Last modified on February 6th, 2020
By Elizabeth Millar
As a community association manager, you must do your job to the best of your ability, but how do you compete when other management companies are trying to lure your associations away from you, especially when they are offering a lower rate?
It’s hard to blame the community associations – the board members are trying to do what’s best for the community, and often it comes down to the bottom dollar. That’s why it’s vital to ensure that your associations understand the value your management company brings that goes beyond the cost savings they might get elsewhere so that you can retain their business for the long-run. Here are four tips to help them see your value and ensure you are creating customers for life:
1. Build and Foster Partnerships
Framing your customer relationships as partnerships and communicating it to your boards can help everyone feel heard and put people in a more positive mindset that everyone is in it for the same end goal: to make the communities great places to live.
But it’s more than just saying the words. It needs to be a mantra of your business that flows from the top down. Start with treating everyone with kindness and respect while making it clear that your team deserves the same in return. If you currently have a contentious relationship with an association, perhaps you can kick off the next board meeting with a conversation about working toward a partnership to build the team mentality, and with each interaction, keep fostering the relationship. Some associations may be easier to transform than others, but at the end of the day, when everyone is working toward a shared goal, things will get done faster, and that’s what everyone wants.
You may be wondering, what does that really mean? Celebrating can be big or small. Some ideas are:
- Association Appreciation Party – every year around the same time as the association’s partnership/relationship anniversary, you can organize an appreciation party. To cut down on costs, it can be potluck style where you supply something special.
- Grand Openings – when new amenities are added, or renovations to the common areas are completed, pump up the community with a grand opening mixer.
- Small Wins – use a few moments in board meetings to call out the help of board members and homeowners in the completion of various projects. Even things like the resolution of plumbing issues or sidewalk cracks take up valuable time and deserve some recognition. You may want to give homeowners a shoutout for going violation-free for an entire year.
Celebrating is a way to get people together, let their guard down, and remind us all that we’re all just people trying to do our best for the community, whether we’re in the management company, on the board, or a homeowner. It’s a lever to strengthen relationships and build on the idea that we’re all in it together.
3. Engage Homeowners
A great way to demonstrate the value you provide is to engage homeowners. In our 2019 Homeowner Survey, we found that 57% of homeowners believe their management company adds value, showing there is great opportunity and room for improvement. While you may spend most of your time directly engaging with the board, it’s important to have a relationship with homeowners. Make sure they’re aware of who you are and what your role is in maintaining and improving their communities. Of course, the key to this is making sure they show up to the meetings, so start bringing goodies to board meetings. Advertise it in the notices that you send out that “Refreshments will be served.” You’d be surprised how far cookies and coffee will go in getting people in and sticking around. Make it an inviting place for homeowners, even though they aren’t necessarily participating for the most part.
This can also lead to homeowners becoming interested in running for the board and changing up the leadership that can often remain the same for years on end.
Don’t forget about properly welcoming new homeowners into the fold. I’ve heard stories about homeowners that buy into a community association, but don’t fully understand what it entails besides the fact that they have to pay dues. As new homeowners come in, set aside some time to give them a call and walk them through your role, the roles of anyone else from your company who they may interact with, the basic community rules — perhaps they are strict on landscaping, parking, or trash bin placement — it’s also an excellent opportunity to let them know how the board works.
4. Make it Easy
Everything should be easy, and this is where technology will be your best friend. Everything that board members and homeowners do for their community should not feel like work. It should be done with the ease of their mobile device that they’re already connected to for so many other aspects of their life. From a seamless homeowner experience to pay dues and assessments from their phone and check the status of their architectural reviews to board members approving invoices and communicating with one another, your software can do the heavy-lifting to make it easy for you and your associations. Look for modern community association management software that offers self-service options and mobility for your associations, along with robust accounting and all the tools you need to do your job.
If you’re going above and beyond for your associations, you’re building the case for the value that your company brings to the table. When your associations know that you’re not just doing a job, but partnering with them for the long run, your chances of keeping their business increase as well as the word of mouth and the high-value reputation you’ve built. Now is the time to make your value shine through to your current and future associations.