Association managers have a lot of responsibilities. In order to run a successful homeowner association (HOA) or condominium association (COA) for your clients, you need to be highly organized, detail-oriented, and possess strong communication skills. It’s also important to understand HOA/COA financing.
You can help ensure your success by using association management software like CINC Systems. HOA/COA accounting software allows an association you manage to go paperless and streamlines many of your daily tasks, like processing fee payments and work orders. But even when you use the best association management software, you’ll still face many challenges.
To prepare yourself for the role of association manager, it helps to learn from others’ mistakes. Here are seven common mistakes made by HOA/COA management–and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Changing Vendors Without Good Reason
A good vendor can be an HOA’s/COA’s most important ally. From general contractors and plumbers to architects and landscape designers, vendors add tremendous value to your client’s community. So don’t rock the boat! Often, new association managers decide to hire new service providers simply for the sake of change. This can often lead to disaster for the association you manage and may turn board members against you.
Instead of hiring new vendors, stick with the association’s tried-and-true contacts for repairs or upgrades. Unless a current vendor suddenly begins to do poor work, dramatically raises pricing, or becomes unreliable, there’s no reason to end an existing business relationship. If you do need to hire new service providers, always take time to get referrals and research their work.
Mistake #2: Not Reading the HOA’s/COA’s Governing Documents
Another mistake that can cause chaos within an association is a lack of familiarity with the governing documents of the community you manage. It’s easy to make excuses. When you start managing an HOA/COA, you’ll have a lot on your plate. You may feel like you don’t have time to sit down and read all the association’s governing documents, charters, rules, and regulations. You’ll figure it out as you go along, right? Wrong!
When association managers don’t understand all the rules, they cannot enforce them. This can result in confused residents and board members, arguments with your clients, and hours wasted solving disputes that could have been avoided. Do your homework and become familiar with all of the HOA’s/COA’s governing documents. After all, the board hired your management company to be an expert in everything their association needs to run smoothly.
Mistake #3: Not Holding Regularly Scheduled Meetings with Board Members
It’s great when managers and board members have an easy-going relationship, but don’t get too casual about business. When informal chats replace organized meetings, responsibilities will start slipping through the cracks.
Avoid this by scheduling regular meetings and sticking to them. Choose a regular time and place to meet with your clients. If a board member can’t be present, arrange a video call or recording. It’s also important to take detailed minutes. Make sure the minutes are sent to each member afterwards, so everyone understands their responsibilities.
Mistake #4: Acting Without Consulting Experts
Occasionally, the association you manage may require professional services you can’t provide. For example, they may need a lawyer to handle resident disputes or a city official to issue new building permits. If you take action before consulting one of these experts, you may end up in a difficult situation and make matters more complicated.
We recommend keeping a current database of professional consultants for the association at all times. Do your research and find experts now, even if the association doesn’t need them, so you’ll know who to call when an issue suddenly comes up.
Mistake #5: Treating Residents Poorly
Although it might seem like common sense, don’t treat residents poorly. When association managers are impatient or rude with residents, it makes your job very difficult. You may not intend to treat anyone poorly but dealing with stubborn residents can become stressful and push you to your limit.
Remember the old adage, “the customer is always right,” and apply this to the residents of the association you manage. Even when they’re wrong or they’re treating you poorly, your role as an HOA/COA manager means you need to be the adult in the room. Diffuse the situation and stay calm. If a resident is being particularly difficult, try practicing a mindfulness technique like breathing to a slow count of five. Finally, keep in mind that the resident you are dealing with can become the next board member!
Mistake #6: Not Monitoring the Association’s Finances
This is one of the biggest mistakes an HOA/COA can make. When you don’t monitor the association’s money, it’s easy for them to go over budget and end up in financial trouble. Not monitoring bank accounts also drastically increases the likelihood of fraud. According to Echo, the average HOA fraud scheme goes undetected for 18 months. Don’t let that happen to your client’s association!
Avoid this mistake by using HOA/COA accounting software like CINC Systems, which offers integrated bank reconciliation. You’ll be able to monitor all of the association’s financial accounts from one convenient dashboard, instead of multiple bank websites, and see transactions occur in real time.
Mistake #7: Communicating Poorly with Other Managers, Board Members, and Residents
Finally, association managers make a big mistake when they don’t communicate regularly with all employees, board members, and residents. When you communicate poorly, misunderstandings and conflicts arise. Efficiency slows down, rules get broken, and your client’s neighborhood or building can become a less appealing place to live. It’s your job to make sure this doesn’t happen.
To avoid this, use association management software to set up an email newsletter and a dashboard for announcements. Make sure your clients receive financial reports via email regularly. Host events in common spaces where community members can give you feedback, ask questions, and socialize. Open communication is one of the keys to a successful, thriving HOA/COA.
Try CINC Systems to Avoid Common Association Mistakes
Using association management software can help streamline your organization. You’ll be able to automate many of your responsibilities so you can be more involved with your client’s HOA/COA and work to solve problems before they arise. Try a free demo today and see how CINC Systems can improve the associations you manage.