Pilera Founder & CEO Ashish Patel interviewed Karl Kuegler, Director of Community Association Services, at Imagineers Property Management to learn how they managed the 19-month process of rebuilding after the Stonewood Condominium fire.

Watch Video: Pilera & Imagineers Interview


[00:00:00] Ashish Patel: Hello, I\’m Ashish Patel, the CEO of Pilera Software. Today we are gonna be talking with Karl Kuegler from Imagineers in Connecticut and how Pilera was useful to them during a fire incident in Stonewood Condominium in Norwalk, Connecticut. Thank you, Karl, for agreeing to meet with me. 

Karl Kuegler: Thank you, Ashish, for having me.

[00:00:32] Ashish Patel: Before we discuss the fire incident, I thought it would be useful to talk about Imagineers and your role at Imagineers.

[00:00:38] Karl Kuegler: Thank you, Ashish. I\’m the Director of Community Association Services for Imagineers. I\’ve been with the company now 29 years. Imagineers is a company that manages common interest communities.  We\’ve been doing it now for 41 years. We manage just under 200 communities, comprising just under 20,000 homes.

[00:00:59] Ashish Patel: Can you talk about how do you currently use Pilera? 

[00:01:02] Karl Kuegler: Yeah.  Pilera has been a great tool for us, not only in terms of placing and collecting work orders but it\’s also been invaluable to us in communicating with the residents of our communities.

[00:01:14] Ashish Patel: Great. And how were you doing that before Pilera? 

[00:01:17] Karl Kuegler: Prior to Pilera, we had another web portal that had, you know, some of the bells and whistles with the ability to post documents and everything like Pilera does. But we felt as though it wasn\’t as robust or easy to use in communication, through e-Blast and other means with our homeowners.  And, we were really looking for something that not only beefed up our ability to communicate but also is more robust in the placing and tracking of work orders that were being placed by the members of our communities.

[00:01:46] Ashish Patel: Okay. That\’s great to hear. Let\’s talk about the fire incident at the Stonewood Condominium.  Can you describe what happened?

[00:01:53] Karl Kuegler: Sure. About two weeks prior to Christmas, a fire happened at a condominium community, which was comprised of 54 units. All the units were in one building and unfortunately, the fire, which damaged a portion of the building, required a lot of water to be put on the building.  And in the end, all 54 units had to be rebuilt, either gutted and rebuilt, from the studs out or had collapsed and had to be rebuilt as a direct result of the flames of the fire. So all 54 units were displaced in the end for 19 months.  

[00:02:28] Ashish Patel: Wow. How did you find out about the fire?

[00:02:31] Karl Kuegler: We received a phone call.  We started receiving phone calls through our office, in our staff. And I know our lead person in our branch office reached out to me following protocols that we have, to let me know that we had a major fire in one of our communities.

[00:02:46] Ashish Patel: Can you describe how you used Pilera during the fire incident and in the few days afterward?

[00:02:50] Karl Kuegler: The night of the fire, we were able to meet with homeowners and to be able to collect and compare the information that we had in Pilera for email addresses and confirm it with each individual homeowner. And we were able to that night, then update their email address. Had it changed or there was an additional individual that wanted to be added, we were able to do that within Pilera and then that evening to be able to send a message.  

We ended up doing it from the comfort of my home instead of the scene, but we could have just as easily done it from the scene of the fire to be able to communicate through Pilera the following morning. We made sure by going into Pilera that the residents were receiving the message, and Pilera has great functionality, which enables you to go in and look at an announcement that went out and be able to tell if the email communication was received, if they opened it, or if they clicked on content. And that was invaluable. So if we had a couple of homeowners or residents that were not receiving the message, we were able to reach out to them through other means, by phone, to be able to make sure that we had the right information for them. 

In the days that followed, there was a lot of information that had to go out.  And what we didn\’t want to do is inundate them with one big long message, with multiple topics in it. So I remember that day directly after the fire, we had four individual messages that went out in Pilera.  There were very pointed messages that dealt with a particular topic, and one of the great features of Pilera is the ability to send out a document, and that was invaluable to us because there were certain portions of the governing documents pertaining to insurance or other documents that individual homeowners needed to receive that they could then share with their insurance agent or their attorney to be able to help them in those days, that followed the fire and coping with and responding to the items that they needed to handle themselves. 

[00:04:43] Ashish Patel: Can you walk us through the community\’s recovery and rebuilding process? 

[00:04:46] Karl Kuegler: Yes, and it was a long, drawn-out process. This was a $16 million claim.  Both elevators in the building had to be replaced. The entire building had to be gutted or rebuilt. So a lot went into this and it was a long period of time where the homeowners were not able to go into the building themselves due to safety and legal concerns. So communication with the homeowners was critical.

And at least monthly we would send out an update on what was happening in the building. We included photographs, but one of the other things that we did was we would give virtual tours where we would videotape a tour of the inside of the building to give the homeowners a first-hand view of what was going on in the building, something that they couldn\’t see by driving down the street where the community was located.  And what we would do is provide the link to the video within our Pilera message, and then homeowners were able to go there and see it. But it was also critical to us as we communicated with homeowners about their selection of interior finishes, working with the interior designer, and making sure that other documents that needed to be completed as part of this process were being provided to them.  And they knew what they needed to do to communicate with our staff to be able to help them and help with the rebuilding. 

[00:06:10] Ashish Patel: How important do you think Pilera was in your company\’s response in dealing with the situation?

[00:06:14] Karl Kuegler: It was very important, and it was a critical part of our response to the community. Had we not had Pilera, we would\’ve been at a real disadvantage.

We would\’ve been forced to mail out documents or create a distribution list, and hope that we could send out an email without too many recipients in the email. And the worry about bounce back emails or emails constantly changing and being able to or having to update that distribution list constantly knowing that Pilera, whenever a homeowner\’s email address changed that it automatically entered that email address into the distribution list was critical to us. There was so much going on. We could not spend time worrying about that. So it was critical to us. 

The fire when it first started, there were a lot of angry homeowners disappointed that this fire had occurred. It was a cigarette butt that had caused a fire, so there was a lot of anger that they were displaced, that they lost their home over something as foolish as an improperly disposed of cigarette. But through those 19 months and our ability to communicate and provide information to the homeowners, we ended that process with a community that was broken into a community 19 months later, that was cohesive again and back together, and we survived. And the association survived without a lawsuit. Everybody was satisfied and pleased and looking forward to be part of their home, and very few people left the community. During that 19 months, only a handful of units sold during that period of time.  Most people truly, genuinely wanted to return to their homes and Pilera played a big part in our ability to communicate and provide the homeowners with the information that they needed during that difficult time. 

[00:08:14] Ashish Patel: I know for this community you did not use texting and calls, but I believe that since then you started to use over texting and calling feature as well?

[00:08:21] Karl Kuegler:  Yes we do. We do have some communities that utilized the texting and calling feature, and they are equally important in how those communities communicate with their residents, especially when the timeliness of everything is so critically important. And the community that had the fire was a diverse community.  We did have a couple of residents that had different primary first languages so having that available to those homeowners, I\’m sure was important.

[00:08:51] Ashish Patel: Can you talk a little bit more about how you use Pilera overall now since that incident?

[00:08:58] Karl Kuegler: Pilera is so important to our day-to-day operation and how we communicate and service our clients. The ability to place a work order online. The ability for us to be able to give updates and messages on work orders is critically important and provides that update to the homeowner without any additional effort from our staff. We generate work order reports for our printed board packages that are not so often printed anymore, but PDF documents, where we provide an open and closed work order going back to the time the last board packet was created.  And it\’s extremely important for our board members to be able to see not only what is open for work orders, but also what\’s been completed since we last met with them. 

[00:09:50] Ashish Patel: Can you talk a little bit about what happens to a work order at Imagineers once the resident opens it? 

[00:09:56] Karl Kuegler: Yeah, I\’d be happy to.  And one of the things that we really like about Pilera is the ability within a community to have vendors listed that serve that particular community. So for example, placing a work order for a roof leak, the manager or the property assistant can simply go to the list and assign it to the roofing contractor that serves that particular community and have confidence that by them selecting and saving that work order, that an email will go out to that vendor directly without the need for the staff person to then remember to email and generate a pdf. It\’s done seamlessly and effortlessly by assigning that work order.

[00:10:39] Ashish Patel: Would you recommend Pilera?

[00:10:39] Karl Kuegler: Absolutely. I think Pilera brings a lot of value to communities, whether they\’re a standalone community, right up to management companies, both large and small. The ability to communicate by email, phone, and texting, is critically important in this day and age where messages need to be and are expected to be received.

