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Best Practices

Are your vendors covered? Is the coverage enough? Is the coverage active? How can you be sure?

by Christin D. on 1/28/2020 3:50:00 PM

 
Vendors and contractors without the proper insurance coverage can cost your management company, property owner, and/or investors millions.
 
YES, MILLIONS!
 
Those Certificate’s of Insurance sent in the mail to properties and corporate offices turn out to be pretty important after all! A vendor without a valid COI that shows the information that is needed to transfer the risk off of you and on to them, you are assuming the risk for their actions when hiring them to perform work at your property, and it will cost you. Even if expired for just one day,  if the vendor policy is not active and an incident occurs, it’s going to be hard to get the risk off your shoulders; and you probably won’t. That’s why monitoring vendor and contractor insurance coverage is so important and needs to be a top priority daily, but how do you possibly do it when you are at the mercy of your on-site responsibilities?
 
 

The challenge
 
Property teams have daily tasks that are best practices within the multifamily industry. These tasks can range from “sparkling” vacant and model apartments, preventative maintenance inspections, grounds clean up, and turn-key operations, to name a few. Residents in and out of the office day after day make having a solid hour or two to verify insurance for vendors next to impossible. The struggle!
 
Insurance compliance is often an afterthought until it matters and doesn’t make that to-do list every day. Often vendor insurance isn’t checked every day; they come onsite, especially painting and carpet contractors, and we assume it’s valid because they come often, and you are sure it’s the same, right? The responsibility to manually verify the coverage is active would be needed to ensure 100% compliance every time they came to paint an apartment. That is unless you aren’t the one monitoring, and you have a database that will send you an alert when a lapse of coverage exists so you know not to let the vendor begin until corrected. There is a better way.

 
 
Why hire a 3rd party
 
To effectively handle vendor insurance monitoring, transfer the responsibilityTake the burden off the property site team and let a specialist handle the monitoring and corrections in real-time on your behalf. Multiple 3rd party companies specialize in monitoring vendor insurance and will work with vendors, contractors, and their insurance companies to verify and load documents showing valid coverage on a day-to-day basis. You will likely be alerted if the coverage previously in place lapses so you can rest assured that if something happens, you're covered!
 
RMIS is a program that exists in the multifamily management space that handles all vendor compliance, coverage verification, and like activities for you. RMIS will invite your vendors to register with them and track all the information in a custom database. This saves the operating team from missing coverage lapses, details on stipulations, and other crucial components. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the on-site team to focus on managing risk on the physical asset in real-time, daily than doing administrative checks and balances, leaving risk unnoticed?

 
Life before and after RMIS – what a transformation!
 
Look at the comparisons in the table below and see for yourself just how much time you get back by outsourcing this crucial step to a service like RMIS.
 
 
WITHOUT RMIS’s help YOU must:
WITH RMIS, you are relieved of managing:
Keep your records up to date with all vendor and contractor W-9 and COI forms.
 
The vendor onboarding process is initiated and managed from start to finish by RMIS.
Ensuring coverage is active by checking the dates on the COI.
 
Customer and vendor support provided through RMIS team members who are available for on-site teams to contact for any insurance needs.
 
Checking for coverage limits and types.
 
Daily vendor monitoring to ensure active coverage is in place, consistently.
Validating that the interested party is listed correctly on the COI to cover your property.
 
Obtains coverage documents if expired on behalf of the property management team
Promptly requesting all non-compliant information, manually, and entering corrections submitted from vendor insurance companies or the vendors themselves.  
Verification of background screenings and proper licensure.
Obtain vendor COI upon expiration and re-verify coverage and other requirements.
Analysis of COI’s to check: coverage limits, coverage types, additional insured clauses, Waiver of Subrogation, records policy numbers, tracks effective and expiration dates, and other items as needed by management companies.
 
Ongoing management of everything in the next column, without 3rd party support or resources to save time and prevent expensive oversights.
Upkeep of all of the documentation, processes, and certifications that are accessible on-demand and customized for your company requirements.
 
