Condos

Self Managed Condo Association

A self-managed condo association runs its community’s daily operations without a management company\’s assistance. Unlike associations managed by professional community association management companies, board members of self-managed condo associations are tasked with overseeing the day-to-day operations. While this grants your community more control and saves costs, it can also feel overwhelming because of time constraints.

Managing communications, data, maintenance, and resident inquiries can consume precious time, leaving little room for building community connections. However, technology can help lighten the load for self-managed condo associations. With the right technology platform, you can automate tasks, streamline operations, and improve resident satisfaction.

In this article, we’ll discuss 8 important features that can help your self-managed condo association automate time-consuming tasks and strengthen community relationships.

Why use self-managed condo association software? 

  • Create strong community relationships – Build community while informing residents through communication and self-service resources.
  • Get more done in less time – Keep track of important tasks and collaborate with other board members.  
  • Save your community money – Self-managed communities can save long-term costs by reducing manual labor and moving to digital processes. 
  • Protect your community’s data – Security measures can help protect sensitive information, safeguarding residents\’ privacy and preventing unauthorized access.
  • Compliance – Based on your local regulations or governing documents, some communities are required to leverage software for data retention purposes.

1) Resident Communications

Board members often struggle to communicate and get residents on the same page.  Between overwhelmed communication channels, language barriers, generational preferences, and making sure residents receive the message, communication can be a challenge.  Let’s unpack these hurdles and discuss what features to consider when evaluating software. 

Overwhelmed communication channels

Managing numerous communication channels like newsletters, emails, websites, social media, notice boards, and more can feel overwhelming. First, concentrate on a small handful of communication channels where residents are most likely to stay informed.  As you learn more about your residents’ communication preferences, you can scale it up and use other channels. 

It\’s vital to ensure the technology platform you\’re considering provides you with various ways to connect with residents through phone, text, email, postal mailing, website, or portals. With Pilera, self-managed condos can effectively communicate with residents by enabling them to select their preferred methods of communication.

Cultural barriers/generational gaps

In culturally diverse communities, bridging communication gaps is essential to ensuring that residents not only receive messages but can easily understand them. Additionally, generational differences in communities can influence how you connect with residents, considering their communication preferences and comfort level with technology.   

Evaluating technology for your self-managed condo association should involve considering whether the software allows for language translation in email or text messages. It\’s important that residents have the option to choose their preferred language and set their communication preferences. With Pilera, emails and text messages can automatically be translated into 100 languages. Phone calls can be made in Spanish.

Lack of feedback mechanism

One hurdle that board members often encounter is whether residents receive messages and how to gather feedback. Implementing a feedback tool that enables board members to understand what’s working efficiently in the condo association while identifying areas that need improvement is important.  

Choose a technology partner that enables residents to respond to your community notices and archive these correspondences within the system for future referencing.  Your software platform should also maintain a clear record of every message sent, recipient, and delivery confirmation.  Additionally, delivery confirmation and analytics should give you insights into delivery status, responses, and bounces.  

Pilera’s communication platform provides delivery confirmation for phone calls, emails, and text messages. Additionally, when residents respond to emails, their responses and attachments can be tracked directly within Pilera.

Does your communication software have these features? 

  • Resident communication & language preferences
  • Mass messaging
  • Text, phone, email, and postal mailing
  • Distribution groups based on unit and location
  • Email reply tracking
  • Message archives
  • Emergency messaging
  • Delivery confirmation
  • Language Translation
  • Advanced scheduling 

2) Maintenance Tracking

Keeping up with the community’s maintenance repairs is vital to a condo association\’s health. When maintenance repairs are successfully managed, you can improve resident satisfaction, maintain property value and community appeal, help keep the premises safe, and reduce unplanned expenses. But it\’s no secret that many condo associations grapple with handling maintenance duties, keeping track of resolutions, and handling unforeseen repairs. Let’s explore these challenges and how software can help you manage them. 

Coordinating maintenance tasks

The stress and confusion that come with endless work requests, each one more urgent than the last, can be intense. Your team is scrambling to track and prioritize maintenance issues. Meanwhile, the residents grow frustrated with the perceived delays in work order resolutions.   Your vendors, too, are left hanging, waiting for information and coordination. 

HOA maintenance software can help you better manage work orders and scheduling so everyone knows their responsibilities and nothing slips through the cracks unnoticed. With Pilera\’s maintenance software, you can set due dates and priorities and assign tickets to staff or vendors. With Pilera, you can also access visual charts that offer insights at a glance on work orders by priority, category, and vendor.  

Managing unexpected repairs 

Condo associations may face unforeseen repairs resulting from structural damage or equipment failure, leading to high costs, time investments, and stress for leaders. These unexpected maintenance projects can also trigger an increase in assessment fees, causing frustration among residents. To prevent such unexpected costs, managing routine maintenance repairs effectively is crucial.

Whether your community is dealing with emergency issues or large repairs identified in community reserve studies, having a well-defined plan for urgent maintenance is essential. This involves maintaining a comprehensive database of trustworthy vendors you can quickly contact for assistance. It is equally important to regularly check and ensure that vendors\’ licenses and Certificates of Insurance (COIs) are up to date, so you can minimize the community\’s liability for incidents involving uninsured vendors.

Consider a software platform that enables you to monitor key vendor information, including staff contacts, email communications, and timely reminders for license expirations. This proactive approach ensures a more efficient response to maintenance issues while reducing potential risks for the community.

Keeping track of maintenance resolutions 

Data retention is vital, yet many condo associations struggle to retrieve information when needed.  There are many reasons why condo associations may need to access historical work order information, such as onboarding new board members, addressing resident complaints, evaluating vendor performance, or handling legal matters.  However, relying on traditional methods such as emails, sticky notes, and spreadsheets can be inefficient, as they can be lost or fail to provide details on what transpired.  

HOA maintenance software can help you track work orders from creation to closure. It is important to select work order software that can capture all relevant information, including creation dates, assigned vendors, unit details, documents, photos, resident and vendor comments, resolution dates, and more. This ensures thorough documentation and easy retrieval of maintenance history, facilitating efficient operations and minimizing potential legal risks. Pilera\’s work order software provides automatic audit logs that document every action taken on a work order, giving you insights from start to finish.

