(Previously published in CondoBusiness Magazine, December 1, 2020)
A condominium is more than a mere asset; it is possibly the largest investment the owner will ever make; and, more importantly, it is their home. Understandably, condominium boards and owners want the best for their homes, and that extends to how they are managed. As such, they are motivated to hire a property management firm and condo manager with the necessary expertise, experience, and customer-focus to best serve their interests, protect their investment, and provide a desirable place to live.
Finding a condo manager and property management firm that fits this description can be tricky. While mandatory licensing provides some level of assurance that management firms and managers can do the job, it is no guarantee. There are advantages to seeking professionals committed to rising above minimum standards.
In addition to the condo-specific knowledge and expertise necessary to manage a condo community in accordance with the Condo Act, management firms and managers must be skilled communicators, problem solvers, decision-makers, team leaders and community-builders. Above all, they must be skilled in the art of client service and adept at dealing with the unexpected, as was the case with the 2020 pandemic.
“Even before the pandemic, the role of the condominium manager was beginning to grow more complex,” says Eric Plant, Director with Brilliant Property Management Inc. “In addition to tracking and implementing an ever-changing set of provincial and municipal regulations, managers have largely had to go digital in an industry that requires a high degree of in-person interaction.”
“Having a license is basically the minimum table stakes to get into the condo management game,” notes Paul MacDonald, Executive Director with ACMO. “Given how the condominium management profession and its’ challenges have evolved and grown, there is a need and opportunity for those willing to exceed that minimum.”
Enter ACMO’s Registered Condominium Manager (RCM) designation for condominium managers, and the ACMO 2000 Certification for property management firms. These voluntary programs go above and beyond mandatory licensing requirements.
“Managers who have the RCM are, by definition, people who want to take a more challenging path, and who want to invest more in their education and career,” notes Plant. “Using an RCM in buildings ensures that the manager not only has the technical skills needed, but the hands-on experience. It also ensures the building has a manager who takes their own education and career seriously and is committed to exceeding industry expectations and delivering a higher standard of service to their clients.”
Earning the RCM designation is no easy task. In addition to successfully completing ACMO’s four condominium management courses through a recognized college and securing a General License, RCM hopefuls must have two consecutive years of full-time condo management experience (approximately 3,500 – 4,000 hours), complete a host of additional management and administrative tasks not required with the general license, and achieve a minimum score of 75% on ACMO’s comprehensive RCM exam. Furthermore, RCMs must complete 10 hours of continuing education seminars each year to maintain the designation and stay up to date on industry regulations, best practices, and trends.
Notwithstanding these differences, perhaps the most important distinction between a general license and RCM designation is that the former is mandatory while the latter is voluntary. It speaks to a different attitude and higher level of commitment to the profession. In a recent ACMO survey asking RCM holders why they pursued the designation, the most popular response was “To demonstrate to clients that I am competent and have achieved a higher standard”.
Similarly, ACMO 2000 Certified condominium management firms have secured their mandatory provider license but go further by committing to a quality management system like the ISO 9001 standard. ACMO 2000 Certified firms adhere to a series of vigorous management and operational standards, principles and best practices and undergo regular independent audits to ensure ongoing compliance. Like the RCM, these firms strive to deliver a higher level of service to their clients.
Neither the RCM designation or ACMO 2000 Certification are an industry requirement, so it is important that condo boards and owners understand that they represent a standard above the minimum as set out by the Condominium Management Services Act
“While those standards were an important step in the evolution of our profession, the RCM and ACMO 2000 certification go a step above,” adds Dean McCabe, Founder and President of Meritus Group Management. “Condo boards should insist on these qualifications to give their owners greater peace of mind that their home is in good hands.”
McCabe notes that the RCM designation and ACMO 2000 Certification will continue to keep pace with the evolution of property management profession and represent brands delivering a higher standard of performance in condominium management services compared to the minimum government standard.
“Our goal has been, and will continue to be, to help our members differentiate themselves as the gold standard in condominium management services,” he adds.