Association Management Trailblazers: Diane Braswell

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“Love where you live. Love where you work.” The company motto paves the way for how Artemis employees manage the communities they serve. Learn how Artemis invests in technology to stay ahead in HOA management. Watch it now! 

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[Jon] Welcome everyone, to another Trailblazer interview. I am thrilled to be speaking with Diane Braswell, President of Artemis Lifestyles, and thrilled to have you here. I know you’ll bring a lot of value. For those who don’t know you, why don’t you give a quick introduction? 

[Diane] Sure. Thank you very much. Thrilled to be here. So I am Diane Braswell, CEO of Artemis Lifestyles. I’ve been in the HOA industry for some time, over 10 years. My career, funny enough, did not start anywhere near HOA industry. I am actually an engineer, mechanical engineer by schooling, worked the first bit of my career in the power industry. That quickly changed to project management, which led me into Homeowner’s Association, believe it or not, in the technology sector. And I was fortunate enough to get involved in HOA management and technology at the perfect time when it was changing. So we all know that a lot has changed with HOA management and management companies and technology in the last 10 years. Not to overuse the word, but a digital transformation, I think, is fair enough to say. So that enabled me to get in. I got in to do some technology work for a company, large management company, and haven’t looked back since. I’ve had the opportunity to really get involved in operations because as you’re transforming processes and procedures, you learn those processes and procedures and [have?] very excited to use those skills that I’ve learned and all the knowledge I’ve gained and work with Artemis Lifestyles. And I’ve been with them for about a year, and it’s been an amazing year with the Artemis Team. Looking forward to many more. 

[Jon] What should the audience know about Artemis Lifestyles? 

[Diane] So, at Artemis, I think the most important thing is that we are passionate about HOA and your community. So there’s a lot of management companies out there, we know that, and there’s a lot of great management companies out there. But with us, we bring passion to the table. So we do everything that a full service management company would do. So we do, of course, association management, collections, accounting, HR. We’ve got the whole bit closing. So I don’t want to miss anything because they’ll get mad, customer service, but we all bring that spirit and passion. So our motto is love where you work, love where you live. And I think if you do one, the other will come. So if we have the passion that we bring to our work and our team and our environment, it makes it easy for us to provide management services to our associations so that they can love where they live, which is the ultimate goal here for us at the company. 

[Jon] In your observation, what makes a community manager special? What are the skills they bring to the table that help them really succeed in their role? 

[Diane] There’s so many, right? It’s such a vast job, but I would think most importantly is the ability to listen and have some empathy. It’s the soft skills there. Of course, they need to be very versatile. They need to have project management skills. They need to be able to communicate effectively, get in front of large crowds, work with vendors, stick to a timeline. But for us, at Artemis, we look for CAMPs who really are understanding of the community, of the boards, what they’re going through, and also listening to the community, what is special to them? What do they want from– because every community is different, right? And they all want different things. You could have a community that’s really into the numbers and very focused on budget. Then you could have a community who really wants lifestyle. So we need to understand as managers and be okay with, “Hey, I’m not the right CAMP for this community. I’m listening to them, and I think they need this.” So that’s kind of what we look for, is more partnering with the community and being okay with hearing what they have to say and making changes accordingly. 

[Jon] That’s fantastic. And that relationship, that chemistry is a great insight. And also, like many positions, I’ve seen a lot of data suggesting that there’s a shortage of CAMPs, qualified CAMPs. 

[Diane] Yes. Yes. 

[Jon] And I think about one of the roles, and before we dive into the question, I want to sort of verify this in your view. I think one of the roles of a growing or a large management company is to provide the infrastructure, the training, the tools, so that the CAMPs on staff can really be effective and manage all the tasks in front of them. Do you think that’s a fair description? 