  
If you do this one thing
 
If there were doubts about whether hiring a vendor insurance compliance partner to track insurance coverage for you, we hope we convinced you there is a better way! Many may have already known the extreme amount of time and effort this process takes and how important it is to do consistently, yet struggle. It’s a tall order and quite an undertaking on your own, and it’s unnecessary to do it alone. If you are already a Buyers Access member and want to get this service set up free, contact your Account Manager and get connected! Not familiar with Buyers Access? Click HERE and explore a whole new way to drive NOI through our robust purchasing and procurement solutions HERE or contact us at sales@buyersaccess.com. If you email us or request to be connected, 90% of the work is already done, and we take care of the rest.
 
There. Is. A. Better. Way.

 




Best Practices

Rent Growth VS. Expense Optimization - How do you measure up?

by Christin D. on 1/7/2020 4:50:00 PM

Another great way to drive NOI – rent growth alone is so 2019!

Pushing rent increases to drive NOI and relying on income alone sooner or later will take a back seat, and expense optimization will again prevail as the industry cycle moves towards economic slowdown. Multifamily management firms that stay ahead understand that NOI through expense optimization can be achieved easily by partnering with a Purchasing and Procurement Service Organization.


While intelligent expense management is always a common goal among companies, the opportunities to maximize this area of your business are on a different plane. Purchasing optimization as a strategy to drive NOI requires resources and expertise at a different caliber than one can do alone, which is why you need a specialized Purchasing Optimization Organization to partner with like Buyers Access.
 

Purchasing Quiz: Your purchasing defined

Activity: Select the number of each statement that your company currently has in place for purchasing and procurement activities. 
 
  1. Onsite teams have the necessary tools to complete purchasing activities effectively through our company resources and systems.
  2. Our current payables process eliminates pricing and invoicing discrepancies.
  3. We have the best pricing negotiated with multifamily industry MRO suppliers such as Home Depot Pro Multifamily, HD Supply, Maintenance Supply Headquarters, and like organizations.
  4. The procurement department handles purchasing activities at our company. For larger projects and renovations, we have regional maintenance and construction project managers that ensure efficiencies. 
  5. Our company has reporting metrics that track product spend, pricing, contractor scopes, and uncovers opportunities for further optimization.
  6. We have less than 1000 units and don’t need a purchasing service.
 

Now that you have your numbers match them with the numeric category below and  unlock insight into how to better drive NOI through expense optimization.

Don’t skip anything!

Scenario 1-

"Our site teams oversee our purchasing operations and have a (weekly) report they turn in showing the efficiency."

 
Operating efficiency is becoming harder to achieve and the reliance on site teams to a level that drives NOI is sadly unrealistic. Staffing challenges plague the multifamily industry, especially in maintenance. Residents also are now expecting an “On-Demand” lifestyle now that services like “Amazon-Prime” and others are able to deliver faster than ever. The expectation as created the same “On-Demand” expectations for residents and site-teams have to work fast! We can’t overlook it or balk on adopting it, we must keep up with innovation and deliver. Residents are the number one revenue driver in the multifamily industry so taking care of them to exceed their expectations is important and takes priority. Take care of your teams and your residents and place purchasing optimization in the hands of an inclusive purchasing organization specializing in the multifamily industry, such as Buyers Access.

Scenario 2

"Our site managers oversee our payables and are always catching duplicate invoices and price discrepancies right when they happen."

That is a good start, but your manager has so much more on their plate, such as monthly renewals, aggressive rent increase rates challenging retention efforts, overseeing maintenance, etc. The leasing teams, can they help? Where is maintenance? The leasing teams are fighting for their life to get leases and keep the property stabilized while growing GPR (Gross Potential Rent) in a highly competitive market. Maintenance is short-staffed and over-worked, your lender inspection is next week. Let us be the solution. Buyers Access gives on-site teams additional bench-strength through people who support daily purchasing activities, reporting, and contractor sourcing on-demand.

Scenario 3

"We have contract pricing with our suppliers already, and we get bulk discounts as it is."

