CHU Strata Community Awards 2018: Sarah Hogg winner of the Rising Star Award

Sarah Hogg receives her award from sponsor Macquarie Bank

Sarah Hogg is a Strata Manager on a mission. The 2018 winner of the Strata Community Manager – Rising Star Award at the 2018 CHU Strata Community Awards is determined to raise the bar for quality and service excellence in the industry.

“The ‘done is done’ ethos does not resonate with me,” says Sarah.

“Owners aren’t bothered about fancy job descriptions. They want a genuine, accessible person to guide them through the complicated world of strata. They want someone with compassion, empathy and understanding of different people, with a good ability to listen and be heard on the important issues.”

Sarah embodies these values and more.

“We have to be the best we can be, even when we don’t want to be – and especially when we don’t want to be. This job at times can be very testing and I always find myself checking my behaviour and responses to ensure I am being true to myself and my ethics,” she says.

Sarah works for Body Corporate Services (BCS), a subsidiary of PICA Group, in Gosford and manages 70 buildings across 50km of the Central Coast. She has retained 100% of clients through outstanding customer service and increased her portfolio by 25%. But’s that’s not enough for her.

The Outstanding Young Employee at the 2018 Gosford/Erina & Coastal Chamber of Commerce Awards is also making waves as an internal auditor of BCS’s policies and procedures.

“I am passionate about quality management, so when a notice went out for nominations to establish a new quality management team at BCS, I immediately put my hand up,” says Sarah.

Sarah is one of 11 internal auditors at BCS tasked with auditing other branches for compliance against areas such as legislation, contract management and supplier performance.

“I tend to my own audits and help other auditors wherever required. We have just finished our first round of audits and follow up meetings. Thirty branch managers gave us 100% positive feedback.

“It has been a fantastic initiative. The results have been fed throughout the business, patterns dissected, and resources supplied to better the branches and company.”

Sarah believes education is the key to improving performance. She is working towards her diploma in quality management and wants to complete her Strata License.

“The new legislation made everyone more accountable including strata managers, so it’s imperative we have sound working knowledge of the law and best practice of strata management.”

And when the going gets tough, Sarah knows exactly what to do.

“When there’s an issue that needs resolution, we call a ‘campfire’ team meeting and get together to resolve the problem. The shared learnings are invaluable experiences for us all.”

CHU Strata Community Awards 2018: Lani Zaubzer winner Strata Community Manager

Lani Zaubzer with Sponsor BAC Insurance

When the winning Strata Community Manager at the 2018 CHU Strata Community Awards describes an outstanding example of high performance in their role – and it didn’t even make it into her application – you immediately understand why she won.

Lani Zaubzer’s entrepreneurial spirit, business acumen and innovative ideas won her the Strata Community Manager Award at this year’s awards, but the award failed to mention her modesty.

The StrataPlus Parramatta branch manager helped one committee successfully manage over one million dollars of remedial works which included raising over $800,00 in special levies.

“It was a stressful time for the committee,” Lani says.

“We ensured sensible decision-making and provided sound advice, supported by regular and effective communication to mitigate the impacts of construction on the residents.”

Lani believes the foundation of a good strata manager is a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn.

Lani has been learning all her life. She is a Licensed Practicing Strata Community Manager (Level 3) and a qualified solicitor. Her academic qualifications include a Bachelor of Law, Bachelor of Business, and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice.

“Expert strata management and exceptional customer service can only be achieved by a knowledgeable, unified and superbly trained team. I lead from example from my own personal and professional development pursuits, however, I’m also committee to providing continual education and development programs for my team members at all levels,” she says.

Her work ethic is unbeatable.

When a crane from a neighbouring development fell onto two strata schemes within a co-operative that Lani manages, she cancelled her annual leave and jumped straighten into action.

“As soon as I got the phone call, I called the insurance broker. I attended the site and liaised with the owners, the building and development companies and we found temporary accommodation for the residents. We sent multiple communications to all owners and stakeholders to keep everyone informed.”

Every aspect of her 18 years of strata industry experience was also tested when her branch took over a scheme that was more than $280,000 in levy arrears.

“Many of the owners refused to pay their contributions as they had been living there for many years without having to pay. We held quite a few meetings onsite with owners, which at times went six hours, answering questions and explaining the concept of what they had bought into.

“I developed a debt collection recovery process with the committee and actively performed letterbox drops and door-knocks. It took an extraordinary amount of time and effort, but we eventually reduced the arrears.”

Strata Plus opened its Parramatta branch in September 2015 with a small number of schemes and employees. In the last 12 months, Lani and her team have increased lot numbers by 45%.

“We wish to be recognised as a market leader in strata and community management for the Western Sydney region. With a new phone app and individual websites for our schemes, we are already kicking goals in providing lot owner access to information easier and more transparent.”

