Efficiently communicating with the HOA board can reduce stress and ease tensions in the community.
- HOA board members represent the community.
- Community managers will need to communicate directly with the board.
- Developing a clear communication strategy creates an amicable environment.
- Residents will be happier if they feel included in decisions.
Community managers have a significant workload, as they’re responsible for enforcing community rules, caring for common areas, managing contracts, and hiring contractors. They also converse with board members to establish a direction for the community and allocate the funds necessary for its management.
The homeowner association (HOA) board and community manager must work together to form a harmonious environment, which relies heavily on communication. Without this communication, disagreements about rules and use of funds can arise and create additional stress.
However, since board members are homeowners who volunteer their time to sit on the board, they might not understand how your day-to-day operations work. This lack of knowledge could drive conflict as you allocate funds and select certified vendors to maintain the community.
Board communication is essential, but it can be challenging for some community managers. Here are six tips community managers can use to improve their communication with an HOA board.
1) Plan what you’re going to say
Always have a list of topics you’d like to discuss with the board of directors before meeting with them. This list makes it less likely you’ll forget to go over a crucial topic in the moment.
It’s also wise to write down the board’s response to the topics you discuss during the meeting, so you can go back and consult your notes when making future decisions. Board members might also have ideas you’ll need to consider before getting back to them, since some requests might require you to speak with local vendors to determine what’s possible.
2) Meet face-to-face
Meeting face-to-face makes communication far more manageable. These meetings allow you to see who’s talking, read body language, and discuss ideas as a group.
Of course, you can still talk to board members via email and on the phone but holding official face-to-face meetings at scheduled times creates clear expectations for communication. These expectations help establish timelines for decisions as well.
You might speak with board members in person at various other times outside of these meetings, but all official requests should wait for face-to-face gatherings. That way, you can take notes and have other board members in the room while discussing ideas.
3) Make decisions in person
You’ll eventually have to decide on things like community rules, the appropriation of funds, and which vendors to use for a particular job. Making and explaining these decisions in person allows for further dialogue and ensures board members feel like they’re part of the decision-making process.
Alternatively, making the decision on your own and sending out a mass email to the board or community members can produce distrust, especially if they feel the issue should still be up for discussion. Great communication relies on building trust, and the open dialogue this tip creates goes a long way toward establishing it.
4) Be patient and objective
Dealing with an inexperienced HOA board can be a frustrating experience, but best practices suggest you should always stay patient and objective. The individuals sitting on the board live in the community and want what’s best for it. They just might not understand how much maintenance costs or why specific community rules are essential.
By patiently listening to board members’ concerns and staying objective throughout the process, you’ll make their voices feel heard. It’s then possible to explain why you’d like to use a particular vendor and who benefits from these community rules without resorting to yelling or anger. Not every HOA board has these issues but learning to remain calm when facing these situations is advantageous to your business.
5) Continue communicating between meetings
Although doing the bulk of your essential communication in person is advisable, providing updates and answering questions between meetings helps build a relationship with the board and the community you’re serving. For example, providing your email address makes it easy for residents to ask questions while allowing you to respond when you have time.
You might also consider using social media or newsletters to communicate essential updates to HOA board members and residents. You could make yourself available by phone but remember that you might receive frequent calls depending on the temperament of the people residing in the community.
6) Provide adequate documentation
Board members might want to see where the money is going and who will be working in the neighborhood. You should be prepared to provide this documentation before any meetings where you’ll be discussing decisions with the community.
For example, if you plan to bring in a contractor to maintain the community’s swimming pool, you’ll probably do your due diligence before making a hire. However, the HOA board might want to learn more about this contractor before anyone spends time on the property.
As a community manager, it’s your job to show the board the contractor was vetted for compliance and has the necessary certification to handle the job. The board might trust your decision-making as time passes but having this documentation available ensures you don’t run into any snags.
Locating vendors the community can trust
Perhaps the most straightforward way to source and vet vendors for compliance is through an online marketplace that provides real-time risk monitoring and proposal comparisons. These services ensure any vendor you hire has a certificate of liability insurance, business licensing, and workers’ compensation documents before beginning the job, minimizing your community’s exposure.
VendorSmart is a platform that helps community members source reliable and qualified vendors while automatically vetting them for compliance. This service also allows you to compare proposals online and show this information to board members if they ever request it.
Visit the VendorSmart website today to request a demo. You can also contact us with questions about how our revolutionary platform works.