The Best HOA Communication Tools of 2022
Do you want to improve your HOAs communications? Are you wondering what tools to use to make it happen?
You know the score. Being a successful HOA manager or HOA board is no easy feat. You need the right skills and the right management tools to carry out your responsibilities efficiently.
You may be doing a great job, but if it is not communicated properly to the HOA members, things can get pretty messy. Right communication is indispensable, from announcements to notices, and everything in between.
So, if you are looking for information on how to get your communications right, this is the article for you.
In this article, we will briefly discuss the importance of a proper strategy, and best practices for communication. Then we will talk in detail about the resources that can help you handle all communication smoothly.
Let’s jump right in.
Why Choosing the Right HOA Communication Tools is So Important to Your Association’s Success
First things first, why the fuss about the right communication tools? Well, it is all about avoiding the pitfalls that come with poor communication.
You see, ineffective HOA communication can result in:
- Increase in violations
- Homeowners feeling unheard and disconnected
- Low engagement
- Rise in complaints, etc.
Right tools can help you communicate information in a way that is clear, engaging, timely, and interactive.
For example, if you are an HOA in a senior community, you cannot depend solely upon digital channels to communicate. Because only 61% of American citizens over the age of 65 own a smartphone as of 2021. This means that a lot of them still like to spend time offline, so a multi-channel approach would be better. Conducting committee meetings, using printed newsletters for keeping in touch with the members regularly, etc. will result in a much better outcome in such a case.
Together with choosing the right tools and channels, you also should have a clear strategy behind why you communicate the way you do. Let us see why.
The importance of having a proper HOA communication strategy
Let me ask you this. What can make your life as an HOA manager or an HOA board so much easier? Maximum compliance, and least resistance, right?
Well, that is the reason you should spend time on a proper HOA communication strategy that includes:
- Have a clear purpose for each communication
- Picking the right tools/ channels for it
- Setting up best practices for all communication
- Identifying the right times and frequency for communicating
When an HOA rule/ decision/ action reaches people in a way they understand, they are able to get the idea behind it. This minimizes the resistance and they naturally comply.
There is also a long-term benefit to it.
If members are happy with the communication, they can give positive reviews to prospective buyers. This can result in increased property values. More Americans are choosing to live in HOAs, and everybody wants to be part of a community where things go around smoothly.
Good communication is also the key to keeping the community members on the same page about the state law they need to abide by. When you give clear access to records and documents to the members as required by the law, it becomes easier for them to follow through.
Best HOA communication tools
Whether it is about a shop, a school, or a governing body, the first thought in today’s world is to look it up on the internet. Associations are no different and not having a website may even seem primitive.
A basic informational website design along with maintenance may only cost you about $2500 for one year. You can decide to take this cost up depending upon the size and paying members of your HOA.
For a bigger HOA, you can increase the functionality of the website to include facilities like –
- Member access/ login
- Booking amenities
- Submitting requests
- Feedback portal, etc.
Here is a glimpse of how the best HOA websites look like:
However you decide to do it, a website can be the ‘go-to’ channel for all the key communication for your HOA, and so is a huge convenience.
For very small HOAs though, with a limited budget, an unofficial social media page (more about this further in the article) can be an alternative. You can use this page to put the basic information up for easy access.
Email is undoubtedly the most preferred mode of communication with all age groups. Here is the percentage of internet users in the USA who use email as of November 2019, by age group:
Image Source - Statista
So, you can be sure that most association members will be good with the idea of using email for HOA communication.
There are great benefits to using an email too –
- Almost no new costs, as most households are already using an email service
- You can communicate detailed information like CC&Rs
- Both the HOA manager and the members can access it in their own time
- You can use it for both formal and casual information
The easiest way to collect member emails is to make it a part of the documentation process as a new member comes in. IIf you are not using an email service and intend to start, you can collect emails in a meeting, through phone calls, messaging services, etc.
If you are using (or intending to use) an HOA management software, it may come with its own email integration. In which case, the software takes care of everything.
HOA Social Media pages
Social media platforms have their advantages and disadvantages as an HOA communication channel. Because there can always be house-owners who are not happy. A social platform gives them the freedom to share their negativity with other residents.
It may also not be a good idea to share sensitive information on a public platform. So, if you decide to set up a social media page for your HOA, set proper rules and regulations for it. Mention the dos and don’ts clearly.
