Utilizing these proven strategies makes this challenging job far more manageable
- Community managers are responsible for many jobs within an HOA
- Every day comes with unique challenges
- Having a plan and following some basic strategies makes the role easier
- Hiring outside vendors is sometimes necessary
A community manager is responsible for numerous tasks within an HOA or COA. These individuals must, among other things, enforce rules, manage conflicts, oversee property maintenance, file tax returns, manage insurance, create a budget, and help with the community’s financial management.
The job can be overwhelming because it’s a dynamic environment that changes daily. Some aspects of overseeing an HOA can quickly get out of hand, too, especially if you aren’t on top of them from the start.
Fortunately, you can break the job down into smaller tasks and develop a plan to keep yourself organized. Following a few suggestions can also help you manage the community’s day-to-day operations. Here are seven helpful tips for effective community association management.
1. Resolve conflicts immediately
Just like in any other neighborhood, residents in your community won’t always get along. And when conflicts arise in the communities you manage, you have to diffuse the situation as quickly as possible.
The HOA board will eventually intervene in arguments involving HOA issues such as parking, property boundaries, and the use of common spaces. This intervention will take time, however, and the conflict could escalate before the board has a chance to thoroughly examine the issue.
As a community manager, you’ll want to speak with both parties and attempt to work out these differences before they escalate. Creating a conflict management plan is advisable because it provides clear steps to take when there’s a disagreement within the community.
2. Enforce rules and regulations
Problems can rapidly arise in an HOA community if you don’t enforce your rules and regulations or choose to implement them selectively. Understanding the community’s rules is essential because it ensures that you’re treating everyone fairly and that all residents know what is expected of them.
Reinforcing community policies can also help when disputes arise among neighbors. You might have to issue fines for issues like noise violations that disrupt the entire community, or you run the risk of creating homeowner conflict or general dissatisfaction among residents.
3. Communicate with residents
Communication is vital because it helps every resident feel included in the community’s decisions. Your preferred communication method is a personal decision, but many managers choose to send out emails or newsletters with updates and important information that every resident should know.
You can also use social media, text messaging, written letters, or any other communication method you and your residents are comfortable with. Remember that some residents might not have much experience with social media or other technology, so providing several communication options might be necessary.
Communication should be a two-way street, as well. Listen to residents’ comments and concerns because they’re the ones living in the community and probably have an idea of where improvements are needed.
4. Create a reserve fund
You’ll collect HOA fees from residents throughout the year for maintenance and other expenses that arise. While it might be tempting to use excess funds for a fun event like a year-end party, creating a reserve fund is often a better strategy.
Maintaining a reserve fund can reduce resident expenses when a significant cost arises. For instance, when the time comes to replace all the windows in the community, it will cost homeowners a lot of money. The reserve fund can offset some of those expenses, reducing the burden on each individual.
Generally, your reserve fund should be about 30% of your total maintenance fees. You’ll also want to complete a reserve study every few years to ensure the amount that you have put away is sufficient.
5. Focus on security
People should feel safe when spending time at home, and community association management should help create a secure environment. Regularly checking and monitoring your security measures to ensure they’re working is a critical part of a community manager’s job. Speaking with residents about how they feel regarding safety and security can help you determine whether improvements might be necessary.
Many communities benefit from having a security guard on-site at all times. This individual acts as a deterrent by ensuring that someone is always watching the community and can contact the authorities if anything looks suspicious. This security officer can also help enforce community rules.
6. Maintain the community
Residents rely on you to keep the community in excellent condition, so make sure you’re holding up your end of the bargain. Maintaining all common areas and completing necessary repairs promptly ensures the entire community looks great and is safe.
You might also have to schedule repairs to individual units and hire contractors to complete jobs like maintenance, security, and landscaping. Staying on top of these tasks is one of the most important things a community manager can do.
7. Hire the right vendors
Of course, you don’t want to hire just anyone to work in your community, so seeking reputable, vetted vendors is essential. By doing some research, you can track down contractors with experience working at a managed property who understand how to work within your busy schedule. They’ll also be aware of the unique working environment an HOA creates.
The vendors you select will become an extension of you because they’re completing jobs that are your responsibility. Therefore, you must be extremely careful with your hires because the success of your community could depend on it.
Creating a community association management plan
Your community manager plan will keep you organized and ensure you’re doing everything possible to make residents happy. You can also use technology to your advantage through vendor sourcing and vetting software.
VendorSmart offers a platform that puts you in touch with local vendors to work within your community association. We also vet these vendors for compliance, reducing your risk as you make these critical hires. Contact VendorSmart to learn more about this software.