#Communications

Community association and property management companies have seen much evolution in the past several years.  Residents and board members want more transparency in how their community is being managed.  Management companies are placing customer support at the heart of their operations. Thus, they\’re viewing technology as a way to offer the best possible service to their clients.  As a technology provider, Pilera has continued to innovate to empower property managers and community managers in growing their business, increasing work efficiency, and satisfying their clientele.  

In 2009, Pilera entered the property management industry by addressing a specific need for managers to communicate with their residents.  A little over a decade later, we’ve built one of the most reliable communications platforms in the industry.  We’ve also expanded our software platform to manage various aspects of property management – customer service, maintenance, resident engagement, and website management.  In this blog article, we highlight some of the biggest updates we\’ve made to our platform each year.

Check out the entire Pilera timeline here! If you\’re short on time, continue on our blog post right here!

2015: Pilera becomes an industry leader in Communications!

2015 was a turning point for Pilera’s communications suite as we released a vast number of features.  In addition to making automated phone calls and sending emails, managers could also start sending out text messages.  Messages can also be sent out in the resident’s preferred language.  Additionally, Pilera released a new built-in message delivery fault protection system which means that we make several attempts to send messages even when the service network is down or there is an emergency.

Other notable releases in 2015:

  • Add your company brand to emails so residents instantly recognize your company.
  • Receive automated ticket notifications for common area work orders and activity logs.
  • A number of accounting integration updates for VMS, C3, Jenark, TOPS, and Caliber.

2016: Manage your community’s work with a redesigned ticketing system

Pilera redesigned the ticketing system that provides more advanced tracking capabilities for work orders, rule violations, and activity logs.   

Another exciting feature we released is the knowledge base, a powerful FAQ center for your residents to get answers to important community questions. It\’s a great tool for your staff as well. When staff members are working after-hours or you hire a new employee, they can refer to the knowledge base during a resident call.

Other notable releases in 2016:

  • When residents call in, you can troubleshoot their questions or issues on the spot with the pretender functionality.  
  • Residents can manage other occupants in their unit.
  • Send documents to an entire community. 
  • Get insights on workload with automated work order reports.    
  • Several integration updates for TOPS and C3. 

2017: Increase work efficiency even when managing multiple communities or properties

It\’s easier than ever to see all tickets for a community you manage in a single dashboard.  Select criteria such as status, who the ticket is assigned to, and date range to get a detailed view of your work.    

Other notable releases in 2017:

  • Access common area and unit-level work orders in a single dashboard.
  • Download a PDF copy of work order tickets from your search results.
  • We’ve increased the speed of sending out text messages by a rate of 15x!
  • Track all vendor information, add license expirations, staff, and more through the new vendor app. Then, assign vendors to work order tickets.
  • Manage user permissions for company and community roles with the new User Roles Administration feature.

2018: Mobile-responsive websites, new document library & several more great features!

Pilera HOA websites get a brand new look and feel!  Choose from a variety of easy-to-use mobile-responsive website layouts so that you can make it easy for residents to learn more about their community.

Another exciting new feature is the revamped document library, which comes with more powerful permissions and folder structure than the previous version.  

Other notable releases in 2018:

  • Pet tracking and search.
  • Search for residents across your entire portfolio.
  • See all the residents who have or haven\’t received a welcome message in the new welcome message dashboard.
  • Opt-in community directory keeps your residents connected.
  • Download a Community PDF report of the work orders that you can present at a company or board meeting.
  • The Caliber integration now provides multi-transaction support and CalPay.

2019: Pilera goes mobile!

Pilera goes mobile!  A new mobile-friendly version of the manager and resident portals empowers managers to work on all their tasks whether they are at the office, home, or on-site.  Residents can also view all their community information anywhere on any device. 