[Diane] I absolutely agree with that assessment. This year and last year especially, finding good candidates has been such a challenge. And then retaining them is the most important thing we can do. And we’re looking to give them the tools they need. We like to develop our own CAMPs. And we actually have partnered with a college here close to us where they have a program that the CAMPs go through. We’re very excited about that. We’re just starting it up, and we’re looking to kind of bring CAMPs on and develop them. But in order to do that, you have to give them the support. And we have the layers. We have their director, it could be. But then there’s other department heads that work together, a robust orientation program, checking in once a month. So making sure that they understand what their role is as a CAMP, but also what their role is as a member of Artemis, and what their role is to support the community as well. So we are a team. A team is probably the most important thing, the mantra of our group. We’re all pitching in to help, and I think that makes our CAMPs very successful. 

[Jon] That’s great. And it’s a good segue to another topic I think a lot of organizations are curious about which is the best way to structure that team. I don’t know if you’d be comfortable sharing a little bit around, not the nitty-gritty detail, but just at the top level, the different departments and how those departments work together to produce that love where you live effect for your communities. 

[Diane] Yeah, and so we are a full-service association management company, which means that we provide everything, soup to nuts. So we have the different, I would say, traditional type teams where you’ve got your finance side, accounting and collections, and you’ve got your customer service side. And I smile because they’re an extremely fun department. They deal with very challenging calls all day, but they love it. So that’s really awesome. They have a little music going on in the background. And then we’ve got our association managers as well. All of us that aren’t association managers are there to support the association manager organization. We meet as a management team of these major different departments as needed to back up. I forgot technology, and that would be terrible being that I’m a technology person myself. So extremely key, technology is involved in everything that we do. But we as a department has to meet every day. We meet every day, 15 minutes, have a little what we call stand up just to set us on the right tone. What’s the big concerns we have today? How are we going to carry out our mission? Which communities do we need to pitch in and give some extra support? We do community outreach for our CAMPs so that we’re out visiting. We’ll take a whole group of us. We’ll go out and visit and meet with the community, understand what it means to them, the residents, to love where they live and try to get that feedback as well. So we start at the top, pull the department heads together, and then that trickles down to the rest. 

[Jon] That’s terrific. And speaking of technology, certainly in your background in technology, and I have a vested interest, right, part of a software provider, very interested with your background and then your current role, right, as CEO, just some perspective on how the role of technology is changing for your team, and then we can maybe expand on that, in terms of technology partnerships. 

[Diane] It’s really interesting. Technology is something I’m very passionate about. I’ve done it for a very long time. And for communities, it’s very interesting because we still encounter communities who don’t have a technology portfolio at their disposal. And we, as a company who’s passionate about tech, bring them all these tools, and it’s just amazing. It’s like a light bulb, all the things that you can bring them and how their residents can interact better, and we can interact with them and less time they have to spend on the managing of their community or the paying of their bills because they have this technology. For our team, because we are what we are, and we are innovative and flexible, they’re on their toes a good bit because we really do enjoy, though, what’s coming next. How can we get involved in it? How can we beta test it? What community can try it out with us? And we again, look at that– I keep going back to a partnership type word, but it is. We’re partnering with these communities. We are partnering with our vendors to bring the best solution to the communities. So I think for our team, they have to be flexible. They know that. We don’t apologize for that ever, but we do have to train on that. So that’s where it comes more into play, is we have a very strong technology department. They’re very existent in our company, and they spend a lot of time training. There are lead trainers there, and they spend a lot of outreach. It’s not uncommon for our technology team to go out and do compliance like violations with our CAMPs to make sure that they understand how to do it. They’re working with the tablet. They’re working with the tools. So kind of, again, back to that team approach, it’s all hands on deck. Let’s do what we can do on behalf of the community. 

[Jon] And just to play it back, I think there are some phenomenal insights there about change management and team staffing. You have found that there are advantages to being ahead on technology, though there also certainly is a level of investment you need to make to stay there. 

[Diane] Absolutely. And it’s a commitment, right? And it’s a commitment that Artemis as a company has made long before me. And it’s a very good fit because I’m committed to it as well, which is really nice. There are the benefits, right? And then there’s the downside. So we again have to invest in the team, in the staff, in the technology, as a matter of fact, to make sure that we’re always staying ahead. And it’s not easy, right? Technology is always changing, so we will never stop with that. And we all know that, I think. 

