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Communities thrive when property managers receive comprehensive property management education and training and have access to strong support services, advanced tools and innovative technology. Because a property manager’s role requires answering the needs of residents, supporting the association’s board and working to ensure operational success, thorough training from your property management company equates to a successful and thriving community. Effective training and education gives your property manager the tools to find solutions. 

Whether as a basis of knowledge, or a continuing source of information for seasoned industry professionals, education on the ins and outs of HOA management is an integral part of the field. With managers making anywhere from $20,000 to more than $95,000 per year, a strong basis of knowledge and broad skill set is a must. 

Providing your property manager with the resources they need to succeed is essential. Educating the roles and responsibilities of your community’s managers is equally as critical. This video highlights how to identify, educate and communicate the roles and responsibilities of property managers and board members. You can watch the full video here!

Tips for Creating Great Community Leaders 

From online or virtual education courses, to continuing education seminars or college degrees, education to become a property manager can come in a variety of different forms. However, no matter which type of program a property manager in the making chooses, there are a number of subjects and skills that must be learned in order to be a successful property manager. 

Many robust education programs cover a plethora of educational topics, which may include some of the following:  

  • Preparation for HOA policies. 

  • Learning daily administrative workflows and processes. 

  • Exploring hands-on training exercises. 

  • Evaluating community investments and capital projects 

So, whether from a certification program, online education, hands-on training or a four-year degree, studies generally include these core topics: maintenance; legal forms; HOA operations; community engagement; property analysis, marketing and human resources, to name a few.  

The importance of focused education for property managers continues to grow as the HOA and community association industry continues to widen its footprint. Educated and experienced property managers are essential to meet the need. It is also becoming more common for property managers to have full training from an online training program, university or similar, though there are also managers who transfer from related industries like hospitality, business administration and real estate. 

Successfully managing the staff within a community requires strong leadership skills. That’s why training property managers in this area are so important. In addition to being a leader among the staff, a great property manager has the confidence to take the lead in the annual goal-setting process and makes recommendations that meet the board’s objectives and community’s goals. 

A great management company recognizes the importance that leadership plays in the success of a community and invests heavily in effective property management education and resources that teaches self-leadership and people leadership. 

  • Self-leadership: Enhances the property manager's awareness of their own abilities so they can properly improve their leadership skills.  

  • People leadership: Helps directors and managers develop talent within the property management company through improved coaching and development feedback, motivation and empowerment. 

How to Cultivate Community Financial Stewardship 

property management education

One of the most important aspects of managing a community is understanding its financial position in order to help expand its resources. A manager that fully comprehends their community’s financials can accurately assess the current budgetary status of the association, better advise the board when they are making important spending decisions and set priorities for both short- and long-term goals. 

A knowledgeable property manager can better prepare your association for maintenance needs, repairs, necessary special assessments and resident delinquencies. This requires a good working knowledge of your community’s financial reports, such as its: 

  • Balance sheet. 

  • Income statement. 

  • Cash flow statement. 

  • General ledger. 

  • Accounts payable report. 

  • Account delinquency report. 

  • Cash disbursements ledger. 

Property management education, when delivered in an efficient manner, can help your managers and employees begin advancing through their respective career paths. There are courses designed for each career stage that cover important real estate laws, tenant relations, and how to maintain a building. By taking courses, you can earn a certification to launch your career or to earn a higher-paying position. 

The best HOA education offers real-world knowledge while being mindful of your staff’s time and budget. Training in this area is critical to your property manager’s success as it directly impacts the financial health of your community. 

Invest in Training Courses for Your Staff

No matter where your staff is at in their career, there is always courses available for them to take so they can continue their education. Many courses, however, do require one or more years of relevant experience to apply. For those just starting out, there are several beginner courses for aspiring property managers to take to get their feet wet as they continue to learn the ropes. 

When considering an educational track or course for your staff, research classes led by an instructor who brings real-world experience to the discussion with certifications from well-known organizations that are respected in the HOA industry. There are many online courses out there, many with very low tuition, but you’ll find that these aren't respected by professionals in the HOA management and real estate industries. Our list only includes reputable organizations offering courses that result in recognized career designations. 

  • What Do You Learn in HOA Management Courses? - Courses cover topics such as building maintenance, tenancy, real estate law, fair housing, client relations and marketing. Some courses include a certification or designation if you pass. While topics such as maximizing the net operating income of your property, staff recruitment and retention, resident turnover processes, and property inspection skills are baked into most courses, perhaps the most critical elements you’ll learn are the legal requirements for each of these topics to ensure the investor, property owner, staff and of course, the tenants, are treated fairly. 

