As a community manager or board member, you’re just beginning to create a budget to plan expenses for the community next year. However, creating a budget that saves money for your community can be a challenging job. You have to take into account how to forecast expenses for utilities, insurance, vendors, reserves, maintenance, legal fees, and more. With many expenses to consider, how do you effectively save money on your HOA budget?
There are many ways to save on a community’s budget – energy efficiency, vendors, reserves planning, etc. However, a surprising and often understated way is to include HOA Software into your budget as a way to save money. Although HOA Software requires an investment in time and money, it can reduce the cost of many daily administrative tasks and unforeseen expenses. In this article, we’ll explore the five different areas where HOA software can help you save on your community’s budget.
Communicating with residents on a frequent basis is key to running a successful community. However, you need to send a wide variety of messages to residents. You frequently send messages about maintenance, events, payments, support requests, and emergencies. Mailing these letters in-house means that you are paying for paper, ink, envelopes, stamps, and employee labor. Depending on how many units are in the community and how frequently you communicate with residents, these mailing costs can chew up a significant amount of the budget. That’s where automated email comes in.
Automated email saves your community money
Email is a great way to save on your community’s budget. Let’s say that you manage a community of 100 units. You send notices to each unit three times a month. The community does all the mailing in-house. A staff member spends 2 hours to put the mailing together and they are paid $20/hour. Let’s break down the costs:
If you send 3 mailings to each unit per month (36 per year), the annual cost is $3,996. ($1.11/unit x 100 units x 36 notices = $3,996).
An HOA software with emailing features does the automating for you, so your community can save thousands of dollars each year. For example, Pilera’s email communication tool costs $0.05/unit/month. With Pilera, you’ll spend only $80.40 per year sending emails to a community with 100 units ($0.067 x 100 x 12). That means each community can save more than $3,800 on the budget. With Pilera’s fast and reliable communication platform, you can send any type of email notification for less than the cost of a stamp. Every email saves you money.
Online documents and electronic forms save even more
You also need to share important documents like CC&R’s and resident satisfaction surveys with your residents. Imagine printing lengthy CC&R documents every time a new resident joins the community. Mailing contact forms or resident satisfaction surveys are costly not only to the community but to your residents as well. An HOA software provides incredible cost savings for your community by storing an unlimited number of documents and organizing them so your residents can find what they need. You can also email the resident whenever you post a new document to keep them informed. When you send residents an electronic form to fill out, they will appreciate the ability to submit their responses online and not have to spend money on postage to mail the survey back.
Maintenance is an integral part of any community’s operations; however, communities often encounter unexpected costs. A community may end up spending thousands of dollars if equipment breaks unexpectedly. To keep residents safe and the equipment functioning, it’s essential that the community conducts preventative maintenance on a regular basis. Preventative maintenance helps to identify issues with the unit or common area equipment before it becomes an emergency.
An HOA software provides you with the ability to create and assign work orders so you can quickly identify and fix issues. The software should also allow you to set and track work orders by priority and due dates. By tracking maintenance items on a regular basis, you’ll know how much to budget for repairs or replacements. In that way, the community lessens the risk of depleting its reserves fund. Your residents also won’t be surprised or disappointed with an expensive special assessment fee.
You also need a system that can easily adapt to emergency maintenance situations. Through Pilera’s work order system, you can post an alert directly in the ticket to instruct residents on what to do when there is an emergency. For example, you can direct residents to call the maintenance hotline instead of submitting a work order if their basement is flooding.
Have you ever taken a long phone call from a resident trying to find their payment balance? You didn’t expect the call to take hours long and so you ended up delaying an important project you were working on. This is a hidden cost that many managers face on a daily basis.
Promoting self-service within your communities is a great way for your residents to access essential community information on their own time. Residents can view documents, events, and past communications so they are informed. They can look up their financial balance and make a payment online. When residents are more informed and engaged, the community runs a lot smoother. You are more productive as a result. Instead of dealing with daily questions on payment balances, you can work toward improving the community experience for residents.
HOA software can also help free up the time it would otherwise take to manually perform tasks. These include sending messages, responding to customer support tickets, streamlining maintenance, and more.
Collecting and processing HOA dues is another challenge that many communities face. Communities often have to set aside a budget to account for homeowner delinquency. How HOA Software helps is that it brings more predictability into the community’s budget. A resident portal provides residents with an easy way to make their payments online. This is a faster, more convenient way for the community to collect dues. No more delayed or lost mail.
Another hidden cost of managing communities is processing checks that residents mail in for their dues. With the ease and convenience of online payments, managers or the board treasurer can save a trip to the bank, cutting down administrative costs.
With Pilera’s integration with Authorize.net and Paylease, residents can pay their HOA dues online, hassle-free.
Hiring the right vendor is critical to keeping residents safe and improving property values. To save the association money, board members might be tempted to hire a vendor who presents a lower bid. However, if the vendor is not insured and an employee or resident is injured on the property, the HOA can face legal issues. Additionally, if an employee of the contractor files for workers’ compensation, it could come at the cost of the residents. It is worth more to the association in the long run to hire a vendor who is insured.
Your HOA software should allow you to track vendor contact information, license expiration dates, and your rating of their service. Keeping track of vendor license expirations ensures that you are not sending a vendor who is uninsured to perform work on a property. In Pilera, managers and board members can track each vendor’s license expirations and receive automated notifications so they are informed.
Software – A unique way to save on your HOA budget
When identifying ways to save on your community’s budget, many consider technology to be an added cost. However, there are surprising ways in which the right technology can actually help your community save money as you budget for the next year. When considering new HOA software, ask the following questions:
- Communications – Can you automate sending emails to the community? How much more will automated communication save the community compared to manually mailing out notices? As a bonus, think about how you can save money for the residents too.
- Maintenance – Can you create and assign work orders, set priority and due dates, and track progress so nothing falls through the cracks?
- Administrative Tasks – How can the software save time, rather than spending more time? Can residents easily access important information on their own, so managers can save time?
- HOA Dues Payments – Does the software automate online payments so delinquency is reduced and managers don’t have to manually process checks?
- Vendor Services – Does the vendor management solution allow you to keep track of key information like license expiration notifications?
With the right technology, communities can save money on next year’s budget by reducing mailing expenses, emergency maintenance costs, and hidden administrative costs. Pilera’s HOA software solution has helped thousands of communities save money by automating many community tasks, increasing efficiency, and keeping residents informed. If you’d like to learn how Pilera can work for you, contact us at [email protected]