Maintenance features to look for: 

  • Resident service requests
  • Unit work orders
  • Common area work order tracking
  • Attach photos & documents 
  • Work order assignments
  • Vendor communication
  • Vendor data tracking
  • License expiration reminders
  • Visual charts 
  • Audit log 

3) Task management for board meetings & beyond

Having a clear agenda is important to facilitate a smooth board meeting. Condo board members often struggle with long, disorganized meetings and keeping everyone focused.  

Task management technology can help organize all the tasks you need to bring up during a board meeting and even beyond it. It also opens up a collaborative workspace for you and other fellow board members to work together on community tasks and issues. With Pilera\’s task management feature, board members can collaborate with one another by assigning tasks, updating everyone on projects as they progress, and leaving comments.

Task management features to look out for: 

  • Task creation and assignment
  • Set priorities and due dates
  • Categorize by topic
  • Update Status
  • Communicate with other board members
  • Automatic email notifications 
  • Dashboards and reports 

4) Document Sharing

Overseeing a condo association involves keeping track of various documents, such as financial records, budgets, CC&Rs, and more, for legal and resident transparency purposes.  Without a centralized system in place, managing documents can become chaotic.  This may frustrate residents and eat up valuable time of board members, which could be dedicated to more strategic tasks.  There are also security concerns to contend with.  Without proper security measures, you may be leaving the door wide open to unauthorized access or even losing important data.   

It’s important to choose a document management platform that allows you to manage files easily and takes security seriously.  Instead of losing hours to answering resident questions or recovering lost files, you can channel your time and energy to more strategic tasks. Pilera’s document-sharing feature enables you to restrict access to files by roles, organize them with subfolders, and upload new versions of files when needed.

Document sharing features to look out for:

  • Folder and subfolder organization
  • Share via a secure link
  • Restrict access to documents based on user role
  • Unlimited document storage
  • Upload new versions of documents

5) Streamlining Architectural Change Request approvals 

Residents frequently work on home renovation projects to enhance their living experience, boost their property’s value, or improve their home’s safety.  Board members of self-managed associations are tasked with reviewing ACR requests. They oftentimes will form a dedicated committee to manage the approval process.  ACR processes are often lengthy, leading to delays and resident dissatisfaction.  

It is important to choose an ACR software solution that simplifies the process of submitting and reviewing an ACR, complete with images and documents.  It should facilitate the board members’ approval process and efficiently communicate the decision to the residents.  This approach can transform a potentially frustrating experience into a streamlined, resident-friendly process.  

ACR features to consider:

  • Resident submissions
  • Photos and documents
  • Special instructions before ACR submission
  • ACR committees
  • Board approval/decline
  • E-notification to residents
  • Comments & Collaboration 
  • Reports
  • Visual charts 

6) Sending RFPs & Hiring Vendors    

Condo associations often need a vendor for regular repairs or capital expenditure projects. To perform due diligence in hiring, it’s best practice to send a Request for Proposal to potential vendors to establish a clear project scope and get pricing.  

However, the challenges of getting well-defined project scopes, limited vendor participation, and evaluating options can feel overwhelming. This is where a Request for Proposal management tool can help. It centralizes all activities related to your community’s RFPs in one place, including communications, responses, documents, vendor information, and license expirations.  

Pilera’s RFP management tool enables you to make more informed vendor choices, ensuring compliance and cost-effectiveness in the process. With our RFP management platform, you can centralize all activities related to your RFP process, such as documents, conversations, and vendors, all in one place.    

Features to consider in RFP management: 

  • Create RFPs and send them to vendors.
  • Manage vendor information and communication
  • License expiration notifications for compliance tracking
  • Vendor and staff reply tracking
  • Review vendor responses
  • Visual charts and reports 

7) Resident Engagement

As self-managed condo associations often operate with limited resources and time, it can be challenging to dedicate attention and effort toward resident engagement and feedback amidst operational tasks.  Providing your community with a resident portal can help it become more self-sufficient while creating a sense of community.  When your community is more self-reliant, it frees up your time for strategic planning and decision-making. 

Invest in a resident portal software that offers your residents many ways to be informed and engaged. Ideally, the software should allow residents easy access to community information, submit service requests, and connect with other residents, all with minimal manual intervention. Pilera’s resident portal provides secure access to important community information and empowers residents to be more connected to their community.

Features to consider for Resident Engagement:

  • Easy, secure resident login
  • Request support and work orders
  • Submit ACRs
  • View documents, directories, and events 
  • Participate in discussion boards
  • Manage guests and contacts
  • Online payment

8) Voting & Elections 

Shaping a community\’s future often involves condo associations conducting votes or elections to make important decisions or to elect board members.  However, between security concerns, the laborious task of vote counting by hand, and the necessity for numerous meetings to finalize a decision, voting can be a real hassle for self-managed condo associations.

Security and ease of use should be top of mind when choosing voting software. Many residents are concerned about the integrity of their community’s voting process, so it’s important to consider software with tamper-resistant technology that can prevent misuse. 

PileraVOTES offers a more secure and streamlined way to run voting or elections in your self-managed condo association compared to generic forms. With features such as tamper-resistant technology, real-time ballot tracking, and customizable questions, community leaders can conduct fair voting and improve decision-making.

Features to consider for Voting and Elections:

  • Easy to use & modern voter portal
  • Surveys, amendment changes, and elections
  • Custom questions and write-in candidates
  • Fractional voting with unit weights
  • Restrict to one vote per unit
  • Secure access link
  • Tamper-evident technology
  • Visual charts & reports

Build Community Relationships with Self-Managed Condo Software

While managing a self-managed condo association brings autonomy and cost savings, it also presents challenges because of time constraints and operational efficiency. However, technology can help lighten the load by improving organization and collaboration. 

To recap, 8 features that can take your self-managed condo association to the next level include:

  1. Communication – Keep residents informed by communicating with them according to their preferences.  
  2. Maintenance Tracking – Streamline community repairs and resident requests through vendor and staff assignment and organization. 
  3. Task Management – Keep track of important tasks and collaborate with other board members. 
  4. Document Sharing – Securely share documents with residents and organize them to be easily accessible. 
  5. Architectural Change Request – Streamline the approval process for resident\’s ACR requests.
  6. RFP & Vendor Management – Choose the most appropriate vendor for your community projects and get clear project scopes. 
  7. Resident Engagement – Create more self-reliant communities and reduce your team’s workload. 
  8. Voting & Elections – Shape your community’s future, improve decision-making, and save time with secure and accessible elections software.

