As the manager for homeowner associations (HOAs), it’s important to develop a good relationship with your client’s board. The HOA board is the association’s leadership, setting its policies and community guidelines. Association boards are made up of members who live in the community and oversee its direction, however, most board members also have full-time jobs separate from their role in the HOA. As the HOA manager, it’s your job to handle the tasks and projects they don’t have time for.
Because you’ll be working very closely with a client’s board, communication is key. Get to know the people who sit on your clients’ HOA boards. Create a friendly yet professional rapport, build trust, and show them you’re trustworthy. Learn what not to do when you receive communications from your client’s HOA board.
Use the guidelines below to conduct yourself professionally when you receive communications from your clients’ HOA board.
First, don’t dodge phone calls from HOA board members. The association’s leadership won’t be calling you unless it’s important. Although phone calls may not always require an urgent response, you should try to answer the phone whenever they call. If you’ve silenced your phone due to a meeting or another work situation that required your attention, call the board member back as soon as possible.
We also recommend communicating with your clients so they have a clear understanding of your working hours. As an HOA manager, your schedule may change from week to week or even day-to-day, and you might not always be “on-call” during the standard 9 to 5 hours. Let your clients know when you’re available to answer calls. When necessary, schedule phone calls in advance to ensure that you can pick up.
No one likes to feel like they’re a slave to their inbox. Still, it’s important to answer your work emails as quickly as you can. Many efficiency experts recommend a “triage” approach. Place emails into three categories: urgent, medium priority, low priority. Answer them in this order and try not to take longer than one business day.
It’s also okay to respond with a short message, letting the board members know that you’ll respond with more detail later when you can. This lets your clients know that you’ve received their message and you’re not ignoring it.
When you receive emails from your clients’ HOA board members, reply with discretion. If you’re receiving a mass email that’s gone out to multiple individuals, it won’t be necessary to “reply-all”. Make sure that you only reply to the sender so you don’t clog everyone else’s inbox.
Additionally, when sending emails on the client’s behalf, don’t forget to use the “bcc” feature. This will allow you to send a copy of your email to board members or other individuals, but the intended recipient won’t see their information. We recommend using “bcc” when you email independent contractors or vendors.
In addition to phone and email etiquette, learning what not to do when you receive communication from your clients’ HOA board includes learning how to receive feedback. Often, your clients’ communication will include a critique of your work as the association manager. They may ask you to try different methods for various tasks or provide commentary on previous work you’ve done.
Hopefully, your clients will always provide feedback in a constructive way that helps you do your job better. However, like any service provider, you may deal with bad attitudes from time to time. If your HOA clients deliver feedback that seems harsh or petty, don’t take it personally. Diffuse the situation, if required, then develop a solution to the problem and move on.
HOA board members will also communicate with you when they have a new task or assignment for you. They may need you to work with independent contractors on a construction project, handle a dispute between residents, or provide a financial report for the next board meeting.
When you receive a phone call or email from a board member with an “actionable item,” don’t wait! Get on it. If the task will require other people or a longer timeline, begin by acknowledging that you received the board’s request. Then, formulate a plan for the project. Send this plan to the client or schedule a meeting to present it.
Although the customer is always right, it’s important to remember that communication is a two-way street. When your clients’ HOA board members communicate with you, create a dialogue. Don’t just agree to their ideas because they’re the board. As the HOA manager, part of your role includes acting as an outside guide or consultant for the association.
When you’re discussing business with your clients’ board, always ask clarifying questions. This will help ensure that you understand the HOA board members’ requests. Then, share your opinion as an expert. If you see ways to improve or increase efficiency within the HOA, speak up! Your association management clients will appreciate your insight.
Finally, don’t go over anyone’s head. As an HOA manager, you’re employed by the association’s board as a single governing body. However, most boards have a certain hierarchy based on their bylaws. For example, there may be a President or Senior Board Member whose decisions carry more weight based on authority. Often, this individual will act as a representative for the HOA board and communicate with you more directly.
Regardless of governing structure, if there’s someone on your client’s board who acts as your “boss,” don’t go over this person’s head. Respect the chain of command. If another board member emails you individually and gives you information that contradicts your primary contact, schedule a call or meeting with both members to seek clarity.
Good communication with your clients’ HOA boards is just one of the many ways to run a successful association management business. To see how you can make your relationship with your clients even more efficient, try CINC Systems. To request a free demo call (855) 943-8246.