Is Your HOA Prepared to Communicate in Times of Emergency?

 

A lot has changed in our world over the past few weeks and the situation is evolving by the day if not by the hour. With multiple cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) being reported throughout the US, your HOA management team is almost certainly being asked many questions. How is your association handling the pandemic? Is your team prepared to communicate effectively to answer all of the questions?

And among all of these questions, there’s an underlying technical hold up: is your HOA prepared to react quickly and communicate efficiently with your community during this time?

Here are a few easy guidelines to help your management team and board navigate these uncharted waters:

Have a Plan In Place

A good starting point for any team is to make sure that you have a plan in place. This will help your association communicate with your community, and provide some guidance – and comfort – to your homeowners and HOA members.

The CDC highly recommends limiting person-to-person contact. This means that postponing in-person HOA Board meetings and HOA membership meetings is critical. But there are other questions to look at for your community: Is your association limiting access to common areas like the pool, meeting areas, sports courts, playgrounds and the like? How do you plan on enforcing these new guidelines? Will your HOA relax rules for violations and payments?

Address questions like these to create your plan so that your team can move forward to implement new guidelines throughout your community. Ward and Smith offers some excellent insights for how HOA Boards can prepare during this pandemic. You can read more here to help your association and board make smart, informed decisions and to set your plan in place.

Communication Is Key

Great! Now that you have your playbook set, it’s critical to disperse updated information quickly, and to the right audience. You should be clear about the new guidelines, and keep the community updated about what your HOA team is doing.

So how do you do that efficiently? Letters take days to deliver, and sending individual texts, voicemails, and emails is incredibly time consuming (not to mention a big disruption of your team’s workflow). Having a system in place to select your audience and send your messaging out rapidly will ensure your community has all of the tools and information they need, when they need it. Plus, your team will be happy to have an easy way to communicate with the community as well.

When assessing your communications tools, you want to make sure they have a way to target the correct audience, have multiple forms of communication at your fingertips, and are easy to use. Texts, emails, voicemails, and association documents for mailing should all be readily available for your team to send when needed. And, as times are changing rapidly, the ability to communicate at a moment’s notice, no matter where your team is working, is invaluable.

Tools to Communicate

Cloud-based software is a game-changer for management teams that are working remotely. As all association managers and employees know, being able to move around and work from outside of the office is critical to the role. And having software that allows you to do your job without being tethered to an office makes your role easier and allows you to manage your properties more effectively.

Communications software, like Smartwebs’ SmartCommunications, allows you to oversee your community at a glance from an online portal, gives you the ability to select members to contact, and has the ability to send messaging out on ALL platforms with only a few clicks.

So now your plan is set, your communication is ready…what next?

Stay Calm

Through all of this, it’s important to remember to stay calm throughout these trying times. Stay in touch with your homeowners, board members, and association management team. Open and frequent communication is the best way to quell any concerns and keep your community up-to-date.

Now, more than ever, we are relying on people adapting and looking out for each other. Be prepared, take measures to help protect your community, and stay safe!

HOA Community Management – Setting Goals for the New Year

As family and friends start to leave, and the holiday decorations start to come down all throughout your managed community, now is a great time to plan for the upcoming year. New Year, New You? We all love the idea, and revamping some key elements on how you manage your HOA properties can make all of the difference in the world for an even more successful 2020. Here are some new year’s goals so your HOA management team can grow in the New Year:

 

Streamline Your Process

It’s incredible how much time we lose with inefficient processes. For the new year, take some time to audit your procedures both in the office, and around the community, to see if there are any areas that your team is taking more steps than necessary.

For example, how efficient are your practices for inspecting the neighborhood for HOA violations? Manual data entry can be an antiquated and time-consuming process. Most property management teams’ process looks something like this: patrol the neighborhood and take hand-written notes for each violation identified, finish the property tour, return to the office and transcribe notes, create and send out emails, create and send out letters, make notes in the resident’s file, communicate with management team.

This manual process eats up precious time that could be better spent elsewhere. In 2020, look to technology to help save you time, money and stress levels. Consider HOA management software that is cloud-based and offers a full suite of packages that will cover all of your needs. A good HOA Management software can take out many of the repetitive steps in your inspection process, automate your notifications, and consolidate team notes in one location that your entire team (and board, when necessary) can access from anywhere – mobile or office. Some key things to analyze when considering your options:

  • Do they offer a full suite of products to cover your needs? (Violations, Work Orders, Architecture requests, Resident Portals, and accounting options)
  • Does the software integrate with systems you already have in place?
  • Does the software suite offer mobile, office, online and offline options for access?
  • How involved is the company with set up?
  • Do they offer HOA management software for management companies and self-managed communities?