  • How Much Do These Courses Cost? - While single courses can cost as low as $45, courses with certifications or designations can cost from $479 up to $8,500. Cost will depend on the level of specialization, course format (online or in-person), and the company offering the course. Upon completion of the course, you will receive a designation or credential that you can place after your name, and recognition that you’ve studied and tested your knowledge in tenant relations, property maintenance, human resources, legal requirements for your niche, and financial management. 

  • How Do You Choose the Best Online Education Options? - To find the most effective courses for your staff, start by reseraching courses in order to pare down to the best offerings. Consider specialized and general courses based on the main management categories. Some of the courses require experience or a degree, but there are many available for those just starting out in their career. Online classes prepare students for successful careers by giving them real-world knowledge, are mindful of their time and work schedules and reflect a range of costs for every budget. 

  • How Long Do These Classes Take? - Many educational courses are conducted online in a self-paced format, so you decide how quickly you want to finish a course. Courses may range from 18 to 42 hours that can be completed at a time and place that works with your schedule. The popular online and self-paced format accommodates people who work in the field full-time while taking the classes after hours. Courses end when you successfully pass the exam. If you don’t pass on the first try, most courses allow you to re-take the exam. This will extend your completion date and in some cases comes with an additional fee.  

  • Are HOA Education Classes Required for Employment? - A course is a great way to grow your career. Certifications and designations can help you get a higher-paying position, but they can be expensive, and some require you to have experience first. Taking a class is definitely worth it if you want to expand your skills or specialize in commercial or vacation property. 

If online or in-person educational courses are not a strong fit for how you train your staff, various professional designations are also available to earn from organizations like the Communication Associations Institute (CAI), the Building Owners and Managers Assocation (BOMA), the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) and the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM). 

Enhance Group Decision-Making

Community associations are unique in that very little is decided by a single person. Group decision-making is at the heart of how a community functions, and success often depends on consensus building and cooperation. It’s more of an art than a science, and your property manager needs to be a collaborative leader by learning how to facilitate decision-making on your board.  

Educating and training a property manager on group decision-making involves instruction in areas such as conducting effective meetings, negotiation, consensus-building, collaboration styles and the group decision-making process.  

Those learned skills can be applied to the many techniques that are used to build shared agreement and prevent conflicts, such as creating forums, having open houses or town hall meetings, forming committees and task forces and establishing a sense of ownership.  

When your property manager masters these skills and becomes adept at facilitating group decision-making, your board will be in a better position to make more informed decisions more effectively.

Leverage Technology & Software

property management education

Like most other roles today, property managers who need to execute their responsibilities efficiently must become well acquainted with the technology that supports their job functions. Whether it’s proprietary property management software, accounting software, or an association communication platform, your manager must learn how to use these tools to their full potential.  

A great property management company will offer comprehensive and ongoing property management education, resources and training on its in-house technologies as they are developed and/or updated. Technology training instructs property managers on how to navigate the internal tools used for accounting, communication, tracking work orders, reservations, amenity and service management, vendor invoice and payment tracking, and is typically offered via online training modules or video instruction. 

When your manager is comfortable using all the tools that support your community, they can complete tasks more quickly and proficiently. 

Streamline Communication with Boards & Residents

Effectively supporting the diversity of people and personalities that make up a community requires purposeful communication. Property manager training will cover various techniques for communicating with different audiences and types of people, such as board members or residents. 

"At the end of the day, our managers need to be proficient in how they communicate with all different types of people," explains Jennifer Fischel, vice president of operations at FirstService Residential. "We provide training to the managers on the different communication styles that exist and how to adapt their own style with other styles of communication so that their interactions are always open, and nothing is getting in the way of clear communication." 

Communication skills training covers a variety of topics such as effective writing, public speaking, relationship-building, creating effective presentations, coaching and active listening techniques.  

With this kind of training in their back pocket, your property manager can better understand interpersonal nuances, tailor communication to each recipient and successfully express their thoughts and ideas to board members, residents and vendors.  

By having effective communication skills, they can also avoid having to repeat explanations and prevent misunderstandings that arise when messages are poorly conveyed. 

Teach Effective Time-Management

It's essential for a property manager with dozens of calls to make, documents to read and appointments to keep, to understand how to best prioritize tasks. Time management strategies are crucial to getting the job done in an organized, timely manner.  

Your property manager's day is always busy. But by cultivating a culture and environment that’s committed to effective property management education will help your managers learn how to be more effective with the management of their time. In fact, a manager can maximize their use of time and ensure that they are addressing resident and board needs in a more efficient manner with the proper training and education. 

At FirstService Residential, we are fully committed to the ongoing education and growth of our property managers. We invest a significant amount of time and effort into their pursuit of it. They have access to both in-person instruction and online training modules through FirstService Residential University that give them the skills they need to excel in their role and help your community thrive. 

For more information about how we ensure the success of our property managers, read our new guide, Achieving Excellence: The Development of a Successful Property Manager, or contact FirstService Residential today. 

Tuesday July 27, 2021