5 Reasons to be Proactive with the Communities you Manage
If you’re familiar with the show Parks and Recreation, you’re probably well aware of the famous character Leslie Knope, who served as the deputy director of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department. Leslie’s character not only exemplified the idea of being proactive but exceeded in proactively preparing her team with her famous “Knope-books” aka binders. Her “Knope-books” were her way of communicating information, creating awareness, keeping teams organized, and most importantly, planning ahead — being proactive.
Proactive Tips for the Communities you Manage
Have you ever noticed that when your workday runs smoothly, you rarely notice what you do throughout the day? But the moment a situation occurs, all chaos breaks loose — people become stressed, unorganized, and maybe even a little resistant to take the lead. The critical question is “why?” To better answer this question, let’s look at five reasons being proactive is essential to the communities you manage.
1. Decreasing negative and reactive behaviors
- HOA meeting - Take, for example, preparing for your community’s HOA annual meeting. As a property manager, you should prepare any significant updates that are essential for the community to know, especially when it comes to your board of directors. You may find yourself having to announce budget cuts or setbacks in this year's holiday festival. To decrease any potential negative reactive behaviors, be prepared to present a thorough breakdown of the community's expenses or any additional reasons why the setback occurred. Prepare a list of answers and questions in case confrontation were to happen. Allow members to tune in and provide constructive feedback. The keyword to being proactive is to “prepare.”
- Hazardous weather - Being proactive is critical for communities that live in climates that experience dangerous weather conditions such as hurricanes or tornadoes. A community must be well informed on preparing and handling situations such as these before the storm occurs. This is where property managers can utilize software tools such as a community website or virtual protocols to reference safety and preventive guidelines.
2. Proactive Behaviors
If you’re going to be proactive, you must surround yourself with people who have the same mentality. There’s nothing worse than being held back by something or someone. As a property manager, you're driven to fix things! Waiting is your worst enemy, especially when managing large teams or communities. If there were a game called “lead by example,” you would win it every time.
Proactive behaviors - When you exercise proactive behaviors, you create a persona of trust. People feel safe, transparent, and obligated to do their part in helping others reach their goals.
- Set the right positive attitude
- Provide a positive and energetic environment
- Be true to your word
- Provide a visual plan-of-action
- Always prepare ahead
- Be on time
3. Risking lawsuits
This reason could not be farther from the truth. For legal risks, being proactive is critical to any HOA community. Imagine if your HOA’s common area had a fire and began to cause significant construction damage to neighboring homes. If there wasn’t a legal plan-of-action set in place, let’s just say you wouldn’t be going home with a gold sticker at the end of the day. Here are just a few examples of common HOA lawsuits that can occur from lacking proactive management:
- Unmaintained common areas
- Upkeep failures
- Pursuing violations
- Property rights
- Changing HOA Rules and Regulations
4. Avoid maintenance and building catastrophes
I’m sure we can all agree that dealing with HOA maintenance issues is no walk in the park — primarily when you work as the middle-man between your property management company and your HOA board of directors.
- Conduct regular maintenance checks and property inspections - Communities should proactively inspect for repairs weekly or bi-weekly. Depending on the type of property, some inspections may need to be conducted more thoroughly, especially if an older building is prone to needing additional maintenance.
- Preventative building maintenance - As a property manager of a condominium, an essential part of being proactive in ensuring the safety of your community — including understanding your condo structural integrity.
- The Surfside, Florida incident - On June 24, 2021, a 12-story condo tower crumbled to the ground during a partial collapse of the building. Although “there is still no official cause of the partial building collapse,” members of the board and HOA community have raised concerns about what happened and why. While disasters like that in Surfside are infrequent, association leaders can benefit from making building maintenance a priority in their community.
Taking proactive measures is an essential part of maintaining the safety of your residents.
- HOA property managers should thoroughly understand the applicable ordinances to ensure their community is fully prepared.
- Hire experts skilled in understanding the building's structure and need for maintenance and structural repair.
- An HOA community should always have a current record of the provider's insurance on hand.
- Consider reserve studies to help determine which components are imminently close to the end of their useful life and which ones will need repairs.
- Plan procedures and protocols on ways to help prevent high-risk scenarios. Communities can also offer applications and software such as the TownSq request feature to report high-risk building concerns and maintenance requests. Software such as TownSq assists in being proactive and allows the community to record all incidents for future reference.
5. Proactive communication
Communication is essential to being proactive. Proactive communication means managing a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it occurs. A large part of this term relates to anticipating issues, providing clear transparency, and most importantly, solving problems before they arise.
Communication leads to transparency, which then allows your community to self-serve. The purpose of proactive communication is to ensure a positive environment, build relationships, and deliver objectives.
- When tensions are high - Confrontation and anxiety can be brutal for some. When pressures are high, proactive communication can sometimes go out the door. By utilizing proactive communication, a manager can communicate the necessary steps to handle the situation. Property managers and management companies can help prevent this by simply providing answers and clarity, especially when solving problems.
- Build a proactive communication plan - An advantage of having a proactive communication plan is to increase community engagement. For example, when leading an HOA board meeting, consider the following as your proactive communication plan.
- Allow members to ask questions and raise concerns.
- Give status updates and insights on the current projects…
- Establish loyalty and trust by promptly addressing issues (regardless of how small or large) instead of putting them aside.