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Not every master-planned community is facing critical maintenance issues or looking for a full-blown makeover when choosing a management solution. Many established master-planned communities are relatively successful, with great amenities, a solid reputation and an active and engaged homeowners association. However, they may not be achieving maximum cost savings and property values or have an unmatched resident experience that stands out in the greater community. In a competitive marketplace, master-planned associations need to continually make improvements to get a leg up on their competitors and not fall by the wayside. They can do this by partnering with their management company to improve efficiencies, develop cost savings and strengthen the resident experience through compelling amenities and lifestyle offerings. The Johnson Ranch Community Association took this approach, which yielded cost savings as well as many efficiencies and forward-thinking improvements.
Johnson Ranch is a 6,071-home master-planned community located in San Tan Valley in Arizona, surrounded by natural landscape. The first phase of construction started in 2002, and FirstService Residential began managing the community on January 1, 2018, with a 90-day transition starting on October 1, 2017. The community features 300 acres of recreation and green belt space, three pools, a nine-hole golf course, a catch-and-release lake, tennis, basketball and sand volleyball courts, a Frisbee golf course and playgrounds. Additionally, the Johnson Ranch community is home to a public 18-hole championship golf course as well as a preschool, K-8 school and a shopping center.
As an already distinguished master-planned community in San Tan Valley, Johnson Ranch did not face emergency maintenance issues or have a dysfunctional board of directors. In fact, the board was highly engaged and focused on enhancing the community. However, they didn’t have access to a network of local and national resources that would allow them to achieve cost savings, staffing and IT efficiencies or guidance with their vision. Ultimately, they wanted to rise above their already strong position, with the goal of gaining relevance in the community at large. Kirk Kowieski, vice president at FirstService Residential, said, “While Johnson Ranch was one of the first notable master-planned communities in the area, several large communities have sprung up in the last several years, bringing newer homes with great amenities to the table.” He said, “The Johnson Ranch Community Association saw that they had the opportunity to excel even more and partnered with us to gain an edge in an increasingly competitive market.”
FirstService Residential partnered with the enthusiastic board to make both immediate and big-picture changes to strengthen the community’s position in the competitive market. While the community wasn’t experiencing serious problems, they faced some inefficiencies and had potential for additional growth. With the board’s guidance and support, FirstService Residential:
By making financial changes, adding an IT addendum, modifying the management staff model and setting the stage for a robust strategic community plan, the Johnson Ranch Community Association has experienced immediate benefits. Perhaps most importantly, FirstService Residential is partnering with the board to facilitate its proprietary Strategic Community Plan (SCP). Kowieski said, “In our work with large master-planned communities, we’ve seen the significant and long-term benefits of the SCP. It not only provides the board with a solid tool for daily decision making, it helps unify the existing board and all future and incoming board members with common goals and objectives.” In the brief time that FirstService Residential has managed Johnson Ranch, the association has experienced some very positive results:
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