Every management company brings their own unique style to the accounts they oversee. However, there are a few things that every HOA board should expect, no matter the size of your community or the reach of your management company.
Here is a list of the best practices we compiled from delivering decades of HOA management services to communities of all sizes throughout Southern California. How many of these best practices does your management company follow?
Best practice: Effective communication
One of the biggest complaints we hear from boards and members when we become their homeowners association management company is that they have had trouble in the past getting ahold of their manager. To us, this is unacceptable. Your manager’s job is to provide proactive communication to your HOA board and membership. Staying in frequent communication by returning phone calls and emails within 24 hours, writing newsletters with current community updates, posting forms and documents and events on the community website, and maintaining online portals to pay bills and get other important information is a fundamental aspect of that support.
As a board member, it’s not your job to pull information out of your manager. Your HOA manager should be delivering information to you and the membership every month to ensure that your community board is equipped with the resources to run efficient board meetings and make beneficial decisions for your HOA and all members have the information they need to endure a great relationship with the HOA.
Best practice: Transparency and accountability
Your HOA is a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation. It’s a quasi-governmental organization, so it must maintain transparency with regards to business operations. Your manager should facilitate this. State law requires that most HOAs keep written records of everything: every decision, meeting minutes, changes to governing documents, etc. Your manager should provide these recordkeeping and management services to ensure your compliance.
As the interface between your board and the membership, your HOA community manager should always facilitate an open exchange of information. Your manager should also take an active role in making sure that homeowners and board members know where to go to access information. Many communities house this information on the HOA website, including governing documents, board meeting schedules and instructions for bill payment.
Best practice: Adequately preparing for board meetings
Homeowners associations operate in a parliamentary-like process. This means that progress on many issues can only be made at regularly scheduled meetings, which usually occur only once per month. Therefore, it’s in an HOA’s best interest to ensure that the manager from your homeowners association management company fosters meeting productivity. Whether the issue is a homeowner violation, maintenance action or any other issue that requires a decision from the board, it’s the manager’s responsibility to provide the materials, background, business advice and agenda items that advance the decision-making process.
Best practice: An internal system of checks and balances
Your management company should have a transparent process for ensuring that your assets are protected – and should be open about sharing it with you. You are trusting your management company with your finances; they should have a clearly-articulated system to protect against fraud. For example, in the accounting department at Keystone Pacific, we have a system in place that prohibits the individual who writes a check from signing it. This ensures that we are able to track and safeguard our clients’ expenses every step of the way.
Thorough checks and balances don’t just apply to finances. It can also apply to customer service. All our managers use a “buddy system,” so if one person is unavailable or out of the office, their counterpart jump in. As a result, our clients experience no decline in service level. Ask your management company about their own division of duties.
Best practice: Offering advice, not direction
Remember, the HOA board is responsible for all decision-making. Though the management company can provide advice based on their experience, the decision ultimately rests with the board. Steer clear of any managers who try to sway you away from making your own decisions and unilaterally adopting theirs.
Best practice: Providing you with the right manager fit
Not every personality type or skill set will be the most appropriate for every HOA. Your homeowners association management company should pair you with a manager who understands your challenges and whose professional style fits your community’s needs. Not only must the manager provide great service and experience that helps your community, you must also enjoy working with them. If you’re not sure about your manager fit, your management company shouldn’t hesitate to assign a new manager to your account. Any companies that try to force-fit a particular manager are not looking out for your best interest.
If you have questions about what you should expect from your HOA management company or are thinking of switching, let us show you how our proven experience and superior service can advance your community. Contact Keystone Pacific today.