In 2004, Gina Holbrook started Premier Association Management of Central Florida, a firm focused on providing personalized service. When she found that managing with disconnected software applications became a burden, she turned to TOPS for a reliable, integrated solution.
As the company grew in communities and staff, Holbrook took advantage of extra on-site training, TOPS conferences and monthly support to fully utilize the powerful features in TOPS Professional. They employed the knowledge gained to streamline operations creating efficiencies that reduced head count and improved customer service. Holbrook also implemented the time-saving features of the software to attract and retain clients.
Background: What wasn’t Working
Reliability and Support
Premier Association Management of Central Florida (Premier) initially used QuickBooks for accounting, and other software to handle community management. The management software was frequently down and support was poor. “We might get a call back within three days,” explained Gina Holbrook, President and CEO. “The problem is that we had homeowners calling or trying to get into the portal. It was not conducive to what we were trying to do.”
Premier devised a manual system to use when the management software was not available. “I printed owner cards nightly on a CD,” explained Holbrook. “I knew that I would probably not be able to get into their software the next morning if I needed it.”
Lack of Integration
Daily operations were less efficient because their management software didn’t integrate with QuickBooks. “If a homeowner called in about a violation letter, and also wanted to know if we received their check, we’d have to exit the software and go into QuickBooks,” stated Holbrook. “Not having everything tied into one database made it very difficult.”
Looking for the Right Software
Holbrook started looking for a solution in 2005 and began by evaluating her options. One software package she was evaluating lacked the integration she was looking for. “It was like two software packages when you got into it.” Then she met TOPS President, Mike Hardy, at an industry conference. He demonstrated how TOPS completely integrates accounting, management and automation, which helped Holbrook decide on TOPS Professional.
Benefits with TOPS
Save Time with Powerful Features
Using the many reporting options available in TOPS, Holbrook is able to create reports with just the information that she needs. “I don’t have to go through thirty pages, highlight what I want and figure it out,” explained Holbrook. “I can look at one small report and get the information I need quickly.”
“[Using TOPS GO!] we do two inspections per month so that’s about 80-90 hours per week that we’re saving.” Gina Holbrook, President and CEO
Premier Association Management
Global A/P saves time preparing checks for vendors. “Paying the landscaper for 13 communities at one time can be done in three minutes vs. 25 minutes if done individually.”
Premier recently started using the TOPS GO! Mobile Management app which Holbrook calls the “drive-thru module.” Managers easily record violations on their device, view a map of problem locations and print violation letters with one button.
TOPS GO! cuts two to four hours per association from manager’s violation inspections. “We do two inspections per month so that’s about 80-90 hours per week that we’re saving,” stated Holbrook.
TOPS Integrated Partners
A huge benefit of TOPS is the added functionality enabled by TOPS partners.
Automated collections forwarding uses the integrated ReadyCollect collections processing program to work with attorneys. “We give the collection attorney access to the files that they need,” stated Holbrook. “We save time by not having to send them ledgers.”
Automated collections forwarding to ReadyCollect eliminates repetitive steps from the daily routine of working with the collection attorney. “It saves an email from the attorney to us, and having to go into TOPS to access that ledger and send it back. That’s maybe seven minutes,” figured Holbrook. “If you get 15-20 of those per day, that’s quite a bit of time saved.”
Integrated AtHomeNet community websites give homeowners an easy way to pay their assessments online. Boards can download reports, check payments and collections, or review their personal account. “It makes everything transparent for the homeowner, the board and for the management company as well,” stated Holbrook.
Boards also like the convenience of community websites. “Homeowners can go in at any time and look at a payment,” stated Holbrook. “That saves a call for the homeowner and time for us.” Association income has increased because collections are not as high. “AtHomeNet is a powerful tool and a huge selling point for us because very few management companies provide that option.”
Appeal to Clients
Premier wins confidence from boards when she shows them how she uses TOPS.
Associations like the personalized, à la carte services that Premier can offer with TOPS. “In our presentations, we share with them that we use TOPS software,” related Holbrook. “We have a list of all the reports that are provided. They go through and check what they need or don’t want.”
Premier also uses TOPS as a tool to retain clients. “The more we educate them on the software, the more they see how efficiently we provide service to them,” Holbrook concluded.
Training Optimized Operations
Holbrook embraces TOPS Training as a way to continually increase efficiency and help her team get more out of TOPS.
“Streamlining operations saved hiring an additional employee.”Gina Holbrook
Premier initially arranged for a TOPS trainer to be on-site for three days. “I wanted TOPS to teach us every tab and work with every department so we would know how to use TOPS Professional to the fullest extent,” stated Holbrook. “I wanted to be efficient and proactive from the very beginning.” TOPS trainers made it easy:
“[They] walked us through the easiest way to implement our process and get the information transferred over. [They] held our hand and showed us tools we would not have been using. That made our lives much easier.”
Holbrook now schedules training every other year as a refresher and for special situations, “I brought an accountant in a couple of years ago, so I also brought in TOPS to sit down with her,” related Holbrook. “Through the training, we were able to streamline a lot of what we do on the accounting side.” Holbrook also arranged training for her accounting manager and management team.
Premier prints each of the TOPS Professional update notices and puts them into a file. “When we meet with TOPS, we go over those and make sure that we are utilizing all of those helpful tools,” stated Holbrook. “There is so much that is available from TOPS that you don’t use every day.”
“I also say to the trainer, ‘Can you stand over our shoulder in different departments to see how we are functioning with the software?’ Just from watching they might say, ‘Oh, you don’t need to do that,’ and something that we are doing in three steps can be reduced to one.”
Premier pays a monthly maintenance fee to TOPS that includes unlimited support and unlimited online classes. “We can use that for training, a quick question, or whatever,” stated Holbrook. “That has been very helpful when we bring in a new employee.”
Training Streamlined Operations
Extra training helped Premier optimize their payables, receivables and other processes. “Streamlining operations saved hiring an additional employee,” related Holbrook. “Training makes our lives easier.”
Holbrook easily sees the value. “Extra training is crucial,” she stated. “You may spend a few thousand dollars, but the time that you save far outweighs the cost of training.”
Holbrook sees great value in having TOPS Trainers available to visit on-site. “I would say that you should bring someone back six to nine months after the initial training to work with the accounting department and the managers,” she stated.
The Bottom Line
“TOPS Professional and the extra training that we receive have made us more efficient, generating company-wide staff cost savings,” Holbrook summarized. “Going back to what we did before, I would have to add another four to five employees to handle the workload we’re doing now.”
This case study is for informational purposes only. TOPS Software makes no warranties, express or implied, in this document.