[00:11:01] The ability to place, track, look at, and update work orders to a homeowner is a great tool that is expected more and more.  The ability to post documents and forms on the portal is critically important because the reality is homeowners are looking for this information, not just between eight to five when our office is open, but in the evening or when they\’re thinking about it on the weekends.  So to be able to look at those documents or go look at their account history or their account balance. And to be able to make payments is critically important. You know, there are a lot of tools that are out there that are affiliated or part of accounting software packages and all, but we have found that the communication tools that Pilera has, the ease of use.  It just keeps us staying with, Pilera as a tool, to able to communicate and serve our client communities.

[00:11:59] Ashish Patel: Thank you Karl for agreeing to meet with me. 

[00:12:01] Karl Kuegler: Thank you, Ashish, for having me.

About Pilera

As an established leader in property management communications for over 13 years, Pilera is dedicated to helping communities keep their residents informed through timely and relevant communications.  To learn how Pilera can help improve your community outreach, book a personalized demo or request a free trial.

HOA Newsletter

Do you want to establish a more complete communication channel with your community residents? If yes, the most effective tool for you to do this with a personal touch is creating an email newsletter.

But, creating an email newsletter is not as easy as it sounds. Board members and managers often find it intimidating and tedious to create an effective newsletter.

In this blog, we shall talk in detail about the importance of a newsletter, the do’s and don\’ts, and how you can create an impressive newsletter that every community resident would love to read! Therefore, make sure you scroll down to the end of this article to get all the information you need about creating an HOA newsletter!

Why is an HOA Newsletter important?

Homeowners constantly complain about the lack of transparency and communication between the board members and them. Now, an HOA newsletter cannot work as a replacement for official notices.

That said, HOA newsletters can foster engagement and include both casual and official information about the latest developments in the community. It provides residents with important information about what is happening and establishes a sense of community and trust in the HOA leaders.

When utilized effectively, newsletters can act as a tool for event scheduling, end any confusion and rumors, and establish a sense of unity among community members.

What should you include in an HOA Newsletter?

Before we jump straight to our unique tips about developing an HOA newsletter, let’s talk a little more about the details that should be included. Here are the basic elements of an HOA newsletter that you must include:


  • First and foremost, you need to decide on which date you will send out your newsletters. For example, you can send out your community newsletter weekly or monthly to create a sense of consistency.
  • You must include details such as – the date, the issue, etc., to help residents figure out which issue is the latest one.

Consistent Newsletter Structure

The next thing to consider is the newsletter’s layout to catch the attention of the reader. You’ll need to sketch out the sections you want to include and maintain the same structure throughout your monthly issues.

Target Audience Research

You must consider your target audience and what your residents want to read. For example, if your residents love to hear about the latest developmental updates in your society, then make it a point to include them in the newsletter. A survey can be a great way to find out what your residents want to read about.

Other Important Information

  • Relevant information about the latest official happenings in the community.
  • Any emergencies such as in the case of disasters, emergency water supply and power cuts, etc.
  • Any upcoming social events.
  • Dates for upcoming board meetings.
  • Decisions made in board meetings.
  • Any pending maintenance work or projects in the community.

Tips to Create an HOA Newsletter

Now that you understand the basics of an HOA Newsletter, we\’ll establish some best practices to help make your content shine.

  • To create an HOA newsletter that makes a difference, it is imperative to understand the demographics of your community and provide information that will strike a chord with your residents.
  • To ensure that your residents look forward to the monthly HOA newsletter, add content that will be highly valuable to your readers.
  • Furthermore, to establish trust in the HOA community leaders, clarify the HOA practices and rules through the newsletter.
  • Make a separate section in the newsletter dedicated to the current developments in the residential area. Ensure that this section is filled with relevant images that catch the reader\’s attention.
  • Dedicate a section of your newsletter to announcements and reminders for any new rules and regulations, HOA dues, deadlines, etc.
  • Lastly, remember that readers don’t always have the time to read a community newsletter word by word. Therefore, you should write short, simple passages and use bullet point lists to create an engaging newsletter design.

What technology do you need to create an impressive email newsletter?

Setting up an email newsletter can be a time-consuming and tedious process. However, the latest technological advancements in terms of generic and specific email solutions have made this task easier.

Here’s how these email marketing solutions can help you to create a comprehensive HOA newsletter for your community:

Generic Marketing Solutions

Email marketing providers such as Mailchimp offer a wide array of email newsletter templates that you can use simply by creating your account. You can also import these email templates and modify them later per your needs.

This is a cost-effective solution, especially if you’re managing a small residential community. You’ll also get access to countless integration options that will help boost your online presence.

However, the problem with these generic email HOA newsletter solutions is that you must manually create and maintain your recipient list. Along with this, the templates provided by such companies are inherently basic and require significant modifications, which require both time and technical knowledge. These issues can be put to rest by hiring an HOA industry-specific email communication solution like Pilera.

HOA Industry-Specific Email Marketing Solutions

Cloud-based property management and HOA software solutions like Pilera can help improve the work efficiency of homeowners association by miles.

Here’s how specific property management software can help you establish an online communication channel between your board members and the residents through a homeowners association newsletter.

  • Such software has an intuitive and user-friendly interface that one can use to create beautiful newsletter templates with document and image attachments.
  • It effectively tackles the problem of manual recipient data entry seen with generic email marketing solutions. In addition, software like Pilera provides effortless integration with accounting software and access to self-cleaning distribution groups to save you both time and money.
  • Not just this, Pilera also keeps track of email replies to help board members maintain proper records. Real-time analytics provide managers exclusive access to a list of residents who’ve clicked, opened, and replied to the email. Managers and board members can directly see a resident’s reply to the newsletter in this platform as well.


Writing your HOA email newsletter in an effective and efficient manner can help foster community engagement and increase the interest of residents in the residential area’s development.

It is crucial for the homeowners association newsletter to have an attractive design, relevant content that keeps residents hooked to the newsletter, and an effortless distribution channel.

If you want your HOA newsletter to outshine others and help you to build a more connected residential community, then Pilera would be happy to help you!

About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier community and property management software that has helped thousands of community managers enhance communications, improve customer service, and manage compliance and operations. To learn how Pilera can help to improve efficiency and reduce costs, book a personalized demo

Email - California SB392 updates

With more HOAs using digital communications to keep residents informed, many states have started to update their existing regulations.  California is the most recent state after Colorado that amended its HOA communication laws. In this article, we’ll talk about the changes to California SB 392 and technology considerations to help you comply.  

As a Disclaimer, this blog article is meant to provide information on the latest regulations impacting community associations and should not be taken as legal advice.  You should always talk to your community association lawyer if you have any questions on how this new law may impact you and any legal advice in general.

What are the requirements for complying with SB 392?

On October 7, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 392 into law.  This law specifies how community associations need to communicate with residents. Although the law went into effect on January 1, 2022, the new amendments that focus more on resident preferences go into effect on January 1, 2023.

Resident communication preferences

The amended law now requires that community associations deliver documents or notices electronically via email to residents.  Email communication provides many benefits for HOAs such as reduced costs and fewer inbound calls to the office.  

However, not every resident prefers email.  If a resident provides an invalid email address, chooses not to provide one, or revoked their consent to receive emails, the association must communicate with them via mail.  

To prepare for these changes, your technology platform must be flexible and reliable. Whether you are currently using technology or looking for a new solution, here are some questions you should ask: 

1) “Do residents have multiple ways to stay informed about the community?” 

Offering your residents many ways to stay informed is quickly becoming the norm.  Even though the law only requires emails and postal mail, it’s a good idea to consider offering additional methods like text messages and phone calls.  Text message is the most preferred choice of communication among Millennials with 90% of text messages read within 5 minutes of receiving it.  Phone calls are a great way to reach elder demographics or those who don’t have electronic means of receiving messages.   

If you decide to use multiple communication methods to keep residents informed, consider consolidating information in one place to make it easier to manage your data. Since separation of information can cause inefficiencies, software that can handle both automated emails and letter generation is helpful.

2) “Can residents easily inform management of their communication preferences?”

Since residents will need to confirm their communication preferences, it’s vital that your technology platform can track this information.  This new law may add hours of additional work as you manage each resident\’s preference manually.  Having a system in place for residents to update their information can reduce workload. A self-service portal where residents can select their communication preferences, update their contact information, and unsubscribe from email if they no longer want it is key.  Alternatively, management can update information on behalf of residents with their consent and can easily see which method they prefer.  

3) “Do I have a way of knowing which residents don’t prefer email?”

Your technology platform should allow you to customize recipients based on whether they have electronic means of receiving messages or not.  Technology should not only help you manage preferences but also easily be able to produce letters for those without an email on record. 

Community Website

The original requirement also states that associations with more than 50 units are required to have a website unless ⅔ of the members vote against it.

