Great communication is more than just loose talk, especially when it comes to homeowners, HOA board members and property management companies exchanging information, thoughts and ideas. When communication is done well, challenges get faced, questions get answered and community spirit becomes stronger. Done poorly? It’s a recipe for chaos.
“When it comes to communication, the right tools make all the difference,” said Kendall Abbott, Community & Lifestyle Development Manager of FirstService Residential in Nevada. “Specific circumstances require unique forms of communications, so it helps to work with a community association management company that can offer a community the right mix.”

So what goes into that mix? Let’s take a look…

1. Updated contact information.

As an association board, you should ensure you have a simple process put in place to keep all contact information up-to-date. Be sure you collect more than a physical mailing address. A current email address can help you reach your community members more efficiently and a phone number can be used to deliver urgent messages. To alleviate from a breakdown in communication, ensure that you have contact information for all homeowners, residents and tenants within your community.
To gather the updated information, include a callout in all of your community communications like in your newsletters, on your community website and at your community events and meetings. Make sure you task someone on your board – or your management team – with keeping this database current.

2. Define the proper communication channels.

Part of living in a community is resolving issues, neighbor to neighbor. Encourage residents to resolve matters between each other, respectfully, as often as possible. This will help build community ties and reduce the burden on the board or your management company. It’s also good to educate your residents on which disputes are enforceable by the board – like noise, pet and aesthetic issues. For matters that become escalated, mediation is also an option. These services can be offered through county, city or state organizations. When it comes to criminal activity, such as break-ins, theft or other matters, residents should call their local law enforcement.

3. Create social committees.

Your board should create a committee tasked with conceptualizing, promoting and executing social events. This group of volunteers will work with the board to achieve the association’s objectives. Their communication efforts will largely encompass generating interest and attendance in events through newsletters, website updates, flyers and email blasts. They should work closely with your designated social media coordinator to attract interest through those channels, too.

4. Use social media – wisely.

Your board will need to create a definite strategy for social media. This can be an incredibly effective tool, but if not managed appropriately, it can also be rife with pitfalls. You’ll need to define the objective of your strategy, assign social media responsibilities to a single party (such as a social media committee), choose your communication channels carefully, build followers strategically, create a solid social media policy and leverage the latest technology. We go into all of these issues in-depth right here.

5. Consider a property management company.

The right property management company can help you plan and execute an all-of-the-above communication strategy – and then some. These strategies enable 24/7 availability through a customer call center, alert service in case of emergencies, surveys that invite feedback for improvement and tech-forward solutions. For example, FirstService Residential Connect™, by FirstService Residential, provides a service called Resident Alert that will deliver urgent or emergency alerts, in real time, to residents via phone and email. We’ve created a list of communication must-haves to consider when selecting the right property management company.
You can’t underestimate the importance of communication between the HOA board, residents and the community association management company that serves them. Implement the strategies you see here and you’ll be on your way – but that’s just the beginning. For more ideas and insight, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s property management leader.
Thursday July 07, 2016