The complaint most often heard in this business is that the owners do not feel informed. What is the best way to keep owners in the loop?
One of the easiest ways to get your message across is to have an Association website. But no one uses our website– I know this is what you’re thinking! The key is to drive your owners to the websites through engagement. One way to get them reading and responding is to have your members submit their applications such as Architectural Review or pool keys through the website. Have your owners RSVP to community events through the website and perhaps simply state the general and/or landscaping rules for easy reading. You can offer surveys and points for discussion on issues that are of concern for residents. Many websites offer email blasts to their members so they know of important happenings. Post ideas for upcoming community events and ask for contributions. I know you’re thinking no one contributes money to these things! Of course they don’t! Ask for ideas on music to play for the luau. Ask for someone to bring their favorite potato salad to the next barbecue or do they want the Association to grill chicken or sausage in addition to the standard hot dog or hamburger.
This leads us to our next topic of conversation: community events. Does your community have events that involve the residents? Do you offer garage sales? Neighborhood get-togethers in the cul de sac? This is often a great way to communicate with residents as you are all together and can make your owners feel included. Hand out flyers with information such as the website or when the next Board meeting will be and why they should consider attending.
Facebook is a double edged sword. Many people freely express their opinions through Facebook and many Association pages have been the target for negativity. You can set up a page to not allow comments but this will only serve to frustrate the members. If you openly engage in dialogue with the owners, they will see that you are interested in their pain points and feel that they are being heard. But you really need to ask yourself if your skin is thick enough.
Some Associations distribute newsletters to their membership. Larger communities can often obtain a service to print the newsletter for free. The questions quickly become: What should be put in there? Who is going to write this? How do we get our members reading this? If perhaps the Association can appoint an editor and have different members write up articles, you may get more input. Have the Committees each write a piece or assign the articles to a different member for every edition. Put on the cover page what your owners are interested in, whether it’s the upcoming party or a report from the local law enforcement.
Communication is key to every good relationship. Keep thinking of innovative new ways to bring people on board. It’s not a one-way street!