About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier community management software that has helped thousands of board members enhance communications, streamline operations, and enhance compliance. If you would like to learn how Pilera can help improve efficiency and reduce costs, book a personalized demo

New team members introducing themselves at a meeting. Blog article on new HOA board members.

Homeowners’ association (HOA) boards often experience turnover, whether due to term limits, voluntary departures, or members moving away. Consequently, welcoming new members becomes a common occurrence. Joining a board, even for those familiar with its workings, can be daunting because of steep learning curves, decision-making demands, and high resident expectations. Board members can take some proactive steps to ensure that new board members in the HOA feel comfortable in their roles.  In this blog article, you will learn strategies for welcoming new board members into the fold and how to leverage technology for a smooth transition. 

Table of Contents:

  1. Roles, accountability & transparency 
  2. Create a welcome packet for board members
  3. New board member orientation
  4. Technology access and training 
  5. Board meetings
  6. Collaborating on tasks
  7. Encourage education

Roles, Accountability & Transparency

When a new board member comes on board, it’s essential to give them a clear picture of their roles and responsibilities. Ensuring clarity on who is responsible for what can facilitate a seamless transition, improve teamwork, and minimize potential conflicts.

Board members have a fiduciary duty to act in the community\’s best interests. This involves making decisions that enhance the community\’s welfare and preserve property values. Additionally, board members must strive to improve the overall experience of the community they oversee. Their responsibilities include:

  • Governing the community – Ensuring that the community operates within the governing documents\’ guidelines and local, state, and federal laws.  When a new board member is elected, they must learn about the CC&Rs and regulations. 
  • Financial management – Oversee the HOA\’s finances, including budgeting, collecting assessments and monthly dues, and managing reserves.
  • Rules and regulations – Enforce community rules and regulations outlined in the governing documents, identify violations, and ensure resident compliance. 
  • Maintenance, repairs & long-term planning – Oversee maintenance and repairs in common areas and amenities.
  • Communication with homeowners – Board members must communicate with residents regarding HOA matters, policies, meetings, and updates.
  • Hiring – Board members may hire and oversee management companies, vendors, and other service providers to manage the community. Board members must prioritize transparency and avoid conflicts of interest when selecting vendors. Additionally, they should ensure that vendors have up-to-date certificates of insurance (COI).
  • Decision-making – Board members make decisions regarding community matters, policies, projects, and expenses through regular board meetings and voting.

Create a welcome packet for board members 

When welcoming a new board member into the fold, it’s essential to gather all necessary information about the community so you can help them get up to speed. 

Consider creating a welcome packet with essential documents, such as CC&Rs, meeting schedules, contact information for board members, the latest meeting minutes, and community resources.  The welcome packet should also include the HOA’s history, bylaws, ongoing projects, preferred vendors, standard operational procedures and issues, and upcoming initiatives.  

Additionally, it can be helpful to assign a mentor from among experienced board members to provide new members with support, guidance, and firsthand insight into the responsibilities and expectations.  These steps will help nurture growth and instill confidence in your new board members so they can successfully operate the community.  

New Board Member Orientation

Introducing new Board Members marks an exciting moment for the community.  New members can bring fresh perspectives and energy to push initiatives forward.  

You can organize a new member orientation for existing and new members to connect and build the camaraderie needed for effective community leadership.  During this meeting, be sure to highlight the roles and responsibilities of each member.  Additionally, setting clear expectations on communication channels, meetings, and overall commitment is essential.

Technology Access and Training

While your community association may already have experience with technology, it’s essential to provide your new board members with the proper access and training to succeed in their roles.

Setting up a new board member in Pilera

You can give new board members proper access by changing their occupant type from an owner to a Board Member in Pilera.  

Based on their responsibilities, you can designate the appropriate user roles. You can then layer on different roles in the User Admin section in Pilera, such as vendor admin, task admin, message admin, support contact, and more. 

Video: How to Manage Board Member Information in Pilera

HOA Management Software Training for New Board Members

Once you grant new board members proper access, start training them on the following topics:

Resident Communications

Communicating with residents frequently is vital to keeping them formed, building trust, and instilling a sense of community.  Train new board members on:

  • The types of communications sent out to the community and messaging
  • How to send routine and emergency messages
  • How to track the delivery of messages

Pilera\’s automated communication system simplifies the onboarding process for new board members, allowing them to adapt and start sending messages quickly.  Board members can:

  • Review past messages in the message archive.
  • Use templates that managers or fellow board members created as a guide to draft their messages.
  • Send residents automated phone, text, email, or postal letters based on their communication preferences.  
  • Use the Preview and Send option to review a list of all residents who will receive the message and the communication type they prefer. This feature helps board members ensure accuracy and gives them peace of mind before hitting the send button.

Related: HOA Communication Tools to Create a More Connected Community

Maintenance, Architectural Change Requests, and Rule Violations

Ensuring the smooth operation of your community is essential for creating a safe and enjoyable environment for residents. That\’s why board members must be well-trained in managing various aspects such as maintenance, Architectural Change Requests (ACRs), and rule violations:

  • Report and track common area maintenance issues and communicate with preferred vendors. 
  • Review Architectural Change Requests thoroughly to ensure they comply with community rules and communicate with residents on whether it was accepted or rejected. 
  • Rule violations – How to identify and report different types of violations in the community based on its governing documents and tracking the violation through compliance. 

With Pilera\’s ticketing system, new board members can easily access and review past issues and resolutions, aiding them in onboarding. Here\’s how our ticketing system can assist new board members: 

  • Use the powerful dashboard filters to view current and past common area maintenance, rule violations, incident logs, RFPs, and support tickets. This overview allows board members to stay organized and informed.
  • Gain insights by accessing every conversation tied to a ticket. This transparency enables new board members to learn from past experiences and understand how to resolve different issues. 

Related: Tips to Create an HOA Maintenance Checklist

Tailoring new board member training to their specific roles and responsibilities is essential. Additionally, the level of involvement from your management company in your community\’s operations will influence the topics covered. If your management company takes a hands-on approach, they will likely handle most of the communications and operations. However, with the help of our community technology platform, new board members can gain insights into current processes, address issues, and find resolutions.

Board Meetings

When a new board member joins, training them on conducting effective board meetings is essential.  During this training session, you can help new board members understand how to organize meetings, create clear agendas, manage time effectively, reduce conflict, and promote respectful communication.

