Successful community management requires juggling many challenges, large and small. If not managed correctly, issues can pile up and cause gridlock. We see many Boards struggle to make progress on necessary projects simply because they have reached an impasse about which items should take priority.
To receive the most support from your community’s property management company, you need to establish a clear hierarchy of priorities. Doing so ensures that your Board and management company are all on the same page and can work together to accomplish your goals.
During our decades of on-site community management experience, we have discovered some key principles to keep in mind as you craft a list of priorities for your community. By following these guidelines, you can avoid wasting time and resources that arise from lack of preparation.
Speak with one voice
Lock in your community’s priorities before sharing them with your management company. Take as much time as necessary to discuss the pros and cons of certain issues and make sure that all Board members are present and in agreement. Formalize your priorities in writing at your board meeting. This document outlining your priorities does not need to be formal. It can simply be a list of goals for the new year, next six months or upcoming quarter. The main point is that it will act as a roadmap for your property management company to serve your community better.
We work with many communities whose Boards conduct an annual community goal-setting session. This meeting is specifically dedicated to discussing the goals for the upcoming year. Your management company can help facilitate this by memorializing it in your Board’s annual calendar.
Refer to your community’s strategic plan
Your community’s strategic plan can be a valuable resource when discussing which priorities should take precedence. A strategic plan is an overarching view of your community’s “brand” that defines what is important to the entire community. By comparing the issues on the table with your strategic plan, you can get a better idea of what you should address right away. If your community does not have a strategic plan, here is more information to help you get started.
Ask yourself key questions
Not everyone has the same set of priorities. For one resident, a remodeled entryway is important; another might focus on re-painting the pool.
Here is a list of questions you should keep in mind as you discuss your community’s priorities:
- What are the risks or liabilities to which the Association is exposed? Your most important priority should be to make sure your community is safe. Cracked sidewalks that present a trip-and-fall risk, broken playground equipment, exposed wiring–all of these should take top priority on your list of community improvements.
- What will keep property values high? Your next most important priorities should be things that will maintain the property to the level at which it was developed. This includes things like making sure the streets are well-maintained, the common areas are clean and that common areas look sharp.
- What will keep the membership happy? Successful communities are comprised of satisfied residents. Community-building events and parties, new landscaping or other aesthetic renovations can elevate the satisfaction levels for community residents.
- What is the impact of seasonality? Discuss whether your community improvements must account for weather changes. Avoid asphalt updates in the winter, tree trimming in the summer and replacing roofs during the rainy season. Draft your priority list with seasonal challenges in mind.
You make your priorities, your management company makes them happen
Your Board is in charge of creating the list of priorities for your community. Your management company has no say in what is important to your HOA members. However, your management company is responsible for using your list of priorities to help you determine the best course of action to achieve results.
Set realistic timing expectations
It’s natural that your Board wants to be as efficient and effective as possible. However, remember that nothing happens overnight. Your property management company will help you create agendas and record minutes from Board meetings, but it takes time to prepare and disseminate this information. The more advanced notice you can give to your management company, the more available they can be to help.
As you discuss your community’s priorities, remember to use your property management company as a resource. We have decades of experience providing on-site community management to neighborhoods that face issues identical to yours. Though your Board will ultimately set the priorities for your community, it’s always a good idea to ask questions, solicit input and gain the benefit of our experience.