Other notable releases in 2019:

  • Board members and managers can create, assign, and track tasks.
  • Keep track of all architectural change requests, as well as accept or reject them. Residents can also submit ACRs and view the status.
  • Manage your community\’s events directly in Pilera through our built-in calendar.
  • Numerous ticket improvements – New Ticket Analytics Report, Custom Ticket Categories, and the ability to associate tickets with the account.
  • Residents can log into multiple units they own within the same session.
  • New Vantaca integration.  

2020: New dashboards.  Plus, send an email to your entire portfolio!

Now, when managers, board members, and residents log into Pilera, they are greeted with a new dashboard that gives them a high-level summary of what is happening in the community. Managers will see an aggregate total of all their open and assigned work orders, architectural change requests, tasks, and violations.  Residents will see their payment balance as well as an aggregate of their work orders, architectural change requests, and communications.  Board members get additional insight into the tasks and ACRs that are assigned to them.  

Another new update is the ability to send email messages across your entire portfolio? Need to send a message to residents or board members in all your communities?  Now you can!

Other notable releases in 2020:

  • Search for and keep track of guest information in the new visitor management feature.
  • New Asyst integration.
  • TOPS One integration is now two-way.

2021: Powerful communication enhancements, recurring events & more!

The first release of the year was a popularly requested feature by our clients, distribution groups.  Through Pilera’s distribution groups, you can create any combination of users and locations to send messages to.  Easily add residents from a specific street, building, floor, or unit to the group.  The groups also self-maintain themselves whenever a resident enters or leaves a unit, so that you don’t have to.

Another major improvement to the communications platform just this week is the ability to add attachments and images to emails.  This means that you can create more professional and beautiful marketing emails to send to your communities. 

Another popular request is the ability to create recurring events.  You can now set up recurring event schedules for ongoing meetings you host.  Then, keep your residents informed by sending them an email notification at any time. 

Other notable releases in 2021 so far:

  • Organize your tickets by priority, age, and due date.
  • Import and export your document library. 
  • Authorize.net online payment integration.
  • There’s a lot more coming your way! 

Take your company to the next level with Pilera

Keeping your community informed, increasing efficiency for your staff, and growing your company are some of the goals that Pilera can help you achieve.  When you partner with Pilera for your management company, you’ll always lead with the latest technological innovations and proactive customer support by your side.  To learn more about how Pilera can work for your communities, you can book a personalized 1:1 demo.

Man with his laptop at home.

Last month, you learned how to manage your community’s data effectively and send a welcome message to new residents in Pilera.  Specifically, you performed a quality assurance check of your data. You’ve looked at the invalid emails and text numbers report (automatically sent to your inbox). [icon name=”check” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Also, you’ve given the power to residents to update their information. [icon name=”check” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

In the second part, we discuss different communication options in Pilera to help you send the right message at the right time.  Follow along!

Types of Outreach

  • Announce something important to your community – When you need to send an important message to your community, you can use the Send Announcement feature in Pilera.  This can be sent in the form of an email, text, or a phone call.  It’s completely up to you and the resident. If there is an incident occurring in the community and you need to inform your residents quickly of the situation, you can type the message and turn on Emergency Phone Call.  The residents will receive a phone call through the number set as their primary contact and an email.
  • Send files to your community – When you need to send relevant or time-sensitive documents to your community, you can use the Send Document feature in Pilera.  Residents will receive the document if they specified email address their communication preference. There are many types of files you can attach to the email.  You can also send multiple in the same email too.
  • Let residents know of an upcoming event – You can use the Event feature in Pilera to notify residents of any upcoming events in the community.  Residents will receive an email if they have specified one as their communication preference.

Be in control of who gets your messages & when

Whether you are sending an announcement, an urgent message, files, or event notifications, you should be in full control of who gets the message and when they get it.  You can send communications to a particular street, building, floor, unit, or to groups of people. The latter can be sent through the Send Message feature. Through the schedule announcements feature, you can schedule a message 2 weeks in advance.  This is especially helpful if a staff member is going on vacation.  They can send important messages to the HOA or condo community members even when not in the office.