Activity: Test your consistancy-

Let’s validate the price on one item by answering a simple question. You can do this on your own to see if this solution is performing at its highest potential.

  • Were you charged the same price on every faucet of the same item number from the same supplier in 2019 company or portfolio-wide?
  • If not, how many different prices were you charged for that same faucet from the same supplier in 2019?

Scenario 4

"Our procurement department already standardized the company product selection and negotiates these deals."

Having a procurement department is wonderful! Can your procurement department offer "On-Demand" support to your on-site maintenance and office teams to help with things like emergency contractor sourcing, returning incorrect items received, etc.? Do they offer an all-in-one eCommerce site to minimize the risk of pricing errors, save time through automation, or work to source and select "top-item" lists? Buyers Access' model is inclusive and will provide both managers and leadership visibility through customized reporting in real-time, approval controls, and other innovative solutions and strategies.

INTERMISSION! 

Are you still trying to figure out the answer to the faucet question in category 3?

- Let’s talk reporting.

The visibility you gain through operating data-driven purchasing activities makes answering this question easy. You may be struggling, and that is okay. Line item analysis and segregating products in GL code reports by supplier and item type can take a lot of time, time you may not have or can be better spent focusing on resident retention. Once you do find these metrics, the second part is cross referencing to ensure that agreed upon or "contractor" negotiated pricing between you and your supplier pricing was used 100% of the time, company-wide.

You do want the same low prices each time, correct? Of course you do! And why work harder when you can work smarter?

And finally.... Scenario 5

"We have less than 1000 units and don't need any purchasing optimization."

If you are under 1000 units and don’t think that this is applicable, think again! We have a special Small Units Program that leverages resources to get them the same deals realized by larger organizations when buying maintenance and repair supplies. Click here to learn about our Small Units Program now.

AND....Back to the Faucet activity in Scenario 3 ... Did you find the answer?

My final proposal for you is this:

Buyers Access will answer your faucet question AND will uncover the total savings opportunities based on your companies personal puchasing behavior for 2019. That takes care of time savings through finding the answer to the faucet exercise (and future pricing verifications) faster, and money saved through leveraged resources and strategy.

CLICK TO GET ACCESS- to begin the process.

We want you to make an informed decision about the fate of your NOI and we can show you your data, not a hypothetical example. We want you to have all the information to support your taking the next step and saving 10-20% on purchasing without sacrificing quality or quantity.

Thanks for playing and don't forget...

Rent growth as a strategy alone is SO 2019 and it's 2020!




Best Practices- Maintenance

Behind every successful property: Account Managers of Buyers Access

by Christin D. on 12/13/2019 2:46:00 PM

 

Behind Every Successful Property: Buyers Access Account Management Inside Edition

On-site property management teams face insurmountable challenges that are highly unpredictable at times. Every day, opportunity to overcome multiple obstacles exists. With the best intentions, purchasing activities frequently cannot be managed by on-site teams without additional support. That is where Buyers Access and the Account Management team come into play and can add extensive supplemental resources to aid in the domination of purchasing and procurement activities. Your company on-site teams will not fully execute and optimize purchasing by working just a bit harder or longer. They need expert resources and support, they need a Buyers Access Account Manager.
 
Account Managers at Buyers Access are what your company needs to outperform the average competitor in today’s market. Our Account Management group is responsible for optimizing the purchasing of 600,000+ units across the nation, and we have been doing it for 35+ years. In addition, a full Member Services department exists to support the daily expense optimization at your properties, and act as an extension of your site teams by doing administrative legwork.
 
So, what is this mysterious species, a Buyers Access Account Manager?
 
Buyers Access Account Manager (n.):
1. Heroic purchasing optimization warriors who save property management companies from wasting time and money. 2. A secret weapon who requires a diet of wasted time, money, and frivolous spend. 3. Obsessive, over caring, sometimes crazed, forward thinkers.
 
 
Sometimes the full impact of the many challenges experienced at the on-site level are hard to realize in full capacity if the observer is not in the trenches. The Account Management team at Buyers Access is nothing short of a dynamic group of people, but how can they impact your business.
 
