Last modified on July 25th, 2022
By Brittany Benz
It can be hard to keep up with the prevailing winds of the community association management industry. So much has changed over the past few years, from how teams operate in a remote world to how businesses attract and retain talent in an increasingly difficult labor market. Below, we detail some of the emerging trends we’re seeing in association management and provide practical tips for adapting your strategies to stay ahead.
1.) Cybersecurity has become paramount
The importance of cybersecurity has grown across all industries, particularly association management. Hackers have been targeting homeowners’ associations (HOAs) because they hold private documents and information about members, which can be sold or held for ransom. In the past, HOAs tended to have lax cybersecurity, which made them more vulnerable to data breaches and cyber-attacks. As a result, management companies have started placing more and more emphasis on data security in recent years.
Some common risk factors for data breaches include the following:
- Outdated software
- Dispersed systems
- Improper security configuration
- Complex access permissions
- Unencrypted data
- Uneducated staff
- Weak passwords
Boards and homeowners need to know they can trust you with their data. They have heard stories of corruption and mismanagement within property management companies and want greater transparency regarding data security and privacy. How is their data protected? Who has access? In the end, you need technology that keeps your data safe, but it’s also vital that you communicate with your homeowners about how their data is used and stored.
2.) Staffing headwinds are creating new challenges
Businesses are struggling to fill open positions, and workers are getting burnt out. According to a report by the Foundation for Community Association Research, 97% of association management executives and hiring associates believe there is a shortage of community managers. Likewise, 43% of community association management professionals are thinking about leaving their company or industry in the next 12 months.
Now more than ever, you need to meet the needs of today’s workforce if you want top-notch employees with a strong skills base. But posting jobs, interviewing, hiring, onboarding, and training all take time and resources. Implementing effective hiring and retention strategies and adopting digital tools that make your employees’ jobs easier can give your company a competitive edge. No one wants to spend time on busy work that you could streamline with automated workflows. Utilizing modern association management software is a vital part of improving employee satisfaction and retention.
3.) Greater focus on maintenance safety
Due to aging infrastructure, there’s been a larger focus on maintenance safety and reserve funding. Condo owners’ associations (COAs) have renewed motivation to ensure their buildings are well-maintained and up to code. If you find yourself in a code violation, work with the inspector to develop a plan for immediate action. There’s no room for inaction where building safety is concerned.
Overlooking routine upkeep is a recipe for disaster. HOAs are at risk of lawsuits and code violations if they fail to properly maintain the building. For example, a guest or community member could sue over an injury caused by neglected repairs. Likewise, putting off maintenance makes repairs more expensive down the road.
Budgeting and planning are a central part of maintenance and safety. As an association management company, you are responsible for daily operations, common areas, and surprise expenses. Be sure to prioritize routine maintenance and annual inspections as part of your operations costs, and save your reserve funding for emergency repairs and major renovations.
4.) Increasing need for disaster preparedness
As global temperatures rise, so does the risk of ever-increasing natural disasters. The headlines are rife with unprecedented wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and storms. In turn, management companies must revamp the emergency response protocols (ERPs) and disaster relief plans for their communities.
Updating disaster plans means taking time to identify potential threats to your community. Sadly, this may include having a plan for bomb threats and active shooter scenarios. In addition, the board is responsible for constructing ERPs that minimize damage to life and property. Likewise, you need a disaster relief plan that outlines how to repair destruction and assist displaced residents following a disaster.
The most critical part of disaster preparedness is communication. Community members need to know the plan and how to implement it. In this case, good communication is the difference between life and death. One of the best ways to build community-wide communication is through mobile communication tools such as text alerts, calls, and emails.
Preventative maintenance ensures safety in the event of a natural disaster. Keeping on top of repairs makes the entire community safer. Resilient buildings resist strong winds, earthquakes, fires, and floods. However, these features must be maintained, or they lose their effectiveness. For example, fire-resistant siding won’t be of much help if it falls off the building.
5.) Modest growth expected for COAs and HOAs
According to early data from the Foundation for Community Association Research, we expect to see modest growth with new COA and HOA developments increasing by 5,000 this year. Current homeowners tend to prefer COAs and HOAs. For example, many millennials purchase condos because they are more affordable than single-family homes.
You can better align your business model with these prevailing market trends by marketing your business to both associations and developers. With COA and HOA growth on the horizon, you need a way to appeal to new associations and get an edge on the competition. For example, having differentiated services like online architectural reviews, mobile violation tracking, and online payments can help you stand out from the crowd.
Help your communities by staying on top of these emerging trends. When you’re aware of the current state of the industry and the needs of your community, you can combat cyber threats, equip your team with the tools they need to succeed, and be ready for the future. To learn more about how the association management industry has shifted, listen to this podcast episode.
Comments by Brittany Benz