Being a volunteer for your homeowners association (HOA) can be very rewarding, but it also has its challenges. For starters, board members do not always agree, residents each have different needs and concerns, and not to mention creating and sticking to a budget isn’t always easy. It’s no wonder that your volunteer position may sometimes seem like a full-time job!

With so many moving parts, how can you know for sure if your HOA is successful? Every community in Texas is unique – as is every volunteer’s background – so success may look different to each one. However, there are some common elements that all successful HOAs share.
1. Establish a vision and a mission
The most successful companies always have a vision and a stated mission. Learn from them and create your own. This will help you keep your HOA on a positive track, especially in the face of difficulties.
2. Make the interests of the community your first priority
Being a volunteer anywhere means putting the needs of others first. It’s the same thing with your association. You must put the interests of your HOA ahead of your own. Associations whose volunteers do this regardless of the challenges they face have the greatest success.
3. Get your residents involved
Board members shouldn’t have to do everything on their own. Encourage residents to volunteer by establishing a variety of committees. Possible focus areas include community events, architecture, landscaping and security.
4. Work cooperatively
Whether you are on your HOA board or on a committee, members are bound to have different opinions – and that’s a good thing! Having a variety of perspectives can be a valuable way to come up with creative options. Despite any disagreements, you are all there for one purpose: to make your community the best it can be. If you keep this in mind, you will be able to overcome your differences to achieve your common goal.
5. Once a decision is made, respect it
Even if a vote doesn’t go your way, put aside your disappointment. Be sure to get behind the final decision.

6. Operate your HOA like a business
The primary reason you should treat your association as if it were a corporation is because it is one. So even though you are serving on the board or on a committee with your neighbors and friends, perform your duties in a businesslike manner. In particular, come to meetings prepared.

7. Communicate with residents
Open communication is critical for both your HOA board and your committees. Let residents know about projects, events and meetings, not just when you are required to do so, but also when the information can be useful to them. You should also tell them about events such as when water will be shut off, bulk trash is picked up and streets will be repaired and cleaned. You can go even farther by informing them of events in the larger community (for example, school holidays) that might impact the community as well. These types of communications will show residents that you care about them, which can increase the sense of community they feel and their willingness to get involved.  Community newsletters and websites are great channels to share important information.

8. Show gratitude
It’s important to say “thank you” to your residents regularly. Let them know that you are grateful that they are following HOA rules and regulations and for their role in making your community what it is today.

9. Work with a good association management company
An experienced management firm can be a great partner in helping your HOA function successfully and plan for its future. Whether you are looking for a new landscaping company, need a new reserve study or simply want help setting goals, you’ll be able to count on your association manager to help.
Follow these guidelines, and you will find that your HOA functions better and that residents are more willing to step up. After all, it takes a village – or in this case, a community – to make your HOA a success.
Tuesday February 07, 2017