by David Wiley
If this sounds like a variation of the old “how to win friends and influence people” routine, it is. But getting along as a property manager in business and keeping everyone happy in the HOA and on the same track actually isn’t that difficult, if you remember these basic principles.
- Just remember the advice you learned as a child: Always tell the truth. Never try to win a point or influence a decision with anything less than complete facts and full disclosure. Such a strategy will almost always come back to bite you, later, if not immediately. If you know of recurringplumbing problems in your building, don’t be a drip — tell your HOA about the need for repairs.
- Remember that there’s only one team. As a property manager, you and your board members arenot adversaries and neither are the residents. It is a property manager HOA relationship team! Grant your board the courtesy of acknowledging that you know they are interested in achieving the best possible outcomes at all times. Believe it yourself, and always listen to opposing views.
- Do your homework. As a property manager with ongoing responsibility for operations, it’s your duty to be up to speed on current costs, potential problems and future needs. Don’t shirk those responsibilities. And don’t try to sugar-coat the bad news. If there’s a major expenditure in the offing, it’s better to spend your energy making sure funds will be available rather than trying to put a band aid on the problem.
- Know your stuff! There’s no substitute for competence. Ask any general. Making up the battle plan in the heat of conflict is no way to win. Investigate, well in advance, all possible solutions to a future problem. Be ready to present them when appropriate. Play “what if” games with your staff until you have a logical and workable answer. For example, stating that ‘Plumbing Pipes Need to be Replaced’ might start a panic at the next board meeting. Plan ahead and have solutions such as pipe restoration available that could be less costly and less invasisve for residents.
- Realize that part of your job is to help your HOA board avoid the pitfalls of special assessments. Manage preventive maintenance according to a well-defined schedule, never defer needed repairs, and work diligently to complete a Reserve Study with adequate contingency funding. Emergencies will occur; but they need not be “life-threatening.”
- Keep all lines of communication open. It is vital that you know what’s bugging your tenants so that you can work with your HOA toward effective solutions. If a pattern develops, such as repeated small plumbing leaks, your board members will appreciate the advance notice you have given them.
- Know the law and keep up with changes that might affect your property. This seems like a simple directive, but you should monitor legislation on all levels that might affect your property. If retroactive changes to local codes or ordinances are proposed, be prompt in notifying your HOA so that they, too, can be brought up to speed on the concerns.
- Lighten up. Suggest an occasional informal gathering, perhaps a game day social or a breakfast buffet. Such events are a perfect way to take the pulse of the community. It also gives to an opportunity to get your know your board and some of your tenants as individuals.
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