Answering these questions will help you make the right choice when you upgrading your systems with a cloud-based software solution.

 

Increase Communication

Communication is key for any great management team, and HOA management is no different! Too often teams struggle with clear communication between the board and with residents, and even within the team itself.

First, are you communicating quickly and efficiently? Show your residents and team that their questions, and time are valid and important. Fast, thoughtful communication will go a long way for relationship building both in the property management team, and with residents.

Additionally, be sure to keep residents apprised on HOA on-goings including board meetings with information, and updates to policies or HOA bylaws.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly – make sure that you’re giving your residents and team members straightforward and easily accessible methods for communication. Do your residents and team have a simple way to contact the HOA management team? How easy is it for your team to share notes and information within your current system? There are several online software options to consider that offer fast, easy-to-access ways for residents, board members, and the association team to communicate.

Healthy and frequent communication between the team, board, and residents is vital for success in your community.

With these simple New Year goals for your HOA management team, you’ll see a happier and healthier community, along with a team that’s more efficient and functional.

We can toast to that!

The Holidays are Almost Here – Is Your Community Ready?

 

Holiday decorations can be beautiful, but can also cause problems for HOAs

 


The holiday season is almost upon us, and that means homes will soon be adorned with lights, sound, and decor, driveways will be stuffed with out-of-town vehicles, and your community will be teeming with holiday cheer. But all of that seasonal joy can be dampened if your residents aren’t up-to-date on the community policies. Now is a great time for the HOA to review its guidelines and send out friendly reminders to residents.

Here are several things to consider this time of year that can help your HOA community stay in the holiday spirit:

Decorations

We all know THAT resident; the one who sees the Grizwold household as a challenge to be accepted. Does your HOA have restrictions on what sort of decorations can go up, or what time frame decorations are allowed? If so, this is a great time to send reminders about rules for inflatable lawn décor, lights, ornaments, and other holiday outdoor decorations. Is music allowed (and if so, are there time and volume restrictions)? What are the penalties for violations and do you have a system in place to quickly notify the homeowner of any violations or penalties? Letting homeowners know about current guidelines before the season is in full swing can help avoid confusion, and alleviate any future headaches.

Visitors

Whether you look forward to a full house, or want to hide from in-laws, there’s no denying ‘tis the season for out-of-town guests to visit. Does your HOA make special exceptions during this time of year to account for the extra vehicles in the community? Does your community have visitor parking, or a community area for vehicle overflow? If additional parking isn’t available, what are some solutions that your association can offer? We highly recommend touching base with your homeowners to help them know what to do with visitors’ vehicles, while following the guidelines of the community. Now may be a great time to put exceptions and provisions up to a Board vote. Ensure your board has access to 24/7 voting, communication, and results with cloud-based software designed to streamline your community management processes.

Communicate and Stay Involved

Who doesn’t love a great holiday party? Now is the perfect time to host a community get-together for neighbors to get to know each other and to learn more about the HOA and the Board. Consider using the clubhouse, park or other community area that can accommodate a large group. Games, treats and libations are always a great way to bring a community together. Giving families and residents a place to get to know each other makes for a tighter-knit community and helps harbor goodwill towards your HOA and Board.

The holidays are an ideal time to share helpful tips and reminders, too. Communication during the holiday season – be it emails, fliers, social media posts, or website updates – helps keep the community safe, respectful, and happy! However, this can be a daunting task with outdated systems that rely on manual processes. Smartwebs can help streamline and simplify communications with your community, and make sure that you have a painless way to spread holiday cheer.

Be Kind

Most of all, remember that this time of year can be stressful for everyone; residents, managers, and board members alike. Josh Hurst provides a great reminder for this time of year.

It’s important for the HOA to pick its battles wisely and keep in mind the best interest of homeowners. Everyone has their own taste and style when it comes to décor.  It is worth starting an uproar over a light display that will come down in a few weeks anyway? If homeowners are in the spirit and not causing disruptions or violating clear rules, enjoy the celebration. The HOA may ask that light displays be reviewed by the architectural committee to prevent anything that is over-the-top and will detract from the appeal of the community as a whole.

HOA’s are here to ensure the community stays safe, desirable, and happy so don’t forget to weave in some holiday happiness in this most wonderful time of year!