Prompt and reliable dissemination of information is a key element of successful HOA management. In order to accomplish this, you will need various HOA communication tools.
HOA Communication Tools and How to Use Them
One of the duties and responsibilities of your HOA board is to communicate with association members. From making announcements to sending out notices, communication is a regular part of running a community.
Choosing the right tools to aid your communication efforts, though, is just as important as the messages you send. Here are the best HOA communication tools you can use along with how you should use them:
Email is a valuable method of communication for HOA communities. With email, you can share news and updates instantly and without hassle. It is a cheap and convenient way to disseminate information. The best part is that email is very versatile. You can use it for more formal communication as well as for more casual announcements.
Some HOAs are apprehensive about using email because they believe older members will be against it. But, the opposite may actually be true. Older generations are now using email almost as much as younger generations.
Most homeowners already have an existing email address that they regularly use. If you have yet to start using email as a communication tool, you may find it difficult to collect individual email addresses. In doing so, always remind homeowners that their email addresses will only be used for HOA communications purposes.
Managing multiple email addresses, though, can come as a challenge as your association grows in size. In that case, your board would have an easier time with the help of an HOA email system. There are a number of email systems you can use, and some management software even has such systems already integrated.
HOA Email Policy
When using email as a means of communication, board members should establish a set of rules to avoid problems. For instance, if a homeowner replies to an email or makes a complaint via email, it is best to address the issue in person. Written communication often leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation. Additionally, board members should never disclose homeowners’ personal information to other parties. That includes their email address.
Websites offer several advantages to an HOA community. First of all, HOA websites function as a one-stop-shop for all things HOA-related. You can make important announcements, send reminders, post newsletters, and add a calendar for events. You can even publish HOA records, such as your governing documents, to your website.
A fully-integrated website also allows members to submit service requests. All of this will make it easier for homeowners to gain access to various information and actions.
When creating your website, it is essential to incorporate a password-protected homeowner portal. This way, you can make sure that the only people who have access to HOA documents and services are members of the community.
The only downside to HOA sites, though, is that well-designed ones tend to cost more. Still, shelling out $5,000 to $10,000 for a comprehensive website will pay off in the end.
Social media is another viable option, though not everyone is active on social media or even has an account. Facebook is one of the most popular platforms for HOA communities since it allows you to create closed groups. In addition to making announcements, Facebook also allows you to share files, photos, and documents. Perhaps the biggest benefit of social media, though, is that you can share information in real-time.
HOA Social Media Policy
Things can quickly get out of hand on social media, which is why it is essential to crafting a policy regulating homeowner behavior. Common social media rules include prohibiting offensive or derogatory comments, banning owners from starting fights, and restricting what users can share. Still, even with rules in place, managing social media can be tricky.
Facebook, though, has some tools that can help you control posts. For instance, you can disable member posts without approval from the group admins, i.e. the HOA board members. Apart from controlling homeowners, board members should also exercise care. Refrain from posting any sensitive or confidential information on social media.
Video Conferencing Tools
Video conferencing platforms are a suitable alternative if, for any reason, your board can’t meet personally. With this tool, you can conduct meetings remotely, share screens, and send files.
There are also other features you can use depending on the platform you choose. You can also conference with fellow members on mobile or on your computer. Best of all, a lot of video conferencing programs come free of charge. Video conferencing can also work for annual HOA meetings if the number of participants allows it.
Video Conferencing Policy
Since virtual meetings allow you to participate from anywhere, you may feel tempted to forgo a decent appearance in favor of comfort. While comfort matters, keep in mind that you must still remain completely professional at all times. That means putting on a clean shirt even when you’re at home. Though, most video conferencing tools also let you turn off your camera so that only your voice is heard.
The beauty of an HOA management software is that you have more control over the messages you send and who you send them to. You can customize a lot of settings and preferences, and there are even templates you can use for easy message creation.
With the help of a self managed HOA software, you can share news and updates in a number of different mediums. This includes SMS, voice messages, and email. You can even attach files and other documents to the messages you send. Plus, a fully integrated HOA management software comes with all the bells and whistles, including record management, billing and invoicing, and service requests management.
If you have never heard of Nextdoor, it is a social networking app that connects communities. With the help of this app, you can share local news, welcome newcomers, and offer recommendations for services. The only thing you need to do in order to start is to enter your location.
HOA boards generally have no control over Nextdoor, though, so it is not one of the most practical HOA communication tools. Therefore, you should never use it to conduct official HOA business, or else you may find yourself in legal trouble.
Are Printed Newsletters Worth Keeping?
A printed homeowners association newsletter used to be the standard communication tool. But, with the changing times brought on by technology, printed newsletters are on their way out. Still, many HOAs continue to rely on newsletters because their homeowners prefer it.
If your HOA is considering phasing out printed newsletters, it is important to first see how your members feel about it. Try conducting a survey to obtain feedback. It is also worth striking a balance between the convenience of technology and the tradition of printed newsletters.
When explaining the change to your members, make sure to highlight the benefits of going digital. In addition to cutting back on printing and mailing costs, switching to a digital medium is faster and more accessible. Furthermore, with the amount of time involved in creating a newsletter — from design, layout, and writing content — the information already becomes outdated by the time it reaches homeowners’ doors.
A Duty to Fulfill
Your HOA board is responsible for keeping members informed and up-to-date, whether it’s about new rule changes or community events. Reaching out to members can be hard, though, especially if you still rely on traditional methods. Accomplish your duty to distribute information in a timely and accurate manner with the help of these HOA communication tools.
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