At this time, you can also introduce new board members to technology your community uses to run board meetings, from resident communication tools to online meeting platforms.  You can ensure a smooth transition by empowering new members with the knowledge and skills to schedule and conduct board meetings during onboarding.   

Related: How to Improve Board Meetings with Technology

Task Management & Collaboration

It’s crucial to help new board members become familiar with the community\’s ongoing tasks. That way, they can collaborate and contribute to projects. A task management system is an excellent tool to manage this process. It allows new board members to access relevant tasks, get familiar with ongoing projects, and quickly understand their responsibilities. 

Start assigning tasks and deadlines through the task management tool to clarify what needs to be done and ensure accountability.  With Pilera\’s task management system, board members and managers can collaborate effectively on ongoing tasks. They can track updates and receive real-time notifications, ensuring that everyone is well-informed. By regularly monitoring tasks, you can identify any potential roadblocks and make informed decisions to keep the project on track.  

Related: Guide to Streamlining Board Tasks & Operations

Encourage education for New Board Members

The community association industry is constantly evolving. Encouraging personal development and education can help new members (and even experienced ones) stay ahead. Check your local trade organization, such as the Community Association Institute (CAI) or Cooperator, on the different workshops, seminars, or online classes offered for existing and new board members.  These events can provide insight into recent trends, industry best practices, legal requirements, and effective management strategies.  Furthermore, these educational opportunities can help new board members understand the complexities of HOA management and solve the challenges the community is facing. 

Other sources of educational content include:

  • Educational articles from trusted sources such as trade organizations, management companies, and technology providers. 
  • Google Alerts that you can set up every week with relevant keywords such as community association, HOA, or Condominium will send you regular emails whenever new content that matches your alert criteria is published. 

Summary: Setting your new board members up for success in your HOA

As you welcome new board members, it\’s important to recognize they may feel overwhelmed in their new roles. However, by providing new board members with proper support, onboarding, and the right technology, you can help them contribute and make a real impact.

At Pilera, we believe technology can simplify the transition and empower new board members to become effective leaders.  Pilera’s HOA management software enables board members to stay informed and connected through their responsibilities, from resident communications to maintenance projects to operational issues. 

It\’s important to remind new board members to approach the role with dedication, open-mindedness, and a commitment to serving the community\’s best interests. Community leadership can be challenging, but it\’s also incredibly rewarding. Together, you can build camaraderie, create a strong team dynamic, and ensure the success of your community.

About Pilera

Pilera helps make your job as a board member easier by gaining visibility into your operations and improving collaboration with other board members and managers.  With Pilera, you can manage your tasks, oversee community projects and trends, streamline approvals, share documents, and more.  To learn more about these features, contact [email protected] or book a demo.

Pilera Votes - Electronic Voting Software for HOAs and Condos

Tired of delays in decision-making, low voter turnout, or concerns about fairness in your community’s voting process?  The skepticism about the fairness of community voting and the cumbersome paper ballots have left many seeking a better way. We’re excited to introduce Pilera Votes, a more streamlined way to run secure and fair voting or elections in your community association!  Say goodbye to delays and doubts about transparency and transition to a more secure, efficient, and trustworthy voting process.  

In this blog post, you’ll learn how Pilera Votes can streamline your voting process to meet quorum, improve decision-making, and unite your community.

Easy to use and convenient

With Pilera votes, managing elections and voting has never been more accessible.  Our user-friendly platform makes it a smooth and hassle-free experience for HOA administrators and residents. Pilera Votes is mobile-friendly so that residents can participate from anywhere. This helps to increase engagement in your community and improve voter turnout.

Secure and transparent

We understand that a secure and trustworthy voting process is your community\’s top priority when conducting elections.  That’s why our software locks down votes, guaranteeing that only residents in your community can cast their votes.  This enables you to earn the trust of your residents while safeguarding the integrity of your voting process.  

Direct access

The voting form in Pilera is also easy for your residents to access.  Residents can access the election form directly through the resident portal in Pilera or through a secure, shareable link.  This eliminates the need for time-consuming paper ballots or manual processes that may take weeks. 

Fair and equitable voting

Many condo associations need to track unit weights (also called allocation of ownership) to identify how much influence an owner has in the association for voting, distribution of common area maintenance, assessment fees, etc.  In Pilera, you can add unit weights, and it will automatically populate it in the election form. Then, you can download an XLS of the voting results and calculate the votes using the unit weight.  This helps to ensure a fair and equitable voting process. 

Improve decision-making with instant results

Manual processes or paper ballots often cause weeks of delay in decision-making.  With Pilera Votes, you no longer have to experience delays in your community’s decision-making process.  With Pilera Votes, you can watch as the votes are counted instantly, helping you to verify how many votes you need to reach a quorum.  Once the voting concludes, you can access the results in a table for easy browsing or graphs to identify voting trends. 

Integrate voting with your daily community management workflow

Although many standalone voting platform options are available in the market, the benefit of Pilera is that you can easily integrate voting with your daily community management workflow.  Pilera offers 4 products that transform your communities and help you retain occupants, build cooperation, and grow in value:

  • Pilera Connect – Send routine or emergency notifications to your community through phone, email, text, or postal mailing. Using Pilera Connect with Pilera Votes lets you spread the word and get 80%+ voter turnout.
  • Pilera Ops – A collaborative system that acts as a powerful shield on top of your accounting system.  Easily streamline work orders, ACRs, violations, tasks, and RFPs.
  • Pilera Care – A support tool built for the community management industry that makes it easy for your employees and offshore team to resolve resident issues and deliver personalized service.   Pilera Care with Pilera Votes enables you to support residents throughout the voting process. Residents can submit support questions and view FAQs about the voting process.
  • Pilera Engage – A self-service portal for residents to access the latest community information, make payments online, request services, and communicate with other residents.  

How to get started with Pilera Votes:

Getting started with voting software is easy with Pilera Votes. Pilera Votes is an add-on to the Pilera family of products: Pilera Connect, Pilera Ops, Pilera Care, and Pilera Engage. Through our Ballot Builder, you will submit your requirements, such as the ballot question and voting dates.  Our team will then build the perfect voting system for your community and will train your team.  

Build Your Ballot

Download Brochure

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. Book a personalized demo to learn how Pilera can help improve efficiency and reduce costs. 