Community websites are becoming a common requirement for many states but can benefit your community in many ways. HOA website solutions are also mobile-friendly and easy to create without needing technical experience.  With a well-designed community website, residents can check online for information without ever having to call the office.  It unburdens your staff while giving your residents a positive experience.   

About Pilera

Pilera Software is the leading HOA communication and management software.  Thousands of communities rely on Pilera to keep residents informed through automated phone, email & text; improve customer service; and increase operational efficiency.  To learn how Pilera can help manage your communities more efficiently, book a personalized demo or you can also write to us at [email protected].

Resident Discussion Boards and Email Communication Replies

Greetings!  We’re starting the month big with 2 brand new features that have been a popular request among our clients.  The new Resident Discussion Board & Threaded Conversation features are now available in Pilera!

Threaded Email Conversations

Previously, we added the ability for residents to reply to manager emails. Now, a history of all email conversations with your residents will be stored within Pilera.  The new threaded conversations feature gives you a single source of truth, so you will always know who said what.  You can see a history of all replies and when they replied in the message center and within the resident’s profile.  This new feature will be auto-enabled for everyone to start using right away!


Resident Discussion Board

The Discussion Board feature allows your residents to communicate with each other, exchange ideas, and facilitate positive conversations about the community.  Many community members use public tools like Facebook Groups or Nextdoor without the oversight of management or board members. If the board and management are not seeing complaints, they can’t address them before they get out of control.  With our new Discussion Board feature, you will hear about any complaints, concerns, or suggestions first and can keep discussions “in-house” within Pilera.

Here are some examples of how your community can use the discussion board:

  • Exchange ideas on home improvements
  • Provide feedback on community amenities
  • Get recommendations for products and services
  • Find ways to stay connected with other community members, such as through a book or gardening club.

Now that you understand the kind of conversations that can take place, we’ll walk through how the Discussion Board will help your community stay connected while ensuring conversations are healthy and productive for all.

Setup a moderator role to oversee conversations

A concern we often hear from managers and board members about public discussion forums and Facebook Groups is that comments can’t be moderated.  That’s why we’ve implemented a new Community Moderator role for the Discussion Board feature.  The Community Moderator will receive an email notification when a new topic is created and anyone comments on it.  Managers can also view notifications about the discussion board within the Message Center.  You can assign any manager, board member, or resident the Community Moderator Role. If the Community Moderator Role hasn\’t been assigned, the dashboard will display an alert to inform managers.

Organize discussion topics

You can create categories and subcategories to organize topics across multiple communities in the templates section. For easier access to category creation, we\’ve added a link within the discussion board topic. You can also adjust the categories within a community in the Categories tab under Settings.

Remove topics or comments

If topics or comments are inappropriate or it goes against your company’s forum policies, you can delete them.  Deleted topics or comments will no longer be visible to residents.  However, as a manager, you can view deleted topics with the dashboard filters.  Similarly, you can view any edited or deleted comments in the events section of the topic.

Close topics

To allow for new topics to get visibility, it’s important to close old topics that have been resolved or are inactive.  You can change the status of a topic to closed and filter the dashboard for that status to see all closed topics. 

Submit private comments

Managers can submit comments that are visible to other managers only or post a comment for all residents to see.

See the latest threads

Within the dashboard, managers, board members, and residents can see how many topics have had activity within the last 30 days.

Publish rules through the ticket alerts

For community discussions to be healthy and productive for all, it’s important to set some rules in place for your residents to follow.  The ticket alerts in Pilera are a great way to inform residents of the rules.  This alert will display at the top of each new thread a resident creates.  

Generate reports on-demand

Summary and Detailed reports provide you with a way to export all topics for archival purposes.  Additionally, these reports give you insights on discussion board activity and what kind of topics are generating the most interest in your community.  You can filter the dashboard based on criteria such as category, subcategory, and dates to generate your reports.  

How to get the discussion board for your community

The Discussion Board is available to all clients who have the Resident Portal at no additional cost!  We will be rolling out the discussion board gradually to our clients. If you would like to opt-out of the Discussion Board feature please contact us at [email protected]

About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier community and property management software that has helped thousands of community managers enhance communications, improve customer service, and manage compliance and operations. To learn how Pilera can help to improve efficiency and reduce costs, book a personalized demo

Keep your community informed and safe during an emergency with an emergency communications plan.

Note: This blog article was updated in June 2023 to reflect new information.

To keep your community informed during an emergency, it\’s important to have an established communication plan. A well-thought out communication plan helps to create a sense of comfort and peace of mind for your residents. During times of crisis, your residents rely on timely and accurate information to make informed decisions and stay safe. This communication plan should include how you plan to keep employees, board members, residents, vendors, and any other parties informed.   When you communicate well with residents, it allows you to build trust with them.  

In this post, you’ll learn about what your emergency community communication plan should cover and how technology can be a valuable tool for communicating timely, accurately, and with compassion. We’ll also be referring to the experiences that Karl Kuegler (Imagineers Management) shared in his interview with Pilera CEO Ashish Patel and his talk “Recover and Respond: Emphasizing Community after a Disaster” at the 2022 CAI Annual Conference.       

1. Internal communications

Whether you are a board member or a manager, training is a critical step in the community’s emergency plan. Karl Kuegler explained that while individual staff may not have direct experience handling an emergency, a plan should draw on the skills of upper management and others who specialize in emergency management. It’s equally important to document the training process:

Practice Drills

A practice drill helps staff and board members understand the steps they need to take in an emergency.  Be sure to outline the steps, how often the drill should take place, and who has been trained.

Manager-Board Internal Communications

It’s vital for board members and managers to communicate regularly before, during, and after an emergency.  The Board has a duty to make sure the community is safe, but it’s also important to understand that they may be stressed too.  Even more so, if they live in the community.  Set up a meeting with the board to discuss their current operations and any gaps you can help to fill.  That way, they can perform their duties, remain calm, and help keep everyone safe.

Communicating with Local Agencies

Keep a list of who staff needs to contact during an emergency.  This includes local emergency response teams, Red Cross and other nonprofits, insurance agents, lawyers, vendors, etc.  Karl Kuegler talks about how it is important to identify yourself as part of the HOA board or community management company when speaking to the emergency response teams.  That way, they know that you are there to support residents and are not getting in the emergency response team’s way.

Communicating with Vendors

The community’s vendors are also a critical part of your emergency response or restoration plan.  Before an emergency, ensure you have the most up-to-date contact information for your vendors.  It’s also critical that your vendors’ certificates of insurance and other licenses are up to date.  Having this information at hand keeps your community, employees, and vendors safe while reducing any potential for liability if someone is injured.  A vendor management app will allow you to keep track of vendor information such as contacts and license expiration dates.  In Pilera’s vendor app, for example, managers receive an email notification when a vendor’s license is about to expire.  

During a community’s restoration phase, it’s also important to keep vendors informed of the current situation and what they can expect when they get on site.  This includes any safety hazards, building/community access, etc.   

Store your training documents online

Once you have the document(s), store it in an online repository.  This could be your company’s Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or an HOA software with document storage included.  For example, you can store these documents in Pilera at a client level and then share them with managers across your portfolio.

2. Educate residents on emergency preparedness

Educate residents on the weather-related emergencies that are likely to occur in their area.  It’s essential to communicate with residents throughout the year, not just during an emergency.  You can provide helpful tips and resources to residents based on the season as well.  Weather-related events a community could experience include:

  • Hurricanes
  • Tornado
  • Damaging winds
  • Flooding
  • Large hail
  • Fires
  • Blizzard
  • Snow

You can distribute resources through a document-sharing and communication platform.  A document library allows you to organize files, set permissions, and notify residents. Through a communication platform, email residents about best practices to stay safe. 

3. Build and maintain a resident contact database

Building and maintaining a database is a crucial part of your plan to keep residents informed before, during, and after an emergency.  This includes a resident’s email, phone, address, and emergency contacts. 

On the night of the fire at Stonewoods Condominium, the Imagineers management team met with residents to verify their current contact information.  Karl from Imagineers shared, “Had it changed or there was an additional individual that wanted to be added, we were able to do that within Pilera and then that evening to be able to send a message.”  They printed two copies of the resident contact information.  They gave one copy to the emergency responders at the scene.  They also added the fire chief, police chief, mayor, and other local community contacts in Pilera so they could receive messages too.

