When written, distributed and analyzed correctly, surveys can reveal a variety of useful information for HOA budgeting and planning. However, like any tool, they can do more harm than good when misused.
Last year, you hired a new company for regular maintenance and repairs around the property. There have been grumblings that the company has not been providing adequate service. It’s contract renewal time, and you need to know if you should look for another vendor. A survey of your residents can help you find out.
Surveys can reveal important information that will help HOA boards better serve their members. Perhaps you’ve talked about conducting a survey before, but you’re still not sure. Are they beneficial in finding out what you need to know? What should you ask? VendorSmart℠ gives you the why and how for conducting HOA surveys.
The pros of HOA surveys
Gauging the satisfaction of your residents can be difficult. Just because a few people are complaining doesn’t mean everyone feels the same way. On the flip side, a lack of complaints doesn’t mean things are fine. Do you know the biggest concerns of your residents? It might be something different than you thought. Sometimes the only way to know your residents’ pressing concerns and opinions is by conducting a survey. Done right, they can help you home in on areas that need improvement and even yield good suggestions for improving HOA governance and finances.
The cons of HOA surveys
Surveys can be useful in gauging the feelings of HOA members, but they are not perfect. They should be used as part of an overall plan to enhance services and informing budgeting.
Why use caution when conducting HOA surveys?
There is always a danger of getting incomplete data, which can affect the outcome. It’s also easy to manipulate surveys to produce a favorable result. Just think of the many election polls and how they are often skewed according to who is presenting the information. Sometimes it’s the questions you don’t ask that can skew the results. The wording can also influence results. Plus, you must ensure the respondents include an accurate representation of your entire community.
Here are six steps you can take to ensure a successful outcome.
1. Decide on your purpose.
What information are you looking to obtain? Are you looking at overall satisfaction or are there specific areas of concern? Do you want to develop a long-term plan? You must be able to clearly articulate the purpose of the survey for it to be effective.
2. Determine your target audience.
It’s important to know whom you want to take the survey. Do you want to gauge the opinions of owners only or include renters residing in the community? How many people do you plan to survey?
3. Design questions the right way.
Perhaps no element of a survey is as important as the questions. “Survey questions shouldn’t be too long or complex, and answering should be easy. Questions should emphasize long-range goals,” according to Condo & HOA Smart.
The most popular form of questions is true/false, following by multiple choice and rankings. Make the responses objective and quantifiable so you can better correlate and standardize responses.
Open-ended, subjective questions are great ways to get detailed feedback from the community but can be difficult and time consuming to distill from a community’s worth of responses.
4. How will you distribute the survey?
There are many ways to conduct surveys, including emails, online surveys, community newsletters, and mailed surveys. Be sure to consider the specifics of your community. Residents of a retirement village or assisted living facility may not be tech-savvy, so an online survey might present a barrier. On the other hand, working professionals in a condo might appreciate the convenience of a 10-minute online survey. Is your community made up of owners who live in another state for part of the year? Your method of distribution will be different according to whom you are targeting.
5. Remember to keep it simple.
Convenience should always be a priority. People are busy, whether they are working professionals or retirees who volunteer with various organizations. “The easier it is to respond to the questions and return the survey to the association, the higher the response rate will be,” according to HOA & Condo Smart.
6. Decide how you’ll use the data.
Refer back to your purpose in conducting the survey. What do you want to get out of it? You may use the results to make long-term plans over the next several years or take immediate action regarding a specific issue. No matter what you do with the data, be sure to discuss the findings as a board and with the community manager, including questions and concerns you weren’t aware existed.
- You can download a sample survey at HOA Survey
- The Institute of Real Estate Management has a downloadable HOA survey you can edit to meet your needs.
Remember: Negative Feedback is Not Always Bad
Companies use survey results to improve their services and products. While you might not like reading about residents’ dissatisfaction, these are opportunities to identify areas where you need to make changes. Also, be careful not to concentrate too much on negative comments. Look at the positive aspects of the survey, as well.
Conducting an HOA survey can be an easy way to find out the concerns and issues among your community members. However, surveys should be done with caution and with a sincere desire to improve services and amenities for residents. VendorSmart℠ connects managers and HOAs with service providers across a wide variety of industries. Our software solutions help you manage bids, verify insurance and compliance documentation, and even handle invoicing and payments. See how we can help you manage vendor hiring.