Video: How to Improve Communications with Pilera

What else can you communicate to residents?  

  • Update residents on the status of a work order they submitted to management.  You can let them know what is going on throughout the maintenance request, not just when the request is complete.
  • If a resident violated an association rule, you can choose to have residents be notified through their preferred communication method.       

We hope you enjoyed going through these quick tips on how to use Pilera for your condo or HOA communities and thank you for your time.  We’ll be back soon to give you some more insight on communications. Stay tuned!

A resident who is uninterested in being involved with the community

Have you been reviewing the communications sent to your residents in the past few months and found that they aren’t opening emails?  Or perhaps, they aren’t reading text messages about ground maintenance and are unpleasantly surprised by the noise?  A resident might not be engaged in the community for several reasons.  Let\’s take a look at three residents – Jacob, Sally, and Sandy – and understand those reasons.

Jacob

A guy working in a coffee shop.

Jacob works full-time during the day as a manager of a local coffee and bakery shop.  He\’s also a very busy dad, dropping the kids off to swimming practice in the evenings and cheering them on during competitions.  Thus, after a long day\’s work, heavy traffic on the way home, and picking up the kids from practice, Jacob missed seeing an email from the managers.

Sally

A woman who is walking in the neighborhood

Sally recently moved into a three-bedroom condo after living in an apartment for four years.  This is the first time that she is a part of a condo association.  Therefore, the experience is very new to her and she doesn\’t know how to receive community updates.

Sandy

A resident who is uninterested in being involved with the community

Sandy has been living in the community for two years now but hasn\’t shown an interest in community ongoings recently.  She finds it too difficult to know what is going on in the community or what association rules she has to abide by.

How can you compete against time crunches, lack of understanding, and apathy to effectively reach your community?

1) Focus on transparent communications

Any communication your team sends should focus on improving the transparency of your operations.  This is one step that goes a long way toward building resident engagement.  Residents with less time will want to find a way to be involved and the company can gain the trust of previously uninterested residents.

2) Use direct mailers or flyers to make the initial intro

Direct mailers and flyers are a great way to make the initial introduction to residents who aren\’t engaged. Although direct mailers can be costly depending on the volume, this avenue could be money well spent if it increases resident engagement and reduces problems.  For example, you opted to send a direct mailer to the entire community on the recently launched resident web portal. Let\’s see how each resident reacted:

  • Jacob is happy to be knowledgeable of when maintenance will arrive to fix the water pipes on his property so he can be present.
  • Sally is now more at ease because she can learn about the community she lives in.  Specifically, she will learn how to pay her dues online and understand the association rules.
  • Sandy can now receive updates on community ongoings, events, and how her contribution is valuable. Being proactive and taking small incremental steps can make a big difference in building the foundation for trust.

Being proactive and taking small incremental steps can make a big difference in building the foundation for trust.

3) Use multi-channel online communications

Make it easy for your residents to get information quickly by using multi-channel communications.  If you stick to just sending out emails, you risk reaching out to those who do not have an email or aren\’t tech-savvy.  There is a popular saying in marketing – “Be where the customer is”. Similarly, the best policy for managers to reach disengaged residents is to be active on the communication channels they use. Those channels might be a website, social media, email, phone calls, or text messages.

4) Keep the message short and to the point

People tend to have less attention span when they multi-task.  Long messages lose focus and will further disengage residents who already aren’t engaged.  Additionally, messages to residents should be short and concise. The language should be easy enough to understand and the resident should know why they are receiving the message.

5) Encourage resident engagement through events & scheduled meetings

The best way to spur some activity from busy, apathetic, or uninformed residents is to be proactive yourself as a community manager.  Encourage residents to attend the board meetings and explain why it is important to be involved and give their inputs. Host fun social events for the community to not only serve as an ice-breaker but get them more involved and knowledgeable. Additionally, you can schedule a one-on-one meeting or phone call with the resident to get down to the crux of their concerns and come to a resolution.  The resident will appreciate that their property/community manager is taking time out for them and that their voice matters to the community.  They will truly feel that they are part of a community that takes their best interests to heart.