As an HOA board member or manager, it’s very important to ensure that your community is thriving and you have great communication with residents. It’s common to encounter a lot of homeowners that want to rent their property. However, depending on the situation your HOA might need to impose some restrictions. But what kind of rental restrictions can you impose in the HOA? How can you communicate those restrictions with your residents? Here are some ideas to keep in mind!

Why are there any HOA short-term rental restrictions?

As an HOA you want to maintain great community standards, and a high property value as well. Also, these limits will help keep the liability insurance rates under control. Any limitations like these will help ensure lenders provide loans for new properties.

Plus, limitations can help boost the community\’s stability. Not only that, but many renters might not follow the community standards, which leads to violations and other problems. It’s very important to avoid those issues, so imposing certain restrictions can be the right thing to focus on.

The most common HOA short-term rental restrictions 

You will find a variety of restrictions for both long and short-term rentals in HOAs. Here are the most common ones:

Rental caps

Rental caps are ubiquitous and very helpful to keep rentals under control. Some HOAs even require new property owners to reside there for at least a year before they rent the property. 

Lease restrictions

Lease restrictions have provisions that must be part of the lease agreement. Such restrictions can include a minimum lease period, among others. The tenant will also need to comply with the community standards too. 

Evictions

Some HOAs will even require the landlord to add a clause where non-complying tenants can be evicted if they break the community standards either once or multiple times.

Vetting/Screening Prospective Tenants

In some cases, HOAs can even choose to vet/screen prospective tenants. This enables HOAs to avoid any potential renters that are not suitable for their own community. However, this is on a per-state basis, as not all states see this as a legal option.  In addition, board members and managers should refer to the CC&Rs (the community’s governing documents) to see if tenant/vetting screening is allowed or not.

Is it mandatory for HOAs to disclose any restrictions?

It all comes down to the local laws, but also the community\’s governing documents. Normally, any HOA short-term rental restrictions must be public and not hidden. This is important because potential tenants and landlords need to know what kind of restrictions are in place. When enforcing these restrictions, things can be a bit difficult.

Tenants are not a part of the HOA since they just rent the property, so they aren\’t normally bound to the HOA rules and regulations. That\’s why an HOA needs to direct all its enforcement actions to the landlord/homeowner. The homeowner needs to enforce all the rules upon their tenants. An HOA can even file a lawsuit against a homeowner if their rules are not followed either by them or their tenant. 

Communicating HOA rental restrictions to homeowners

Every HOA can establish its own restrictions based on local laws and governing documents, but the challenge comes from communicating those restrictions to residents. There are many different methods your HOA can use to communicate restrictions:

  • Email Communications – Sending emails to the community is one of the simplest methods any HOA can use to showcase and share any of its restrictions. Since everyone tends to check their email at least once a day, it\’s a great way to spread the word and inform any residents.
  • Board Meetings – HOA meetings also offer a great time opportunity for HOAs board members and managers to remind residents of their rules. They can also update those rules and let the residents know of any changes too.
  • Website – Creating a dedicated page on the community website is also a great idea. The website can list all the rules and procedures, and show exactly when these changes went into effect as well.
  • Document Library – Having a document library also comes in handy, and here the HOA can easily share documents featuring all restrictions according to their latest guidelines. 
  • Resident Support – A phone line or support ticketing system that residents can use to contact management with any questions is also very helpful. This way any residents can get in touch with any HOA representatives board members/managers and see what kind of rules they need to abide by.

How HOA Software can aid in communicating restrictions

While enforcing these rules can be challenging, these communication methods can make it easier for HOAs to enforce their own rules professionally. 

That\’s where HOA software such as Pileracomes into play. With Pilera, you can easily create a community website with private/public pages for all residents, and you can share any restrictions on those pages.  Additionally, Pilera\’s HOA management software also offers secure document storage and a help desk feature where board members or managers can provide customer support and reply to tickets issued by residents. 

Conclusion

Every HOA needs to have control over how many people rent a property and how these properties are rented in the first place. It’s very important to focus on the stability of the entire community, while also maintaining a certain resident quality. In addition, any HOA needs to have a say whenever someone enters the community. All these things can be enforced with adequate rental restrictions. 

It’s very important to use HOA management software, as this is an exceptional tool that will help track rental restrictions, while also notifying residents whenever any changes arise. If you\’re an HOA board member/manager and want to find a better way to communicate important community information such as restrictions, contact Pilera today!

How to manage HOA Board Member expectations.

Are board members truly satisfied with the level of service provided by your HOA management company?

Over the past few years, the expectations of board members have changed drastically. As an HOA management company, the opinion and expectations of the board members should be of high importance to you.

In this article, you’ll learn about 4 ways management companies can meet and even exceed board member expectations.

1) Increase visibility

An important goal of board members is to ensure that community operations run smoothly and that decisions taken are in the collective members’ best interests.

An HOA or Condo association will often hire a management company to help them to run the community’s operations and handle finances, maintenance, violations, complaints, and more. Board members want to gain visibility into the community’s operations and finances. They also want to know the type of issues residents are experiencing and how the management company is handling these interactions.

Managers can meet board member expectations by improving visibility, regularly communicating with board members, and providing them with status updates. One of the most useful ways to give your board members visibility is by creating a monthly Board Packet. Board packets can include financial statements, reports on in-progress and completed work orders, resident support requests, violations, and any other tasks that managers are working on.

Pilera’s HOA software empowers managers to increase visibility and communication with the board through real-time analytics. The Ticket Analytics Report gives insight into the open, closed, and in-progress tickets for work orders, ACRs, rule violations, support, and tasks. With the help of these real-time reports, managers can directly communicate the value of their services to the board member and thereby improve board member satisfaction.

2) Fast response time

In the digital age, customers expect a fast response time from the companies they do business with, and it’s no different for HOA and condo communities. It’s important to establish a method of communication with your board members and residents and the frequency with which you will communicate with them. When they reach out to you, it’s important to set expectations on when they will get a response. Here are a few ways to manage expectations and improve your response times:

  • Inform your board members of when they can expect a response from you. Is it within 24 hours or 48 hours? Clearly state this on your website or email responses.
  • Maintain a singular place for board members and residents to submit requests, whether that is through email, a form on your website, or an online portal.
  • Encourage self-service in your community by keeping your website or online portal fresh with the latest community information, documents, events, and more.

3) Reduce the risk of liability

Since board members volunteer their time to run the association, they may not have the expertise to handle rules and regulations that impact the community. Therefore, they often look up to an HOA management company to guide them through legal questions or challenges. Managers need to be well-versed in community association law and actions that a community needs to take to comply.