Below are a few examples of the many successes that took place in 2019.
  • Over 500 toilets were purchased and installed, generating a total savings of $70,000! Strategic sourcing and negotiation combined with a streamlined, all-in-one solution created this huge savings. Through the help of a Buyers Access Account Manager, when this project was rebid under an all-in-one philosophy, the new quote was $20K less than the best quote previously obtained.
  • A medium-sized, established, customer elected to have in-person training for over 50 of their on-site team members. Closing out 2019, the results were an increased NOI through an overall reduction in purchasing expenditures. The team reported that the training helped them a great deal and they feel they operate more efficiently through using the Buyers Access resources at their full capacity.
  • 15 consecutive renovations executed within one year were accomplished by an owner with the support of a Buyers Access Account Manager. The Account Manager worked together with the owner to plan, track, standardize, install, audit, and execute all 15 projects, and acted as the de-facto Project Manager. Products with higher durability replaced less expensive options, however this member paid less! Credits and additional rebates were found that the company qualified for, pricing consistency checks and balances were established, and savings/rebates were substantial. This made investor calls a breeze for leadership!

2019 strategy won't make 2020's NOI

Multifamily management companies have weathered significant changes in regulations in 2019. New laws ranging from rent control implementation in some states to extension of the “notice-to-cure” period on evictions in others, to revenue from ancillary income being more heavily regulated by some local jurisdictions . All these new challenges have made not only the 2020 budget process more difficult, but also day to day operations. Buyers Access members hold a distinct advantage for many of these challenges through their connection to our program. They have Account Managers negotiating on their behalf often uncovering saving opportunities, standardizing product lists yielding competitive and consistent pricing, and uncovering potential rebates by aggregating sourcing from suppliers.

 
The bar is set high and it raises daily. Through brilliant strategy, firm negotiations, and endless support, companies win, and so do we for them! Most Buyers Access team members have been on site and know first- hand the challenges that exist, they have lived it. Strategic planning on budgets with Buyers Access vs. those without are like night and day due to the support, resources, and saving strategies Account Managers help implement.
 
I asked one Account Manager to tell me about an experience where she impacted the lives of others through the mastery of her craft, and here’s what she said.
 
"I would have to say that happens daily. Having been on-site, I know how much we do daily to help managers and maintenance staffs, and they do too. Sometimes it is as simple as telling them which dishwasher they usually order. We are always here to lean on. That's a big deal."
 
What is stopping you from gaining “access” with the Buyers Access program at your organization?
 

Contact Buyers Access

 

 




Company News

A Holiday Call to Action - Shelters to Shutters

by Christin D. on 11/27/2019 2:36:00 PM

There is so much to be grateful for as we head into the Holiday Season, and this year we are asking for your support to lend a helping hand to a lifechanging organization, Shelters to Shutters (S2S).As a strong supporter of S2S , Buyers Access is happy to announce that ALL contributions made during November and December 2019 will be matched dollar for dollar by the Stand Together Foundation.
 

 
Holidays from another angle
 
The holidays are a significant time for many all over the world. Celebrations of “Friendsgiving” events, family gatherings, “White Elephant”gift 
exchanges, and loads of shopping take place this time of year. Our calendars fill with joy, and the spirit of the season fills our hearts as we spend quality time with those we love. But what about those we don’t have what we do? The harsh reality is that there are numerous disabled veterans struggling to get by on the streets, families without shelter that are separated, people roaming the streets due to job loss or medical situations leaving them homeless. These conditions are hard to look at, not pretty, and impossible to ignore.

 
Text Box: “Being homeless strengthens you in a lot of areas because you have hardships. It makes you want to work hard…I am excited about my future because now I have a career and peace of mind.”-Aster, S2S Success StoryWhat can you do?
These unfortunate situations that many can find themselves in are heartbreaking, and many are stigmatized as a result. Homelessness can be due to many things resulting from bad choices or bad circumstances, but many “situationally homeless” individuals have skillsets and work ethics that the multifamily industry could benefit from. But how do you get a job without an address, and how do you keep an address if you don’t have a job? 
 

