essential for the management company as it is them who pay for the service on a monthly basis.
However, the leaseholders can use the Right to Manage act if they aren’t happy with the service. Typically this is a selected group of leaseholders representing the rest of them. This isn’t always the tenant if the property is rented out. Leaseholders don’t own the property in a block of flats, they have the right to own it for a specific amount of time, the lease.
How do they win more business?
Block Management companies work in a similar way to other service providers, to grow their business they must create a good reputation from their current clients, build relationships with contractors and work in a professional manner.
Word of mouth and experience are key to winning new contracts, especially when it comes to creating and delivering a proposal. As this service relies on being efficient and economical in the service they deliver using these skills can ensure that a service charge budget is calculated with accuracy and the money is spent wisely, in the best interest of the leaseholder.
How to forecast Service Charge budgets?
Predicting the future is impossible but with experience, knowledge and the correct tools it can be done more accurately. The Service Charge budget is calculated at the beginning of each time period, usually annually.
Without the tools, knowledge or experience it can be a challenge as it would rely on guesswork but it doesn’t have to be. Unless an ‘Act of God’ strikes (an event out of human control, usually weather related, e.g. Storm Desmond) it is unlikely that the budget changes dramatically year-on-year, except maybe wear and tear requirements such as decorating the hallways once every few years.
It is essential that the budget is forecast with accuracy. If you over-calculate then the leaseholders might feel unhappy and request the Right to Manage requirement and look elsewhere but under charging could lead to the budget being used up and you are either unable to fulfil your promises or find yourself out of pocket.
This is why landlords choose professionals to manage their blocks.
Take your business to the next level…
As this is still a relatively new area in property management there are plenty of opportunities out there and even more with the right knowledge, experience and tools to provide a great service.
You don’t need to look very far (just the skyline of every city in the UK) to see blocks of flats or offices that weren’t there a decade ago with cranes next to them building new blocks to house the growing population.
By successfully providing services to one block you will gain a good reputation and gain the experience and knowledge to manage another.
The bigger your portfolio the more relationships you can build with contractors, the more work you can give them, the better prices you get which can then reflect on your budgets for the leaseholders.
What Block Management software can do for you and your clients
Providing this service isn’t easy but there are solutions out there which cover all aspects of property management, including blocks.
With specific block management software in place providers will be able to deliver a service more efficiently and economically. If you can save on time and money whilst providing a better service then you will have happier clients, a better reputation and more opportunities to grow.
There are a number of block management software packages available catering for all levels from small start-ups to worldwide franchises. The hardest part is choosing which package is right for your portfolio and team. The options include the platform you wish to host your software on (desktop, browser-based cloud, app-based cloud) to features specific to the services you provide and the accountancy package you use.
With tools in the software included to help manage teams, diaries/schedules, work orders and accounts both your business and clients will benefit.
Decorus for Sage
Decorus is the only block management software solution to integrate seamlessly with Sage 50, the number one accountancy package in the UK.
Over 90% of accountants are familiar with the Sage format. Save time and money when it comes to the year-end and take advantage of the in-depth financial analysis Sage provides which can be generated instantly. As the data integrates in real-time users are able to create profit and loss reports against each block with the latest information giving the most accurate results, highlight how economically each block is.
Sage has been developing accountancy solutions since 1981 and they have continued to expand and evolve ever since, remaining relevant through the digital progression.
Having Sage integrate with Decorus eliminates the need for additional data entry as any financial information entered on one solution automatically feeds through to the other.
Other benefits include:
· Invoice in bulk with mark-ups
· Create Service Charge budgets with ease
· Manage work orders and projects economically
· Work more efficiently with databases to log information relating to blocks, leaseholders and contractors
Decorus is a desktop-based solution which can be hosted fully in the cloud.
If you are looking for a value-for-money solution, adaptable to your requirements then please contact us to arrange a demonstration of our block management software for Sage.