How To Write Emails That Get The Job Done

effective-email

How many times have you ask yourself “Why doesn’t she get back to me?” I mean, seriously, how long does it take for someone to reply to an email. It only takes a few minutes but why does it take so long. Getting someone to do something is hard, it’s even harder when you’re asking your customers (a.k.a. the board members) via email. The importance of writing a good email cannot be overemphasized. Things need to get done and your emails to your residents need to be good. Period.

Formalities aside, a good email is a simple one. Easy enough to be understood by a 5th grader (i.e., 10 year old). Here’s a good example, why use 5th grader when you can clearly choose to use “10 year old.” In other words, why make the reader think?

To master the art of effective email writing, property managers can borrow from the lowliest form of communication: direct mail copywriting.

Direct mail copy is, well, direct. It’s persuasive, politely blunt, and makes it easy for recipients to respond. All those flyers and letters that go from your mailbox straight into the recycling bin—they’re a goldmine of inspiration.

You simply transfer those direct mail attributes to your email writing, and bammo. Timely responses in your inbox. Here’s how:

Use short, simple language.

Write your emails for clarity to avoid confusion on the part of recipients. Be succinct. Clearly explain what you want using the fewest possible words. (Top tip: remove unnecessary qualifiers – words like “very”, “really”, “extremely” – that lessen the impact of your message. It’s better to use one powerful word than two or three mediocre ones.) Long blocks of text are subject to the “tl;dr” (too long; didn’t read) phenomenon. Instead, write short, to-the-point sentences. Use bullet points to break up long paragraphs that list things. Limit paragraphs to four or five lines so they’re easy to skim—you should see lots of white space in the email message field.

Focus on a single topic.

People have short attention spans. Don’t overload them with too much information crammed into one message. Each email you send to board members should include details only relevant to the specific point you’re trying to make. Resist the urge to add a “p.s.” or ask about other (unrelated) issues.

Be specific in the “Subject” line.

A good subject line lets recipients know what your email is about right away. Write subject lines using detailed language instead of vague phrases like “Questions for you” or “Ideas to consider” and instead use something like “Feedback needed: Agenda items for 2017 AGM.” (This also makes emails easier to find if you have to search your inbox for them later.)

Remember that size matters.

There’s a reason direct mail copy uses bold lettering, big headlines, and fine print. It guides the reader’s eye to the most important messages. For email, make sure your messages are readable on a mobile phone, where most people will open them. This means using precise language to keep copy as short as possible; using at least an 11-point font for body text and a 22-point font for headlines; and having a clear call to action in the subject line.

Have an obvious call to action.

Create a sense of urgency that encourages board members to act right away. Whether it’s a contract deadline, a maintenance issue, or an event they should attend, explain in 10 words or less exactly what action you want them take. Make sure to use “active voice” rather than “passive voice”.

Examples:

  • Hit “reply” and type “Yes” to RSVP today.
  • Feedback due ASAP to meet next week’s deadline.
  • Reply to accept this meeting time or suggest another.

Do you find that board members are responsive to your emails? How do you encourage timely responses? Share your stories 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.

5 Productivity Apps For HOA & Condo Managers

5 Productivity Apps for HOA and Condo Managers

Welcome to another Evercondo “tech tips” post, where we share some of the best apps and technology solutions out there for helping property managers, board members and residents get more done with less time.

We all want to be more productive in life. Fortunately we live in a time when helpful technology is plentiful and cheap—it’s never been easier to find web and phone apps that make it simple to stay organized at work and at home. Here are five of our latest favourites:

Unroll.Me (Free; iOS)

Gain control of your inbox by getting rid of junk mail and unwanted subscriptions in just a few clicks. Simply go to the Unroll.Me homepage and click on the “Get started now” button. Signup is easy (either provide your email or sign in via Google or another service). Unroll.Me gives you the option to unsubscribe from junk emails right away; keep them coming into your inbox; or to compile them into a single “Rollup” of all your subscriptions in a single place. You can choose to have your Rollup delivered in the morning, afternoon, or evening to read at your leisure—clean, simple and convenient.

LastPass (Free and paid versions; Android, iOS, Windows)

Login passwords are one of modern life’s biggest hassles. Having to remember them, having to create them each time you sign up for a new service—it’s safe to say passwords (while necessary for data security) are a waste of time. Naturally there’s an app for that. LastPass remembers your passwords (and keeps them secure) so you don’t have to. We like the LastPass Premium app ($12 per year). It’s a password vault, strong password generator and browser rolled into a single mobile app. You can sync your password vault so the LastPass browser automatically fills in forms and login details on websites, either through the in-app browser, Safari or Chrome. You can also use LastPass on all your devices for free.