Looking at the future of the industry, Lani worries about finding and retaining skilled strata managers and assistants.

She already has a solution.

“We have recently hired two employees with no previous background in strata management and placed them on a learning and development path to one day become strata managers.”

Clearly Lani has the energy, vision and innovative spirit that will take her places in the strata industry.

 

Protection from unfair contracts

Plans are underway to amend the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 to stop developers from locking in future owners corporations into long term utilities contracts.

Over 200,000 lot holders of strata schemes registered in NSW in the last five years will have the option to choose their utility provider allowing them the choice to find the best service for their individual needs.

Long term contracts locking an entire strata lot into a utility contract with a certain provider will now be treated the same way as long-term strata and building management contracts.

The owners corporation will review contracts and can renew, change or opt-out of contracts, potentially saving up to $9 million over ten years and improving consumer choice.

Changes to the rental bond scheme

The New South Wales Government consulted with the public earlier in the year on possible reforms including those affecting property industry stakeholders.

The rental bond scheme affecting over 300,000 tenancies annually in NSW, will be improved through tenancy legislation to make it easier for a bond to be transferred from one property to another at the end of a lease.

Tenants will no longer need to have multiple bonds lodged at one time, which reduces bridging costs when they move. It can be difficult for tenants to find funds for a new bond while waiting for their old bond to be returned.

The reform will prevent tenants from having to access the funds through expensive lenders such as payday lenders or other short term lenders who can charge excessive interest rates for the period that the loan is required.

Landlords will be protected and can obtain any shortfall in the transferred bond amount.

Key stakeholders will be consulted throughout the implementation process.

Smoke alarms

We are reminded that since 2006 smoke alarms have been mandatory in all buildings in NSW where people sleep.

Most building fire fatalities occur when people are asleep and a correctly installed smoke alarm increases time available for a safe escape. If you are a landlord, you must:

– install and maintain smoke alarms in your rental properties

– replace the battery in the smoke alarm at the start of each tenancy

A landlord, agent or their representative can enter the rented property to fit or maintain smoke alarms after giving the tenant at least 2 days’ notice. If you are a tenant, you are responsible for replacing batteries in any battery-operated smoke alarm as needed. Nobody can remove or interfere with a smoke alarm’s operation without a reasonable reason (such as a repair needs to be made). Fire and Rescue NSW can assist those physically unable to change a smoke detector battery. Visit the Fire and Rescue NSW website or call the Smoke Alarms Helpline on 1300 858 812 for more information.

Strata building bonds

Fair Trading has issued a new fact sheet that also answers some typical questions about the strata building bond and inspection scheme.

The scheme commenced from 1 January 2018 and applies to building contracts signed on or after this date.

The Strata building bond and inspections scheme is included in Part 11 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and Part 8 of the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016.

This scheme includes a building bond by the developer and mandatory defect inspections and reports on the development by an independent building inspector. It provides a structured, proactive process that resolves building issues quickly and cost effectively, early in the life of the building.

The scheme works by requiring developers to arrange for and lodge a building bond with NSW Fair Trading equal to 2 percent of the contract price for the building work. The building bond must be lodged before the occupation certificate is issued. The building bond secures funds (up to the amount of the bond) to be used to pay for any defective building work that’s identified in a final inspection report.

The strata building bond and inspections scheme is administered by an online portal. Developers can register to use the portal at any time before the occupation certificate is issued. Project details can be entered and documents uploaded at any time, as they become available. These documents should reflect the completed building just before any occupation certificate is issued (not the start of the build).

NSW Fair Trading has provided further information for owners corporations and strata managers. You can also access more details about the scheme on the NSW Fair Trading website.

Better to be kind

With the festive season upon us it’s easy to get a little short tempered. People are under stress for a number of reasons – work pressures, family pressures or maybe the finances are being a little stretched.  

Whatever the reason, there is no excuse for taking it out on retail or hospitality workers. In fact, there is no excuse to take it out on anyone at all.  

For those of you who might engage in what others would describe as ‘difficult’ behaviour, maybe it’s time to stop and think what effect this is having on those around you.  

In the media recently, the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association’s (SDA) launched the ‘No One Deserves a Serve’ campaign to treat retail workers with respect throughout the busy festive season.  

SCA (NSW) agrees that this is a great idea and so we’re sharing a reminder to be nicer not just this festive season but all year round.  

Whether you’re a strata owner, strata manager or strata service provider, being kind to each other is much better than the alternative.  

Read more about the ‘No One Deserves a Serve’ campaign and thrill people with kindness.  

CHU Strata Community Awards 2018: Havencab winner Strata Services Business award

The 2018 recipient of the Strata Services Business Award is none other than Havencab. A very excited and always humble Frank Boross was only too happy to discuss this latest achievement.

