Last modified on April 1st, 2021
By Brittany Benz
How have you been keeping your homeowners in the loop this past year? Clear and consistent communication is critical when it comes to the safety of your community and your homeowners’ satisfaction. However, many association management companies are falling behind. According to an AppFolio survey, 40% of homeowners said their management companies were unresponsive, and 50% of homeowners believed their boards were unresponsive. These numbers are alarmingly high, especially given the fact that the data was collected prior to the pandemic. If you’re still relying on outdated methods of communication, then it will be harder for your business to survive, especially since going forward many will continue to prefer digital communication methods.
Read on to discover some simple ways you can strengthen communications with your homeowners today and in the future.
5 Ways to Bolster Communications with Homeowners
1.) Send Updates & Reminders via Text Message
Today’s homeowners expect to be informed about their association quickly and easily right from their phone. Whether it’s an update about a closed amenity or a reminder to pay their association dues — they want this information without having to call or visit the office in-person.
The most effective way to facilitate these kinds of updates and reminders is by sending a text message. By implementing a modern association management solution that has texting capabilities directly built into an online portal, you can keep all of your residents informed around the clock with just a few taps.
2.) Offer Ways to Self-Serve
In addition to receiving updates and reminders, homeowners also prefer to complete tasks from their phones on their own. While it may seem irrelevant to communication, self-service tools, like an online portal with online payments and architectural requests, actually plays a large role in transparency, since it removes the friction homeowners face when trying to communicate with their management company.
Self-service tools also increase homeowners’ satisfaction because they enable them to get work done faster and to quickly check on the status of their request. The benefits also extend to your team in that they cut back on the number of one-off phone calls and emails they have to answer, so they can focus on communicating better with homeowners to provide critical service.
One association management business in particular, Pelican Property Management, has noticed a big increase in online portal adoption from homeowners since the beginning of the pandemic. They predict now that so many homeowners are using and enjoying the self-service tools within the portal, that they will never go back to manually calling in for information or paying dues in-person.
3.) Take Association Meetings Virtual
In response to COVID-19, many association management companies switched to virtual board meetings in order to stay safe and connected. While this change may have been challenging initially, now it’s proving to have many advantages.
Previously, homeowners who simply didn’t have the time to participate are now able to join from anywhere. By moving to virtual meetings you can give your homeowners more flexibility, while also enhancing engagement and communication.
4.) Gather Feedback Digitally
Effective communication is a two-way street, which means you should be offering homeowners ways to provide feedback easily and often. Try polling your homeowners every month using a digital survey platform, like Survey Monkey to ask for their input on what they think your management company does well and where they see room for improvement.
When homeowners feel you care about their opinions and take their feedback seriously they will be more satisfied and trust your business. Once you gather their feedback, be sure to follow up in a timely manner with updates on how and what you are doing to address their concerns.
5.) Automate Mailings
Not all communications can be conducted digitally in your community association, and there are times when you must send physical mailings based on the governing documents or other legal requirements your association has in place. However, manually printing, stuffing, and mailing envelopes can lead to human error and also takes more of your team’s time.
You can increase efficiency by utilizing a comprehensive management software with a built-in mailing service that automates the process. For instance, with AppFolio’s Mailing Service you can send a variety of document types in bulk or individually with the click of a button. All you have to do is preview and approve the mail and AppFolio handles the rest. This makes sending infrequent communications that must be mailed much easier and ensures your residents never miss an important update.
Lynn Calkins of Teleos Management Group says automating her mailings has simplified what usually would be an incredibly tedious process and freed up her team to focus on what matters most, “This is a simple and easy process, basically what I already do, but without running my own printer and envelopes.”
If there’s anything this past year has taught us, it’s this: in a crisis situation you need to be able to quickly and easily communicate with your homeowners. While you may already have had to shift to using digital technologies to facilitate communications, you can still benefit from further streamlining your processes and implementing a comprehensive technology solution. To learn more about how you can streamline communications using technology, check out this expert guide.