How to Communicate so HOA and Condo Residents Listen
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Does your board ensure that residents are in the know of what is happening in their condominium association? This goes for upcoming events, renovation projects, and board meetings. Does your board also provide the necessary tools for your residents to understand their responsibilities and policies they need to comply with?
The more active your board is with communicating and keeping in touch with your residents, the healthier your relationship will be. There will be a positive impact because of this honest communication, which facilitates a greater sense of community and wellbeing. Transparency is vital if you want your condo residents to listen.
Without excellent communication, your association's reputation will be damaged, which can start a ripple effect that hurts even your operating budget and property values. "When there is a lack of communication, you get what I call a 'black' or a 'silent spiral,'" says Jason Burgess, Vice President and Regional Director at FirstService Residential Missouri-Kansas. Burgess further explains that association members fill this void with misinformation and rumors. "That negative word of mouth spreads faster and further than people realize."
"Residents could begin to think that secret decisions are being made about their condo values without their input," Burgess says. This feeds into what ironically becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. "When you have a community that isn't happy with where they live, it will directly affect their home values," he points out.
Plan out your Communications
Break down your objectives into achievable goals.The best method to look at to achieve your goals is by using the SMART format, which stands for
Think of your audience.Use your audience's current knowledge and understanding of the issues. You can always simplify the more complex concepts as needed, so there is still a clear-cut answer.
Use all available communication resources and channels.Not everyone digests information the same way, so utilize all of the available communications you have at your disposal. Use as many as possible, so residents receive the message, and no one is left out of the mix. These methods include e-blasts, newsletters, billing statements, announcements, board meeting reminds, and resident alert systems.
Prioritize topics.Your main objective is to have your residents be informed regarding anything that could affect them directly or indirectly. However, if you find yourself short on time or resources, prioritize as best as you can, starting with the most crucial topic. Your board needs to make sure they are complying with legal requirements and association bylaws, including telling residents about board meetings, so these communications are non-negotiable. Consider the following as other topics that should be next on the list.
For instance, any topic regarding finances is important because it keeps the lights of the building on. There should be general transparency about overall financials and those about individual accounts.
As a general rule of thumb, it is always good to remind residents when their assessment fees are due, and the owed amounts.
The board should continuously be aware of the rules and regulations so that there is no confusion in the future. Moreover, the more they are reminded of policies, the more likely they are to remember them, and thus follow along and comply. A good time to do this is if your community has a period of high turnover. Getting ahead of the game will prevent unnecessary violations, which can affect your property values negatively and directly affect the community's aesthetics. As you can see, it can be a quick domino effect. Ensure that you avoid this mistake by taking control quickly.
Lastly, making changes to the property is an important thing to communicate. Residents should be informed about the policies, residents, and process for requesting approval. Despite what your governing documents say, residents can still make inaccurate assumptions.
In conclusion, communicating is something that takes time, effort, and, most importantly, planning. However, it is entirely worth it in the end. When residents are better informed about their community, the more positive of a reception they will provide. This will attribute to rule compliance, and again, the success of the condominium association, the satisfaction of other residents, and high property values.