How to Hire a Part-time Building Super in NYC – Part 2

what does a building super do

How to Hire a Part-time Building Super in NYC – Part 2

What does a Building Super really do?

      So, you’re looking for a part-time super.

      Whether this is your first time, or you’ve done this many times before, you’ve probably learned, or are learning, that the most critical factor in finding, attracting and keeping an exceptional super is defining and setting clear expectations of what you need him to do.

Being clear with his job duties helps your super build trust and confidence in his role, which is so important to keeping him focused and self- motivated.

      But, the problem is, not many people know exactly what a super does, especially when it comes to part-time supers. Not even many building managers or board members.

      So, what does a Super do?

      Basically, it can be summed up in an acronym: F-R-E-E-D-O-M, which stands for: First Responder, Eyes and Ears, Diagnosis, Operations and Maintenance. This can be further broken down to 10 distinct functions. So, let’s go down this list:

  1.  Cleaning the common areas, such as the lobby, sidewalk, hallways, stairways, etc.
  2. Managing the garbage and recycling. We’re talking about the basic health and welfare of the building residents.
  3. Maintenance- there’s a few types. We have:
    1. Regular/ ordinary: include simple things like replacing blown light bulbs, lubricating locks, flushing boilers, and checking roof drains
    2. Operational/ Systems: knowing the systems of the building, such as the hot water and heat, lighting systems, etc.
    3. Seasonal: such as clearing snow and checking over radiators to make sure their properly prepped for winter (before the heating season starts)
  4. Minor repairs, things come up that need a relatively quick fix, like replacing a light fixture or a water faucet
  5. Diagnosing problems. This is where your super can prove his weight in gold. A good super can prevent unnecessary expenses by locating and/or fixing the maintenance problem quickly and efficiently.
  6. There’s cosmetic improvements, we’re talking about the part of maintenance that keeps your building looking fresh and pretty, such as painting touch-ups for the lobby and hallways.
  7. Your super also serves as your "Eyes and Ears." This includes monitoring and supervising events at the building, watching the stuff outside contractors do inside your building and monitoring important large building projects. It also includes everyday things like move-ins and outs, make sure that building policies are being followed, or looking out for suspicious activities.
  8. Customer service and interfacing with residents , which includes answering resident calls, whether it’s a complaint, request, comment or question. Residents also need to interact with their supers when they need help problem-solving a maintenance issue in their apartment or help with a lockout.
  9. Emergency Response: Being the first responder to any emergency call. 
  10. Administrative support, such as coordinating and scheduling the maintenance activities at the building; creating reports or making orders for supplies; distributing notices to residents; and enforcing building rules and policies.

In a large enough building, these responsibilities are usually handled by a full maintenance team:

  • The super is called the resident manager and generally oversees the entire maintenance operation and serves as the on-site administrator;
  • The doorman serves as the “eyes and ears” for the building and the reception for customer service
  • The handyman performs minor repairs and maintenance throughout the building
  • A porter performs cleaning and handling of garbage and recycling. They also take on tasks that may bleed into the other roles of the building. 

      In such buildings, there's usually a large enough staff and a big enough budget to handle all of these responsibilities.

      But, for many buildings on a part-time budget, the super is limited by the time he’s at the building and doesn't have the benefit of a full staff behind him. Finding that one person who can fulfill all of these roles equally well while on limited part-time schedule is pretty unrealistic.  

      But, there’s hope -- and without having make your budget bigger. I’m going to show you two ways to get the most out of your part-time Super without breaking the bank, so that most (if not all) of your important Super functions are covered.

Step 1: From the list of Super's responsibilities above, prioritize those that matter most to you.

      Alternatively, start by listing the things that don’t matter to you.


      Is cleaning the most important thing on your list? How about having someone around as your eyes and ears? Or someone to handle repairs as needed? The answer to these will depend on your unique set of circumstances.

      It helps if you recognize early on that each role or responsibility that I’ve listed above touches upon different strengths, skills, dislikes, talents of supers, and that different Supers have combination of these.

      For instance, someone who can perform complicated repairs doesn’t mean that they will necessarily do well in the role of customer service, like communicating with residents or dealing with their complaints. And vice versa.

      Pushing a Super into a role that he isn’t comfortable with or isn't good at will only lead to frustrations for both you and your Super.

      Moreover, each role and responsibility has its own distinct goals. For instance, if you need a Super to supervise and report back on ongoing capital improvement projects that is going on by outside contractors, you'll measure him by goals that are different than if you were singularly focused on having a great cleaner in the building.

      Choosing your priorities clearly will help your Super focus on the right goals, thus, conserve his time and energy, and in turn, your building’s budget. It will also set a realistic baseline of expectation for his performance, which is what every Super needs to succeed.

Step 2: Now that your priorities are set straight, you'll need to look for these strengths when hiring your part-time Super

      Just look at some issues you may have faced last year.


      Did your boiler go out often last year due to lack of simple maintenance? Did you find that your building outsourced way too many simple jobs that a competent, handy Super could have done? Did residents constantly complain about the quality of cleaning throughout the building?

      What kind of Super would have been able to prevent or even mitigate these pains? What would his attitude be like, his skill level or availability? His strengths and weaknesses?

      So, targeting for specific roles and asking the right questions will drastically narrow your vetting process and you’ll have a MUCH higher probability of finding the right part-time Super who can handle the core problems at your building.   

      If you’re a building manager or a board member of a co-op or condo, you’ll know that these solutions that I’ve prescribed are not easy to carry out. It takes a lot of time and energy, and a modest amount of luck, to get this right. And even then, sometimes, you’ll find that these are not enough and you’re starting from scratch all over again.

      Why spend this time if you’ve already got a million and one things to do?

      Stay tuned for the next video and presentation to learn how WE can help you on your journey to finding your perfect super on the part-time budget.

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