24 Sep Year-End Planning for HOA Communities
As the year comes to a close in just three more short months, Board members and management companies are beginning to look at solutions, to-do lists, budgets, and planning for the year to come. Reflecting on the year’s performance is an extremely helpful and necessary way to gauge success among profits as well as satisfaction with team members and residents.
Many Board members look at the obvious, such as finalizing a budget or end-of-year maintenance on both the interior and exterior of their community but reviewing some of the less common items can help propel your association into being prepared for the unexpected and for the year ahead.
Here are some of the most common items you can do to assist your association with year-end planning:
- Finalize all your projects. Regular maintenance items that come from residents are weekly, if not daily, occurrences that cannot be avoided. Bigger, more daunting maintenance tasks, however, should be finished before the new year rolls around. Fixing an elevator, repainting parking lot stripes, recementing a community sidewalk, painting common areas, or leveling driveways are a few of the many more formidable jobs that Board members may look past or put off due to budget constraints or hesitation for any number of reasons. Talk to your management company if you are having budget issues and have large projects that need to be completed before the end of the year – these should be top priority in most cases and while difficult, sometimes do not take as much time as you might think.
- Review your rules and regulations. Go over them with a fine-tooth comb and spend lots of time with your fellow Board members to assess each one. Figure out which rules and regulations still hold power and relevancy, while others are fine and only need minor adjustments, and figure out which ones need major overhauls. Local and federal laws change constantly and reviewing your community’s rules and regulations can help you stay compliant and avoid any issues that may arise with businesses, team members, or residents. Ensure these rules and regulations are being enforced within your community.
- Set goals for the new year. Just as individuals have New Years’ resolutions, your association and Board should strive to do the same. Have round-table discussions on what each member wants the association to look like over the next year – not just appearance-wise, but on more complex elements such as your reserve funds (should you be saving more than you did the previous year or are you maintaining a steady flow of income into the account?), methods of resolving issues among residents, or even trivial items such as how you choose to welcome guests and residents as they enter the building. Think about your residents and how you currently serve them; do you want more lifestyle planning in the form of resident events (either virtual or in person)? Do you have a way for residents to freely express their concerns, questions, or suggestions to onsite team members; and conversely, a way for them to give praise and allow team members to be recognized for going above and beyond? Keeping the onsite team members happy is just as important as keeping residents happy. Give them the space and opportunities to surpass expectations at your community and the residents will notice.
- Create an annual HOA calendar. If you don’t have one already, ensure your Board and management company are aware of any and all meetings by creating an annual calendar. Keeping everyone on the same page is beneficial for many reasons, but most of all removes any chances for confusion or being misinformed. Keep this calendar updated – stay organized as a Board and your management company will thank you. Log everything from Board meetings, to community events, to planned training sessions, and especially important dates such as voting sessions. Planning in advance leads to better participation and attendance in the long run. If it’s on the calendar, the excuse of “not knowing about it” simply won’t cut it and will keep everyone accountable.
- Confirm budgeted expenses. Talk amongst your Board first to identify where and when your association will need to spend money. Consult your management company if you are unsure of where or how to budget certain expenses. If you don’t have a management company, seriously consider hiring one. Certain higher-end companies like Worth Ross Management Company (WRMC) offer boutique services including financial management, giving your Board an edge on tackling your budget and helping your association spend money in the most effective and efficient way possible.
- Identify training needs. Team members will come and go; it’s a simple fact of doing business. Your association will need to plan ahead for this in the event you have to hire new people or in the favorable event that you end up promoting certain team members and needing to fill their previous position. As each year passes, look at where each onsite employee is and assess what training needs to be done. Producing training sessions can be difficult and time consuming but can be made easy with your management company if they have a dedicated training program and director, like WRMC does.
- Notify homeowners of any changes. Lastly, it’s important to communicate any changes to fees, rules and regulations, or any other aspect to your HOA community that affects their living experience. Talk through the changes with them if they have any questions or concerns. Respond to their inquiries and address anything they have to say in a professional and helpful manner.
Above all, it’s up to you as the Board to make sure your association is thriving and its residents are satisfied with the community they choose to call home. The end of each year is both an opportunity to learn from past mistakes as well as an opportunity to implement positive changes in multiple ways. Soliciting feedback from residents and team members is always a helpful and easy way to understand where and how you can improve your association. If you have a management company, lean on them for help – that’s what you hired them for in the first place! They have industry professionals who will be able to guide you in the right direction and have your best interests in mind.