How to collect and verify contact information:

  • Web Portal – As residents move in (or on a frequent basis), encourage them to update their contact information and emergency contacts in a web portal.  
  • Paper Forms – Keep paper forms at the office for residents to fill out and then update your database.
  • Identify invalid contacts – Make sure your communications platform gives you a way to identify invalid contacts.  In Pilera, managers receive automated reports on invalid emails and text numbers.  Each resident’s profile gives additional information on how to correct them.  
  • Postal mail – Send postal mail to residents on a regular basis asking them to confirm their contact information.  Phone numbers and emails can change over time, so it’s vital that you have the most up-to-date information.  
  • Post emergency verification – When Karl Kuegler’s team sent out their emails, they would view the delivery and open status.  If a resident did not open the email, they would call them to ensure they received the message.  If a resident did not receive the message, Imagineers could reach out to them through other means such as a phone call.

4. Assemble a communications response team

To keep your message accurate throughout an emergency, it’s important to assign roles and responsibilities.  Assign one person the responsibility of sending out messages.  It could be confusing to your residents when there are multiple people or board members sending out messages.  Worse, it could lead to liability.  

Your communications platform should provide a way to set roles or different levels of access for different people.  In Pilera, managers can assign those who are in charge of communications the message admin role. These individuals can send out messages and view the message center for information on open, clicks, and responses.

5. Identify communication methods you\’ll use

Before sending messages to residents, you must figure out which communication methods you’ll use.  To effectively communicate during an emergency, it\’s important to utilize various channels so you can meet residents\’ needs and preferences. For example, elder demographics may prefer to receive phone calls over text messages and emails. By diversifying your communication channels, you can reach a wider audience. It’s important to refer to the community’s CC&Rs and local/state regulations to understand what the requirements are. 

Most effective tools during an emergency

During an emergency, phone calls and text messages are the most effective tools to use.  They are fast, have high open/listen rates, and are interruptive. 

What your communication platform should include

  • Multiple communication options – Keep your residents informed through many ways such as phone, email, and text.
  • Resident preferences – Send messages in residents’ preferred communication method and language.  For example, Pilera supports email and text translation in more than 100 languages. 

Other communication methods and when to use them

  • Social Media – During an emergency, one should avoid posting emergency messages on social media.  Because it is an interactive platform, it can cause panic, leading to misinformation and even liability.  However, you can use social media to post helpful tips on how to prepare for an emergency.  
  • Email – Email is often not the best tool to use in an emergency because people may not see it immediately.  The average open rate for emails is 21% compared to text, which is 99%.  However, email can be a powerful tool to prepare residents for an upcoming weather event or days/weeks after an emergency.

6. Careful and compassionate messaging

An emergency situation is a very stressful time for residents.  It’s important that your message is timely, accurate, and understanding of your residents’ situation.  During the Stonewood Condo emergency, there was a lot of information to disseminate to the residents.  To ensure that residents wouldn’t feel overwhelmed, Imagineers created multiple short emails, each focused on a certain topic instead of one long message. 

It’s also best to have an extra set of eyes review your message before sending it out. Imagineers had numerous staff members in the organizations review the messages before they sent them out.  

When you’re ready to send a message, be sure to create a template for it.  That way, you can save time when an emergency arises.  In Pilera’s communication platform, you can create templates for email, phone, text, and PDF letters.  You can create specific templates for certain types of communication methods.    

7. Fast and reliable communications software

Fast and reliable communications software is essential to keeping your residents informed before, during, and after an emergency.  Throughout this guide, we referred to how technology is critical to every aspect of your emergency communication plan.  As a recap, your communication software should have the following capabilities:

  • Fast messaging – Send thousands of messages out within minutes.  
  • High deliverability rate – Many software platforms can send messages, but many have deliverability issues.  Pilera has a 99.9% delivery rate.  Our communication platform also has a retry algorithm that will make multiple attempts to send a message if it didn’t reach the first time.  
  • Multiple communication methods & preferences – Having multiple ways to communicate helps you to reach residents more effectively.  In Pilera, you can send a combination of phone, email, text, and PDF letters.  Residents can choose from 100+ languages to receive text and emails in.  
  • Accurate contact information – Your software should track invalid emails and text numbers. In Pilera, managers receive a monthly automated email on invalid email addresses and text numbers.  Each resident’s profile also gives you more information on how to fix incorrect contacts.
  • People and unit-based Distribution groups – Creating contact lists ensure that you send messages to only those who need them. Your software platform should enable you to create any combination of people and units in your distribution group. Your recipient lists in Pilera maintain themselves as residents move in and out so those who left the community won\’t receive messages. In our interview with Imagineers, Karl Kuegler shared that the self-maintaining nature of the distribution groups was invaluable to them because whenever a homeowner\’s email is changed, the list is automatically updated.
  • Contact database – Allow your residents to self-manage their information through a portal so you always have the most up-to-date information.  In Pilera, residents can manage:
    • Contact information and language
    • Emergency contacts or guests
    • Other occupants in their unit
    • Alternate contacts 
    • Alternate addresses 
    • Community directory settings (where they can also view other residents’ contacts)
    • Pets
    • Insurance
    • Unit documents

Watch Interview: How Imagineers Handled a Community Emergency with Pilera


Handling an emergency situation such as a fire or weather-related event is tricky as you’re dealing with very human emotions.  However, communicating with care and at the right time can provide a little bit of peace of mind in a stressful situation.  With a well-prepared communication plan in place, your HOA or Condo community can navigate emergencies effectively, together.

About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier community and property management software that has helped thousands of community managers enhance communications, improve customer service, and manage compliance and operations. To learn how Pilera can help to improve efficiency and reduce costs, book a personalized demo


On June 6, 2022, Colorado Governor Jared S. Polis passed HB22-1137 into law, which deals with “Homeowners’ Association Board Accountability and Transparency”.  These new laws which go into effect on August 9, 2022, aim to protect homeowners and increase transparency in the association.  This post covers the new requirements to communicate “a unit owner’s delinquency in paying assessments, fines, or fees”.   

HB22-1137 Homeowner Communication Requirements

Unit Owner Notification

The unit owner must receive a notice about their delinquency before the association can take any action.

Language Preference 

A unit owner may inform the association if they prefer to receive a notification in a language other than English.  If so, the community must send them a notification in the language they requested.  Otherwise, the community will send a notification to the unit owner in English.

Designated Contact

The unit owner can designate another person to receive delinquency notices on their behalf.  The designated contact should receive the same notice as the unit owner. The notice must also be sent to both at the same time. However, the alternative contact will receive the correspondence in English, while as mentioned, the unit owner can receive it in their preferred language.   

Communication Methods

The association must contact the unit owner and designated contact person by certified mail.  They also must physically post a copy of the notice at the homeowners’ unit. 

In addition to the above, the association must contact the unit owner by one of the following methods:

  • First-class mail
  • Text via a phone number only if the unit owner provided it to the association.
  • An email address that the unit owner provided to the association. 

Communications Archive

The board or management company acting on behalf of the board must keep a record of any contact with the unit owner about the delinquency.  This includes the type of communication used to inform the unit owner, as well as the date and time of contact.

Are you prepared for HB22-1137?

Consult with your community association lawyer

Be sure to discuss the more complex details of HB22-1137 with your lawyer and how it impacts your association.

Evaluate your current process

Technology is going to play an important role in helping you comply with these new changes. It\’s important to ask the following questions about your current communications provider.

  • How do you currently communicate delinquencies with your residents?  
  • Can you easily track all the messages you send to residents, with the date, time, and communication method?
  • Can residents easily inform you of their language preference and set alternative contacts to receive messages on their behalf?   

About Pilera

Pilera Software is a leading provider of automated communication and community relationship management solutions for HOAs, Condos, Apartments, and High-Rises.  Thousands of communities rely on Pilera’s automated phone, email, text, and PDF letter solutions with language translations to keep residents informed.  Talk to an expert today so you can see how Pilera can help you manage your communities today.

Person reading HOA emails on a smartphone.

In today’s digital landscape, there is no shortage of tools to keep your residents informed.  With emerging communication tools such as text messaging and resident portals, is email still worthwhile for your HOA?  In this post, you’ll learn about the power of email and 10 ways to use it in your community.

Why email is a powerful tool for your HOA

  • More Reach – According to Statista, 90% of individuals in the United States over the age of 18 have an email address, which makes it a convenient and easy way to communicate.  Worldwide, email is set to grow to 4.6 billion users, which is more than half of the world’s population.
  • Nonintrusive – Email is a non-intrusive means of communication by nature.  It doesn’t disrupt your resident’s daily routine like phone calls or social media does.  While emails are not ideal in emergency situations, it is still a great tool for notices, reminders, and creating conversations with residents.
  • Diverse – Emails come in all lengths.  It can be as short as a work order notification or as long and engaging as a community newsletter.  Email gives your community a lot of flexibility to get the word out.  As you’ll learn in this post, there are many ways your HOA can get creative with email.  
  • Quick – Mass emails can be sent out within minutes through an HOA communication tool

10 Ways to Use Email in Your HOA

1) Introduce your community

Introducing your community is a great way to start building stronger relationships with your residents.  A welcome message helps you to achieve that.  We recommend you include the following:

  • As a board or manager, introduce yourself and your team as a point of contact.
  • Let the resident know where they can find information about the community.  If you have a portal or website, include a short list of what residents can do, like make payments online or view documents. 
  • Set expectations on how frequently you’ll communicate with residents and on what topics.  
  • Encourage residents to log in and let you know how they want to be contacted – method (phone, email, and text) and language.

