Industry Trends

It’s been a week since the CAI National 2021 Community Now Conferencein Las Vegas, and we’re still floored. First of all, to pull off a conference in the middle of a pandemic is incredibly challenging, and we can’t express enough how well the CAI team did in executing an incredible event amidst such adversity. Second, it was a wonderful experience to have all of us come together, discuss key challenges, and learn from one another (while still having fun!)

At CINC, we mingled with our clients and partners at a High Roller Welcome Party, where we gave away thousands of dollars worth of prizes and learned how to game like a Vegas pro. Our trade show booth was all about mobile-first experience for community managers and HOA/COA boards, as we see this as a top priority in the industry.

Through networking events and the CAI education sessions, we had some key learnings that will continue to drive our product and service innovation beyond 2022. Here are our top five takeaways:

1. People Operations is the #1 Priority

Job openings left unfilled for months on end. Candidate no-shows at interviews. New employees quitting without notice. Like many industries, it’s becoming alarmingly difficult to keep good talent And in the same way we have rethought a lot of how-it’s-always-been norms as a result of the pandemic, it’s time to rethink HR. For that, we turn to people operations.

People operationsmeans offering a people-centric approach to the day-to-day functions of the business. It’s about empowering employees to drive growth through personalized coaching and involvement in the company’s mission and vision, and automating work tasks to further drive motivation and dedication.

Technology plays a major role in driving people operations. The more mundane tasks a community manager has to complete because of outdated software, the less time they’re spending growing the value within their community (and the greater chance of employee dissatisfaction). Focusing on efficient, automated processes for your employees is one of the top strategies to improve retention and turnover, and it gives you the chance to provide your teams the ability to be a part of the big picture within your CAM.

For more on how to improve people operations within your management company, check out our feature with David Priestley, CEO and Founder of Priestley Management Group. And if you’re currently trying to fill some entry-level roles, here are things you should never say when interviewing a Gen Zer.

2. Management burnout is real, and it’s getting worse.

The lockdown from 2020 didn’t mean that community managers relaxed at home – in fact, they worked harder than ever, assisting an influx of residents stuck at home and managing extremely challenging situations, such as assisting homeowners who no longer should pay their HOA/COA fees. As CAM employees stepped up to the plate to support their homeowners and guide their boards during some of the most difficult times witnessed in the past century, it’s important that we step up to the plate to support their needs.

CAM owners need to be sure they are periodically checking in with their community managers on the level of stress they’ve incurred in the workplace. Increased break time, meetings to openly discuss mental health challenges, and one-on-ones to help break down large challenges into smaller tasks are just a few ways owners can help alleviate stress that can lead to burnout.

3. Prepare for the worst – and be prepared to discuss how you prepare for the worst.

It’s no secret that the Surfside Condo collapse upended the community management industry, and it was a heavy topic at CAI National. As we all come together to mourn the tragedy that occurred in Miami, we all need to come together to discuss how we can be sure it will never happen in our communities.

The big takeaway from Surfside was that a more thorough review process of building integrity is necessary, and if there are warnings of erosion, it should be taken seriously. Some community associations may also be concerned of a lack of available funds to complete large maintenance projects. This means that boards may need to revisit their budget and accounting plans to ensure they have enough to keep building structures up to par. If funds aren’t available, one should work with their financial partner to discuss developing a reserves fundthat will alleviate financial stress when an emergent matter comes into play.

4. An app is an absolute.

We’ve been saying for quite some time that mobile-first design is a must-have for emerging homeowners. That’s why we decided to adorn our trade show booth with mobile technology for community managers, homeowners, and HOA/COA board members. Attendees loved seeing firsthand how our CINC Manager app keeps community and property managers in the field with their clients, and how the HOA and board app is custom designed to their brand and their homeowners’ needs.

In a recent research study we did with homeowners across the United States, the number one preferred way to manage HOA/COA payments was through an app. One can only assume that as more and more Millennial and Gen Z homeowners emerge, this will continue to be the norm. If your community association management company does not have an app, and your software provider doesn’t provide this technology, connect with us to see a custom demo.

5. One thing is certain in uncertain times – community matters.

In a moment where so many domestic and international events are causing distress and confusion, it’s difficult to stay positive during the day-to-day. However when a community comes together to support one another, great things happen.

Our associations give homeowners the ability to connect, collaborate, and bolster spirits. And the community spirit we’re able to provide goes a long way. So, when we stay focused on providing value and camaraderie to the homeowner, business can prosper. There’s more to come on this topic from us, but you’ll have to wait to hear it at CINCUp ‘21.


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