Todoist (Free and paid versions; Android, iOS, Windows)

The human brain is hardwired to keep thinking about unfinished tasks. This may have worked thousands of years ago when survival was the main priority. But in today’s multitasking world it can lead to stress, overwhelm and burnout. We’ve found that Todoist is a great tool for getting things out of your head and onto your to-do list. From there it’s much simpler to organize and prioritize tasks and projects, so you know exactly what to focus on and when. Keep track of everything you need to get done and plan your day for maximum focus and productivity with Todoist. The app lets you share projects, delegate tasks, and collaborate with anyone.

Nudgemail (Free and pay-by-donation; all devices)

Maybe you dream of attaining the “zero inbox” level of productivity (or maybe you simply want a more manageable inbox). In either case, Nudgemail may be just the solution. Most of us are bombarded with e-mail requests every day. Setting up calendar alerts for each new meeting time or appointment; sending ourselves reminder emails so we don’t forget important tasks; figuring out a foolproof system for never missing a follow-up or to-do item—these are the challenges we face inside the inbox. The beauty of Nudgemail is that it turns any email service you use (the software works with all email clients and on any device) into a productivity app for creating simple reminders or follow-up notifications. So if a supplier emails you about placing an order next week, you simply forward that email to “nextweek@nudgemail.com” and Nudgemail will send it back to your inbox seven days later. Or if a resident emails you with a question that can wait until tomorrow, just forward it to “tomorrow@nudgemail.com” and deal with it when it arrives the next day. The program comes with a variety of commands (including the handy “EOD@nudgemail.com” which arrives at 6 p.m. for emails you need to address by end-of-day).

Plan (Free; iOS)

If you use more than one project platform for your work, Plan might be the tool you need to bring it all together in one place. Think of Plan as a work concierge—one that organizes projects and tasks from all the tools your team may use in a given day: calendars, email, JIRA, Zendesk, Salesforce, and Github. Use the app to plan out your day. Block chunks of time to work on important tasks; create meetings and invite teammates; view your upcoming day, week and month to stay on track. See all your action items in one place so you don’t have to worry about something slipping through the cracks.

What are your favorite productivity apps? Tell us about them in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Evercondo is 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 live demonstration or a free trial to see how we can keep your communities happy.

Why Directors and Officers (D&O) Insurance Is A Must For Homeowner Associations

do-insurance

Did you know that volunteering as a board member for your condo or HOA could jeopardize your personal financial security? You’re actually at risk from lawsuits against the board—whether they have merit or not. Having an indemnification clause in your bylaws helps protect directors financially but at a greater potential cost to the condo association than a comprehensive Directors and Officers (D&O) liability insurance policy.

It may not seem fair that being a volunteer director of your condo or HOA board comes with the potential for financial ruin. But it’s a very real risk—there are many cases where directors have been found personally liable for board decisions and required to pay expensive legal costs as a result.

One example from Ottawa, Ontario is the case Boily vs. Carleton Condominium Corporation 145, where a number of unit owners sued the board over repairs to a parking garage that resulted in “substantial changes” being made to the courtyard area. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice awarded in favour of the owners (a decision later upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal); the directors were found in contempt of court and personally liable for more than $95,000 in legal costs.

Being a director is a somewhat thankless job that comes with big responsibilities. You have a legal duty to protect owners and their investment in the property. And if the board is not covered by the right liability insurance, you are at risk if the board is sued. No matter how frivolous a lawsuit might be, you are required by law to hire an attorney (with your own money) to defend your actions as a director.

Typical lawsuits that plague condo and HOA boards include:

  • Wrongful termination of an employee
  • Discrimination due to race, religion, sex, or disability
  • Defamation of character (i.e. libel or slander)
  • Breach of contract by a third-party vendor
  • Renovations by the building or homeowner
  • Noise by another homeowner, a contractor, or the building’s machinery
  • Subletting guidelines and restrictions
  • Pet guidelines and restrictions

While an indemnification clause in the bylaws will require the condo association to reimburse directors for uninsured legal fees incurred in their capacity as board members, it can become expensive if the board is sued.

On the other hand, a comprehensive D&O liability insurance policy can be a budget line item that pays for itself in the event of a lawsuit.

“Comprehensive” means that the policy stands on its own—it’s not D&O liability coverage that’s embedded into the property’s commercial insurance or general liability policy. This is important because a comprehensive policy provides coverage for elected or appointed directors, trustees, officers, employees, committee members, and volunteers now or in the past. But the embedded policy usually just covers the directors and officers in office during the policy period.

To protect yourself as a board member, make sure to consult the association’s insurance broker to see if the liability coverage can withstand a legal assault.

Do you have any experience with lawsuits as a condo/HOA owner or board member? Share your story in the comments below!

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.