2) Notices and reminders

Notices and reminder emails are an essential way to keep your residents informed of important things or changes happening in the community.  Here are some of the most common types of emails:

  • Maintenance Alerts – Includes any water shut-offs, construction, equipment installation, testing (i.e. alarm), or equipment outage (i.e. elevator not working).
  • Amenities – Any changes to an amenity’s hours of operation or reminders about amenity use policies.
  • Payments – Notify residents when payments are due or send out a late payment notice.
  • CC&R – Any changes to the community’s rules and regulations.
  • Documents – When you’ve posted a new file in the document library, send an automated email to residents letting them know about it.

3) Responses to resident requests

As a Board member or manager, it\’s likely that you\’re often overwhelmed with phone calls from residents asking a question or requesting a work order.  Encouraging your residents to submit requests through a system not only helps you to track their requests but also keeps your residents in the loop.  For example, when a resident submits a work order, you can notify residents by email of the progress.  Using email to communicate to your residents about their requests is a great way to increase satisfaction while reducing inbound calls to the office. 

4) Community Newsletter

An e-newsletter keeps your residents connected by sharing upcoming events and putting a spotlight on your community’s achievements.  Here are some ideas for you to build your own newsletter:

  • Past events with a link to photos
  • Upcoming events and why residents should attend
  • Social causes the community supports and the impact it’ll have
  • Big decisions the community has made during Board meetings to inform residents about.
  • New community improvements or restoration projects. 
  • Resident spotlight if your residents have any exciting news or achievements they want to share.

5) Educate your residents about the community

Some residents may be familiar with how HOAs function while others may be brand new to it.  Either way, educating residents about the community’s policies improves their understanding of it.  When residents understand how or why a community functions in a certain way, it paves the way for more harmony and less friction. Consider these tips on how you can educate your residents:

  • Rules and regulations – If a rule is being broken more often, let your residents know why the rule is in place and how to stay in compliance. 
  • Preparing for inclement weather – Educate your residents on how to stay safe during inclement weather.  Examples include:
    • How to prepare a safety kit
    • Evacuation information and routes.
    • Local resources and emergency contact information. 
  • Tips for improving property values – Give residents simple tips on maintaining their property that improves values while staying in compliance with the CC&Rs. 
  • Using the community’s technology – If you are using a resident portal or website, explain how it benefits residents and provide tips to use it.  Examples include:
    • \”Did you know you can submit a work order request online?\”
    • \”Our community now has a resident directory and here’s how to use it.\”

6) Community Events

Events are a great way to build a sense of community in your HOA.  When sending an email about the upcoming board meeting or trivia night, you should describe what the event is about and why residents should attend.

7) Board Meeting communications

When you communicate with residents about Board Meetings, it increases participation and improves the quorum for your annual meeting.  Here are a few ways you can keep residents in the loop about Board Meetings:

  • Meeting Invites – Set a time, date, and location (virtual or in-person) for the meeting.
  • Calendar – Provide an online calendar and send notifications in advance of meetings so residents can plan to attend.
  • Annual Notices – Notify residents in advance of the annual meeting about issues the community will be discussing and voting on.  
  • Agendas – Let residents know what is on the agenda for discussion.
  • Post-Meeting Notice – Highlight any decisions made and how it impacts residents.

8) Recruit Volunteers

When you’re looking for volunteers to be part of a new committee (ARC committee, Social Events committee) or to take on a specific community role (website admin, lifeguard), email can be a great recruitment tool.  In your email, describe what role(s) the community is looking to fulfill, any experience that is helpful or necessary, and the volunteer’s job functions.

9) Safety information

In an emergency, communicating through a combination of text, phone, and email is vital.  For general updates to safety protocols, email is valuable because it keeps residents informed or reminded of certain policies.   Let’s cover a few examples:

  • Scams – If residents are receiving scam messages about payment, you can use email to increase awareness of it.  
  • Maintenance – If a certain area is blocked off due to construction, email residents to let them know and offer an alternative route.
  • Safety Protocols – Notify residents when you are conducting a safety drill to prepare them for emergencies.
  • COVID-Related – During the pandemic, managers would inform residents of any safety policies related to amenities, inspections, etc. 

10) Calls for Resident Feedback

Conducting regular surveys helps you to understand how satisfied residents are with the community management or what they are interested in.  It also improves resident satisfaction because they will feel like they are being heard.  Before your next board meeting, create a survey and email your residents asking for their concerns, questions, or suggestions.  You can also refer your residents to their resident portal to fill out the survey. 

How Pilera’s HOA Email feature can improve your community engagement

Many communities are outgrowing generic email systems, which require hours of manual work to maintain recipient lists, create content, and send mass emails. An HOA email platform takes out the manual work and streamlines the process from list management to delivery.

Pilera offers a comprehensive email platform that is specifically built for HOAs, making it easier to sync resident data, manage lists, create templates, and automate emails at scale.  Here’s how you can take your communication to the next level with Pilera’s HOA email platform:

  • Distribution GroupsCreate message groups using a combination of street, building, floor, units, and residents.  Also, the distribution groups are self-maintaining as residents move in and out of the community.  
  • Automated Email Notifications – Keep residents in the loop about their support requests, work orders, violations, and ACRs with automated email notifications.
  • Marketing Emails – Design professional, beautiful marketing emails through an easy-to-use rich text editor.
  • Preferences – Residents can choose from 100+ languages to receive emails in. 
  • Branding – Improve awareness with your community’s logo and colors on your email. 
  • Advanced Scheduling – Stay ahead by scheduling your email up to two weeks in advance down to just a few minutes.
  • Multi-Community Announcements – Management companies handling the communications for many communities can send emails to all of them at once. 
  • Delivery Analytics – See whether an email was delivered, opened, clicked, or bounced.

Conclusion: Creating a sense of community with email

With so many ways to connect with your residents, email continues to be a powerful tool for HOAs. Its reach, speed, and diversity make email a great choice to keep your residents informed, safe, and engaged. It can be used for sending short, concise emails such as notices and reminders. It\’s also diverse enough to send newsletter-type emails that help build a sense of community. Give email a try in your community today to increase resident satisfaction and improve operations with fewer calls to the office.

About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier community and property management software that has helped thousands of community managers and back-office personnel enhance communications, improve customer service, and manage compliance and operations. To learn how Pilera Communications can help to improve your staff efficiency and reduce costs, book a personalized demo or you can also write to us at [email protected]

An image of a woman holding a smartphone and tablet outside of the office. Blog article - learn how HOA management companies improved their communication with Pilera.

Good communication is the foundation of any community\’s success. When you communicate regularly and effectively with residents, you can keep them informed, safe, and invested in the community they call home.  Effective communication between board members and managers keeps everyone organized, improves efficiency, and reduces costs for the community. Technology plays an important part in streamlining your HOA messaging efforts – from delivering messages instantly to ensuring your message reaches the right residents.

We recently surveyed our clients on their communication processes and the specific features in Pilera that are instrumental to their success.  In this month’s Manager Toolkit, we\’re thrilled to share 5 main ways our clients improved their outreach with Pilera.  We’ll also share some quick tips and resources to level up your communication efforts.   

1) Multi-Channel Communications

A multi-channel communication strategy is important to our client\’s success in keeping residents informed. As residents’ needs evolve, communicating through one channel may not be effective enough.  Thus, it\’s essential to use a mix of traditional and electronic communication methods to increase reach. For example, text messages are immediate and non-intrusive, making them a very popular choice among residents.  Alternatively, for residents who do not have other means of electronic communication, managers can reach out through automated phone calls or postal mail.  

Having many ways to communicate also helps your community to comply with local regulations or bylaws.  For example, Nevada state requires that HOAs send out postal mail to their residents.  In contrast, Florida state requires condos with more than 150 units to provide website or portal access for residents to view important documents.   

Pilera Quick Tips:

Tip #1: Let your residents choose how they want to hear from you

Encourage your residents to choose how they want to hear from you.  When you send out a welcome message to residents, let them know they can select among phone, email, text, and postal mail.  Your automated welcome letter is also a good opportunity to set expectations on what type of messages you\’ll be sending them. You can also have paper forms in the office for your residents to fill out in the event they do not have an email or electronic communication on record. 

