Effective communication and meaningful dialogue are central to running a homeowners association. If communication is not there, it can lead to a lot of confusion and conflict. Members want to know what is happening, and they want to know that their opinion matters. It should not be the board making decisions under the cover of darkness and expecting homeowners to comply.
There are plenty of ways that the board can increase the level of engagement and interaction between themselves and members:
Update the website and social media. Thanks to smartphones, most homeowners have the Internet at their fingertips 24/7. Make use of the community’s website and social media platforms to keep members informed about what is happening now and in the future. Post reminders, meeting notices, event invites, and helpful tips. Make it easy for homeowners to stay connected and find the information they’re looking for.
Make the most of newsletters. Whether sending out hard copies or email blasts, include information that homeowners need to know. Establish a consistent schedule for distribution such as the first of every month, or every three months so members know when it is coming. Include shout outs to volunteers that are making a difference, or positive things happening in the community. A little praise and good news go a long way and can attract more attention than only focusing on negatives like rule violations.
Create detailed agendas. Meeting attendance can be hit or miss. Encourage homeowners to become more involved by outlining exactly what will be discussed at meetings. Instead of vague topics like “new business” or “old business,” be more specific. “Clubhouse renovations” or “pet policies” can raise more interest and get members to show up because they want to know more. Plus, this gives them the opportunity to be engaged and ask questions or provide suggestions.
Develop a system. Oftentimes members don’t speak up because they’re not sure how to make their voice heard. Have an FAQ section of the website or reminder article in the next newsletter explaining how homeowners can go about submitting questions, concerns, or ideas, or the process for speaking at the next annual meeting. Make any necessary forms readily available with clear directions on how to properly fill them out.
Be transparent. Offer as much information as possible to members. When they ask questions, be honest with answers. If the board can’t discuss something yet or does not have the answer, be upfront and say so. Don’t forget to circle back and update when information becomes available so homeowners realize these issues didn’t fall through the cracks or get overlooked.
Listen. This is key as well. Sometimes what people really want is to know that they are being heard. Acknowledge their concerns or ideas. Avoid being reactive or defensive and simply hear them out. Then you can formulate an appropriate response to address the issue in a more professional manner.
Working with a property management company like Kuester can help your HOA to boost its communication efforts and respond more quickly and effectively to member needs or inquiries. It is amazing how a focus on improved communication can make a noticeable difference in association relationships.