Last modified on December 18th, 2023
By Brittany Benz
It can be hard to keep up with the prevailing winds of the community association management industry. 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 tight labor market.
Below, we detail some of the emerging trends we’re seeing in association management and provide practical tips to stay ahead.
1.) Demand for COAs and HOAs is expected to rise
According to projections from the Foundation for Community Association Research, 2023 will bring modest growth, with the number of community associations increasing by 5,000 this year. However, even with condominium owners association (COA) and homeowners association (HOA) growth on the horizon, you still need ways to appeal to new associations and gain an edge on the competition.
To start, make the best first online impression possible. Invest in essential digital marketing resources, including a modern and professionally designed website and active social media profiles, and pay close attention to your ratings and reviews.
In addition, be sure to showcase services that meet customers’ shifting needs and expectations, such as online architectural reviews, mobile violation tracking, online payments, and self-service tools that can help you stand out from the crowd.
2.) Unexpected expenses erode budgets and impact buying power
Although high inflation rates and the rising costs of doing business have been ongoing challenges, both have hit community association budgets hard in 2023 by creating unexpected and unavoidable expenses. In fact, an overwhelming 91% of community associations say they’re seeing unexpected expenses due to rising costs and inflation. While cutting budgets may seem like the next best step, it’s actually not the safest or most effective approach, especially when considering that 40% of associations plan to defer maintenance as their main method of controlling costs. Instead, operational efficiency is key to both short- and long-term success. By streamlining workflows, creating standardized processes, and automating time-consuming and tedious tasks, associations can spend more time focusing on what matters — without cutting critical costs.
3.) Attracting top talent requires shifting recruitment strategies
The U.S. labor market will continue to remain tight in 2023, which means businesses will still struggle to fill open positions. According to a report by the Foundation for Community Association Research, 97% of association management executives and hiring associates believe there is already a shortage of community managers. At the same time, 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 strong skills. Implementing effective hiring and retention strategies and adopting digital tools that make your employees’ jobs easier can give your company a competitive edge. After all, no one wants to spend time on busywork that could be efficiently streamlined and automated with modern association management software.
In addition, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has found that businesses across all industries have shifted their approach to offer more of what employees seek, but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for attracting and retaining top talent. Ultimately, any recruitment and hiring shifts you make should be in line with what potential employees expect.
4.) Cybersecurity has become a priority
AppFolio’s Association Management Industry Pulse revealed enhancing cybersecurity and strengthening data security are among association management businesses’ top challenges and priorities.
Hackers commonly target HOAs because they hold private documents and information about members, and cybersecurity thieves are becoming more sophisticated in their efforts to access sensitive data. 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 employees
- Weak passwords
With data breaches and cybersecurity attacks affecting every industry today, boards and homeowners need to know they can trust you with their data. In the end, you need technology that keeps your data safe, communication with homeowners on how their data is used and stored, and cybersecurity training and updates for your teams.
5.) Increasing need for disaster preparedness
As global temperatures rise, so does the risk of ever-increasing natural disasters: Today’s headlines are already rife with unprecedented wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and storms. Management companies must revamp their emergency response protocols (ERPs) and disaster relief plans as soon as possible.
Start by identifying all potential threats to your community, which unfortunately may include situations such as bomb threats and active shooter scenarios. In addition, because the board is responsible for constructing ERPs that minimize damage to life and property, you’ll need a disaster relief plan that also outlines how to repair destruction and assist displaced residents following an emergency.
Once the plan is constructed, communicate it to community members so they know how and when to implement it. Never underestimate that 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.
6.) Greater focus on maintenance safety
Due to aging infrastructure, there has been a greater focus on maintenance safety and reserve funding. Community associations have renewed motivation to ensure their buildings are well-maintained and up to code. If you find your organization 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 central parts of maintenance and safety. As an association management company, you are responsible for daily operations, common areas, and unexpected 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.
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Help your communities and your business by staying on top of these emerging trends. Download our free guide below for more ways to level up your association management company.