Management companies have the difficult task of enforcing rules within community associations. As such, conflicts are likely to arise. Learn how to keep residents happy and relationships positive.
Many homeowners associations (HOAs) or condo associations decide to hire an outside management company to help with operations, and among the tasks, these companies take on is enforcing the rules of the association that have been established in the governing documents.
Management companies know that enforcing rules sometimes means having not-so-great interactions with community residents. While it’s just part of the job, there are ways to mitigate conflict and keep relationships positive. Here are seven tips for keeping residents happy even when you’re the bearer of bad news.
1. Communicate rules and expectations regularly
One of the most effective ways to keep residents happy is to keep them informed. If they know the rules of the association well, they’ll be less surprised when they’re informed of a violation, and thus less defensive.
Create a plan for ensuring that governing documents are always accessible and distribute any news and updates via mail, email, posted announcement, or all three. If you’ve noticed a minor oversight occurring from residents, send gentle reminders to the entire community about the applicable rule. The bottom line is to make sure residents have had more than enough opportunity to familiarize themselves with the guidelines and what is expected of them.
2. Be prepared to explain your reasoning
No one likes to be called out for a violation, but the negative feelings can be exacerbated if there’s no clear answer for why a rule exists. It’s always a good idea to have reasoning written down for every rule and guideline so that if a violation occurs and a resident pushes back, management can clearly state why the rule is important and must be followed.
3. Be willing to compromise
If you find that reasoning for a rule doesn’t quite make sense or is outdated, be willing to listen to residents and come to a compromise. Of course, the association board will have to vote on any changes, but because you deal with residents directly, you can act as the advocate to get their opinions heard.
Don’t approach communications with residents as a stickler; while you do have to enforce rules, you should also be listening to their wants and needs and letting the board know if something does actually seem unfair.
4. Put yourself in the resident’s shoes
If a resident has violated a rule and you have delivered the news or billed them for a fine, make sure you fully understand the issue. What motivated the resident to make the violation? Have you seen the circumstances in question firsthand?
It’s always a good idea to try to understand where residents are coming from. Put yourself in their shoes and you will better understand why they violated a rule, even if you still have to fine them. You may even find that, as previously noted, a rule or regulation is no longer really needed to keep things running smoothly.
5. Never lose your cool
Disputes are never easy to manage, and it’s not hard to become angry or to excessively blame others. However, managers who react to resident disputes this way are setting up the interaction to be negative, and the resident will likely act in a defensive way.
Instead, approach conflict with a clear mind, even if this means taking a few deep breaths or trying to practice compassion for the other person. This way, you’re setting an example for how the conflict should be resolved in the community. Because your services are closely tied to the way the entire association operates, this is no small consideration.
6. Put safety first
For every decision HOA managers make related to their duties, they should make sure to put the safety of the residents first. The community should always feel secure for residents, and if you make it clear that this is the main priority in implementing any rule or guideline, disputes will likely not get as heated.
7. Respond to requests quickly
Another way to keep residents happy is to respond quickly to any repair or maintenance requests and to take care of any issues right away. Show them you are taking their concerns seriously by actually treating them seriously.
One of the biggest points of contention between management companies and residents is the speed at which maintenance or repairs occur, so stay on top of these important responsibilities and conflict will likely diminish.VendorSmart connects vendors with community managers in a web-based marketplace that’s comprehensive and easy to use. Get in touch with us today to find help in vetting vendors.