Tip #2: Send messages at scale

In Pilera, you can send out mass messages through email, phone, and text.  You can also generate PDF letters that you can upload to a third-party solution such as SouthData for postal mailing.  

\”I think our annual meeting attendance and/or return of proxies has been higher with Pilera communications as we use the follow-up reminders very regularly.\”

Kirsten Capps, Forest Green Realty

Resource: 9 Tools to Communicate With Your Residents

2) Fast and Reliable 

Our clients have shared that one of the biggest benefits to Pilera Communications is speed and reliability.  Being able to send mass email, phone, and text messages quickly is vital during an emergency, where there’s no time to lose.  

A reliable communication system ensures that your message gets delivered when it needs to.  That means you can be confident that your message is delivered even in the toughest conditions, such as a local outage or storm.  Here at Pilera, we take the deliverability of your message seriously.  Behind the scenes, our team is working to maintain message reputation so that your message is delivered every time. As of the time of this writing, Pilera has a 100% message reputation for email delivery.  

Pilera Quick Tips:

Tip #1: Use Reverse911 Functionality for emergency messages

When you need to send an urgent message to residents, select “Emergency” as the message type.  The emergency setting overrides the resident’s communication preference, thereby sending them phone calls, emails, and text messages.  When residents receive a phone call, for example, we specify that it is an emergency message from their community.  

Tip #2: Easily detect invalid contact information

Ensuring you have the most accurate contact information is vital to your outreach efforts. Oftentimes, a residents\’ email may bounce or a text number may become invalid. In these instances, Pilera helps you identify incorrect contact information in 3 different ways:

  • Automated monthly email – Managers receive a monthly email with invalid emails and text numbers.  
  • Real-time in the app – View incorrect contact information in the app in real-time on the Occupants page.  Visual indicators show resident communication preferences, which contact information is invalid, and if they have unsubscribed.  
  • Resident profile pages – Individual resident profiles give you more insights on the exact contact issues and ways to correct them.  

We recommend encouraging your residents to self-update their information in the resident portal so you will have the most accurate information.  Residents can set their communication preferences, and update their phone, email, or text information. Additionally, they can even add alternate or emergency contacts.

Resource: How Pilera Communications Can Support Your Community’s Emergency Preparedness Plan

3) Save Time & Increase Productivity

Automated technology offloads many time-consuming processes, such as manually organizing your recipient lists or creating your message content.  In a recent survey we conducted, 89% of our clients say that saving time with Pilera Communications frees their staff to provide additional services to residents.  Your employees are more productive as a result of these time savings, and your residents will be more satisfied with the services you provide the community. 

Pilera Quick Tips

Tip #1: Create different templates for different needs

Templates allow you to compose a phone, email, text, or letter and save it for future use.  When you need to reuse content on a regular basis or make sure your message is consistent across all your employees that send out communications, templates can be really handy. You can also create templates for different communication needs.  For example, you can create a template for messages about an upcoming Board meeting that you want to send through text only.  Or, let’s say you want to create a monthly newsletter to distribute to your residents.  Some of your residents prefer email while others appreciate receiving postal mail. You can send the newsletter based on your resident\’s preference so no one is left out.

Tip #2: Schedule communications in advance

In Pilera, you can schedule messages up to two weeks in advance down to a few minutes.  That way, you don’t miss out on sending a message. 

\”Using Pilera saves on paper and time for someone to post messages on doors. I can send out a message right away to the buildings, the entire property, or to an individual with short notice. I love Pilera!\”

Mindy Barclay, Axiom Property Management

Resource: How to save time and increase productivity with Pilera Communications

4) Reduce hidden expenses

It’s important to make your communications process efficient so that you can save more on your community’s budget.  Keeping unnecessary costs down can save not only your association money but residents\’ money too.  Communities incur hidden costs in data management, physical mailing, and handling inbound calls.  In our survey, 79% of our clients expressed that they have been able to lower hidden expenses and save money after sending messages through Pilera. 

Pilera Quick Tips:

Tip #1: Integrate your accounting with an HOA communications solution

When you integrate your accounting platform with an HOA communications solution, you can reduce manual data input and human errors.  Automatic sync between your accounting platform and Pilera ensures you have the most accurate resident contact data.  Pilera has a two-way integration with most accounting partners. 

Tip #2: Keep your recipient list up to date

Through Pilera’s distribution groups, you can segment your list by any combination of location and residents to send a message.  One of the most important aspects of Pilera’s distribution group is that it is self-maintaining.  That means, the list cleans itself as residents move in and move out of a community.  That means you’re not sending messages to a resident who has moved out, thereby reducing your community’s liability to lawsuits.  

Resource: A complete guide on how to reduce expenses in your communication strategy

5) Improve transparency and visibility

Transparency in your communication strategy is key to staying organized, keeping your staff in the loop, and helping new or substitute staff get up to speed.  In our client survey, managers expressed they were able to improve visibility into their operations by communicating through Pilera.  

Pilera Quick Tips:

Tip #1: Measure your communication efforts

The Message Center in Pilera gives your team visibility into the communications that have been sent out, when, and by whom.  You can also view the delivery statistics of your messages in real-time, including which residents:

  • Clicked on an email or replied
  • Opened a text message
  • Picked up a live call or were sent a voicemail
  • Have a PDF letter generated for them. 

Pilera also sends out a monthly communications usage report straight to your inbox detailing how many communication credits each community used.  With this information, you can better understand current communication usage and forecast future needs.

Tip #2: Keep your staff in the loop

If certain staff members or board members need to receive a copy of the messages you send out in Pilera, you can set the Message or Announcement Monitor role for them.  They will automatically start to receive messages anytime you communicate with the community. 

\”People like having the ability to send notices themselves if they would like, so Board members like that they can be added as \”managers\” so that they can send announcements themselves if it is after hours for us.\”

Peyton Tinder, Sentry Management

Resource: 6 Steps to Improving Transparency in Your Communication Efforts with Pilera

Conclusion: Level up your HOA messaging with Pilera

With communication being a vital part of your community operations, it\’s important that your technology enables you to keep residents informed while increasing staff efficiency and reducing overall costs. Our management company and community clients save time and money with Pilera\’s Communications, empowering them to focus on what matters. Here\’s a recap of the 5 ways our clients improved their communications efforts with Pilera:

  1. Multi-Channel Communications – Reach a wider demographic and empower residents to choose how they want to hear from management.
  2. Fast & Reliable Communications – Communicate with residents instantly during an emergency with a Reverse911 functionality that overrides resident preference and sends phone, email, and text.
  3. Save Time & Increase Productivity – Automate many time-consuming tasks with templates and message scheduling so you can have more time in the day for essential tasks.
  4. Reduce Hidden Expenses – Reduce the cost of manual data entry and potential liability by having the most accurate contact information with accounting integration and self-maintaining distribution groups.
  5. Improve Transparency and Visibility – Keep your entire organization in the loop with access to message history and delivery analytics so that your team knows what was done.

\”We\’ve taken on a number of properties that complained that their previous management company handled communication poorly. They have all been very impressed by howe well we are able to communicate with Pilera.\”

Bob Keegan, Dirigo Management Company

About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier community and property management software that has helped thousands of community managers and back-office personnel enhance communications, improve customer service, and manage compliance and operations. To learn how Pilera Communications can help to improve your staff efficiency and reduce costs, book a personalized demo or you can also write to us at [email protected]. Or, if you are a customer, write to us at [email protected] with any questions about implementing these steps for your community today.

An image of two women shaking hands. Blog article - learn how to improve transparency in your HOA or property management communication efforts.

Do you often ask a fellow community manager if they sent out a message about an upcoming event yet?  Do you often struggle to find a message about maintenance you sent out months ago?  Or, is it challenging to figure out which residents are not receiving your messages or not opening them, and why?

Managers and board members often struggle with improving transparency in their communication strategy.  When companies lack visibility into their communication efforts, they can lose up to $62.4 million in productivity according to Ring Central.  A lack of visibility into your communication efforts can also lead to a decline in resident satisfaction and even the potential for liability.  In contrast, having visibility into your communications efforts means you can:  

  • Keep your team on the same page and thus deliver a better resident experience.  
  • Identify successes in your communications strategy that you can repeat.
  • Identify areas in your communication strategy that you need to improve on. 
  • Protect your community from potential liability. 

In this post, we will cover 6 steps in Pilera you can take to gain visibility in your communication efforts.

1) Designate responsibilities

The first step to improving transparency in your communications efforts is to designate responsibilities.  This way, you can set clear expectations on who will be responsible for communicating with residents.  

User roles in Pilera enable you to designate different responsibilities for employees based on what actions they need to perform.  User roles also keep your staff and board members in the know when it comes to your communication efforts.  

