Imagine it’s the middle of a hot summer day in a community association that you manage and the sprinkler system breaks from the negligence of not emptying the lines in the fall. Think of what it would be like if you budgeted for common-area upkeep incorrectly based on inaccurate bookkeeping from the prior year. In any case, approaching the board to ask for more funding would be a scenario you’d certainly want to avoid.
There are those items (often menial) on your to-do list that shouldn’t be neglected as ignoring them can lead to significant issues down the road. Make these four community association best practices a top priority on your property management to-do-list. If you don’t zero in on them now, your community’s members certainly will when you least expect it.
1. Tracking costs
Keeping track of every expense may seem like a tiresome burden. However, this seemingly cumbersome chore will definitely pay off at the end of the year.
Keeping extensive records of purchases, services, and other costs can reassure community associations that every cent of their money is being put to good use. You can avoid disorganized spreadsheet sprawl with software specifically designed for the needs of community associations.
Additionally, tracking all your costs is important from a budgeting standpoint. Not only will you be able to accurately report ongoing project costs to your community association, but it will also make you more informed about how much certain repairs or upgrades generally run. This will be helpful when you try to determine the ROI for future projects.
Most importantly, keeping track of expenses will protect you from one of the most dreaded community association management pitfalls: running through your budget when a project is only halfway complete. There is nothing worse than having to ask the board for more funding on a major renovation that was budgeted for improperly.
2. Communicating with your community association
Sometimes, the source of conflict can be the community association themselves. No one likes to be kept out of the loop, and it’s easy to frustrate your board if you fail to alert them of issues, project status updates, and other important developments. A major community association management best practice is to keep the lines of communication open, and be prepared to address any of their questions or concerns.
Homeowners within a community association want to know what’s happening around them, whether it’s as minor as mulching, or as major as repaving. By alerting homeowners to these upcoming changes ahead of time, you’ll answer their questions before they even need to ask them. After all, it’s much easier to share details beforehand than to manage concerns and objections after a project is up and running.
Open communication works both ways. Send out surveys to members of the association, or provide an easy way for them to submit requests or comments. This way, you’ll always know what’s on everyone’s minds and what matters to them. With so many stakeholders involved, a feedback loop is your best friend.
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3. Following local happenings
Staying informed on what’s going on in your region can be like a crystal ball, giving you insight into the thoughts and safety concerns of your community association. This allows you to get a leg up on jobs before they even need to ask.
Read up on what’s happening in your area, making note of relevant stories, such as nearby break-ins or pool safety hazards at local communities. Members of your community will also be aware of these events, and will likely be concerned about how it applies to their own property. If you are already in the know, then you’ll be able to be proactive by providing extra security precautions against burglaries or implementing pool rules to ensure that residents are safe, for example.
There are plenty of ways to stay informed. Aside from checking in with the news, you can also follow the Twitter handles of your district’s government departments. Or, try setting up a Google Alert with your town’s name and common topics that will affect the community, such as government bills that impact homeowners or approval for new nearby housing developments. By integrating this information into channels that you already check regularly, you can stay informed through regular habits like checking your email or social media accounts.
Being proactive before your community association board even gets a chance to ask is a great way to stand out as a stellar CAM who is always one step ahead of what needs to be done.
4. Addressing minor maintenance
Microscopic troubles can quickly balloon into full-scale issues. That’s why it’s important to address minor maintenance issues sooner rather than later.
For example, taking note of a dripping ceiling can save everyone time in the long run by addressing the cause before more severe damage accumulates. Another community association management best practice includes alerting your board to these maintenance needs early on:
- Landscape maintenance, such as pulling weeds or trimming overgrown bushes
- Fall clean-up and other winter preparations
- Unclogging drains
- Repairing walkway cracks or uneven surfaces
- Repainting parking space lines
- Preparing for natural disasters, such as hurricanes and wildfires
Tackle these tasks today!
Community association management is time-consuming. However, staying on top of these four essential duties can help you to avoid many troubles in the future.
Dedicate a few minutes each day to ensuring that your cost tracking is up-to-date, checking in on local happenings, or touching base with the board. Do this regularly, and it won’t be long before you make addressing easily overlooked tasks a part of your daily routine.