Community management can be vastly improved with successful management tools

Key takeaways:

  • Community managers often find themselves in the middle of conflict while performing their duties
  • Message boards are helpful forums where homeowners can easily collaborate on solutions to community issues
  • Modern communication avenues help residents detect and resolve conflicts as they surface
  • There are several solutions to effective community management including HOA software

“Successful investing is about managing risk, not avoiding it.” – Benjamin Graham.

The success of an association depends heavily on managing risks through decisions that are in the best interest of the community. A lot has to be done for a community to flourish, from facilitating the proper use of community resources and maintaining facilities to increasing property values.

Community managers often find themselves overwhelmed while performing these duties. Disagreements can arise due to the allocation of costs, miscommunication, and differences in vendor preferences, among other things.

Whether it’s residents disagreeing with management or homeowners in conflict with board members, it’s critical that community association managers mediate and diffuse situations before they escalate. Here are nine tips to improve community management:

1. Give homeowners a forum to communicate with message boards

Communication is the keystone for successful community management. Boards struggle to increase participation from more reserved homeowners. The lack of a forum where homeowners can communicate is a recipe for future disagreements.

Message boards are great forums for homeowners to easily talk and collaborate. HOA managers can use message boards to share information with homeowners and the community. They are a great way to spark stakeholders’ engagement.

Not all message boards are effective, though. For effective community management, it’s advisable to pick software with built-in resident communication tools.

2. Resolve conflicts as they surface

Conflict is part of life, and when a disagreement arises, community managers must aim to resolve and manage it in a way that makes no party feel shortchanged. 

As a community manager, you’ll have to listen to homeowners’ disputes once in a while. Being able to effectively resolve conflicts is a vital community management skill.  

Many of these misunderstandings are a result of unclear objectives or differences in reasoning and activities’ timelines. Proactively communicating is a great way to prevent conflicts from escalating.

To maintain harmony among community stakeholders, develop a strategy for dealing with issues as they arise. Make it a priority to utilize modern communication avenues that help you capture the situation early and neutralize it.

3. Always have a sizeable reserve fund

A reserve fund is money set aside by the association for repairs or projects that come up suddenly. The money is mainly used as a caution for emergencies. 

Unfortunately, most reserve funds are either undersized or don’t even exist. Most associations struggle to create a sizeable reserve fund, which creates a lot of risks. 

When the unexpected repair comes due and finds an undersized reserve fund, a community will have no other option than to levy a special assessment or raise dues. This scenario places a lot of financial burden on homeowners. 

While the size and funding depend on several factors, associations reserves’ rule of thumb dictates that the reserve fund be about 30% of the total community maintenance fees. Every community should conduct a reserve study regularly (every three to five years) to ensure the reserve fund is healthy.

4. Hire property management companies when needed

Associations provide a lot of services for community growth. With growth comes more tasks. Some of these tasks require skills that are hard to find within the board. 

Most board members are volunteers who are too busy with their personal lives to provide all the services a community needs.

If this is your case, you may want to hire a property management company to take care of the day-to-day tasks in the community.

5.  Find the right vendors

For any community association, it’s important to hire the services of landscapers, bookkeepers, plumbers, maintenance crew, roofers, and other professionals with specific areas of expertise. 

Part of the community board’s job is finding the right vendors. Luckily, there’s Association software to help you with this. Keep in mind the ultimate goal: Find a vetted, qualified vendor who will fulfill community services. 

6. Hire the right people

Hiring the right people is the first move for successful association management. Many issues as a community manager come from selecting the wrong people. 

Whether hiring a vendor or employee, effort should be put into making sure you have the right team for the right job. To avoid hiring the wrong people, a detailed job description is vital. 

The right person for a job shares the same vision as the association, possesses the necessary skills and experience, is a team player, and has the right attitude.

Hiring the right people helps reduce training costs, maximize productivity, and ensure efficiency for HOA operations.

7. Reinforce policies

A community without order is a failed one. Rules and regulations exist to maintain order in a community, and so do association policies.  

Association policies typically include provisions that guide the payment of dues, noise control, property use and maintenance, and a whole host of other regulations.   

If as a board you do your part to ensure compliance, the net effect will be happier residents, a peaceful board, and an all-around vibrant community. 

8. Monitor resource usage

One thing that plagues associations is the misuse of resources among board members and residents. This misuse is often fanned by the fact that most community board members are busy with other life activities and don’t have the time to check every transaction. 

No matter the tight schedule, strive to keep an eye on resource usage. The proper usage of resources within a community saves money, increases resource life span, and prevents conflicts.

9. Be firm with fees

Each homeowner is supposed to pay association fees, typically monthly. These fees go toward regular expenses like property maintenance, repairs, upkeep, and the reserve fund. 

Unfortunately, in every community, there will always be those people who try to push the boundaries by refusing to pay, or making late payments. Be firm with fees to avoid conflicts and homeowner dissatisfaction. Rules must not be selective.

Ready to unlock your community’s potential?

Try TOPS – We exist to make community management easier

To better manage communities, follow these simple steps: 

Give homeowners a forum to communicate with message boards, resolve conflicts as they surface, always have a sizable reserve fund, hire companies when needed, find the right vendors, hire the right people, reinforce policies, monitor resource usage, and be firm with fees. 

To make community management a whole lot simpler, use award-winning management software from TOPS. TOPS is an end-to-end operations management platform for community associations. We work with property management companies that manage multiple communities along with self-managed associations to run accounting (both software and services), engagement, AP/AR, field operations, board reporting, and more.

Request a demo today.