Facing Low Engagement/Responsiveness Challenges

One of the most prevalent challenges a community or property manager faces is reaching unresponsive or disengaged residents.  Low attention spans, disinterest, or lack of an understanding of how a community works can be obstacles to reaching residents.  However, being proactive and setting your company or community for transparent operations can help make the transition from a dis-coordinated community to a more engaged one, easier.

 


About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier community and property management suite that has helped thousands of community managers and back-office personnel enhance communications, improve customer service, and manage compliance and operations.  May we help your community achieve these success stories?  Book a demo to see how Pilera’s community management suite can help your company.  

A group of employees collaborating on a project.

Communications, when done well, can help your HOA or condominium management company build resident trust and provide a valuable experience to residents.  In this blog post, we cover ten planning and organization tips to help you not only manage outreach to residents but EXCEL in it!  

1) Perform a frequent communications audit

On a regular basis, it\’s helpful to review outreach efforts for the communities you manage.  This evaluation will help gain insight on how effective those efforts are. The audit will prompt you to ask questions about:

  • Methods used by managers to contact residents
  • Percentage of residents reached through each method
  • How residents have contacted the management office
  • Which questions residents ask management regularly
  • Whether staff responses satisfied residents
  • The time it takes for a manager to respond to and resolve a resident\’s question, concern, or complaint

2) Develop a communications strategy

Based on the evaluation, work with your team to develop a communications strategy that comprises the following elements:

  • Responsibility for communicating with residents – Designate roles to employees and make sure that responsibilities for everyone is clear.
  • The content of your communications – Decide what information needs to be conveyed to residents?
  • The frequency of communications – Specify the number of times a week, month, or on an as-needed basis.
  • Method of communication – phone, email, text message, or website notice.
  • How will you measure resident satisfaction with management responses and overall customer service?

 Read our blog post  to learn more about how to create a communications strategy for your community.  After the plan draft is complete, review it with your team, test the plan, and make any corrections to it.  

3) Keep residents contacts up to date

Low open rates and high bounce rates may overshadow your communications efforts.  When you review resident contacts in your database, you may find that some information is outdated. Therefore, you should reach out to residents whose emails or phone numbers are no longer in use and correct the information.  A better method is to have residents update their contact information in the database themselves.

4) Create a communications schedule

Once you and the team have developed a high-level communications strategy that aligns with business objectives, it’s time to drill into the specifics.  Create a schedule for what staff will convey, by whom, when, and through what methods. A schedule that contains content at least two to three weeks ahead of time helps you to stay on task.  You may opt to create a spreadsheet or a calendar. Here is what a sample communications schedule might look like:

A sample communications schedule for a property management company.

5) Segment your communications

Residents require different information based on what is occurring in the community (and can impact them) and which area of the community they reside in.  That is why dividing residents into groups based on location is helpful and can guide your team in providing them with relevant information. This also improves the organization of your communications.

6) Create message templates

As you continue the outreach to residents, you might identify similar information managers send time and again.  Thus, a message that managers can re-use should be converted into a template. Templates help keep content consistent and save time.  Additionally, staff can also re-use the templates and edit the content if needed.

7) Schedule your messages ahead of time

Once you’ve built out the templates and created a communications schedule, start scheduling messages through your communications software in ahead of time. Scheduling messages beforehand has many advantages.  For example, staff can schedule messages in advance so that no outreach is forgotten during busy times.  Furthermore, a staff member can schedule a message days or weeks prior to a holiday. If your communications software permits, it’s best to schedule messages a couple of weeks ahead of time.

8 Incorporate your branding

The company’s brand should be prevalent in every outreach effort to maintain consistent messaging and professionalism.  To illustrate, the brand reflects the company’s voice (tone), values (what the company stands for), and design (look and feel). When creating an email or newsletter, add the company logo and incorporate the brand’s colors in text and background areas.  Additionally, developing a brand template with all requirements can help staff to keep their messaging aligned with company values.

