As the entire housing market continues to bounce back from the COVID pandemic, and as HOA’s look to outsource for help and assistance, it behooves all property management companies to learn and improve their skills and capabilities wherever possible. In turn, management companies should be looking to gain an increased sense of reliance and trust on behalf of the associations and communities they help manage.
However, it’s essential to define what reliance means in this context. Reliance, for property management companies, should entail a certain level of dependability for not only problem-solving HOA disputes and issues, immaculate record-keeping for the HOA’s they oversee or enforcing the rules and regulations of the HOA, but to also be forward-thinking in their approach to management. The reliance of a management company is measured by its ability to remain consistent in some regards and adapt to the times in other regards when appropriate.
Improving this type of reliance in your management company doesn’t have to be much more complicated than the above summary. However, we’ve provided five simple actions you and your management company can begin implementing immediately that can definitively improve your relationships with the communities you manage, as well as grow your business out of those improved skills:
You don’t even have to be in the property management business to understand the value of a step like this. The reason customers, clients, or anyone a company provides service begins to stop relying on that company is when they feel as though their needs are neither being heard nor met. In terms of assisting HOA’s and providing service to homeowners who need to know exactly how to follow HOA guidelines or how to pay their fees on time, these types of gaps in customer service can’t happen.
Improving customer service means improving how your management company listens to clients, be it the HOA board or residents, wants and needs, and learning how to provide those needs to them quickly and efficiently so that boards know the management company they hire consistently offers services rapidly. In that case, their reliance on that company can only increase and may even lead to more HOA tasks being handed over to them.
Just as it’s easy to imagine why HOA’s may lose faith in a management company that can’t provide good, front-facing customer service, it’s just as easy to see why inconsistent record-keeping and documentation services offered by property managers can harm their relationship with the HOA’s that they work with. The communities you work with, as a management company, need to be able to trust you with their documentation, whether that be the rules and regulations of the communities and how they’re accounting for information of the homeowners within the HOA. Unorganized methods for keeping records and slow and sloppy retrieval of those records and documents when needed are recipes for disaster in terms of an HOA gradually realizing that it might need to find another management company to work with.
Even if your management company feels confident in its capabilities to provide secure records and documentation for the HOA’s on your client list, checkups and audits into these procedures can offer you the opportunity to address any holes or gaps in the process you may not have even been aware of.
Are your communications systems and portals up to date? Is your management company using the newest possible accounting software to manage HOA fees and dues? Does your management company provide an HOA violation tracking service in place for HOA boards to have access to? These are the questions that management companies looking to improve the reliance an HOA has on them should be asking themselves whenever they feel like there's room for the business to grow.
Now more than ever, technology is providing management companies with opportunities to streamline and improve the efficiency of the entire community process, from maintenance and vendor requests to billing and accounting services to apps like TownSq that allow for whole communities to remain in better communication with each other from the top down. It’s within these technological advances and investing in these products that management companies can find ways to improve the HOA’s they rely on to carry out small and large-scale tasks. In this case, without increased technological tools, it’s almost even past the point of reliance and quite close to the point of remaining relevant at all as a management company.
Your ability to maintain HOA clients as a management company isn’t just about how you're able to keep the already established systems in place, but also how your company plans to both grow itself and how it intends to help the HOA’s you manage to grow along with it. In other words, to improve reliance on your management company, the communities you operate need to feel like your company has a plan for the future.
If COVID taught us anything, it’s that the future can be very unpredictable, and if you aren’t a proactive business able to have a plan in place to adapt to the times, whatever they may be, you become much harder to rely on in the present. Management companies need to consistently articulate to their HOA clients how they feel those HOA’s can improve and how the company itself feels like it can improve in the services it provides. This creates both a level of self-efficacy for the management company and a sense of confidence on behalf of the HOA’s that your management firm is always looking for ways to improve the function and efficiency of the manager-client relationship.
A relatively simple step to finish, but essential nonetheless, is to ensure HOA’s know what to expect from your management company when hiring you. Reliance is built on the notion that a certain level of expectations can always be met regarding the quality and efficiency of your management company’s services. Setting those expectations and subsequently meeting them without fail will ultimately increase the trust and reliance HOA’s will have in how your company can assist them daily.