Respect, the Trust Barrier, and Why I'll Fire My Clients

Meet James Long

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.

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.”

An Uphill Battle

James’ progress isn’t just an indication of his skills or abilities; it’s a testament to his fortitude in the face of circumstances outside of his control.

“I’m African-American…and owning your own business in an industry that is predominantly white-ran, it’s hard getting in and getting through that trust barrier.”

It’s true that the history behind homeowners associations isn’t exactly squeaky clean. At their inception, planned communities worked to keep certain people out. This was a pervasive problem until the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968, but in small pockets of the US, that mentality persists.

“I’ve been called ‘porch monkey,’” James reveals. “I’ve been called ‘boy’ at board meetings.”

Rather than put himself in that situation, James chose to let those clients go. “I’m not going to drive an hour and a half away and spend five hours down there for meetings.” He told them, “You can come get your stuff.”

It Isn’t Work If You Love What You Do

But James doesn’t let the negativity bring down his positive nature.

“I got into this business and I stay in it because sometimes … you get that one or two customers that call up and say, ‘You know what, James? I appreciate what you and general management are doing for us. I see those improvements that you’re doing.’

Then you come back and you say, ‘Wow, that makes me feel pretty good, because it says I am doing some good.’”

“I love what I do…we’ve had a majority of the same communities since we started in 2009.”

James isn’t worried about his clients seeking out the competition because his level of personal service is so high. “They know what service they get. They know that if they have a problem, they can reach me personally.”

The Team Behind The Man

Behind J&L’s years of success is more than just James’ own experience and know-how. J&L Management is backed by a team with a combined 22 years of management experience, and over 50 years of accounting experience.

“Being a small business, we all have to know the other person’s job. Each one of my staff members have to carry a couple of different hats.”

And that team continues to grow as J&L’s service offerings improve.

“Over the years, we’ve been very successful as far as getting past due owners to pay their dues. We have added a code enforcement department, and accounts receivables as well, so we’ve grown the business from day one.”

To learn more about the secret to James' success, download the case study about his management company here, or click the image below.

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