9) Keep the content simple

To convey information to residents effectively, the message needs to be clear and easy to understand.  Use short headlines and keep the text short. Furthermore, staff should incorporate the 5 W’s and an H – who, what, when, where, why, and how into the message.  Also, if the information you need to put across requires sharing lengthy details, break it up into sections with short headlines.

10) Don\’t leave out interpersonal communications

One of the most important, more in-depth ways to convey information to your community members is through personal, face-to-face communications. This communication focuses on verbal (what is actually said) and non-verbal cues (tone, expressions, and body language) to express feelings or convey information.  Therefore, you can gain a better understanding of resident sentiment in face-to-face meetings to address problems before it escalates.

Community outreach is a vital part of daily operations – without it, poor communications can result in resident disengagement and lack of proper coordination internally.  However, when done right, outreach helps to improve transparency in and out of the organization and increases satisfaction for both residents and employees.


About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier community and property management suite that has helped thousands of community managers and back-office personnel enhance communications, improve customer service, and manage compliance and operations.  May we help your community achieve these success stories?  Book a demo to see how Pilera’s community management suite can help your company.  

Home; Photo courtesy Pexels

As your busy July comes to an end, take a breath, sit back, and let us give you a summary of some latest trends in the community management industry.  Stay prepared and ahead of the game by learning about resident wages, energy-efficient homes, recent condo law reforms, and more.  Read along:  

1. Steady wage growth rate may slow down the multifamily market

According to Multi-Housing News, 361,000 more individuals were employed in June than in May, albeit with consistently low wage growth of 2-3%.  The multi-family housing market could see a slowdown if this trend continues, decreasing demand for new units coupled with the inability to increase rent.

2. Developers constructing net-zero energy-efficient homes

Rental and multi-family development businesses are now constructing homes with energy-efficient designs and amenities.  These new home development trends are an effort to increase sustainability and provide little to zero utility expenses for the renter or homeowner.  MODUS Development, a building developer company in Arizona, finished the construction of a three story-building last summer.  They implemented net-zero energy-efficient technologies such as solar panels mounted on the roof, parking that integrates on-site energy technologies, LED lights, a heat pump to warm and cool the pool, and time and moisture sensors to aid in improving the landscape.  Read this interesting case study by MultiFamily Executive to learn more.   

3. Face-to-Face communications are most effective for promoting to new tenants

MultiFamily Executive recently surveyed professionals to determine the most important aspect to focus on when promoting new home technologies to potential tenants.   26.8% of respondents said personal communication is the most effective, which includes face-to-face meetings, tours, demos, and showings.  17.9% stated that advertising is the most effective.  These two aspects were rated above marketing, social media, saving cost, signing leases, and energy savings.  

4. Freddie Mac enters the rental real estate market

According to the NY Times, Freddie Mac recently announced that it would be entering the single-family rental home market.  Freddie Mac aims to provide financing options to small and mid-sized landlord companies.  These landlord companies purchase single-family homes and then lease them in what they refer to as “affordable-housing rentals”.

5. Texas cities lead the top 10 best cities for new home buyers

WalletHub performed a new study to determine the ten best cities for new home buyers.  This list is based on three criteria: affordability, the performance of the real estate market, and quality of life.  The state of Texas leads the list with four cities: McKinney, Frisco, Allen, and Richardson, all located within proximity of Dallas.  

6. Florida Condo Law reforms take effect

As of July 1st, the new Florida Condo Law reforms will take effect.  The reform, which has garnered national attention, addresses many issues that have been plaguing the condo industry in the state.  It is now a felony to withhold or change documents if it\’s been proven to have been made to cover or commit crimes.  These crimes include election fraud – forging signatures and theft of ballots.  Additionally, condo associations with more than 150 units are required to provide financial statements to residents on a password-protected website.  For more information on how to best build transparency in light of this new law reform, read our recent blog post.  

