Is Your Board As Effective And Healthy As It Can Be?
How well is your home owners association board functioning? Do your meetings feel fluid and productive, or are you stuck in a rut? Do the residents in your home owners association or building trust your board, or are people starting to raise questions about how operations are run?
If you feel like your board is functioning well, that’s great news! But do the rest of the board members share your feelings? How about your residence members? Regardless of how your board is currently functioning, you should consider conducting a thorough, honest evaluation of your board.
By conducting an evaluation, you are able to recognize your board’s strengths and weaknesses and what areas need to be addressed. Below are some important areas of focus to ensure your homeowner association (HOA) board is functioning effectively. Either individually or as a group, go through each area and score your board’s performance from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent).
After completing your evaluation, your board can work to address your problem areas and figure out ways to improve upon your strengths. Hiring the best property management company could help you conduct an unbiased, professional evaluation and could guide you to becoming a stronger, more effective association board. If you currently work with a good property management company, you should engage them in this process.
Key Areas of Focus for Evaluation:
• COMMUNICATION: This is a key area. Keeping residents and fellow board members informed on new items and up to speed on things such as bylaws, rules and regulations, and events is critical to success. Does the board exercise all means of communicating such as newsletters, bulletin boards, and even social media? If there are problems in the community, is the board aware of them and do the members actively address concerns? Does the board welcome community input and suggestions and address them regularly at meetings? Proper communications means there are no secrets and the board is an open book to its residents and community.
• FINANCES: Your budget and spending practices are important considerations. After all, you are dealing with everyone’s money and making monetary decisions that affect the entire community. Is the budget regularly balanced? Are you earmarking money for beneficial expenses such as lawn care, property maintenance, trash pickup, etc? Are financial reports given regularly at board meetings? Is the board being transparent with how you are spending the community’s money? Are fraud protection measures in place? There is no easier way to gain trust--or erode it—than by how you handle financial responsibilities, so make sure your board scores high in this area. If not, you should consider a great property management company to help increase your financial stability. Your community’s financial health depends on it!
• GOVERNANCE: There are rules and regulations for operating as an HOA board. Quite simply, are you following those rules? Are you adhering to the local, state, and federal regulations? Is your board operating according to the drafted documents that brought the HOA board and community into existence? You expect community members to live by the regulations in place in your community. If board members aren’t following the laws, how can you expect residents to do the same? Lead by example.
• LEADERSHIP: An association board without strong leaders could feel like a ship without a captain. Are the procedures for electing new members, appointing committee duties, and finding training sessions the best they can be? Are the board’s roles and responsibilities transparent and trusted by members of the community? Do the residents in your community respect the board? Evaluate your board as honestly as possible. Doing so is the only way to ensure this area is a strength for your community.
• MEETINGS: It is important that, when gathering as a board, your meetings are efficient, easily accessible, and run smoothly. It’s also crucial that everyone knows when and where these meetings are taking place. Is a meeting agenda prepared and given to everyone in attendance? Are meeting times and locations posted in advance and made known to all interested parties? Are all meetings conducted with a quorum? Is the community permitted to address the board and are their comments and ideas treated with respect? A board meeting is a place where the public gets to see how well you work together for the community’s own good.
• RESERVES: Every board has day-to-day expenses. But what about those major projects that each board must tackle from time to time such as roof repairs, major landscaping, new construction, and other costly projects? Your reserve fund is there for this reason, as it is a savings account of sorts for when these items come up. If an emergency repair is needed, is the board prepared financially to take care of these matters in short order? Are you in a position where you need to levy assessments to pay for a project? I Do you need help to determine how to best fund and utilize your Reserve account? This is a huge responsibility for board members, and if you aren’t prepared for future expenses, it could have a negative impact on the community. This is just another area of expertise that a good property management company can assist your board with and ensure your reserves are in good standing order.
So, how did you do? Considering your overall score, does your board have areas where it can improve? If you are interested in seeking help to improve or enhance your board’s strengths, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s leader in property and community management.