Effective, regular communication is your key to an efficiently managed condo or HOA community and happier residents. In fact, an official “communication plan” will help you better manage risk and relationships in your job. Here are 6 practical tips that you can start using today.
Poor communication is often the cause of tension or conflict within a managed community. Proof can be found in a multi-year survey of condo owners in Ontario (which collected data from 40 percent of the province’s condo corporations).
Almost half of the respondents (49 percent) said “lack of communication from boards of directors and/or managers” was the most common problem. Respondents cited frustration, fear, and other negative feelings due to:
- Lack of information about board meetings
- No response from boards and managers to enquiries or requests for information
- Confusing accounting reports
- Unexplained fee hikes/maintenance costs/special assessments
With all the other responsibilities a property manager juggles each day, good communication tactics may not be top of mind. But clear, open communication that speaks to your audience actually makes your job easier.
Good communication improves retention rates, builds community bonds, and educates residents about property management policies and procedures.
Fortunately, effective communication is a skill that can be developed easily and enhanced even more with the right tools. So get started on a communication plan for your community with these helpful guidelines:
1. Know your key message
Be clear in your communications by sticking to a single topic in each “message transmission” sent to residents. This is true no matter what format you’re using to communicate. Whether it’s an email to a single resident, a bulletin board post, or a seasonal report, have one clear message to avoid confusion.
Topics that matter to residents include:
- Work orders and service requests
- Amenities bookings
- Problems and complaints
- Building events
- Condo board meetings and AGM
- By-laws and fees
- Fire safety and emergency testing
2. Use plain language
With millions of words in the English language to choose from, it’s easy to be misunderstood if you use unfamiliar words to get your point across. Vocabularies differ in size. The number of words (and their meanings) each person knows will vary due to environment, culture, and life experience. But when you speak or write in “plain language” you’re using words that everyone knows—a core vocabulary of about 300 familiar words used most often to express meaning and intent, usually without misunderstanding. Plain language excludes jargon, acronyms, legalese, and slang. The simplest, shortest way to say something in plain language is usually the best way.
3. Broadcast your achievements
Use your community blog or newsletter to let residents know what a great job you’re doing. Share good news about building improvements and upgrades—the freshly painted lobby, blooming garden, new hallway carpet—anything that residents will appreciate. Making the news public shows your commitment to open communication as well as your responsiveness to property maintenance.
4. Plan ahead
Map out a yearly timeline in your plan for communicating with residents and owners. Monthly meetings, calendar events, regular maintenance procedures that require alert notices—anything with a clearly defined date can be scheduled ahead of time to be posted or sent automatically. Organize all notifications, announcements and communications in one place for a strong, unified sense of ownership. Post information on discussion boards to kickstart conversations between owners/residents and property management, the board, and each other. The open communication creates a positive feeling of community—notifications, events, news, and other updates can be shared among residents and owners quickly and easily.
5. Encourage feedback (and provide feedback channels)
Communication goes both ways. Make sure residents know that your property management team is available to hear their questions, comments or concerns. Arrange annual meetings with residents/owners to get feedback in person to better understand their priorities. You can also send out surveys (online, or printed) to track how satisfied residents are with the property management and to suggest areas for improvement.
6. Technology is your best buddy
Maintaining a good flow of communication is not easy, especially when you are dealing with a community of hundreds of residents. Luckily, we now live in a world where you can even feed your dog through a smartphone. Take advantage of technology. Make it your best buddy to help you communicate better with your residents. (Shameless plug coming) A community management platform like Evercondo helps you send emails, SMS, push notification and voice broadcasts to your residents in just a few clicks.
Do you have any other communication tips for property managers? If so, let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
Evercondo the leading web and mobile platform that facilitates quick, useful communication between property managers, the condo association or HOA board, and residents. Contact us for a demonstration or a free trial to see how we can keep your communities happy.