HOA Communication Tools: What Your Board Should Know and Do
Having HOA communication tools in your back pocket is the key to a harmonious board and community. As a board member of your community association, you strive for success. You understand the importance of diligent financial management and property maintenance. But have you considered the crucial role that effective board communication plays in your recipe for success? It's a game-changer.
But why is effective communication so important to your association and your board? You want to avoid confusion in your association. We all know that rumor is no way to manage any entity, and we also know that nature abhors a vacuum. When your residents aren’t hearing directly from your board on a consistent basis, they will fill in the blanks on their own and that may mean that misleading, incomplete or just plain wrong information will circulate. Transparent communication is the solution.
Avoid the game of telephone when it comes to your association budget! Clear messaging directly from the board is the key to preventing misunderstandings and ensuring important matters are properly addressed.
Luckily, it’s easy to create a communication plan that will work for your association. Follow these HOA communication tools and tips and set your association on the path to clear, effective communication.
1. Start with a good plan.
Crafting a comprehensive communication plan is essential. It is crucial to meticulously plan each communication from the board. Additionally, it is imperative to thoroughly review all elements to ensure that your message accurately conveys what you intend to avoid any issues in the future, such as unintentionally spreading misinformation.
Furthermore, never speculate and just lay out the facts. Don’t use absolutes like “never” or “always.” Your association's management team should have the expertise to help you create a communication plan that works for your association.
2. Use the right channels.
In today's digital age, people have various preferences when it comes to receiving information. While traditional printed notices still appeal to some, others opt for the convenience of email or even text messages. To ensure effective communication, it is crucial to gather residents' contact information upon moving in and make note of their preferred method. By prioritizing personalized communication, we can seamlessly deliver information to residents in a way that suits their individual needs.
Use that intake opportunity to educate new residents on what kind of communications they can expect to see from you and how they will be delivered. It may be a legal requirement that certain communications, like annual reports, must be sent as hard copies through the mail, for example.
3. Keep contact information updated.
Ensuring effective communication in emergencies is crucial, but it should also be a routine practice. Whenever residents contact the office, take a moment to verify and update their contact information. After all, even the most efficient communication strategies are ineffective if residents cannot be reached.
4. Choose the right tone.
When it comes to communication, the tone you choose can have a profound impact. Especially when dealing with people's homes, it is crucial that empathy and a personal touch are incorporated. By keeping your messages positive and aligned with the values of the community, you can foster stronger connections and a sense of belonging for all. Even difficult communications can be easier for residents to handle if the message is tied to a value of the community or a community survey.
5. Let technology work for you.
Do you have access to a mass communication system that lets you communicate with everyone at once? Social media, mass communication tools and your community website are invaluable tools for fast, clear communication.
The most important thing you need to do about technology is define, in writing, who can use it and what kind of messages can be sent through it. A meeting reminder is perfect for social media; an extended discussion of new policy is not. A quality association management company will have the experience to help your board navigate the latest communication technology.
6. Include your renters.
One common mistake that boards make is to ignore renters in their communication plan. Communicating to renters directly makes them feel like they are part of the community, and that means they are going to have a greater investment in it. Today’s renter may be tomorrow’s homeowner.
Overlooked tenants won’t pay attention to—or even necessarily know about—policies on loud music, trash cans or exterior decorations. “The renter is responsible for following guidelines, but that’s tough to enforce if you aren’t able to easily communicate with them or they don’t feel that you have a right to enforcement because they never hear from you otherwise,” says Marc Kaplan, managing director at FirstService Residential.
Keeping tenants informed can be vital to the safety of the community, both the people and property. For example, if your neighbors aren’t receiving communication about storm-proofing or snow removal policies because they are renters, their unintentional negligence can damage property or cause injuries. Of course, that leads to a negative impact on your community’s property values and resident satisfaction.
7. Make communication a two-way street.
Residents need the opportunity to voice their concerns and share their opinions. Reserve time for open discussions at board meetings and send out surveys to find out what’s important to them. You may even want to set up casual get-togethers where residents can express their views to board members.
Make it clear that the board can only take action during board meetings and only on items that are on the agenda. It’s common for residents to approach board members individually to get what they want. Anytime someone does that, you should direct them to the community manager.
8. Ensure that your management team is on the same page.
You know what you want your community to be. Does your management company or team know that? Understanding your board’s vision for your community is key to your management team communicating to your residents on your behalf. Your vision will drive the priority of communication, for example. If your vision includes the community being always lushly, perfectly landscaped, then landscaping communications may take priority over others.
Communication is an important part of making your community the best it can be. And it doesn’t have to be as complex or difficult as you might think. Building a good communication plan, keeping your communications clear and on message and always being transparent with your residents are the first steps. These HOA communication tools and tips will give you a starting point.