Entrepreneur Jennifer Senffner left her previous employer to open Classic Community Management Corp, (CCM), a Chicago area community association management company. The startup manages 644 units, including Homeowner, Townhome and Condominium Associations, with TOPS Community Association Management Software.
CCM provides personalized service to association boards and owners with instant access to TOPS reports and data on PC, iPad and iPhone devices using TOPS Hosted, TOPS Go for iOS and TOPS Community Websites.
With years of experience working in association management, Jennifer Senffner saw the potential to start her own company by taking advantage of powerful software and new mobile technologies. “I knew I could do this, but I would be doing it on my own for at least six months,” said Senffner. She needed technology to start a management company without staff.
At Senffner’s previous company many tasks were being done manually. “I did inspections and violation notices writing everything by hand,” explained Senffner. “I saw a whole world of things that people could do more efficiently.” She believed she could provide better service in a new company by taking full advantage of the technology available.
IT Costs and Hassles
Senffner managed the office at her previous employer with a $9,000 annual IT budget. About every three years she had to invest in a bigger server. “I knew that my time was more important than shopping for servers,” stated Senffner. “I have more faith in someone else managing the technology.” Senffner wanted a cloud-based solution.
Senffner’s business philosophy is to spend most of her time with clients and owners out of the office. “My goal is to offer a more personal approach than what some of my board members have experienced in the past,” said Senffner. She needed a solution with mobile access to her association files.
Skilled in customer relations and service, Senffner nonetheless needed training to learn all of the financial and operational features of a system. She wanted a solution with excellent training and support.
TOPS Professional Hosted
Senffner’s new company, Classic Community Management, (CCM), got proposals for hosted solutions from TOPS and two other companies. One was the same price but without the training and support included in the monthly fee. The other was powerful but not as user-friendly. “I noticed that people on LinkedIn, who said they needed something easy and user friendly, were recommending TOPS,” said Senffner. She projected CCM’s costs for one year and concluded that TOPS offered the best solution to get her company off the ground.
Senffner was able to easily upload TOPS history data to her TOPS Community Websites in minutes, allowing her to get new clients up and running right away. Having implemented TOPS in December, she was up and running by January 1st, 2013. Senffner now makes the most of each day with TOPS Professional Hosted. “Instead of taking hours to review work orders, I set up reminders for each association, so I know right where to go,” said Senffner. ”And, nothing is done on paper in accounting. Can you imagine how many trees you are saving?”
Using the new TOPS Go for iOS app, Senffner has access on her iPhone to every piece of information she needs to conduct an inspection. “Everything is with the click of a button. I can take a picture and it goes right into the unit owner’s account,” explained Senffner. “If there’s a leak, I can look up the plumber on-the-spot and have the whole situation rectified within 45 minutes.”
“I have access to all of the association’s accounts on my iPad,” explained Senffner. “So, I’m not carrying around file folders of rules and regulations, rosters and vendors. And, I’m not coming back to the office to spend an hour and a half on the computer documenting everything I already wrote down!”
Comprehensive Training & Support
Access to TOPS’ online training seminars is included with TOPS Hosted. “I started taking classes right away,” said Senffner. “And, I downloaded step-by-step manuals, which helped me do all of the necessary setup and accounting.” Senffner also liked the easy access to technical support, training, articles, and downloads she found in the comprehensive TOPS Customer Care Center. Using another service built-in to TOPS Professional Hosted, Senffner called TOPS technical support frequently to get up to speed. “They got me going so I can do my own reports, pay the bills, and enter the checks very quickly and thoroughly,” explained Senffner. “They’re phenomenal—all of them. If I have a problem, it takes minutes, literally, to get it rectified. It’s a great experience when I call them for help. I know my problem is going to be solved.”
IT Savings & Low Startup Costs
TOPS Hosted gave CCM what it needed to get the business off the ground with no capital expenditures and no staff. “I don’t have the funds to support other people’s salaries right now,” explained Senffner. “I’m saving money all over the place. And, I’m paying about half of the usual IT budget.”
By the end of her first year, Senffner projects she will have 1,000 units and 10-15 associations. “I will be able to run this office by myself, with an accountant and maintenance associate working four days a week, because I am giving my employees mobile access,” stated Senffner. “That’s compared to six people without TOPS.” The labor savings add up to more than $90,000 annually.
Mobility Brings Savings
Does TOPS Hosted save 62 hours per week as TOPS claims? “Easily, and more,” responded Senffner. “I’m taking care of 400 units by myself on a six hour day. At home, or with clients, I have access to my files on the Cloud. It’s so easy, and very quick!” Senffner uses TOPS as one of CCM’s most important selling points. ”When I told association members I was opening up my own company, the type of immediate service I could provide with TOPS Hosted and TOPS Go for iOS convinced them to come with CCM,” explained Senffner. ”When an association president came yesterday I showed him what we are able to do with the software. And, the ability to upload nine years of history to their community website helped me land a 136 unit HOA.” With mobile access, Senffner spends less time in the office and more time working directly with associations and owners. “It’s not what it saves me, but what it allows me to do!” said Senffner. “With the mobility of TOPS Hosted and TOPS Go for iOS I provide the customer service that associations are looking for, they need and they deserve.”
A Successful Startup
TOPS Hosted, TOPS Go for iOS and TOPS Community Websites allowed Senffner to start CCM without a large capital investment or staff. “With TOPS I had the assurance to open up my own company. I knew what TOPS could do and that made me more excited,” said Senffner. ”TOPS is a very big part of my business.”
This case study is for informational purposes only. TOPS Software makes no warranties, express or implied, in this document.