A group of people working together during a meeting. Blog: Improving Communication in Your Residential Management Business.

Communication is an incredibly essential part of any business.  When it comes to managing your residential community, you’ll most likely agree that it is a core part of your operations.  Whether you are managing a condo, HOA, or multi-family, you’ll want to integrate a strong communications process in every key aspect of your business so you can continue to create enriched value for your residents, employees, and board members.  Community managers that we work with find communication very important so that they can instantly connect and exchange information with residents, employees, managers, board members, and vendors.  Additionally, a good communications plan helps speed up the process of managing critical problems.

A common question that our customers ask us is how to better streamline communications with all people who are important to their residential/community management business.  Thus, we found it beneficial to highlight six key steps you can implement to create a solid communications plan that will help you better organize and manage the exchange of information in your community.  We’ll also navigate through Jackie, a residential property manager’s, experience and journey from creating a communications plan, to executing the plan, and revising it for better results.

  1. Set High-Level Objectives Courtesy: "adidad8" from VecteezyIdentify what purpose communications will serve for your business and how it can create value for all the individuals you interact with.  Create goals that are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.  Make sure the goals resonate well with where your residential property company has been in the past and how you envision the future to be. Jackie is a community manager who is responsible for creating and executing high-level objectives.  She wants to cultivate an informative culture within her community by increasing the quality of communication with residents.
  2. Pull in the expertise of team members and assign roles

    Depending on the size of your company and the objectives planned for, you may choose to pull in the expertise of team members and assign them various roles.  Utilize the talent around you.

    Jackie realizes that she has a huge task in front of her.  She decides to assign group members specific roles and also inform the Company Director of the strategy and accomplishments.  Be sure to document all your processes and ensure that each individual is clear on his or her goals, tasks, and the expected outcome.

  3. Create recurring tactics that align with your objectives

    Courtesy: "adidad8" from Vecteezy

    Tactics will serve as mini-milestones on your journey to achieving the objectives and SMART goals.  Tactics are daily or one-time tasks that roll-up to the high-level objective and should be timely and relevant.  

    Cody completed an important milestone by sending weekly emails to community members about latest community events and new updates on the company.  These emails are an important component of the company\’s high-level objective to keep their residents engaged.  Essentially, a communications plan should consist of several concise, relevant, and timely tactics that will help to achieve the end results.

  4. Invest in software/latest technology

    A multitude of considerations must be made when planning to invest in a piece of technology or software for community and residential communications.  During consideration, your energies are directed toward researching tech/software features and trying to find the best fit for your departmental/organizational needs, testing out the ones that you like, convening with other team members, creating a budget for the investment, and then selecting a vendor to go along with.

    That’s why when Jackie decides to make a large investment, she ensures that the software she selected provides the desired features for the best value.  For a communications software that will potentially enhance communications with her residents, partners, managers, and the board members, she looked for features such as multi-channel, multi-lingual, customized, and scheduled communications all in one simple and intuitive interface.

  5. Monitor and analyze

    Evaluating the results of your communication is an ongoing process and will inform you of aspects of the program that are yielding the desired results and which aspects are coming short of the objectives.  

    Jackie and Cody both monitored the results of the weekly emails and are getting a decent click-through rate, but they realize they can do better.

  6. Revise your communications plan

    Based on what you have monitored and evaluated, it’s time to make some alterations to the plan or continue with the same objectives and tactics to keep the momentum going.  So, how did your communications strategy work (we hope it did!) for you?  

    Jackie, Cody, and the team are succeeding so far.  In the next emails, they plan to add a personal touch to their tone and branding to make the content more relatable to the residents and increase click-through rates to their events page link.

Creating a plan for how to effectively engage with your residential community, managers, board managers, partners, and other individuals is a first step that you can take to enhance value for your community management company.  You will also be better equipped to improve community and vendor relations as well as manage problems of any level of criticality.