[Jon] Yeah, but if it gives you an edge in the marketplace, I can understand why it’s worth doing. 

[Diane] Yeah, the edge, is obvious to us, but not to others. They don’t even know that it’s available. So when you offer it, it’s so rewarding to be able to see that come to fruition and be able to see people be able to gain so much more out of their day when we offer them the tools that we work so hard on. 

[Jon] And it really does set the tone, I think, right? That we’re a team. We’re all trying to accomplish the same thing, right? If you have happy communities, then everyone’s thriving. So that’s terrific. I had a question. I planned to ask you a question about what decisions have helped Artemis grow and be successful. I mean, I think you’ve actually covered a lot of examples, but if there are any others, feel free to share them. 

[Diane] Sure. And the obvious one we’ve been talking about a lot is technology. It has not only allowed us to be more efficient, but has opened up new markets to us as well. So that’s always the focus there, but also innovation. And a lot of people think of innovation as only being technology, but we are really looking to innovate the way we do things. So the way we manage our communities, and it really ties back to– not to sound corny with it, but it ties back to that love where you live. It’s not the same for every community, so you can’t do the same thing for every community. You have to innovate. And we’re looking at ways to bring association management to our communities in a different, better, more efficient way, however that package needs to look for the community, and we’ve done kind of cool things with our customer service team, with new Homeowner Welcome. We’re looking at not just sending a letter out. Like, “How can we do it better?” We do a lot with videos and a lot with training, training our homeowners as well. So there’s a lot more that can be done, and we are up for that challenge. 

[Jon] I think that’s terrific, and I agree. Yeah, innovation is in every aspect of the business, right? The processes, the training, yeah, I mean, the in person interactions, and again, the events you run for partners, like FRONTSTEPS as well as your local partners and the outreach you do in your communities, is outstanding and rare in my experience. Just one last question for you– oh, if you have other comments, feel free to share them. 

[Diane] I was just going to say it’s really interesting. It shouldn’t just be the association managers who get in touch with the members of communities and understand it. And I think it’s important that everyone understands our mission, what we’re trying to do. And that really does involve the outreach, and it does involve getting with the partners and understanding what people are going through, what board members go through on a day to day basis because that’s a challenging volunteer job that they have. So I think making sure that we’re all understanding that is also a big help as well. 

[Jon] That’s a great insight. Yeah, the more people that can speak to your [inaudible] customer and understand their needs, the more empathetic and effective you can be. Just one last question, and this is a question we could go for hours on, but we’ll definitely cover it quickly. What changes are you monitoring? What do you see on the horizon that might cause more innovation? 

[Diane] Yeah, there’s so much going on right now. So here in Florida, I think as with everywhere, this year has been a wild ride as far as building and new home development. So keeping up with that has been quite a challenge and also now seeing where that goes because things are changing again. So understanding how we’re dealing with newly developed communities, communities that have just turned over from the developer to a resident-run board, those are changes that we have definitely seen in the last couple of years due to the real estate market. Lifestyles, right? Lifestyles is interesting because a couple of years ago, maybe five years ago, it wasn’t front and center. Now our communities are lazy rivers and clubhouses, and you’re not just managing a community, you’re managing a whole restaurant and Tiki Bar. And of course, again, we’re in the vacation capital of the world here, so it’s a little bit different. But you are seeing amenities that would have been very unusual back in the day are now pretty standard, the big fancy pools and all of that. So that has been interesting too, because again, not just about managing the community, about love where you live. So how do we bring that? How do we enhance that? How do we use these amenities and make sure they’re getting the proper use as well? And then of course, ending on the same note that I’ve been talking about this whole time, is technology. You have to keep up. It is always changing. People are different. You’re dealing with different generations in the same community. And we have to make sure that we’re bringing them all the information they need, however they’re comfortable getting it. And that does involve some innovation, and I think we’ll start to see more of that throughout the next couple of years.