Is it just us, or did the past six months fly by?
It feels like it was only yesterday when we were completing our 2021 budgets while pretending to enjoy those awkward Zoom holiday parties. Yet here we are. In some ways, we’re pumped that we made it through a challenging year thus far! At the same time, we wonder if we’ve taken advantage of all that 2021 has to offer.
We believe that as business owners, it’s important to take a moment in the beginning of June to reflect. How is your business tracking towards your growth plans that you sketched out in October? How are you doing against your budget goals? Is productivity ramping up, or are there major roadblocks affecting your project plans? And how have the societal and cultural changes in 2021 transformed your company culture?
As you reflect on your business strategies, we’ve broken down eight things we feel will boost growth and productivity for the remainder of 2021, leading you into a bright path as you build your 2022 plans (hopefully while you’re enjoying in-person holiday parties.)
1. Make homeowner experience your priority.
There are so many moving parts to owning a community association management company that it’s easy to get stuck in the weeds of details. But if you’re focusing the bulk of your day on paperwork and project management, you may be missing out on your homeowners’ priorities and needs.
We know that our industry can have a bad reputation of being nothing more than a company who sends letters and collects payments. But if we support our boards in encouraging homeowner participation in community events, we can be the drivers of connection that people so desperately yearn for at this moment.
Ensure that your community and property managers are out in the field with their board members and homeowners as often as possible, addressing their needs and utilizing mobile technology to complete everyday tasks. When your company is focused on community, integrity, and honesty, you’ll establish trust with your boards and homeowners (and therefore increase customer stickiness!)
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2. Encourage transparent communication of reopening guidelines.
Everyone is asking the same question for every business – how are you reopening? Are masks required? Are vaccinations required? What is and isn’t safe to do?
This year, reopening goes beyond the pool. HOAs and COAs need to be consistent and transparent in their communication about reopening guidelines for all recreational areas, and it’s likely that these guidelines will regularly change throughout the year. As we continue to navigate through the COVID-19 Pandemic, keep your boards in-the-know of all updates to CDC guidelines and encourage them to communicate through their mobile app and website portals. To keep communication the most up-to-date, one can even add a special welcome section to their homeowner and board app highlighting changes and safety tips throughout the year.
3. Promote mass communication tools.
To keep homeowners in the loop and build trust within your community, it’s important to utilize a golden rule approach – talk to your customers through the platform they want to use. If your homeowners are rapid texters, they won’t want to receive an email. If they are living via their smartphone, they may not see your message without a push notification.
When you take advantage of a variety of mass communication tools to get the word out, your board members and homeowners will feel as though you understand their needs and are able to connect through modern technology that appeals to them. For a full guide of ways to promote and utilize mass communication, check out the chapter in our Brand Adoption Guide.
4. Upkeep property to enhance value.
You’ve likely seen videos of people lining up for an open house as though they were buying a Black Friday deal, and you likely have at least one friend or family member having to purchase a house they’ve never seen before over the phone at well-above asking price. You might be thinking, “What the heck is going on?!”
It turns out that our prediction from December came true: homeowner demand has steadfastly increased as a result of slowed home construction, a need for more space due to work-from-home measures, and low mortgage rates, among other reasons.
What does this mean for you? Continue to drive property values by making your community associations attractive and welcoming for potential buyers. One way to do this easily is to utilize CINC’s Portfolio Module, which helps Community Managers and board members stay on track of property needs through cloud-based project management tools and maintenance calendars with push notification reminders. By staying as organized as possible, you can take advantage of building value within your communities.
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5. Budget for hybrid work models.
While many companies are announcing a return-to-office plan, many employees are letting out a boisterous groan to the idea of returning to long commutes and lackluster office cafeterias. Since workers have grown accustomed to remote flexibility over the past year, many companies are opting for hybrid work models so that their employees can enjoy the flexibility of a WFH model with the camaraderie of the workplace culture.
What does this mean for your HOAs/COAs? It means that costs associated with Internet and utility usage won’t be returning to pre-pandemic levels. Ensure that you set aside more for these costs within your budget for the remainder of the year, and keep your cost increases into consideration for your 2022 budget.
6. Offer flexibility for your own team, too.
Business owners know that they cannot achieve their goals if their team isn’t leading the charge. The reality is, we’ve all experienced some form of trauma over the past year. This trauma, involving isolation from our colleagues in ways we haven’t experienced before, means that employees have never been more disconnected from their company. That’s one of the many reasons why we are seeing job openings left vacant – the trust between the employer and the employee has eroded.
While your team may be more connected than others, as association management companies didn’t experience the economic hit of the pandemic as harshly as other industries, it’s important to recognize that trauma is still there. Offer flexible working schedules and locations for your employees, even if this means your office won’t feel as robust as it used to be. This will also help with your own hiring efforts, as budding Property Managers will likely ask for flexible work options in the interview.
7. Be a mobile-first organization.
We say it often, because it’s important – work needs to be done from anywhere at any time. If you’re relying on Quickbooks and excel sheets to complete community tasks, your management team isn’t out in the field working with their board members and owners. A mobile-first approach to community management improves productivity, enhances communication, gets your brand out there to your homeowners, and keeps property managers on the property. As younger generations enter the homeowner market, they will be expecting efficient mobile communication and payment options within their HOA/COA. Now would be a good time to evaluate the ways you utilize mobile in your communities and enact change where needed.
8. Build a business continuity plan.
With everything that has occurred over the past year, your employees are likely wondering what the next catastrophe will be. They may also be wondering if you as a business owner are prepared for the next disaster.
By building a business continuity plan, you are ensuring that your company remains proactive in their approach to unavoidable emergencies. This type of plan involves your whole team, so by implementing one now, you are instilling a collaborative work culture that will enhance your employee retention goals. Communicating your preparedness plan with your boards will also showcase your proactive approach, which can further build client retention. Read our guide to business continuity and get started with your first team meeting this month.
We hope that these steps inspire you to revisit your goals for 2021 and drive productivity and change to enhance the homeowner experience – which in turn drives acquisition and retention. And if you’re missing out on proper support to enact some of these ideas, consider CINC. Our cloud-based tools are designed with your board members and homeowners in mind, so that you can work efficiently from anywhere while reducing manual time spent completing unautomated tasks. Check out our case studies to learn why others like you #GetInCinc.