Also, by maintaining information on a technology platform, you can help board members reduce the risk of a community’s liability. Here’s how:

  • Maintain all interactions and communications within the community. This can be done effortlessly through an HOA software such as Pilera’s.
  • Keep a history of all open and closed tickets for work orders, ACRs, rule violations, support, and tasks.
  • Pilera’s document library has board-specific folders so they can access important rules & regulations.
  • Managing repair work is a major task undertaken by management companies. HOA associations are required to acquire a minimum of 3 vendor bids for repair and maintenance work. Managers can help associations compare bids and secure the best vendor.
  • With Pilera’s vendor management, you can easily store vendor information and receive automated COI reminders, thereby reducing the community’s liability.

4) Manage daily operations efficiently

Board members rely heavily upon HOA management companies to run their associations and manage their operations. An HOA management company acts primarily as an advisor of the HOA board and serves as its helping hand. As an HOA manager, you have to handle a variety of tasks such as maintenance, resident requests, violations, architectural change approvals, vendor bids, and more. With so many tasks to manage, time management and efficiency are critical. Creating more efficiency enables you to generate better outcomes for the community as well as save the community money. Here are some ways in which you can improve team efficiency:

  • Streamline processes – You should have a well-documented process of how your team handles different tasks from start to finish and how to handle any problems that arise.
  • Improve communication with staff and board members – It\’s important to keep your board members informed of tasks and projects that you are working on for them. With a collaborative HOA platform such as Pilera’s, you can update the status of any work, communicate with board members and staff, and automatically maintain a history of each task.
  • Invest in technology to automate tasks – With the right technology, you can manage a variety of tasks, communicate with board members and residents, and monitor your workflow.

Conclusion

By working with your board member clients, you can create more self-sufficient communities and improve operations together. When you invest in automated technology, you can improve transparency with the Board, respond faster, reduce any potential risks or liability, and create more efficiency.


Are you ready to start a business in an exciting industry? If yes, then being a homeowner association manager is the perfect place for you to start. By starting your own HOA property management company, you can help a community thrive beyond its imagination while earning a comfortable lifestyle for yourself as well.

It doesn\’t matter whether or not you have experience running a business. Your knowledge of managing homeowner\’s associations will take you a long way in this field. Here\’s how you can start and manage your own HOA property management company:

Understand the HOA Industry and the Rules in Your Location

First and foremost, do your due diligence and ensure you understand how local homeowners’ associations operate in your area. Even if you are well-versed in it, it will benefit you to analyze your local area again and refresh your knowledge about the industry as well.

As you begin learning more about the HOAs in your local area, try to narrow down the needs and requirements of these associations. This will help you understand how you can fill a gap and address the needs of local HOAs. 

These include:

●     Community maintenance

●     Collecting resident fees and bill payments

●     Managing finances of the HOA association

●     Processing resident work orders or support requests.

●     Creating a channel of communication between the association and its residents.

Furthermore, it is important to have an in-depth knowledge of the local laws and rules governing the communities. At this stage of your research, you must also narrow down the type of associations you\’d like to serve. These could be anything between the range of gated communities to high-rise buildings.

Type of Communities

Single-family HOA – Single-family homes are a type of detached family homes and hence, their most important needs are processing HOA fees, keeping residents informed, and keeping track of violations.

Gated communities – These communities follow strict regulations to control the pedestrian flow and are characterized by closed walls and perimeters. Their needs include security, package tracking, and vehicle tracking.

Luxury condos and High Rise Buildings – These are buildings with multiple units that may or may not be owned by different individuals. Their requirements include managing amenities operations and reservations.

○ Other types of communities you may be in the best position to manage include active adult communities, golf communities, or townhomes.

Size of the Community

Next up, you must decide what community sizes you can manage. This will depend upon the services you\’re offering and your workforce. If this is your first time stepping foot into the HOA industry, then it\’s best to start slow and pick up a smaller community to work with.

This will help you to understand what a community demands and how you can improve your working efficiency as well. Once you\’ve got a hold of your chosen community, you can move on to the next steps.

Differentiate Yourself

A great way to succeed in your HOA community is to figure out who your competitors are and decide what your ultimate selling point is. This will help you stand apart from the crowd and cater to your target audience better. Here are some of the ways you can make your mark in the industry:

  • Service Offering – Define the types of services and the range of services you are ready to provide as a full-time management service.  This can include communication, accounting, planning, budgeting, on-site management, and serving as a direct contact for residents.
  • What Sets You Apart – Identify the areas where your competitors are lacking and try incorporating them into your management company. For instance, if your competitor doesn\’t provide legal planning to the association, then you can go ahead and incorporate it into your plan.
  • Personalized Customer Service – Due to the advancements in technology, the expectations of people have increased by leaps and bounds. Therefore, people nowadays love to have detailed and personalized customer service. You can provide fast responses to your customers and be on top of resident complaints.
  • Expertise – Set an example of professionalism and expertise in your company by truly putting the needs of the community association and the residents ahead of your own.
  • Staff professionalism and expertise – Will you require staff to have a professional certification in community association management? It\’s important to encourage staff members to get accredited through local trade organizations or the Community Association Institute (CAI). CAI offers professional certifications and courses to help managers stay updated in the field.

Company Name and Branding

Once you\’re done with the above principles of starting a company, you need to hit the accelerator on your company’s branding. Ensure that the name you choose has a click to it and can make a connection with your potential customers. Remember that your brand name must be easy to remember and identifiable.

Create Your Website

Your HOA management company should have a website of its own to reach out to your target audience on a larger scale and find more leads for your business.

Optimizing your website as per the latest search engine trends will help your target audience to find you easily on the internet and give you an edge over your competitors. Furthermore, it is also important to include a section on the website about your contact information.

Leverage Technology

The latest property management software can be your best friend in sailing your way through the HOA industry. An HOA software like Pilera can help you store resident information, keep track of residential requests and maintenance, view important community documents, communicate with the residents, collect dues, and pull up reports.

As your company grows, find software that will accommodate your growth through portfolio management capabilities. This will enable your staff to multitask much better. Furthermore, Pilera makes this digital transition easier for your company by providing special start-up pricing.

Come Up with a Pricing Plan

You need to develop a pricing plan that will include administrative expenses, legal expenses, HR & payroll. Ensure that the pricing is a round-figure monthly fee so that your pricing is easy for customers to understand.

