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!

Why your HOA needs cloud technology

We all know about the clouds that shade the sun and carry rain. Now it’s time to get to know the other cloud—the one that delivers computing power, handy applications, and the ability to share information with others wherever and whenever you need. Like the atmospheric mass that provides its name, the technological phenomenon impacts our daily lives.

Cloud computing sounds mysterious and untrustworthy, but chances are you’re already working, playing and surfing in the cloud. If you’ve purchased an iPhone, Kindle, or any smartphone, tablet or computer recently, you’re probably taking advantage of its benefits. If you’ve downloaded a song from the Internet, chatted on Skype or purchased something from Amazon.com, you’ve used the cloud.

So, what does the cloud mean to you, and how can you harness its power?

It means you can pay your assessments online. You can access association documents and board meeting minutes from wherever you are. It might also mean, for the owners of second homes, that you can tune in to board meetings from the other side of the country.

It means you can work from a remote office without losing a beat. You can collaborate with others on a document without having to e-mail the file back and forth. You can store photos, music and files online without taking up precious space on your computer.

The cloud offers cheaper, stress-free alternatives to expensive hardware and maintenance. All you really need to take advantage of the cloud is reliable Internet access, but you should carefully consider security, privacy, the provider’s reliability and contract terms first.

How secure is your data and information on the cloud? What privacy rules are you subject to? Some cloud services include clauses that allow providers to access and use a customer’s data —often for marketing purposes—and can retain that data long after you’re done using the service.

What if the company providing the cloud service goes out of business? What happens to all your information? Do contact terms lock you into one program or application?

These are important questions to ask. And though the cloud is relatively new, it’s here to stay and will become even more prevalent over time.

How have you been able to determine which cloud-technology software to use for your own HOA? Share your ideas in the comments below!

Source: Copyright-Free Articles for Community Association Newsletters and Websites Volume 2.  Cloudy with a Chance of Technology.