Those of you who read our previous blog post know that the Stratastic journey began in response to the complex demands of keeping up with an ever-evolving and booming condo industry. What you may not know is the experience that has contributed to our perspective, and that the team behind Stratastic has dealt with it all.
Served our condo community as Directors on a condo board? Check. Contracted vendor services? Check. Worked in Property Management? Check. Owned a condo? Check, check, check! We get it - from all sides, we really get it.
During our vast and varied experience of Condoland, we quickly noticed that one thing is missing: connection.
Connection between resources, between the what needs to be done versus the how it needs to be done versus the why it needs to be done, and ultimately, connection between people. At its core, the condo industry is service-based, and we believe that being interconnected is vital to everyone's success.
We’ve felt the struggles at every twist and turn on our condo path, which we thoroughly described later on in this post. It is the lessons learned by forging through the many roles and paths intertwined throughout the condo industry that we believe in the success of Stratastic, and its mission of creating connection across the condo community.
However, even though we’ve gone down multiple paths, we still haven’t gone through every perspective. That’s why we want to know: what does connection in the condo community mean to you, and how do you think this can be achieved?
Share your perspective now >>>
But that's not all. Since you're here, we invite you to take the time to become a link that creates a stronger condo chain. Starting is as easy as registering for updates!
Directors: by registering for updates now and using Stratastic's website, you will stay informed and have access to all sorts of pertinent resources that help you serve your community to your full potential!
Property Management Companies & Vendors/Contractors: sign up for our (free!) vendor database so other key players can easily connect with you, and register with Stratastic for updates now!
Residents (homeowners, tenants): register for updates now and check in regularly to understand everything about living in a condo community!
There are so many great opportunities to create connection within the condo community, but it can only be achieved if everyone is ready to link up and participate! Stratastic is committed to facilitating feedback, considering perspectives, and working with all key condo players to create a stronger condo chain that pulls us all further and further ahead.
Thank you to all who have joined us and become part of the process, and welcome to those who are gearing up to join!
Cheers to creating connections!
P.S. October will be a busy blogging month for Stratastic, so don't forget to stay in the loop by registering for updates now!
How did Stratastic realize that connection is missing in the condo industry?
(1) As Directors, we found it difficult to understand our rights, responsibilities, and obligations, especially as newly elected Board Members at the very start of our terms.
A common quote we keep thinking of is “Managers, manage and Directors, direct. People get into trouble when they try to do both” (Marc Bhalla, Chartered Mediator and former President of CCI Toronto). For this reason, we found it backward that the main source of information was Property Management: they provided the direction, the limited information (resources, bids, contractors, opinions, etc.). Everything was funneled through Property Management, which sometimes made us Directors feel like we had the illusion of choice, like we were so focused on the tree that Management was presenting that we never realized we’re standing in an incredibly dense forest! Even “Director Training” was offered by the Association for Condominium Managers of Ontario (ACMO). So how are Directors directing if Management is the direct influencer of the directors and their directions? Aren’t we putting the cart before the horse?
Of course, the degree to which this may or may not be problematic ranges. We had some good managers who were trustworthy, hard-working, and diligent. Those are the ones that we enjoyed working with because we knew our buildings were in good hands. We also had some not-so-good managers. Some didn’t have the experience and knowledge needed for the site and/or its demographics, some lacked a team-oriented approach, and others, well… let’s just say we experienced some horror stories.
The fact that we had to deal with a range of good and bad management meant that we, as Directors, had to compensate at times and pick up the pieces. That’s when we learned for the first time how very disjointed the condo industry is, which was frankly surprising considering its size and all of its attempts at consumer protection, standardization, and simplification. This was when we started to familiarize ourselves with what’s out there, relying on ACMO’s conferences, the advice of trusted contractors, and extensive research of the www-dot kind.
Are you a Director? What kind of connection do you need to better carry out your role on the Board? Sound off in the comments!
(2) Providing Contracted Services was another step deeper into the condo world. We worked with several companies and benefitted from understanding their operations and the driving factors that made them either win or lose. We gained better insight into their challenges, what they look for when partnering with Management companies and working with Boards, and how important it is to be paid fairly and punctually.
During this time, we got to meet several people, some of which made this journey better, some… well, not. It is this experience that reminded us how much of a service-driven industry it is; even if you’re selling plumbing, or HVAC equipment, or whatever else - people are still ultimately buying your services. The lack of resources available to contractors, as well as the resulting lack of insight that some contractors have regarding condo governance, was astounding. Connecting contractors to the condo industry is just as important as everyone else - they’re literally the people that keep our condos standing!
Are you a Contractor? What kind of connection do you need to provide more effective services to condos? Sound off in the comments!
(3) Working in Property Management gave us yet another perspective, as we saw the delicate balance that our condo market is hanging in. Regulation by ways of mandatory licensing created a shortage of managers, and, as we all know, there is a direct relationship between supply and demand. The lack of licensed managers, coupled with the booming condo industry, created what is referred to as a “Manager’s Market” - and we saw manager’s salaries and benefits go up, up, up, way up in the sky to the point that you could have only seen them from the penthouse suites that some downtown Toronto condos have.
This isn’t to say that increased wages weren’t fair; managers are forced to pay for licensing fees, maintain their ongoing education requirements, deal with the management of (often) multi-million dollar properties and their owners/residents, as well as coordinate with countless contractors to ensure that the properties are kept up to the Board’s standards. It’s a job that requires excellent time management skills, planning people skills, and, ultimately, grit.
Time and time again, we would hear the gripes of managers everywhere: the hours were long, the resources were few, and the support was lacking. There wasn’t anyone to vent to, rely on, and bounce ideas off of. Again, there was that lack of connection - even for the managers who were supposed to connect the entire industry to the Directors, contractors, and residents!
Are you a Property Manager or Property Management Company? What kind of connection do you need to manage and efficiently enforce the needs of your property? Sound off in the comments!
(4) Lastly, we were also Condo Owners. We were frustrated alongside fellow neighbours when things broke down, were miscommunicated, or failed to meet expectations, even if our experience and insight with the condo industry often provided us with logical reasons why (why maintenance fees were going up, why amenities had to be closed due to COVID-19, why management couldn’t just fix a problem without following due process, etc.).
Most of the time, these frustrations could have been lessened or avoided altogether with more communication, after all, it’s communication that heavily contributes to the connection that this industry so desperately needs.
Are you a Condo Owner? What kind of connection do you need to better understand your home and investment in the context of Condoland? Sound off in the comments below!
These are the roles that helped Stratastic realize that connection is missing in the condo industry - and that creating it is long overdue! We're excited to embark on the mission to create connection, and we can't wait to link up with everyone!