We recommend setting these three important roles:

  • Message Admin – These are the individuals in your organization who will be responsible for managing communications with owners, tenants, other occupants, and board members.  They can send announcements and manage messages in the Message Center.   
  • Announcement monitor – These individuals will receive a copy of every announcement that you send out.  For example, you can set this role for your Board Members to keep them informed of every announcement you send.  
  • Message monitor – These individuals will receive a copy of every message that is sent out through the “Send Message” feature.

2) Fix invalid resident contact information to improve message deliverability

Your residents\’ text numbers or emails may change from time to time, so it’s vital that your database has the latest information.  Not having accurate contact information will adversely affect your message deliverability.  It also means your residents aren’t receiving your messages and that could result in a potential lawsuit.  

Here at Pilera, we take the delivery of your messages seriously and offer many ways for you to identify which residents aren’t receiving your messages and why.  Let’s take a look at each way.  

Occupant Search

The occupant search page lists all of the residents in your community.  Next to each resident’s name is a visual indicator that shows their communication preferences and contact information failures at a glance.  


Resident Profile

In each individual resident’s profile, you can view the resident’s contact information, preferences, and failure reasons in detail. 


Monthly reports

Each month, managers receive a report on invalid contact information directly to their inbox.  This report compiles a list of residents with invalid text numbers and email addresses so that managers can fix them.


Message Center

Within the Message Center, you can also view the success or failure of each outgoing message.  Real-time analytics show if a resident\’s email has bounced or if a text number is undeliverable.

3) Focus your message on only those who need it

When communicating with your residents, it’s important to send specific messages to only those who need them through segmentation.  That helps you to build trust with your residents while ensuring they aren’t frustrated by receiving messages that don’t impact them. Repeated, unimportant messages or stimuli can result in residents missing actual important messages.

In Pilera, you can segment your message by location (drilled down to the unit), user type (board, tenant, owner, other occupants, manager, etc), and by a specific distribution group.  Then, there are two ways you can confirm your recipients before pushing “send”:

Distribution Group Preview 

As you create your distribution group, you can view all the residents included in that group.


Send Announcement/Message Preview 

When you use the Preview & Send option in Send Announcement, you can confirm which residents will receive a message and if they will receive it by phone, text, email, or PDF letter generation. 


4) Build trust with your residents

Trust and transparency are key to operating a community smoothly.  When you communicate frequently and consistently, residents are less likely to call the office with questions or complaints.  The more informed your residents are, the more productive and organized your team will be.  

How you can build trust through Pilera’s communications:

  • Encourage residents to manage their own communication preferences and contact information.  This way they can always count on receiving messages the way they want.
  • Roll out the resident portal to your community so that residents can access past messages and all important community information. Our clients include a link to the resident portal in their email signature so they can increase resident signups to the portal.
  • Know when a resident has changed their contact information, that way you can verify they’ll be receiving your next message.  Pilera sends an email notification to the main manager contact whenever a resident updates their contact information. 
  • Keep residents informed on their customer support, maintenance, and ACR requests. 

5) View the message center regularly

Knowing what messages have been sent out to your community is key to improving visibility in your communication efforts.  A communications archive that is easily accessible can benefit your community in numerous ways:

  • It reduces the back and forth communication among employees, including those working after-hours.  If a staff member is out or has left the company, others will know what was done.
  • A substitute manager who usually doesn’t manage a community can check the message center so they can respond to resident queries or complete other tasks.
  • Reduce the community’s risk to liability.   

Improving accountability with Message Center:

Every message you send out through Pilera is automatically archived in the Message Center.  You can view a history of all messages sent and sort by the message category.  Each individual message displays the following details:

  • The message content
  • Who sent the message
  • When the message was sent
  • All recipients with delivery and open status.  

6) Measure your communication efforts

After sending out your messages, it’s important to measure your efforts.  Identify the successes in your communication efforts and what you can improve.  For example, if residents are consistently getting your emails but not opening them, you may need to improve the subject lines.  Or, if inbound calls to the office have increased after you send a message, that may indicate that your message needs more details.  

In Pilera, you can measure your communication efforts through real-time analytics and communication usage reports.

Real-Time Analytics

The Message Center provides delivery analytics of your messages in real-time.  You can see who clicked on or replied to an email, received a text message, or picked up a live call.  


Communication Credits Report

This report details how many messages each community in your portfolio is sending out on a monthly basis.  Through this report, you can easily identify which communities are communication superstars and which aren’t sending out enough.  


Transparency is vital to your communication efforts right from creating your recipient lists to evaluating the success of your efforts.  Pilera Communication helps to improve visibility within your organization and build trust with residents.  As a recap, you learned about these 6 steps that are important to transparent communication efforts:

  1. Designate Responsibilities – Assign someone the responsibility of managing communications with the Communication Admin role.
  2. Fix Invalid Contacts – Managers can easily identify which resident contact information is invalid so they can fix it and improve message delivery. 
  3. Message Segmentation – When creating your recipient lists or sending out a message, you can confirm all the residents who are going to receive it before hitting send. 
  4. Build trust with your residents – Encourage your residents to update their communication preferences and contact information so they are always informed and you are always up to date. 
  5. View communications history – Your managers will be on the same page when they know which communications have been sent out with an automatic archive.   
  6. Measure Communication Efforts – Real-time message delivery analytics track whether a resident has opened or replied to an email, received a text message or listened to a voice call.  Communication usage reports show which communities are communicating the most, and which could improve their efforts. 

About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier property management software that has helped thousands of community managers and back-office personnel improve communication and customer service. Request a personalized demo so you can learn how Pilera’s community management suite can increase work efficiency for your company.

Hidden costs of your HOA communication strategy: Saving your community money by reducing hidden expenses such as manual data entry, outdated software, liability, and more.

A good HOA communication strategy enables you to run operations more smoothly, reduce costs, and increase resident satisfaction.  By contrast, the lack of a communications strategy or an unclear strategy can result in lost efficiency and increased costs for your community.  When creating a budget for your HOA communication strategy, it\’s important to identify what factors drive costs up.  That way, you can understand what efforts result in the most amount of money being spent and how to reduce those costs. 

We found in our recent study that 79% of our clients reduced their communications cost without sacrificing quality but instead improving with Pilera.  This had us thinking about what factors increase costs and we found that many of them are hidden or unforeseen costs.  In this article, we\’ll talk about:

  • The costs you may incur in your current communication strategy and hidden aspects within them. 
  • How to reduce costs with technology so you can have more in your budget to deliver better resident experiences.

Short on time? Use our Table of Contents below to read the section that you’re most interested in.  

1) Postal Mailing

Many communities include postal mailing as a part of their HOA communication strategy. Certain states like Nevada now require community associations to send notices via postal mail.  Postal mail is useful in various situations such as sending non-urgent communications or reaching residents who do not have other electronic means of receiving information.  In situations where you need to reach residents on the spot or during emergencies, digital communications are more effective.  

Hidden costs of postal mailing

Postal mailing is an expensive form of communication and larger communities spend thousands of dollars every year.  Doing this in-house means that communities will incur expenses such as stamps, envelopes, paper, and toner. Also, let\’s not forget employee time dedicated to preparing letters and stuffing envelopes.

How to reduce costs in your communications efforts:

1) Transition to digital communications

When you transition to a digital communications system, your community or company can save hundreds of hours of labor and improve daily workflow. The cost of one postal mailing effort can equal months of digital communication costs.  Each community can save at least $3,000 in their budget per year with automated email communications over postal mail.  It\’s important to make sure that your communications platform can provide multiple ways to communicate with your residents, such as phone, email, and text.

Resource: See our in-depth analysis of how much you can save with Pilera email communications.  

2) Reduce manual effort in your postal mailing outreach 

If you need to communicate via postal mail due to state/governing document requirements or because your residents prefer it over other methods, you can still save time and money.  With integrated systems that can generate letters in bulk and mail them out, you can reduce the cost of supplies and employee labor.  For example, Pilera’s new PDF letter generation feature enables you to create letters, download them in bulk, and then upload it to SouthData to mail them out.

2) Manual Resident Data Management

Having the most up-to-date resident contact information is vital to your HOA communication strategy. When contact information is current, you can reach residents when it matters most, like during an emergency. 

Hidden costs of data management

Keeping your data organized and up to date can take a lot of time when using an email service provider such as Gmail or Outlook or an email marketing system like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp.  Since accounting systems don’t integrate with generic email service providers or marketing solutions, updating contact information becomes a longer, more manual process. 

This process involves:

  • Managing unit information.
  • Tracking who moves in and out, and then updating the appropriate list.  
  • Updating contact information manually.

How to reduce costs:

1) Integrate your Accounting Software with HOA Communication Software

When you integrate your accounting system with an HOA communication solution, resident contact information syncs from one platform to another.  This eliminates the need for you to continually update information into your HOA communication platform.