Typically, management companies charge $10-20 per unit per month, according to All HOA Management. Depending on the location and the needs of the community, what you decide to charge HOAs can vary accordingly.

Marketing of Your Business:

Marketing your business will help spark an interest in your company amongst your target audience. Digital marketing tools like social media can play a huge role in expanding your business and your reach. Another important marketing strategy is to be listed on search engines such as Google and Bing or review sites such as Yelp so potential customers can find you.

Conclusion

Even though starting your own HOA property management company might seem like a daunting task at first, developing a plan to help you identify potential customers and your service offerings can help you get off to a good start. 

Leveraging HOA software from the start can help you organize resident requests and communication so you can steadily grow your company.  HOA management platforms such as Pilera can help make things easier for you. So, begin your journey in the HOA industry today with the latest technology right by your side!

Wisconsin new condo website law

Can your residents easily access important community information such as vendor contracts or financial statements?  Soon, condominium associations managing over 100 units in Wisconsin will be required to provide residents with a password-protected website.  This new website requirement is part of the amendments to the Condominium Ownership Act (Wisconsin 703.20) which goes into effect on April 1, 2023, along with other rules on financial audits and keeping records of vital community data.  Wisconsin follows other states such as Florida in passing similar laws that focus on improving communication and transparency between board members and residents. 

Disclaimer: Note that this article does not constitute legal advice. The purpose of this article is to provide you with tips on how to prepare for the upcoming Wisconsin Condo Website Law Requirements (Wisconsin 703.20).  It is important that you consult your association lawyer for any questions about the specific requirements of the law. 

New Community Website Requirements

By April 1, 2023, all condominium associations managing more than 100 units will be required to have a password-protected website.  The association will also need to provide residents and employees with a secure login to access community information.  Through a password-protected website or web portal, the association will need to share the following documents with residents: 

  • Board meeting minutes and any actions that were taken without a meeting.
  • All bylaws and CC&Rs of the association. 
  • All receipts and expenses related to common areas.
  • Annual budgets
  • Financial statements
  • Bank statements
  • Reserve accounts and statements
  • Insurance policies
  • Income and expense statements
  • Association audits if conducted
  • Contracts the association signed in the past 6 years and any bids obtained in the past 3 years.
  • Invoices and expenses

See the complete list of the documents that your website must have. 

The community can fully manage the website on its own.  Or if the community has hired a management company, they can maintain the website on the association’s behalf.

In the next section, you’ll learn how to prepare for the new condo law and what steps you can take now.

How to Prepare for the New Condo Website Law

1) Identify your Community Website Needs

Before you begin implementing a solution, it’s important to take a step back and list what features your new website will need.  At a minimum, the features you’ll need to have include:

  • The ability for community management staff, board members, and residents to log into the website (password-protected website or web portal). 
  • Private pages for your board members and residents. 
  • Document management with good folder structure and viewing permissions. 
  • Built-in security features to keep your associations’ data safe.

While the new law has some specific requirements for what a website needs to do for your community, it’s a good idea to consider other goals such as increasing community engagement or reducing calls to the office.  Here are some additional considerations when you’re searching for a new website solution:

Improve SEO with a mobile-friendly website

Google now prioritizes websites that are mobile-responsive rather than non-responsive in the search results.  Considering that 60% of all online searches are done through a mobile device, having a mobile-friendly website is no longer a luxury but is expected.   HOA website solutions such as Pilera’s provide you with many mobile-responsive templates to build a website that is easy for your residents to find what they’re looking for.

Ease of Use

Managing the day-to-day operations of a community can be hectic and overwhelming.  That’s why when it comes to any technology, it’s important to consider a solution that saves you time rather than create more work.  Consider choosing a website solution that is easy for you to build and maintain over time, preferably without needing to involve your development team.  Pilera’s easy drag-and-drop functionality lets you easily format your website and add content. Many of our clients share that the website is so easy to build without needing any prior technical experience! 

Resident Self-Service

A website with resident self-service capabilities enables your residents to view important community information and make payments on their own time.  A resident web portal, which is a password-protected website, offers additional capabilities for residents to update their information and request services. Through Pilera\’s resident web portal, residents can self-manage their units, update their contact information, submit work order requests, view documents and events, communicate with other residents through a discussion board, and much more. Offering this capability to residents will increase satisfaction and reduce the workload for your staff.

Increased Community Engagement

A website is also a great way to build a sense of community.   Choose a website solution that allows you to create pages and add your own content.  Pilera makes it easy to add your own custom content to your website.  Many of our clients have created a complete website experience by adding content, such as photos, videos, or amenity information, that shows everything their community has to offer! 

2) Evaluating Website Options: Generic vs HOA-specific community websites

Now that you understand what features you want in a website, it’s time to identify potential website providers.  There are two main categories of website providers:

  • Generic providers – WordPress, Wix.com, and others.  While these providers offer websites that are highly customizable, they aren’t specifically built for the community management industry.  Additionally, you may require a website developer to manage the site over time.    

  • HOA-Specific Website Providers – HOA-Sites, Pilera, and others.  These websites are built specifically for the HOA and Condo industry and offer features like resident logins, online payments, calendars, document sharing, and more.  Website platforms such as Pilera empower you to create websites without needing to involve a website development team for any change you need to make, big or small. 

Check out our comparison of generic websites versus HOA-specific websites to find out what solution is best for you. 

3) Give yourself enough time to research and test software

Because there are only 3 months left before the law takes effect, now is the time to start searching for a website solution.   Consider looking into website options that meet the basic requirements of the law and will give you additional features to meet the goals you’ve chosen in Step 1. 

The best way to know what solution works best for you is to book a demo with the website provider and ask them to give you a free trial.  Encourage other team members in your community or company to try out the platform too.  Website solutions such as Pilera’s offer personalized demos and free trials.  Our team also provides comprehensive onboarding and training so you can get set up for success right away.

Managing less than 100 units?  Do I still need a website?

If you manage a condo association that has less than 100 units or a single-family homeowners association, a website isn’t required.  However, a website can provide significant benefits for your community. 

Improve resident satisfaction

Consumers are far more likely to search for a company on the web before contacting their support, and the same applies to residents of a community association.  Having a community website can improve the resident experience because they can view information and submit requests on their own time.

