Interview with Erik Runsvold of PropertyADVANTAGE
PropertyADVANTAGE is a full-service community management company established in 1989 supporting the Southern California region. We take pride as industry leaders while maintaining our boutique, tailor-fit management style. All communities are different and in turn we customize our management approach to meet the needs of our family of clients. Our Community Managers are equipped with all necessary knowledgebases and educational resources to effectively guide board members to make sound decisions in governing their neighborhood. We continuously strive to provide upmost customer service to achieve the overall goals of maintaining, preserving, and enhancing the value of our associations. As a local business ourselves, Property Advantage is also dedicated to supporting local service professionals with excellent reputations to secure the highest value and quality of work for our clients. The first question we ask ourselves when partnering with a new community is “what is the most important object of the community and how will Property Advantage and the Board achieve those goals?
J. David Rauch: “What are your thoughts on the 'cause' and 'prevention' of the Surfside Florida condo disaster?”
Erik Runsvold: “The Surfside Florida Condominium disaster was exactly that. A disaster. As tragic as this outcome is, I do believe that there were clear missteps from management, the membership and the Board of Directors and important lessons to take away. The cause could have been a variety of issues surrounding construction defect or lack of preventative maintenance, but without the results of a thorough investigation we will not know for sure. The historical data did show that the Board was made aware of the issues regarding the structure of the building and was attempting to remedy these issues through a special assessment, but unfortunately this was not accomplished, and this horrible tragedy took place. When it comes to prevention, education and communication are key to making sure everyone understands their role and responsibility. It often falls to management to educate Board members so they can make good decisions in a timely manner. This means we are sometimes the bearer of bad news, but if you have built a relationship of trust, you can weather the storm.”
J. David Rauch: “What are the main changes that you or your company have made in your business due to Covid?”
Erik Runsvold: “Like all firms and business, during this pandemic, Property Advantage pivoted strongly to absolutely ensure our Management Team was as safe as possible during these difficult times. Ownership and Senior Management immediately took action and followed all protocols mandated by the state of California and the CDC. Although, we already had a “work from home” program in place for our staff, we increased our technology and implemented virtual staff meetings to make sure our team was informed and, more importantly, heard. We very much take pride in the quality of service our entire team provides and have given them the tools necessary to accomplish providing the utmost customer service to our family of clients even during the most difficult of times.”
J. David Rauch: “Do you have any advice for vendors on how to reduce community managers job pains especially with Covid lingering?”
Erik Runsvold: “As much as we care about our relationships with our family of clients, we also cherish our relationships with the abundance of service professionals we work with. I would say, strong communication between both the Management firm and the service professionals is vital when accomplishing the day-to-day work that occurs at every community. The foundation of strong communication, I believe, is follow-through from both management and the service professionals.”
J. David Rauch: “There has been quite a bit of purchasing of management companies by bigger companies (roll-ups). Do you see this practice continuing in our industry?”
Erik Runsvold: “Yes, I do see this practice continuing. As the HOA industry continues to grow, so will fierce but professional competition between management firms. A strong aspect of growing your business is by acquiring other firms to increase revenue thereby allowing ownership to provide higher wages and benefits for all of the firm’s personnel. What is in danger of being lost is the personal connection. The challenge is to make sure 'getting bigger' always includes 'getting better'.”
J. David Rauch: "If you could give one piece of advice to others in this industry, what would that be?"
Erik Runsvold: “Slow down and be sure to take your time. Avoid the temptation to rush through the work that is in front of you on a day to day, month to month and year to year basis. This industry requires a thick skin, strong communication skills, ability to multitask and attention to detail. It's also crucial to understand that it is okay to take some time off for vacations and time with your friends and families. The role of a Community Manager requires an abundance of time, effort, and resilience.”
J. David Rauch: “What do you like doing in your spare time; hobbies; passions; other?”
Erik Runsvold: “I am an avid surfer and have been for about 38 years now. I also very much enjoy working out, wood working and family vacations.”
J. David Rauch: “Are there any issues that we have not mentioned that you’d like to discuss?”
Erik Runsvold: “I would say that with this pandemic management firms have been inundated with more issues from homeowners who have been working from home. Board Members and homeowners alike should practice patience and understand their management team works very hard to address all concerns/issues that come up on a daily basis.”