HOA board meetings are where important decisions are made that have a significant impact on the community. However, the most common complaint we hear about board meetings is that they seem to go on forever, without necessarily resulting in a clear plan of action. Luckily, by taking the right proactive steps, you can streamline your board meetings and make them more efficient and effective.
Community management companies and HOA boards both have important roles to play in preparing for and participating in meetings. When both do their part, the meetings proceed in a much more organized fashion. It all starts well before the meeting…
Your management company: equipping you to make decisions
A major role of all community management companies is to prepare all the necessary materials to enable board members to make smart decisions on behalf of the community. Management company prep begins very early in the process, usually immediately following the previous board meeting. In the 3-week period between board meetings, your management company is working diligently behind the scenes to update and prepare the following:
- Your board’s annual calendar – This is the calendar that outlines important milestones and events that are known well in advance. This includes things like insurance premium due dates, reserve project scheduling, etc.
- Your list of action items – This is the list of current and ongoing items to address immediately. Action items usually inform the agenda for HOA board meetings.
- Background information – Your management company will assemble all documentation, correspondence, financials and other relevant information regarding ongoing and future projects. This provides board members with the entire scope of information needed to make informed decisions.
- Management report – Your management company will draft a report with recommendations regarding agenda items. When issuing recommendations, your manager draws on gathered information as well as the extensive experience that community management companies bring to the table. Take the recommendations in the management report seriously–but remember that the final decision always rests with the board.
- Board packet – At every meeting, your management company will round out the board package with additional relevant community information, including things like the association’s financial documents, a list of violation reports, board proposals, work order reports, correspondence log, and other administrative details. These documents give your board a complete snapshot of the association every month in terms of what has happened and what is on the horizon.
Your management company should arrive early to each board meeting to make sure that the room is clean and set up for the meeting, all materials are present, and all technology is working fine. Management companies provide all necessary support and organization—the next step is up to the board.
HOA boards: prepare for decision making
The role of the board is to make decisions on behalf of the association. To do that in the most efficient manner, each board member needs to go into the meeting prepared to make a decision. The goal of board meetings is to take action, not get stuck in indecision.
To do this, make sure that your management company distributes your board packets with plenty of time before the meeting. The policy at Keystone Pacific is to distribute board packets at minimum three to five days before the board meeting. Anything less does not allow enough time for the board to do their part, which are the following three things:
- Review the packet. The most successful boards take the time to review the packet well before the board meeting. They have all the necessary information on hand to make a decision.
- Ask questions before the meeting. Board meetings are arenas for decision-making, not for ongoing debate. If you have questions about something in your board packet, contact your manager before the meeting to request clarification.
- Be prepared to make a decision. If you have read the packet and all your questions have been addressed, you should be prepared to make a decision at the HOA board meeting. The most successful board meetings occur when board members are prepared to take action.
Board members and community association management companies are tasked with important but different responsibilities to help move the association forward. When both parties do their part, the process proceeds more smoothly for everyone involved.