Impress prospective buyers

Prospective buyers are very likely to research the community before buying a home and will turn to the web for answers.  A community website can give prospective buyers an idea of what it is like to live in the community.  For a public-facing website, consider sharing:

  • How the community operates
  • Amenities
  • Monthly fees – what these fees go toward
  • Events
  • Activities/Clubs

Reduce inbound calls and emails

We mentioned earlier that a website is a valuable self-service tool for residents.  When residents can find board meeting documents on their own or submit work orders online, that means more time to focus on other meaningful tasks.

Conclusion

With the deadline to provide your community with a password-protected website approaching, it’s important to prepare in advance.  Here is a recap of the steps that you should take:

  1. Understand the full requirements of the new website law and consult your association lawyer with any specific questions you may have. 
  2. Identify the list of features you need in a community website.  Take this opportunity to consider other valuable features that can help you accomplish other goals like increased resident engagement and reduced inbound calls to the office.
  3. Start searching for website providers that will tick all the boxes for your website.  Get a personalized demo, test out the software, and involve other members of your team in the process.


About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier community management software that has helped thousands of community managers and back-office personnel improve customer service. Increase resident satisfaction and work efficiency with the best tools in the market – communications, client service ticketing, and community websites! Request a personalized demo so you can learn how Pilera\’s community management solution can work for you.

HB22-1137

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.

International Community Association Manager Day

The Community Association Institute (CAI) recently announced the first-ever International Community Association Manager Day, which takes place today, June 13th! We\’re sharing the stories and experiences of our biggest users in the field to celebrate it!

What is International Community Association Manager Day?

International Community Association Manager Day is dedicated to celebrating community association managers who serve homeowners associations and condominium associations in the United States and worldwide. 55,000 managers in the United States and many thousands more worldwide lend their expertise to help boards successfully operate and govern their communities. CAI research studies show that community associations continue to be a preferred place for millions of individuals to call home. According to CAI studies, resident satisfaction is increasing every year, with 89% rating their experience as positive. Additionally, 85% of residents who have had direct contact with their managers rate it as a positive experience!

Meet the Managers

Here at Pilera, we work with amazing community managers who work tirelessly to build successful communities and create great association living experiences for residents! To celebrate this day, we share some of our client\’s unique stories, lessons they\’ve learned along the way, and their advice for those looking to start a career in community management.

Norm Patton, Community Manager at Solomons Landing Condo

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How long have you been in the community management industry?

I have been a Community Manager for 2 years.  This was my first job after Retiring from the Navy and Air Force after 20 years.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in the industry and how did you overcome the challenge?

This being a resort community tied in with it being a 25 year old property have been a challenge. When I took over the job from someone who really didn’t make any adjustments or improvements in the last 10 years was tough. A lot has to be done to bring this community current with technology and innovations.  The way we communicate electronically is way better now than it was.  Everything before me was done via paper and very slow and unorganized. Getting residents involved with committees and hosting events that were never held before was slow in the start.

It is also difficult as a manager because you often serve two competing bosses.  I am hired by a management company that like to have control over what and how I do things, but I also serve a revolving Board of Directors that want things a certain way and finding a way to balance both entities is a daily stressor.

What is your favorite part of being in the community management industry? Is there any story or memorable experience that you wish to share?

Being able to balance office work with being outdoors and seeing residents face to face is a plus.  I have 49 acres of Marina and Nature combined with problem-solving on a daily basis.  There is something new each and every day.

This is a simple and insignificant story but, The day I started, there was a work order for a broken grill flame ignition that was about 3 months old.  Residents basically had to light the grill with a lighter.  I asked why it was not fixed and the maintenance worker said that the part that was broken was really difficult to find and that they had ordered a brand new replacement grill at around $1,000 but it was on backorder.  I researched the part and found it within a few minutes but as I was looking at the part, I decided, I would go look at the grill myself.  I went there and found that all it needed was a new AA battery. I swapped it out and was able to cancel the order of the new grill. I learned really fast that many issues have a very simple solution.

What advice would you give to new community management professionals? 

There is always another way to solve a problem.  Residents like the main things to stay the same overall but they also like to see new things that have your personality attached.  IT shows them that you care about the community and that you aren’t just doing a job.

Take as many “little wins” as possible.  Do the small things to help a resident whenever you can, even if it isn’t your job.  Because one day you won\’t be able to help them with something that is out of your control and it helps soften the negative interactions that are inevitable when they have the positive ones to remember. You can never please everyone all the time.


Sarah Metcalf, Business Manager at Pelican Cove Condo Assn., Inc.

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How long have you been in the community management industry?

I have been a Florida Licensed Community Manager for Nine years; however, I have had prior experience managing 159 Bank Branch locations.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in the industry and how did you overcome the challenge?

Unit Owners understanding what is Community Property and the ever changing and emerging Information Technology (IT).  Most unit owners get confused and use the generic term IT when they have issues that could be from their cable networking system, WIFI, or Phone system.  This could include their personal browser or email account.  IT is anything related to computing technology, such as networking, hardware, software, or the Internet.  I recently had someone complain they could not access our website only to discover their browser networking system was down.

What is your favorite part of being in the community management industry? Is there any story or memorable experience that you wish to share?

Every day brings a new challenge. Just last week I had a unit owner coming in with their cell phone in hand, expressing to me their internet was not working and she had made an appointment and was attempting to confirm the appointment.  She started showing us a string from a conversation that she had been having with an ‘IT person’ at the cable company.  After reading for a minute I expressed to her that she was having a conversation with an AI.  She asked what that was and I explained it was Artificial Intelligence.  She said no, and went to another sent message and said his name was BOT.  Everyone in the office started laughing, and I explained we were not laughing at her but the situation and hoped she would find it humorous after her situation was fixed.  A BOT is a software application that is programmed to do certain tasks, she was communicated with a “Chatbot”.  After the laughter stopped, one of our front office staff offered to stop by her unit on the way home and she discovered the unit owner was hitting the INPUT button on the remote instead of changing the channel.  An easy fix.  But this is one of the many reasons I am in the business.  I like the feeling of knowing either myself or staff can ultimately help our residents daily.

What advice would you give to new community management professionals? 

1. Patients, be willing to listen to unit owners to a degree.  2.  After time, you get better and it gets easier.  At first you will be overwhelmed, bullied even, but it will be a great learning and growing experience.  There will be continual problem solving and work arounds you need to figure out.  You will get occasional hate mail because someone is not in compliance or behind in the maintenance fees and that will never change, just accept it as human nature.


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

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.