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Balancing Risk with the Daily Grind

Connor Doyle PCAM, AMS, CMCA

It’s no accident that United Property Associates is one of the largest and most successful management companies in the mid-Atlantic region. In fact, one of the company’s secrets to success is just how seriously it takes accidents.

UPA’s President, Debra Young, is a second-generation management company owner and has come to understand how easy it is for things to go wrong when vendors are on property.

“We’ve had tons of accidents,” said Debra. “But there aren’t too many instances where there’s been a problem, because we protect ourselves.”

Even before partnering with VIVE, UPA devised and implemented a Vendor Compliance Program with the help of an insurance expert, and that program had been successful in protecting UPA and its clients from facing any liability when accidents happened.

“We’d get served,” said Young, “But because of the documentation and vetting we did, it never turned into anything.”

That is until recently, when a client declined to utilize UPA’s recommended vendor service agreement. It’s a mistake that could potentially cost the client millions.

“A painter fell during construction, got hurt, and sued the owner and the contractor. And because the agreement (between the contractor and the association) was not tight enough, (UPA) was brought into it,” Young said. “We eventually got out, but it took us nine months and it cost some money. And there’s still $3 million in play for the owner and contractor.”

That recent case was even more proof of how important UPA’s vendor compliance program was to protecting the company. But Young also recognized that keeping the program internal was a serious drag on valuable resources that could be allocated better, and that by partnering with VIVE she could enhance her company’s vendor management efforts.

“We chose to move the vendor compliance to VIVE to ensure consistent compliance amongst similar vendors, speed up the review process, and remove the burden from the employees involved in the process,” said Young. “Their system allows the managers to have real time information and not rely on an electronic version of a ‘vendor book’ that was not updated but once a year. My hope is that payments will be processed in a more timely manner and the service we provide to the vendors will be more in line with our expectations. VIVE’s software integration is also helpful.”

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