Sidebar to Pain-free RFP:

By Stephan Hoffpauir
        When our association decided to search for new management, we began by completing ASAE's questionnaire and following the advice we read in several ASAE publications on the subject of how to conduct a search for management services, which made the process go more smoothly.
        Still, it isn't a task done in a day. I would estimate it took me a good, solid week to track down all the materials and assemble them into RFP packets.
        At the time, I couldn't figure out why on earth any management company would need all this information. In retrospect, I can see how it made the search committee's job and, ultimately, the board's decision, a lot easier.
    The board was able to evaluate candidates on the basis of how each responded to our RFP. AMCs that made the cut were those that most effectively addressed our issues, particularly some that were revealed only after a careful reading of our board minutes. It showed us they were paying attention.
        As the responses came in, we gained new insights of what this association management business is all about. There is obviously a high level of competency out there and a lot of diversity in types of companies. We were forced to confront some questions we hadn't considered previously, such as size and structure of the organization.
        All in all, our search took about three months. Depending on your association's needs, search criteria, and decision-making procedures, the entire process can take up to six months. The following is based on the time table we used:
o        Prepare to spend 2-4 weeks to develop and distribute your RFP to your select group of AMC candidates.
o  Allow a month to a six weeks for AMCs to review your RFP package, conduct any additional research that may be necessary, and submit their proposals.
o   Give your search committee adequate time to review submissions - 1-2 weeks.
o    Over the next 1-2 weeks, check references, develop your short list and schedule onsite visits.
o Allot adequate time for your search committee and/or board to schedule "face time" to hear presentations from your short list and make a selection, 1-3 days.
o  Notify all candidates of your decision, up to a week.
   At the conclusion of our search, we executed an agreement with the firm awarded the account and gave our former management firm 30 days notice. Although none of us looked forward to the task of notifying candidates to whom we had to deliver the "bad news," I was pleasantly surprised by their gracious acceptance. Only one reacted in an angry, unprofessional manner, and that particular candidate was not, strictly speaking, an association management company.
     All in all, it was a tiring but worthwhile experience, as the board gained valuable insight about the inner workings of our own association during the process. In looking back we realized preparing the RFP helped us to focus on the traits of the AMC that might be the "right fit." It also made us examine our expectations and to be very clear about the scope of services we wanted.
   I don't think any of us had really given much thought to all that's involved with running an association before this process. We now realize there is a high level of skill demanded in this field called association management.
                Stephan Hoffpauir is an executive officer of the American Society of Architectural Illustrators and served on its search committee a year ago.