It is better to keep the page unofficial and use it to foster community feeling. Treat it as a community website, where members can sell items, support each other with various kinds of information, etc.
It is a good idea to appoint community managers in such a group to oversee its smooth functioning.
You can also use these pages for real-time announcements. But its success will depend upon how active your association members are. So to start with, make sure it is a relevant channel for your HOA.
HOA newsletter - printed and web
Newsletters are an important form of communication. Through newsletters, you can send out key information and updates to the members regularly. This helps maintain regular contact with them. So how to decide between printed and web newsletters?
Some key factors can help you decide –
- Printed newsletters cost significantly more than their digital counterparts
- Delivery of the printed newsletters needs additional resources
- You can personalize the digital newsletters and send them at the click of a button
- Printed newsletters can seem more accessible as they are physical
Depending on your budget and how your association members feel, you can decide which one to go with. And if you have the resources, you can keep them both, to balance between the new and the old.
Meetings and Events (Online and Offline)
Nothing can replace the connection established between people when they meet in person. The pandemic may have made it difficult for people to meet in person, but things are coming back to normal. So, on-ground meetings are a great idea, as and when possible.
Decide the frequency of such meetings depending upon their practicality and necessity. When in-person meetings are not possible, you can arrange virtual meetings through video conferencing services like Zoom, Google Meet, etc.
With this let us move on to our last tool.
HOA management software
Seems like a lot of work to put all the channels and tools together to handle your HOA affairs? What if there was one dedicated platform with which you can manage nearly all aspects of your HOA operations?
From functioning as a website to providing the platform for all communication, an HOA management software is the answer. HOAlife is one such sophisticated software.
Here is a glimpse of what all HOALife can do for the smooth running of your HOA:
- Violation communications – With HOALife, you can record your CC&R violations and send notice letters in minutes. Through the owner portal, a resident can view violations, and can record the response directly in the system.
- Architectural change information and communications – The Architectural control committee can put up its guidelines on the software. All the communication about architectural change requests and responses can happen through the software itself.
- General communications like newsletters, meeting minutes, etc HOALife can send all types of information to a single property owner or the entire HOA easily via email and/or regular postal mail.
- General email discussions - With email integrated into the software, all kinds of discussions can take place on HOALife, and it records them for future reference.
- HOALife owner portal can function as an exclusive website, as it is for the residents only. You can use it for not just putting up basic information, but also for sharing important documentation like governing state laws, etc., Through the owner portal, the residents can submit architectural change requests, property management issues, view HOA files in the document repository, and more.
HOA communication best practices
Irrespective of the channels or content of the communication, the way it is done has a huge role to play. Do not underestimate the power of positive communication, which has a direct relationship to the kind of response you are going to get.
So you must develop some ground rules around all communication that happens through your HOA. Here are some ideas:
- Speak like a member of the community, not an authority. Remember that as an HOA board member or an HOA manager, you are still part of a community you are working with. So, maintaining a professional attitude is a better alternative to throwing weight around. Avoid that at all costs.
- Be clear and concise, as you want to make it easy for the members to understand what is happening in the HOA. People choose to live in an HOA for security and ease. If the information coming from HOA is hard to understand and time-consuming, it will be counterproductive. Improve communication to avoid jargon of any kind, and keep it short and simple.
- Make sure to follow through. In their busy schedule, people tend to put things on a backburner unless you remind them of the importance. Put an effective follow-up system in place so you don’t have to work overtime reminding people of their duties. A good HOA management software may come in handy for this purpose.
- Take regular feedback from the HOA association members. Asking for their feedback is a great way of showing them you care. Feedbacks can also give you a better perspective about specific topics and you can make better decisions. HOA surveys are a great way to take feedback. HOA surveys are a great way to take feedback.
- Lay down a proper communication policy, because putting things in black and white helps everyone be on the same page. For a basic communication policy, you can -
- List the channels and tools you are going to use for specific purposes, for example, written notice or email for violations.
- Mention an approximate frequency of such communication
- Let the members know if there is anything expected of them on these communications. For example, are they expected to be present at the HOA meeting monthly? etc.
Once we have understood the ground rules for effective communication in the HOA, let us get to the best tools that help us do so.
Effective communication can simplify the day-to-day running of your HOA and choosing the right tools is a big part of it.
Hopefully, our rundown of the tools in this article will help you choose the best one for your HOA.
Looking to improve your HOA communications? Check out HOALife - the complete communications tool for homeowners associations.