5 Apps That Makes Life Easier for Condo / HOA Managers

apps-productivity-hoa-manager
The tech world today is more advanced and sophisticated than ever. There’s a lot that the condo / HOA management industry can benefit from but with so many options out there, where do we even begin? That’s why we will be featuring some of the best apps and technology solutions that can benefit you as a manager, board member or resident. Here are the first 5 apps that we think will help you get more done with less time.

Your workday as a manager is hectic, jam-packed with tasks to get done. But all too often your attention is hijacked by demands or situations that interfere with your other priorities. We can’t all afford a personal assistant and with only 24 hours in a day, you need technology to help you do more in less time.

A property manager’s job would try the patience of a Zen monk. Typical days are hectic and crisis-filled, making it tough to balance the overflow of “inputs” (building emergencies, requests for information, resident complaints, etc.) on top of your already-full plate.

Fortunately, technology can help take some of the pressure off and make your days easier to manage. Here are 5 easy-to-use apps for getting things done more efficiently:

Slack

Team messaging – real time communication that works. Its a chat app and who says managers and board members aren’t a team. We believe that communication between board members and property managers should be a constant activity and not just a once in a week or month chore. Slack can really get things moving and keep your inbox clean.

Grammarly

Billed as “the world’s most accurate grammar checker”, Grammarly is a free Chrome plug-in app that helps you write mistake-free on Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and most other web platforms. It corrects more than 250 types of grammatical mistakes and poor vocabulary usage with word-choice suggestions that instantly improve the readability of your copy.

Boomerang

Both a mobile app and Gmail plug-in, Boomerang gives you more control over your email habits. The app lets you write emails in advance and schedule them to be sent automatically whenever you want. You can also use the app to set follow-up reminders for sent emails, so important replies don’t slip through the cracks. Boomerang is available in a free version (with 10 messages per month) as well as three other paid versions that offer more features and unlimited messages.

Calendly

One of the most frustrating things about booking meetings with the board or other groups is keeping track of the “when are you free?” back-and-forth email conversations. Calendly eliminates that problem without the need to give up control of your calendar. You simply set your availability preferences to ensure meetings only happen on your time, and keep all details of your existing appointments private. It checks your Google or Office 365 calendar for conflicts, so you’re never double-booked. The app has a free version as well as moderately priced premium and pro versions, and it can be used on a smartphone, tablet or desktop.

Evercondo

Sure we’re tooting our own horn, but hear us out. Ever wondered whether your residents actually read the bulletins you sent out? Our bulletin feature allows managers to send out important notifications to all residents via email, SMS, push notification and voice calls with tracking capability. This means, when a resident opens up an email of your bulletin, it will be tracked and logged for your reference. No more worries. It’s magical. You can try Evercondo free for 30 days—sign up today to see why thousands of property managers, condo associations, and HOAs rely on it to optimize their daily operations.

What are your favorite productivity apps? Tell us about them in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

3 Useful Tips on How to Deal With a HOA Resident Like Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Don’t get us wrong. We’re not taking any political positions. It’s just the reality of living in a multi residential community. We live with all sorts of people and among them are those who exhibit strong personality quirks like The Donald. It’s important for community managers and board members to be able to deal with it; Here are 3 useful tips to help you when the need arises.

Donald Trump’s tough and take-no-prisoners negotiation style is in many ways a hallmark of his success in both business and reality TV. Heck, it helped him win the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. However, it’s not something that most people can handle and if not dealt with properly in a condo or HOA community, it can cause unnecessary conflicts (i.e. lawsuits) and awkward situations for the manager, board member and residents.

Now imagine if Donald Trump is a resident living in your building or HOA. Not just a resident, but a board member. How would you handle someone like The Donald? What would your board accomplish if meetings were continually hijacked by “that” person with strong opinions, prone to emotional outbursts, and the inability to back down in an argument?

Here are three useful tips you can use to tame the beast!

1. “Flow with the wind, not against it.”

A Trump-like character is a “think out loud” and passionate person. They speak their mind without a filter and refuse to argue rationally at times — facts can sometimes mean less to them than their feelings about an issue. What can we say. People do tend to get out-of-control when they are passionate about an issue or topic. You have a better chance of successfully negotiating with them if you accept who they are rather than fighting against it.

Knowing their dominant, aggressive communication style, you can adapt your own negotiating style to complement and harmonize with theirs. This complementary approach was shown to have the best outcome in a recent study on conflict management from Harvard Law School. As a Zen master would say “Flow with the wind, not against it”.

when-dealing-with-difficult-people-try-a-complementary-approach-pon-program-on-negotiation-at-harvard-law-school-2016-11-16-16-12-14

2. Keep an open mind. Embrace change.

Whether you agree or disagree with them, a strong character will always rock the boat and challenge assumptions. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Trumps of the world are often “change agents” who want to disrupt the status quo. This can have a positive outcome in the long run and dealing with change gracefully makes you a better manager.

