Business ownership is tough regardless of the industry. But in the community association management industry, it can be grueling. From moving homeowner priorities to an almost impossible to-do list for community and property managers, it is very difficult to scale one’s organization while staying on top of tasks and responsibilities. We may be a bit biased here, but we believe that anyone who can effectively build an established association management company has achieved peak entrepreneurial power.
As we move forward into the third quarter and final half of the year, we wanted to group together nuggets of wisdom from some of our highly successful business owners to help inspire fellow entrepreneurs. Meet four of our CINC clients and learn what they consider to be a secret to their success:
1. Defy the stereotype.
It’s often believed that association management companies are nothing more than a ruthless group of people who spend their whole day mailing violation letters and demands for payments. We hear that a lot, and so do our fellow CINC clients. But what people say about you doesn’t have to be true, and sometimes, defying the stereotype is the ultimate vindication.
When Cyndi Sullivan, CMCA, AMS, first opened Key Community Management with her husband Tim Sullivan, her journey into the industry was almost instantly met with trepidation from her peers. “I was on the phone with a friend of mine who was a real estate developer, and when I told him about our company, his first reaction was, ‘Oh no.’ He went on and on about how everyone hates management companies.” This conversation didn’t hinder Cyndi’s motivation – it further inspired her. “I was not going to be the company everyone hated. I decided that I was going to elevate the perception of HOA management for good.”
And elevate she did – Key Community Management went from a one-association startup to an established business with an astonishing retention rate of 98 percent. Their associations stay with them because they create a fun culture amongst their board members, are transparent in their communication, and share anecdotes about their communities that are truly helpful to the homeowner. By focusing on a service-first approach to communication, the owners at Key Community Management prove that defying the stereotype can bring tremendous success. You can read more about Cyndi and Tim Sullivan’s story here.
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2. Understand who should (and shouldn’t) be your customer.
We hear time and time again that service is the number one priority to community management. If your homeowners and board members aren’t satisfied, nothing else matters. Prioritizing service means understanding not just who is a good fit for your portfolio, but who isn’t a good fit.
Few understand this better than Nicole Salcedo, CAM, founder and owner of Lux Management Services. As a company that focuses specifically on luxury, boutique-style communities, Nicole prides herself in building a team of experts who will help associations find the best fit for their needs, even if it isn’t them. By understanding the ins and outs of their clientele and limiting the types of clients within their portfolio, Lux is able to actually provide better service – because it’s aligned to their clients’ specific needs over a generalized expectation. “One of the job duties of a community association manager is to bring harmony to the community. That’s what I bring.”
Lux Management’s niche approach certainly pays off – at the height of the pandemic, the company grew a whopping 500 percent, and Nicole Salcedo is a rising star in the industry. You can learn more about Lux Management’s laser focus on their clientele here.
3. Embrace change, and change for good.
Change is scary, and change can be disruptive. But change is also inevitable, and without being honest and open to innovations that need to be adopted within your business, growth will quickly be stunted.
As homeowners’ technological expectations continue to escalate at a record-breaking pace, it’s important to stay in-the-know with the latest innovations and up-to-date with your technology. Sometimes, that means you have to make the tough decision to break what you’ve always done and aim for better. Cindy Norris did just that for CEPCO Management Group. Knowing that fragmented accounting processes and endless bundles of paper were slowing down processes, she took a step back in order to move forward and decided to switch her long-tern software provider. “We knew that we had to go paperless in order to grow, but with our previous software, that would have been impossible.”
By making the change to CINC, Cindy and CEPCO Management Group were able to change for good. They reduced their average monthly report completion time by 15 days while adding only one accountant. This in turn helped the company add over 6,000 doors to their portfolio – because when an owner isn’t stuck in the weeds of the day-to-day, they can be focused on true business growth. You can learn more about CEPCO’s change and growth story here.
4. Value team culture.
Entrepreneurs want to be able to do it all, but it’s impossible – especially when one is managing multiple properties and moving priorities. This makes the effectiveness of your team the biggest determining factor in your success. But it is very challenging to keep team members motivated, especially because the turnover rate in property management is significantly higher than the norm.
David Priestley, President of Priestley Management Company, knows the importance of building a team culture, and a major factor to his established growth comes from the fact that his employees are with him for the long haul. In order to keep his team aligned and inspired, David involves them in the mission and vision of his company. “After I attended CINCUp – CINC Systems’s annual user conference – in 2019, I learned how to create a brainstorming session involving your whole team of employees to determine your company’s values and goals. “We created The Priestley Way together, which regularly guides us in managing customer expectations and helps us maintain satisfaction.” By having his team build the Priestley Way, everyone is involved – and this approach has certainly contributed to Priestley Management Company’s 12,000+ door growth over the past ten years. You can learn more about David Priestley and his inspiring leadership approach here.
By focusing on service, culture, and innovation, growth is achievable and inevitable. If you’re looking for more wisdom from leaders in the industry, check out our Case Study Library to stay inspired.