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Subject: Meeting with vendors
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(South Carolina)


12/29/2020 12:08 PM  
I'm finding that nearly every "good" vendor who I try to get a bid from wants an on-site meeting with a board member to see the project. I prepare detailed RFPs with pictures of what we are looking for and almost all of the work is at our community parks, so they are open to the vendors to come look without a board member, however, they still want to meet with a board member.

We own 5 community parks plus several acres of community land, so we have quite a few maintenance tasks that we need to have vendors help us with. While interesting, I'm wondering if other boards find that they need to spend board member hours meeting with vendors to show projects in order to get bids.

As I alluded to earlier, we certainly can find vendors that don't need the on-site meeting, but their costs are usually sky high and their quality of work is perhaps not as good, so I've been taking the time for onsite meetings with everyone else. At least I live here (obviously) so it doesn't take much time to get from my house to the location where we have the project.


12/29/2020 12:27 PM  
Depends on the project. Personally, the more the project will cost, the more I'd be interested in a vendor who will come out to see where he or she will be working and what will be required. It's similar to when I consider contractors for my home - I want to meet the people and for them to explain what they're seeing, what will be required, what could happen that could impact the project in terms of more time and money, etc.

When I was on the board, there were five of us with different schedules, so we usually had our property manager do the meeting, although the presidents usually tried to attend - it's called scheduling the meeting and coming up with a date and time that works for everyone. Even if one person arrives first and the other one shows up a little later, that can work.

You don't say how many people are on your board, but I know you've expressed concern before about the time it can take to get certain projects done. I also said you might consider setting priorities and encouraging (strongly) your colleagues to share in the work - have you even talked to them about this? If you want to oversee a project, you have to be willing to put in the work - from some of these previous posts, you've either learned it's taking more time than you thought it would or have changed your mind about doing it. That's fine, but make up your mind and tell your colleagues so they can move in another direction. If not, you'll have to put in the work and perhaps find a more efficient way to do it.

You're correct that some vendors will make the estimates sky high without seeing the site and the quality of work doesn't always equal what you pay for it, so you need to decide what's important to you. And remember, you're not the only one making the decision - talk to your board members and vote on what should be done. If there's a scheduling conflict, say so, get someone else (or your property manager) to attend the meeting and then report back.



12/29/2020 12:45 PM  
Sheila has a much better memory than I, Greg. so....are you on the Board? Iso, has the Board ted to delegate meeting with vendors to you?
(South Carolina)


12/29/2020 12:59 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 12/29/2020 12:45 PM
Sheila has a much better memory than I, Greg. so....are you on the Board? Iso, has the Board ted to delegate meeting with vendors to you?

Yes, I am on the board.

No, the board hasn't voted to delegate meeting with vendors to anyone, however, someone needs to do it otherwise we get stuck with crummy vendors.

After the vendor provides the proposal, then we circulate it amongst ourselves and then vote on whether to go with the proposal and sign the contract. I don't sign contracts unless we have a majority vote in favor of signing the contract. Of course, any board member can sign contracts but generally I seem to be the one most interested in doing so.
(South Carolina)


12/29/2020 1:21 PM  

Personally I would not be comfortable with a vendor that does not want to see the project site and have at least one BOD Member show him around. There are many questions on both side that arise after having viewing the site.

I had one vendor for a retention pond project say he had no interest in the job as he refused to work with BOD's as they change their minds, hold up payments, need endless votes on minor crap, etc. In our association we only allow the Pres or Treasurer (myself) to sign contracts and only after we both agree to the contract.


12/29/2020 1:22 PM  
It sounds to me like you are on the right course. I have always wanted to meet with vendors since I have been around construction and trades for my 39 years of working life. I can tell a good vendor verses a bad one almost every time. The ones that want to bid it by phone or Internet are always going to be higher since they will assume the worst and hope to cut corners and make more profit. I also have found that if they are busy they will over price the bid and if you select them they make more money and if not they have other jobs.

I always try and get a second board member to also meet with our bidders on specific projects. If you do not have a good RFP written you need to make sure they all get the same message. This way the bids should come back close to what you actually want. It also protects the single board member from the vendor saying he was told something he wasn't. It is the vendors word against the PM and possibly 2 board members.

Over my 10 years of being on boards I find that many vendors try and take advantage of HOAs because they know that they are Managed by some managers (not all) who really do not understand the jobs they are trying to get bids on and then boards who are volunteering and are spending other peoples money. This can be a recipe for disaster.


12/30/2020 5:44 AM  
When I was on the board, we always met with vendors. Why would you not? You want them to prepare accurate bids without invalid assumptions in them. The in-person meeting lets them ask questions, make sure they understand the exact scope of the project, and generally have a meeting of the minds. Otherwise you risk going back and forth sorting things out, which wastes everyone's time - and worst case scenario they do the work and the board then says "that's not what we wanted".

A good part of any project is spent in the planning stage. Short-change that, and you pretty much guarantee a less-than-optimal outcome.

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