The Key to Effectively Communicating to Your HOA During Hard Times

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Being a board member is not for the faint of heart, not these days. Virtually all volunteer boards have an increasing number of tough decisions.  Should we pursue an owner for an assessment balance due even though his home is foreclosed?  Do we push another owner to cut down the view obstructing tree, even though we know he is out of work and it is too tall for a home job with a ladder and a handsaw?  Within the last few years a simple trash can non-compliance letter can send a homeowner into a fit of anger and hostility as he is trying to keep his financial situation in order and trash cans become a non-priority.  Who better to focus their anger toward than the association’s board of directors? And, of course, the boards have pressures of their own such as trying to balance their community’s budget while worrying about their 2009 college grad who still lives in their basement working the want ads.

How do boards navigate the icebergs in these troubled seas?  Your management team should be an integral part in helping to make and deliver tough decisions.  Whether we are cutting back pool heat, reducing days of landscape maintenance by a few days, or just creating a more aggressive approach to collecting assessments, it requires effective communication efforts in order to create an understanding and buy-in from the homeowners.
Our management teams have found that consistent and detailed communication with owners helps to retain a positive relationship, even in these toughest of times. Owners are more likely to look positively at the goings on in their community if they understand the details of the issues that the board is facing.  As they say, true leaders show their worth during the hard times.
Additionally, homeowners can be much more receptive to cost-cutting measures if they understand the reasoning behind the decision. By engaging homeowners early in the decision-making process, you can effectively build an understanding consensus among homeowners, which in turn leads to support and acceptance. Lay out the problems your communication is facing, the choices you are have before you, and the reasoning behind the decision.
Of course, not every homeowner is willing to be engaged, and some might even disagree with your rationale. That’s why it is good to be courteous and approachable in hearing feedback from homeowners, but also to have conviction in the decisions made by the board. If you believe in the solutions you are enacting, your enthusiasm will spread to other homeowners and you decision will garner support.
We salute volunteers such as these Boards of Directors during such times.  One of our primary goals at The Management Trust is to help create better lives for our homeowners and especially our board members. So, never hesitate to call your manager or an executive at your local Management Trust office for advice or just a bit of commiseration.  We are here to help.
This article is provided by The Management Trust.