A Smooth HOA Management Transition Starts With Good Communication
Most homeowners associations (HOAs) in Nevada are managed by a community management company. So hiring a new management company is a pretty common occurrence in our state. Of course, there are a number of possible reasons your HOA may be on the verge of partnering with a new company. Perhaps your community is moving from developer control to HOA control. It could be that your board has gotten overwhelmed by the responsibilities of self-management. Or your existing management company simply may not be addressing your community’s needs adequately.
Regardless of your motivation, the transitioning process can be anything but smooth. Important HOA information or responsibilities sometimes can fall through the cracks. Incompatible systems, financial errors, and differing hiring practices can also create confusion for the board and for employees.
The good news is that you can avoid the confusion and difficulties typical of most transitions by hiring a company that prioritizes communication during this period of change. A company committed to open dialog will work hard to keep board members, residents, staff and vendors informed every step of the way. This is important not just during the weeks immediately preceding your start date, but from the moment you sign a contract well into the months after you have made the switch.
So how do you know whether the community management company you are considering will do that? Ask the following five questions to help you determine if communication is a key part of its transition process.
1. Who from the community management company will be responsible for the transition?
At most companies, the community manager assigned to your HOA also manages the transition. With all the details that need to be handled, this is not an ideal approach, especially since many managers are also responsible for other communities.
Instead, look for a management company that provides an entire team of dedicated transition specialists. With this approach, team members each focus on specific aspects of the transition and meet regularly to ensure that they are addressing every element. They also communicate frequently with the HOA board to obtain needed information and to report their progress.
2. Will we have a primary contact person?
To avoid confusion, it’s important that one person from the new management company takes responsibility for all communications. With a team approach, the transition lead acts as the “hub” of the team, communicating with your board, the existing management company, current staff, vendors and anyone else who may be working with your community.
3. How will residents be informed that we have a new community management company?
A good management company should make your job easier by taking responsibility for proactively communicating with residents with a tried and true approach. This should entail activities such as sending out welcome letters to every homeowner, posting notices on bulletin boards and holding information sessions and a welcome event so that residents can meet associates at the new company, learn about their processes and get answers to any questions they may have.
4. How will the community management company inform our board of its progress?
Find out if the transition team will keep your board updated with weekly reports during the month before the company’s start date. These reports should include:
- Forensic findings. Not all companies perform a forensic analysis, but this is the only way to uncover problems, such as open board meeting action items, HOA noncompliance with the requirements specified in your governing documents and underperforming rates of return on investment accounts.
- Accomplishments. From sending out welcome letters and collecting existing vendor contracts to logging parking space numbers and vehicle information, the transition team should provide your board with an account of what it has done over the previous week.
- Issues. Perhaps your board forgot to budget money for holiday lights, or there is no record of whether or not you’ve filed a potential lawsuit before the demand deadline. The transition team should bring any such questions or concerns to the attention of your board.
- Action items. Setting expectations for the upcoming week is another important aspect of the report. The transition team should share its planned activities, next steps and any items or information it will need from your board to accomplish its tasks.
No doubt, your onsite employees are wondering how the upcoming transition will impact them. This can be stressful for them, as well as for board members and other residents who have developed relationships with these associates.
With a transition team approach, the human resources (HR) specialist serves as the liaison between the new management company and existing employees. This individual helps ensure that the staff remains in the loop about upcoming changes and takes responsibility for communicating with employees about their future status.
Employees that your board wants to keep receive onboarding instructions from the HR specialist, as well as other information designed to help them feel welcomed and excited about joining the new community management company. They also have the opportunity to voice their concerns and discuss the new management company’s policies and benefits. Employees whom your board does not wish to keep are informed that they will not be continuing in their current position and are provided with the information they need to separate from the company.
Good communication is the key to a successful relationship with your management company. Finding out about the company’s approach to communication during the transition process can give you a great deal of insight into what you can expect once you become a client. If you like what you learn, there’s a good chance that your board will be satisfied with the service you receive over the long run.