Most association management companies must invest in a software-based solution once their portfolios reach a certain size, usually around 15-20 associations. However, for companies seeking growth, it is important to assess how the software you have in place today will impact your ability to grow and scale successfully in the future.
Today, 24% of Americans live in a homeowners’ or condo association. That number is expected to reach 50% over the next 20 years, as approximately 8,000 new associations are being formed annually. Is your management company prepared to take advantage of this lucrative growth opportunity in this $100 billion dollar industry?
Some quick questions to ask about yourself about the software you are currently using to determine whether it is a solution that will enable your future growth:
- Is your solution SaaS based?
- Does your software allow you to scale without adding more employee headcount?
- Do you have a mobile app for your property managers so they can stay productive while on the road?
- How effectively does your software facilitate communication with boards and homeowners?
- Are your association accounting and banking platforms deeply integrated?
This article will guide you through each of these questions to help you quickly evaluate whether your current association management software is optimizing your ability to compete and grow successfully as the industry continues to grow aggressively.
SaaS solutions deliver superior performance, flexibility, and security.
The first thing to consider is whether your current association management software is a SaaS (software-as-a-service) solution. SaaS-based products, which can be considered a subset of cloud solutions, have two key characteristics:
- Subscription-based — With SaaS, you don’t actually buy or own the software. Instead, you simply pay for what you need via an annual or monthly subscription to access the software instance.
- Ready-to-Go — The software is preconfigured and centrally hosted. Since all the data is stored remotely across the software provider’s servers rather than on your company’s servers, there is nothing to install and no hardware to purchase.
The obvious appeal of a SaaS-based solution is that it lowers the barrier to entry by lowering the upfront investment and implementation time. However, SaaS comes with several other benefits that are critical for growing companies:
- Remote Access: First and foremost, SaaS-based solutions can be accessed remotely, allowing your distributed teams to work off of a fully functional, centralized system from anywhere, at the very same time, without any capacity constraints. This empowers employees working remotely as well as property managers who are on-site to maintain critical productivity even when they are not in the office.
- Access to new functionality and upgrades: Since the software is centrally managed, all paying subscribers get access to and benefit from software patches and upgrades. This means your company can take full advantage of future innovation without exorbitant upgrade feeds, expensive implementation projects, and potentially a period of downtime.
- Increased Security: In addition to knowing your software is always up-to-date with the latest security patches and fixes, your data is guarded by a team of data security specialists. Client platforms, applications, servers, and data are proactively managed and the software is fortified with intrusion prevention systems, access controls, antivirus software, and firewalls rendering threats like denial-of-service, brute-force, and malware attacks a thing of the past.
- Scalability: Unlike on-premise software, SaaS-based solutions are very easy to scale. You don’t need to worry about adding additional hardware as your business grows because that’s taken care of by your software vendor. You only pay for what you need today with the ability to seamlessly add extra capacity as your business grows, maximizing cost efficiency.
As a growth-oriented business, it is critical that your software offers sufficient scalability.
Building on the idea of scalability, your association management software should enable your business to unleash valuable efficiencies. This is the only way you will be able to build your portfolio profitably. Too often, management companies are forced to hire more property managers and more accounts as they add new associations to their portfolios.
Best-in-class association management software drives scalability in 3 main ways:
- Automation: Replacing time-consuming manual tasks with sophisticated software increases the speed and accuracy of your team.
- Centralization: An all-in-one solution that addresses both the financial and property-related responsibilities of your management company saves time and money by eliminating the need to log-in to multiple platforms a day, manually move data from one place to another, and manage multiple vendors.
- Integration: Software that seamlessly integrates with your bank (as well as other strategic partners) closes the gap between finance and accounting, enabling daily reconciliation, faster payments, and a more streamlined month end process.
By using software designed for scalability, your existing team will have the bandwidth able to take on more. In fact, some teams are actually able to manage double the associations with the power of an industry-leading solution.
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In addition to optimizing day-to-day operational efficiency, your association management software should improve transparency and communication.
The biggest pain point that association boards and homeowners often have is insufficient transparency and communication from the management company. Property managers spend a disproportionate amount of time responding to queries from the board and managing overall expectations.
Cutting-edge association management software solutions recognize and effectively address this pain point by offering a variety of tools to improve real-time visibility and channels of communication. For example, there are solutions that actually come with the ability to provide a fully-branded website that enables homeowners to access an online account and board members to access financial data and performance reporting, among other things, via a dedicated board portal. Additionally, automated workflows and task reminders ensure property managers maintain consistent and timely communication with homeowners.
Best-in-Class Communication Features
- Broadcast texting and email capabilities
- Fully-branded association websites
- Board web portal with direct, timely access to financial and performance reporting
- Homeowner online account
- Automated workflows and task management to ensure effective, timely communication with homeowners
Powerful features and benefits like those described above, offered by only the most robust solutions, create a significant competitive advantage relative to association acquisition and retention. However, as you may very well know, nothing builds relationships and trust more effectively than a consistent presence on-site.
Property managers need a mobile app to remain productive even while increasing time on-property.
With many legacy association management solutions and tools, much of the most valuable functionality cannot be accessed remotely. This means that the property managers must choose between getting day-to-day tasks and responsibilities done across the associations they manage and being on-site. Recognizing a significant opportunity, the most innovative software providers in the space offer reliable, easy-to-use mobile applications that are designed specifically for property managers. The app enables real-time access to the software from anywhere. If the property manager notices a violation while on-site, they can log it right onto the platform. If a work-order needs to be opened and issued, they don’t have to wait until they are physically back in the office to do so. Not only does it increase productivity levels, but it also enables managers to be on-site more, something that is necessary to build stronger, longer-term relationships with the associations.
How does your association management software stack up?
In summary, growth-oriented association management companies must invest in software to achieve profitable, long-term success. Throughout this article, we’ve pointed out must-haves when it comes to choosing the right software for growth.
Best-in-Class Association Management Software Checklist
- SaaS-based solution that is easily scalable
- All-in-one platform that supports financial management and accounting as well as typical property management workflows from one centralized platform
- Automation and centralization that increases speed and accuracy to enable profitable expansion
- Solutions to improve transparency and information sharing among stakeholders
- Tools and functionality to optimize your team’s productivity from anywhere
Best in class software is the key to maximize operational efficiency, retain financial control, and drive profitable and sustainable growth for any association management business looking to expand. Your current solution may be working for your business today, but unless it is built for growth, it may not be powerful, flexible, and scalable enough to set you up for long-term success. Don’t let your software hold you back – the industry is growing, the opportunity is there, make sure you pick the right partner for the ride.
CINC Systems provides transformational technology and services for the community association industry, redefining the way its clients and partners do business. Founded in 2005, CINC Systems became the first Internet-based integrated accounting and property management system for the community association industry. Since its founding, CINC Systems has experienced steady growth, with clients in 26 states and over 100 partner banking branch locations. Learn more at www.cincsystems.com.