Havencab is a family run business having started 34 years ago by Frank’s father. It is a business that was built from the ground up by a family who instilled in its children, the values of respect, integrity and ethical commitment to society.

Frank says that the pressure to succeed is driven by a need to look after the well-being of the employees and the company.

“There is no doubt that our stewardship must be based on ethical business practices. We pride ourselves on our family nature and values.”

One of the criteria for winning this award is that the business must be able to demonstrate excellence. For Havencab this is embodied in its values statement “Exceptional service, core ethical values, innovation that sets us apart from our competitors which benefits the strata industry.”

Frank says that these values translate into some very important aspects of the business.

“Our company’s success depends on our staff. Workforce retention can be an ongoing challenge so when candidates see that our company is regarded as a good place to work or is getting a nod for its diversity, then we really are winning.”

This award is the third that Havencab has won and Frank says that they are an ongoing recognition for successfully navigating the path to leadership in the business, embracing best practice and commitment to ethical practices.

“We are proud to be contenders for this award and also to be ambassadors for the strata industry. This ensures we leave a positive legacy and means we are highly regarded amongst the strata professionals we work with each day.”

Frank and his team got here by continuing to innovate and adapt.

“We continually and consistently market our organisation as the leading ethical service provider for high-end projects, from planning to onsite delivery, with sustainability and social responsibility at the forefront of all decision-making.”

Havencab has developed the “Blue Ocean” strategy to grow the business and contribute to the strata industry.

“You have to keep innovating and getting out there to look for new business but at the same time look after your existing clients. Our retention rate for all parts of our core business, cleaning and Facility Management is well above the industry average.”

Havencab continues to grow organically. It has strong systems built on strong foundations and is constantly developing its workforce, working to best practice as its service offering expands. Clearly this is a winning combination for the company.

But the most important thing about winning the award?

“It really is a recognition of the hard work of the many wonderful, diverse individuals that make up Havencab Property Group,” Frank concludes.

 

 

 

 

Bill Coles – Triple Winner

It takes a special sort of person to receive the SCA (NSW) President’s Award, Max Dunn Award and be made a Life Member. Very few people achieve this but some have. Bill Coles is the latest to receive this trifecta of honours.

Interestingly his very good friend Richard Holloway is the only other member of this elite group. Must be the red wine both are fond of.

Bill says that having these honours, gained over the past 35 years of contribution to the strata industry is sublime. He also mentioned it was humbling and was very quick to ensure Richard was mentioned.

“We’ve worked and been part of the strata industry side-by-side over the years and so to be in a grouping with him makes me proud but is also humbling,” Bill said.

Bill’s first recognition was receiving the Max Dunn Award in 2007. This award recognises those that foster goodwill in the strata industry.

In 2008 Bill was again recognised with the President’s Award for his many years of good service.

This year, 2018, he was awarded Life Membership.

Bill’s contribution to the industry is extensive. His service to the industry has included 16 years on the NSW Board which he stepped down from only this year.

As Chair of the Events Committee Bill has overseen most annual conventions, Christmas parties and pub nights and has also Chaired the Services Committee.

One of his qualities is that he brought a balanced and fair view to the Board and has always been a solid conduit between strata managers and service providers. Bill also understands strata owners as he has invested in strata titled property and Chairs a few executive committees.

Although he has ‘retired’ from the SCA (NSW) Board, Bill’s not done yet.

“I didn’t want to go past my use by date and wanted to see younger people now coming up given their chance so it was time to let them bring their new ideas through and shine.”

Bill’s not going too far through having just been elected to the position of SCA National Vice President.

“I’m thrilled to take my experience to the National level and to be getting a new experience working across all the states. We’re seeing a lot more cohesion at the National level and have a new CEO to steer us through.”

“We have launched an international study tour and our next convention is in Auckland so it’s an exciting time.”

Congratulations Bill. We can’t wait to see what you do next.

 

Check your pest controller’s credentials

The NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has launched a campaign to inform the community that pest controllers in NSW must hold a licence issued by the EPA.

 Members will all know that pest controllers apply pesticides in and around buildings and surrounding areas and there are over 4,000 licensed pest controllers in NSW.

They are trained to ensure they use registered pesticides covered by a label or permit and take all measures to avoid harming other people, animals or damaging the environment.

The EPA is reminding strata managers, property managers and homeowners to only hire licensed pest controllers as unlicensed pest controllers may not have the competency to use pesticides safely.

Here are some top tips when engaging a pest controller:

  • Check a pest controller is licensed before you hire – search the EPA’s public register and ask to see a pest controller’s licence
  • Contact the EPA Environment Line on 131 555 or info@epa.nsw.gov.au if you can’t find a person or licence, or a pest controller is unable to produce their licence
  • Ask for the product name and safety data sheet for the pesticide to be used
  • Take precautions to avoid pesticide exposure

For more information: