Communication is at the center of running an effective association management company, but it’s also a potential source of trouble. There’s a constant need for clear lines of communication between management companies, residents and homeowners association board members — but keeping everyone informed can be a massive drain on time and staff attention.
Finding a way to simplify communications benefits everyone, and for today’s management companies, there’s one method that stands out above the rest: adopting efficient portal technology.
The automated and streamlined communication enabled by homeowner web portals and mobile apps creates a win-win situation: residents are able to quickly file requests, reserve facilities and contact their neighbors, while community association managers and other staff recover more time to focus on value-adding work rather than manually responding to inquiries.
Technology has simplified countless aspects of daily life, both in and out of the office. Association management companies shouldn’t let this wave pass them by when they have so much to gain from upgrading their HOA communication tools.
Why implement modern HOA communication tools?
When deciding whether they need to update their communications tools, management company leaders should ask themselves:
- When residents need to get in contact, what do they do?
- Are there staff members tasked with manually fielding requests for information or facility reservations?
- Is the management company’s website hard to use or cumbersome on mobile devices?
- Can residents submit requests and pay assessments in a single location, with no extra steps or accounts to create?
If there are any such speedbumps stopping residents from having quick and efficient interactions with your company, then there’s room for improvement. In today’s digital age, everything is available online or through mobile devices — finance, fitness tracking, shopping and much more. When communities don’t have effective digital portals, homeowners may not know where to look to stay informed about their requests, events in their community, and the status of their last payment. These run the risk of the management company seeming old-fashioned, inefficient, and tough to deal with.
Example: Reserving an athletics facility
A simple, everyday interaction can show the difference between automated communication and an older model. For instance, what is the procedure if a homeowner wants to reserve use of a community athletic field for a certain time?
If there’s no automated communication tool in place, the resident may have to call an office or submit an application via email to be reviewed by a member of the management company staff. Processing the application and giving approval takes time, and it might not be clear in the first place whether the field is already reserved at that time, or what channels the resident should go through to make the request.
When there’s a digital portal and mobile app in place, the resident can simply take out their smart device, navigate to the community calendar view and see if the facility is free. Upon seeing that it isn’t reserved at the given time, they can file a request, saying how long they need the field for, how many people will be there, and more. If the management company has set an auto-approval, a request that fits rules regarding time and number of participants may be approved without an employee ever having to interact with it. No matter what, the request will come through quickly and be formatted consistently.
HOA app and web portal use: A matter of trust
Management companies that use mobile apps and web portals can create clear lines of communication between residents and the business. This is especially true when management companies co-brand their HOA app, presenting a consistent appearance online and offline that residents start to know and trust.
The seamless, one-stop experience, whether accessed through a mobile device or the web, is convenient and encourages users to keep interacting with it over time. A communication portal that also manages homeowner payments can provide an especially compelling experience, giving peace of mind by allowing residents to settle their bills without ever leaving the site.
What are the features of HOA communication tool suites?
Management companies gain access to a powerful suite of features when using a modern HOA web portal and mobile app, including:
- Document management: Residents can access their community governing documents, HOA rules and bylaws 24 hours a day, along with documentation about vehicles, storage spaces and more.
- Resident, service and business directories: When residents want to look up contact information for neighbors, essential services and local businesses, they can check listings through the web portal or mobile app.
- Reservation features: Using a web portal or mobile app makes it easier than ever to see which facilities are available at certain times and apply for amenity reservations. Management companies can set capacity limits, enable auto-approvals and more.
- Architectural and maintenance requests: When residents need work done on their properties, they can quickly and easily submit work orders, maintenance requests or architectural requests directly through the portal, then access updates.
- Person-to-person communication capabilities: HOA mobile apps and web portals can grant access to community discussion forums, calendars, classified ads and more. Users can also send and receive messages from personal inboxes.
- Payment portals: Residents can set up either one-time or recurring payments and also view their payment history or download their financial statements.
- Financial documents: By integrating communication tools with accounting software, association management companies can grant HOA board members access to invoices, delinquency records and other financial documents.
A well-designed portal should allow the management company to select which features are available for each community to best match that community’s features, size, and residents.
How do HOA communication tools help management companies and residents?
Digital HOA communication tools are a win-win proposition because they are designed to help every group, making life easier for management companies and residents alike. So, how do these technologies help people on an everyday basis?
- Management companies are able to get more done per employee, with each team member spending less time manually dealing with everyday communication processes.
Web portals and mobile apps can also help management companies win contracts to serve more communities. HOA boards assessing various management companies may be especially likely to choose candidates that have strong technology profiles, as this will help them keep their residents happy.
- Residents gain a way to manage all their interactions with the management company in an efficient, no-hassle way. Everything they need is available in one place — and since the app and web closely mirror each other, it’s possible to seamlessly work with whichever one is most convenient at that moment.
- HOA board member duties are also easier to complete with HOA management apps and web portals. User settings allow board members to view financial documents and other operating information that is not available to homeowners.
Why invest in a fully integrated HOA technology platform?
One of the most exciting aspects of communication technology for association management companies is the ability to integrate these capabilities with other useful technology. This may mean using accounting software to enable easy access to monthly financials and sync payment information with the community association’s bank.
Other operational needs, such as visitor management and access control capabilities, are also available in comprehensive HOA management software platforms. When HOA board members see that management companies have such strong technology tools powering their day-to-day operations, they’ll know they can trust these firms to provide a top-quality resident experience.
Working with FRONTSTEPS’ HOA management platform is the way for management to gain these wide-ranging capabilities. Automation in every aspect of the experience, from back-office functions to homeowner communications, is a powerful differentiator.
Request a demo to see what HOA management software can do for your management company.