 
Shelters to Shutters is born
 
In 2014, Chris Finlay who is an owner and operator of a multifamily real estate company noticed the never-ending need for multifamily management companies to fill entry level positions. Finlay connected the staffing challenges of multifamily owners and operators with the employment needs of the “situational homeless”. Instead of solely relying on the public sector to remedy the homeless situation in the United States, Finlay had another idea. He started a pilot program where stable employment was offered to qualified individuals along with benefits such as housing discounts, training and development, team atmosphere, and most importantly a helping hand. This idea has evolved into what we know today to be Shelters to Shutters.
 

Text Box: “…No longer living in a shelter and is now a full-time groundskeeper with his own apartment working on advancing…”-Joe, S2S Success StoryIndustry leader support
 
Andy Helmer, current CEO of Shelters to Shutters, reinforces the realities that surround the homelessness dilemma most U.S. cities face stating that their program finds, “high-quality, motivated candidates for our property management partners” and exposes the fact many of them will be overlooked due to stigma. Helmer has found that the 70% of situationally homeless unemployed individuals “want to work and return to a life of self- sufficiency”. And the result? Click here to look at 10 success stories resulting from the Shelters to Shutters initiative. The organization continues to touch the lives of many across the country with the help of supporters like you and Buyers Access.

 
A lifechanging “Call-to-Action”
 
The multifamily industry has collectively stepped up and helped aid in Shelters to Shutters mission. This holiday season, we encourage you to join Buyers Access, and many others, by visiting the S2S website and learning how you can GET INVOLVED. There are a variety of ways to help on an individual and an organizational level and we hope you will join us. Every individual S2S moves out of homelessness not only changes a life forever but saves a local community $35,578 in estimated expenses creating healthier, more stable neighborhoods. Together we can make a difference.

 
Double the contribution!
 
This November and December, Buyers Access is happy to announce that ALL contributions made to Shelters to Shutters with Buyers Access will be matched by the Stand Together Foundation!
Help us reach our goal of $10,000!!!

 




Best Practices

National Recycling Day - State of Recycling and Multifamily Real Estate

by Christin D. on 11/12/2019 11:32:00 AM

National Recycling Day is November 15th!

This year, National Recycling Day (America Recycles Day) falls on Thursday, November 15th, and encourages communities and their members to spread the word about recycling. America Recycles Day is a “Keep America Beautiful” campaign program focused on educating, motivating, and encouraging recycling, with the goal of engaging and promoting participation in practices to reduce the amount of non-recycled waste. To that extent, many multifamily communities have been hosting events and educating residents about recycling, and best practices to help reduce the environmental impact caused by waste produced at their community. In addition, multifamily I recycling initiatives have evolved substantially since the early days. Below we will take an inside look at multi-family waste management practices, recycling initiatives, and additional benefits created through best practices.

2001: EPA multifamily specific study

In 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) embarked on a study focused primarily on the discovery of the extent to which the multifamily industry was employing recycling programs across the nation. Prior to the EPA study, multifamily did not have a clear definition of recycling practices due to falling under a commercial real estate classification. The EPA study sampled 40 communities across the nation and compared single family to multifamily community recycling practices, and their success and shortfalls. The EPA then defined what a successful recycling program should look like in the multifamily business, and how this was accomplished in what was called the “Multifamily and High-Rise Recycling Assessment”. The results of the 2001 survey brought about significant adjustments in multifamily recycling requirements to various jurisdictions throughout the country.

2016: State of curbside report study

In 2016, the State of Recycling report was published by The Recycling Partnership, which analyzed single family and multifamily best practices and effectiveness for recycling. The findings yielded some of the original challenges the EPA uncovered in the 2001 study, primarily due to a large portion of local governments not defining multifamily outside of the commercial sector. In the 2016 study, 465 communities comprising about 36 million residential units (Single family homes and multifamily units) were considered, and the study found that only 25 million units were eligible for curbside collection including recycling as an option. This means that 11 million units of multifamily were still not included as a part of curbside recycling program. Since that point in time, many local jurisdictions have started to require mandatory recycling in multifamily.