Hidden lost time also happens when your data is inconsistent, such as when sending an email to an outdated email address.  With an integrated system, you\’ll have accurate, up-to-date information.

Resource: Do you currently use accounting software in your management business?  Download a free PDF of Pilera’s integration with your accounting software.

2) Save time with dynamic distribution groups

As a new resident joins or leaves a community, you will need to keep your recipient list up to date.  Many HOA communication platforms offer distribution groups to message specific groups of residents, but they don’t account for new residents or those who left.  A dynamic distribution group such as Pilera’s will automatically maintain your list to account for these changes.    

3) Gain insights through invalid contact reports

Are you seeing more email bounce rates than usual or text messages getting undelivered?  Low delivery rates mean that contact information for some of your residents may be incorrect.  A hidden expense that many managers and boards may not initially realize is the time it takes to fix resident contact information.  Your HOA Communication Software should ease the process by providing you with frequent reports on invalid contact information.  Pilera’s HOA Communication Software sends an automated report on a monthly basis on invalid email, text numbers, and phone numbers for each community.  You can also view invalid contact information at any time directly in the app in the occupant list and within each resident’s profile.  

4) Roll out a resident portal 

A resident portal is not only a great way to engage your residents but it also helps you to get the most accurate contact information.  Your residents can update their contact information and how they’d like to hear from you in the resident portal.  Having a self-service resident portal puts the pressure off your managers and will save time.  With Pilera’s resident portal, your residents can manage their contact information and communication preferences.  Additionally, any time a resident updates their contact information in Pilera, you’ll receive an automated email notification about it.

3) Lawsuits & Fines

Your HOA communication strategy should also outline how to keep your community in compliance with regulations. A lack of communication with residents on maintenance, safety issues, or rules can result in your community getting sued or having to pay hefty fines.  With the average lawsuit costing a business $54,000, this potential hidden expense can put a strain on your community’s financial resources.

How to reduce costs:

1) Secure your communications and data

Can you easily reference an announcement you sent to residents about a maintenance issue from a year ago?  If the answer is no, then you may need to look into a communications solution that will automatically track your outgoing communications in one place.  The communication platform should also provide you with real-time analytics for each message you sent.  Did the resident open a text message, click on an email link, or pick up a phone call? This information can be critical in case of a lawsuit where you need to present information and protect your community.          

2) Mitigate issues from the get-go

Frequent communication is better than a lack of communication.  That’s why it’s important to mitigate issues from the start and keep your residents informed.  The most effective way is to encourage your residents to choose how they want to hear from you – phone, email, text, or postal mail.  Based on your governing documents or state laws, there may be certain communication guidelines that you need to comply with.  For example, Florida law requires condominiums with over 150 units to provide residents with a password-protected website or portal to access documents and other important community information.  As we also mentioned earlier in this post, Nevada is requiring communities to use postal mail for all communications. It\’s important to communicate regularly with residents and through the right channels.  

4) Inbound Phone Calls

Are the phone lines constantly ringing in your management office?  Are hours spent with residents on the phone preventing your staff from focusing on more vital issues?  Inbound phone calls are less commonly seen as a hidden expense.  However, when the number of calls increases over time, it can result in lost efficiency. 

How to reduce costs:

1) Keep your residents informed

Keeping your residents informed is essential to a community’s success.  It reduces operational issues in the long run, which helps to regain your staff’s efficiency.  When you communicate more frequently, you’ll see fewer inbound calls to the office.  Here are some ways you can reduce inbound calls:  

  • Message your residents about emergencies, maintenance alerts, reminders, and upcoming events. 
  • Notify residents when you have posted an important document to the portal, such as updates to amenity rules.
  • Update residents on the status of their maintenance, customer support, rule violations, architectural requests, and other tickets.

2) Promote resident self-service

Promoting self-service within your community through a resident portal or website can significantly reduce inbound calls and operational costs.  A self-service resident portal enables residents to access information on any device or at any location with a minimal amount of help.  With a resident portal or community website, your residents can:

  • Pay their dues/rent online and access their financial balance/ledger.
  • View all messages you have sent them.
  • Submit maintenance, support, and architectural change requests. Communicate with their managers and receive updates so they don\’t have to call the office.
  • Manage their own unit so managers have the most up to date information. Your residents should be able to add contacts, addresses, guests, pets, insurance, and more.
  • View answers to commonly asked questions in a searchable knowledge base.

5) The cost of outdated systems or processes

Are inefficiencies in your current HOA communication plan causing employees to spend hours sending a message, creating content, tracking when a message was sent, or which residents received a message?  If, yes then it’s likely that inefficient processes or outdated software are resulting in high labor costs. According to Frevvo, 57% of business leaders expect that when they automate processes, they can save 10-50% of labor costs.  

How to reduce costs with technology:

1) Identify software features that automate processes

As we’ve mentioned earlier in this post, automation is key to improving your team’s efficiency and reducing labor costs.  When evaluating communication software, identify ways in which you can automate previously manual processes.  Features in Pilera like emailing at a portfolio level, creating templates, scheduling messages in advance, analytics, and communication archives can automate every stage of the communication process from sending a message to confirming message delivery.  

2) Look for a system with unlimited manager access

Many communication platforms will limit the number of employees you can have logged into the system.  As you require more employees to log in and access information, software costs will increase.  That may limit your company from purchasing more licenses, which can hurt team productivity.  Something to consider when evaluating communication software for your plan is if it allows an unlimited number of managers to log in.  With more employees can access communications, you can improve visibility in the office. You can also reduce unnecessary back and forth follow-ups with employees on what was done.  Through Pilera’s communication software, an unlimited number of managers can have their own accounts and log in.  They can access a history of all communication sent and real-time analytics on which residents opened a text, clicked on an email, or picked up a phone call.  

3) Consolidate your communications and customer service operations under one platform

With the rise of software platforms, there is no shortage of apps for employees to get their work done.  The modern worker uses 9.39 apps every day, according to Businesswire.  Switching between apps can cause employees to feel overwhelmed and can dampen productivity.  Studies show that app overload results in 52 days of lost efficiency and $14,000 in wages every year.  The more functions that you can consolidate in as less platforms as possible, the easier it will be for your staff to perform their jobs.  With HOA software, your business can reduce labor costs by combining communications, maintenance, customer service, resident engagement, board collaboration, and more in a single platform.

Summary: Hidden expenses in your HOA Communication Strategy

As you create your HOA communications strategy, be sure to consider hidden expenses you may incur along the way and how to reduce them. As a recap, these are the expenses you will want to keep an eye on:

  1. Postal Mailing – Postal mailing is an expensive form of communication. However, transitioning to automated, digital communications solutions can save on postage and labor costs. If local/state government regulations require you to send out postal mail, you can still reduce costs. Integrated communication and mailing systems can generate the letters in bulk and mail them out for you.
  2. Manual Resident Data Management – Managing resident contact information through a manual process can result in lost efficiency. When integrating your accounting software with an HOA communciation solution, contact information syncs seamlessly and error-free.
  3. Lawsuits/Fines – Lack of communications or the proper channels to communicate can increase a community’s liability. Make sure that you can consolidate all of your communication efforts in one place, so your staff can look it up when needed.
  4. Inbound Phone Calls – Spending hours on the phone with a resident on payment-related issues can take time away from interacting with residents in more positive ways or providing additional services to your community. Providing a self-service portal where residents can update their contact information and access community information can reduce inbound calls to the office.
  5. Cost of inefficient processes or outdated technology – Manual processes in your communications strategy from creating a message to tracking opens and clicks can reduce staff efficiency and increase labor costs. Leveraging technology to automate time-consuming tasks and consolidate your operations in one platform can make your staff\’s jobs easier.

How Pilera can help reduce hidden expenses of your HOA Communication Strategy

An automated HOA solution can save money in your budget and improve your communication strategy by offloading manual tasks and reducing costs.  When we surveyed our clients, we found that managers save 7 hours per week with Pilera’s communication software.  This equates to $14,000 of staff wages in regained efficiency each year.  With Pilera\’s HOA communications software, you can reduce:

  1. Labor Costs – Automate phone, email, text, and PDF letter generation; sync data through your accounting platform; and create templates to save time.
  2. Liability – Frequently communicate through a variety of channels and track all outgoing communications in one place.
  3. Operational Costs – Provide your residents with a self-service portal to access all community information and update their contact information and preferences. Also, the ability for unlimited managers to log into Pilera keeps everyone on the same page and improves efficiency.

About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier property management software that has helped thousands of community managers and back-office personnel improve communication and customer service. Request a personalized demo so you can learn how Pilera’s community management suite can increase work efficiency for your company.