Amelia Island Management, established in 1973, manages 35% of the condominium and homeowner associations in their area of the Northeast Florida coast. With more than 225 years of industry experience on-staff, Amelia Island Management is well-equipped to meet the unique needs of part-time resident communities.
The Right Technology
When Scott Muir, Director, and Jeff Chapman, Assistant Director, came aboard as the new management team in mid- 2008, they recognized that Amelia Island Management was lacking the technology necessary for a community management company to grow and be effective. Software adapted from the financial and resort industry just didn’t meet their needs.
“Our financial accounting procedures were very labor intensive,” stated Chapman. “Excessive amounts of time went in to just converting the data for new clients. Managers kept spreadsheets of owners for e-mail. Latencies in the network were causing us productivity problems, challenges and difficulties for the Internet back-up systems.”
IT staff were spending long evenings dealing with Internet problems or synchronization routines. Power outages created extended down time. “The power might have been down for five minutes, but it was another two hours before the servers could restore and operate correctly,” said Muir.
The process to create violation notices was slow and inefficient. “It could take days depending on the number of violations,” stated Chapman.
In 2010, Amelia Island Management began searching for a solution. They looked at half a dozen software packages including TOPS Professional. They liked the powerful features they saw in TOPS, like custom Flex Data fields, iMail for mass emailing owners and the option to generate reports to Excel or PDF format. “It’s the unlimited Flex Data that made the difference,” explained Muir, “and TOPS works extremely well with AtHomeNet, which is our web service provider.”
Deciding on TOPS in mid-2010, Amelia Island Management faced a difficult and slow conversion process. “The resort operator had a JD Edwards financial package sitting on an AS400,” stated Chapman. “There was a lot of work on our end preparing the data.”
Amelia Island Management planned to go Live on TOPS January 1, 2011. “We wanted a clean year-end close and to start the New Year in the next system,” explained Muir. They used the intervening time to get thoroughly trained in TOPS Professional.
From the beginning, Amelia Island Management purchased TOPS unlimited support. “Our folks are not shy about calling Support, and they are incredibly responsive,” explained Muir. “They typically figure out the issue right there on the phone or get right back to us.”
The productivity features in TOPS greatly simplified routine operations. “With iMail you can select and send an email to just the 50 owners on Main Street,” explained Muir. “We love iMail.” Conversion tools simplified adding new clients. Management used Flex Data fields and reporting to Excel to handle special financial or management report requests from clients.
When TOPS began offering TOPS Professional Hosted, the cloud version of the software, Amelia Island Management saw it as an excellent opportunity to streamline their operational processes. In June, 2013 they scheduled the conversion and a Project Manager from TOPS was assigned.
“We set it up to shut down our systems on a Thursday at noon,” stated Muir. “Our corporate IT guys worked with TOPS to transfer everything that Thursday. Friday, they built the systems and we were up Monday morning. Trapp Online, the hosting company, sent all of the logins and configuration information. We were down a day and a half as planned.”
“The people at TOPS (Thank You Teri Perez) have just been fantastic!” stated Chapman. “Preparing for the conversion they were responding almost instantly to emails, like they were sitting right next to you. It’s been very, very nice to have a company that understands good customer service and when they need to be involved.”
The advantages of hosting appeared right away. “I think speed and access are the two big things,” explained Muir. “And the Internet back-up systems—all of that is automatic now with the Cloud. I am on TOPS all the time at my house. On the weekends I don’t have to drive into the office to do something.”
“Being on the coast with hurricanes and storms, it gives us confidence knowing we can get off the island and access our back-office system from anywhere,” stated Chapman. “We shifted everything to the Cloud and we love it! We can’t say enough about it.”
Amelia Island Management also implemented the TOPS Go! mobile app for Android and iOS. Their 10 account managers share a couple of tablets. “People can actually be in the field doing inspections, taking pictures, uploading work, generating reports, letters or whatever it might be. The data is wherever we are,” explained Chapman. “It certainly allows our Managers to be much more effective and efficient.”
Features in TOPS help Amelia Island Management satisfy client requests for information. “Board members are impressed that information can be gathered and produced so quickly, and in a better format,” explained Muir. “We can adapt the reports through Flex Data when they want to track something new. It gives us the ability to say yes to the customer.”
“With TOPS Professional Hosted we provide much better service,” stated Muir. “When the Association Manager gets that call at night regarding a water leak, they can log into TOPS on the Internet at home and get names, numbers and e-mails for the unit, as well as the unit above.”
With the TOPS Go! mobile app, residents see the result of an inspection much quicker than before. “Completing regular inspection cycles electronically on a tablet, having letters prepared systematically and available when the Association Manager returns, completes the process much faster,” explained Chapman. “We are doing more with less.”
Saves 15 Hours per Week
Amelia Island Management saves as much as 15 hours per week on reduced IT maintenance and the improved performance of TOPS Hosted. “We don’t have to worry about rebooting our server, or rescheduling backups, or updates and synchronizations. It’s automatic,” explained Chapman. “We now operate in the Cloud with a data path speed ten times faster than before. That’s huge. And, speed leads to getting results faster.”
“Amelia Island Management is Making a difference, one community at a time ... Our customer centric service model is very effective with high end, ocean front, and resort area condominiums. Amelia Island Management wanted to grow into nearby areas of the Florida coast but needed to update their technology to move ahead.”
— Jeff Chapman
Assistant Director, Amelia Island Management
“Between the two of us, and our local IT support, TOPS Hosted saves us five hours a week,” explained Muir. “And, our IT team in Dallas was spending sometimes twice that much time before. Now, we are dealing with one entity in the Cloud.”
Peace of Mind
Data is highly secure on TOPS Hosted. “I am much more comfortable with the location, protection and backup of the data on the hosted system than on a local system,” stated Muir. “We have experienced no down time. Now, when the power is back on after an outage, we have the Internet; we are there.”
“We pride ourselves on our dependability and our accuracy,” said Chapman. I am more comfortable today that we can fulfill that expectation based on the Hosted solution than what we had before. I know I am sleeping a lot better.”
Opportunity for Growth
TOPS allowed Amelia Island Management to gain the efficiencies they needed to grow. “The Boards like the technology,” said Chapman. “The ability we have to capture information and get it to them quickly allows them to make better decisions. Having the data off-site, backed up and protected is another great selling point. Converting new associations is a much easier task than when we did it manually; we have reduced our new Association startup by a factor of two or three.”
Amelia Island Management’s largest customer put their contract out for bid last year. “We were up against 12 national and international management firms,” stated Muir. “We won. This customer was able to see our constantly improving services, and the technology was a huge part of that.”
“Scott and I enjoy talking about this organization, the folks that are here and the time and effort they put into their craft,” said Chapman. “The evolution of the TOPS technology is going to be a tremendous marketing advantage for us. TOPS has allowed us to greatly reduce our overhead costs, at the same time increasing productivity and services to our customers. In a nutshell—with TOPS we grow.”
“We were using piecemeal systems from the resort. One of our obstacles toward growth was that we didn’t have the tools. We would have to spend too much in overhead to make the business side work.”
— Scott Muir
This case study is for informational purposes only. TOPS Software makes no warranties, express or implied, in this document.