Benefits of recycling

Why does our country donate so much time into supporting recycling as an initiative on so many different levels? A plethora of benefits are realized when communities choose to recycle rather than toss waste into landfills. The practice of recycling conserves natural resources such as water, saves energy, prevents pollution, and increases economic security, including the development and creation of jobs available in the manufacturing and recycling industries in the United States. The Recycling Economic Study done in 2016 revealed that 1.57 jobs and $76,000 in wages were generated per 1,000 tons of materials recycled. Recycling also saves the number of trees that need to be cut down to make new paper products when paper is recycled by households. A 2015 survey discovered that 25% of municipal solid waste is due to paper products alone, while plastics accounted for 35 million tons and glass 11.5 million tons of waste. Reducing the amount of waste from these 3 materials alone would have a substantial impact on the environment if more households practiced recycling as a regular activity, especially those in the multifamily sector.

Challenges in Multifamily recycling

As previously stated, multifamily recycling programs have been ambiguous and difficult to measure due to data captured. This is due to multifamily properties being defined as commercial property in many local municipalities, although that is not the only challenged faced. Multifamily communities have little control over what type of waste is thrown into community trash compactors, and the addition of a recycling receptacles beside waste containers and compactors has created confusion for residents. Recycled materials often wind up contaminated by those who don’t know how to recycle properly, or by utilizing inappropriate containers with or without realizing it. Another challenge faced is the practice of encouraging multifamily households to designate a separate container to just recycled materials, often in smaller living spaces. The monitoring of any of these challenges is difficult, and multifamily communities often end up spending more on recycling without seeing high success.

Challenges in U.S. recycling

Until recently, the United States had been sending most recyclable materials to China to be manufactured into goods such as plastics, clothing, and other products. In late 2018, China began restricting recycling imports of certain types, including paper and most plastics, two of the largest recyclable materials in the United States. Unfortunately, waste management companies are now being forced to raise rates, and municipal governments are faced with either paying the higher rates or throwing the recycling away as waste instead. This has left many communities without a choice. As a result, carbon emissions and methane released by recycling decomposing in landfills, and plastic being burned is having a large negative environmental impact on the ozone layer, propelling the environment into an even further undesirable direction.

What is the solution?

It seems like recycling is a thing of the past after researching and realizing the restrictions and costs now imposed on municipalities and consumers. So how can we do our part and continue to recycle? The first step is to be more conscious of the waste we are producing in the first place. Shopping bags, straws, and water bottles are 3 easy items to stop supporting, and by adopting re-usable options instead. Be more conscious of what is going into the recycling bin! Aluminum cans, foil, steel and tin cans, corrugated cardboard, office paper, and #1 and #2 plastics such as water, juice, and salad dressing containers are still encouraged if they must be used. The second part is to be more conscious of how the goods are when thrown into the bin. Cleaning recyclables of all debris and waste such as food residue is key in the expense of processing recyclables, making it a requirement for consideration.
Though there are many who are pessimistic about recycling and take and all or nothing approach, educating yourself and others on the facts is key to continuing any progress in our recycling initiatives, whether it be in a business or multifamily community environment.

Published by: Christin Daniels for Buyers Access® residential multifamily purchasing experts. To connect with Buyers Access and obtain a complimentary purchasing analysis, visit us at www.buyersaccess.com or email us at BASales@buyersaccess.com.

 

 

 

EPA (November 2001). Multifamily Recycling: A National Study. National Service Center for Environmental Publications (EPA530-r-01-018). Retrieved from https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi/10000OV5.PDF?Dockey=10000OV5.PDFGreenblatt, Alan (Dec. 2018) Under China’s New Rules, U.S. Recycling Suffers. Governing: The States and Localities. Retrieved from: https://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/gov-recycling-trash-waste-sort-compost-china.html
EPA.gov. How Do I Recycle? Common Recyclables. Retrieved from: https://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/gov-recycling-trash-waste-sort-compost-china.html.




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