3. It’s all in your mindset.

Go into a discussion with the mindset that difficult people are there to help you improve your management skills. It’s an approach that will help you be unflappable in the face of their bullying or accusations because unfortunately, ignoring these people won’t make them go away. When you see them as “allies” helping you raise the bar on your interpersonal skill-level, it gives you a broader perspective towards life. (Bonus: if you can handle the most challenging person in your building, you can handle anyone!)

Do you have any other ideas or tips for handling the “resident Donald Trump” in a community? If so, share them 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 warm and happy.

6 Practical Communication Tips for Busy Condo & HOA Managers

goodcommunication

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).

lack-communication-condo-hoa

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.

Top 5 reasons why your condo or HOA management needs a smartphone app

evercondo-smartphone-app

It’s no news to anyone that smartphone is one of mankind’s greatest creations. It has revolutionized many industries ranging from food and shopping to transportation services. Yet, nothing much has happened in the condo / HOA management world when it comes to smartphones.

To kick things off, here are 5 reasons why we believe that smartphone apps is the next big thing in condo / HOA management and how you can ride this wave of opportunity.

1. Everyone has a smartphone

As of March 2016, our world’s population was estimated at 7.4 billion, an all-time record high. What’s more staggering about this is that 1 in 3 of the population currently owns a smartphone, that’s over 2 billion smartphone users. If my psychic powers serves me right, I’m guessing you’re probably holding one right now while reading this article.

2. “I wish my condo has an app”

I am a smartphone user myself and the sad truth is, I always have it with me no matter where I go and what I do. From the moment I wake up to the moment I sleep. It’s my alarm clock, it’s where I read my news, check my emails, keep in touch with friends, snap and share photos, pay my bills, play games, watch movies, listen to music and I’m pretty sure I can live my entire life without leaving my bed if I wanted to. Gone are the days when I have to write, print and mail to get a message sent or even call the operator to look up for a number. Everything is just a few taps away and it’s always with me in my pocket.

“I wish my condo has an app that I can use to reserve the party room” is a common question we get when visiting friends at their condo. Here’s a few more:

  • Why can’t I reserve the party room from my smartphone
  • I’d like to receive push notifications for building announcements
  • What is the WIFI password to the conference room
  • Has my package arrived yet? Wished there’s an app for that
  • Wish I could check my account balances

3. Most management are still in the 90s

Like getting an Uber ride, condo or HOA management is in the services industry. Unlike Uber however, getting information, or making a reservation in communities today isn’t as easy and convenient. Many managers today still rely on a lot of manual labor work through phone calls, papers and spreadsheets. This makes it a good opportunity for you to sprint ahead of the competition while giving your residents the convenience and access they deserve.

4. Increased productivity & efficiency for managers

Property managers need to juggle with 101 things everyday and with so little time available, it’s important for managers to squeeze out at much time as possible. With a smartphone app, managers can answer to resident requests while out having lunch or approve a party room reservation while waiting for taxi. It also comes in handy when managers need to pull up the latest minutes during a short conversation with a committee member.

5. An app speaks a 1,000 words

When was the last time you heard a friend brag about their condo management’s service? That’s right. None. An app that gives residents the convenience to reserve their party room or check their account balances will sure to give your residents something to talk about with their friends at work and guests at the dinner table. Nothing generates more brand awareness than good old word-of-mouth!

Want to see our mobile app in action?

At Evercondo, we don’t just believe in the smartphone revolution for community management, we’re pioneering it. Thousands of community residents are already enjoying the convenience of our iPhone and Android app to communicate with their property managers.

We’d love to share how hundreds of management companies and self managed communities are using the Evercondo mobile app to launch their management services into the 21st century.

Click here to get a FREE personal tour today to see and learn how the Evercondo mobile app can help bing your management service to the next level!

10 Email Management Tips & Tools for Condo and HOA Management

00-12 Email Management Tips for Property Management Organization-01

If you’re a community manager, your inbox is always full of emails from vendors, residents, the board, and more. These email management tips will help you keep your inbox under control.

 

This morning you checked your email, and there were 33 new messages. The board president sent a request for the minutes to their most recent meeting. Residents emailed you work order requests. A current vendor responded to an email you sent last week, and new vendors passed along quotations. There are emails with questions from new residents and community-area requests from seasoned home owners. Who do you answer first?

Your job as a property manager is already busy, and maybe you’d like a little time to watch funny cat videos in between, right?

Kidding. Right now, you’re drowning in written work orders and worried about the massive landscaping project your community is about to undertake. Email management seems like the last of your concerns, yet it’s one of the easiest ways to get control of your day-to-day tasks.

There may seem as if there’s no “end” to your emails. That landscaping project you’re overseeing has an end date. Emails, on the other hand, come at you faster than tears at a screening of Old Yeller.

These tips email management tips can help your condo / HOA management and organization be top of the line. Which will you try first? [Read more…]