An Entrepreneur Finds His Niche
James Long CAM, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, is an entrepreneur at heart. With a background in accounting, management, and financial services, community association management seems like a natural fit for James, and that natural aptitude is evident in the success of his company, J&L Management of North FL, Inc.
“When you go into business, you’ve got to have the right software. When I looked at TOPS, I liked what they had to offer. It made sense. It’s software just designed for HOAs and condominiums.”
But, like many others in this field, he didn’t seek out this career path—it found him. It began when he and his wife moved from California to Jacksonville, Florida.
“I got volunteered to be on the board at the homeowner’s association that we were living in, and immediately saw a big disconnect between board members and the management company.”
“The management company were just saying what they wanted to say and everybody [was] going along with it.” And this didn’t sit well with him. He knew that if a community was to be successful, it needed to be fully equipped to understand the financial burden it had on it’s shoulders, and that’s something he could do for them.
The very next day, he started attending classes and a door swung open for him. Here was a chance to, “have my own hours again, not working for anybody else, and being able to help.”
And his hard work paid off. “We started out the business once I became licensed, picking up two, three communities. Now, we have 18 communities that we manage.”
A Foundation for Success
Right from the start with his business, James knew that selecting a software package was going to be an important decision. Luckily, he had received a recommendation.
“I was referred to TOPS. The management company who had told me about it, that’s the software that they used, and that being in the industry for 20 years or more, [I knew they] had a good knowledge of it.
I always knew that when you go into business, you’ve got to have the right software. When I looked at TOPS, I liked what they had to offer. It made sense. It’s software just designed for HOAs and condominiums.”
When TOPS released the web-based management software TOPS [ONE], J&L was an early adopter.
“We were TOPS Pro, all the way up until they came out with TOPS [ONE]. I was probably one of the first ones when they talked about rolling out TOPS [ONE]. I was all-in because of the Internet-based part.”
The Benefits of Industry-Specific Design
James attributes his success with winning and retaining communities to TOPS being built specifically for Condo and HOA management.
“Most of the competitors that I have taken communities from use QuickBooks. I don’t see how or why because Quickbooks doesn’t work well for HOA management.”
“I think that a lot of times it’s that cost factor. Sometimes, when you lower your cost to make it work, it’s not the best thing because then [the clients] want, they expect, more than what you really can give.”
“That’s what I think separates TOPS. The other [software] companies that I looked at didn’t do anywhere near what TOPS was doing at that particular time. And with TOPS [ONE], I’m sure that they’re nowhere near that level now.”
Get the Rest of this Case Study to Learn James' story, and see how J&L was able to leverage TOPS [ONE] to better serve their clients.