5 Smart Online Business Practices for Your HOA
Once you build a website for your homeowners association, it can facilitate your administrative to-do list and make it easier to stay in touch with residents. But if you want to derive the maximum value from your online destination, you’ll need to treat this asset with care and approach it with an enlightened focus on the business of your community. Use these five tips to help optimize your work as an admin through the capabilities you gain from the right HOA website software provider.
Make it easy for your residents to stay current with dues and fees
No one likes chasing residents around the block to collect dues and fees, but how you invoice them—and how you accept payments—can go a long way toward determining how easy or difficult your collection activity will be. In fact, if you maximize your website’s ability to facilitate timely payments, you can go a long way toward making this occasionally complex aspect of HOA administration a much simpler task to undertake.
If you post invoices on your website but don’t take advantage of online payments, it’s like turning the last mile of a travel process into a situation in which you have to crawl on your hands and knees instead of fly or drive. In other words, don’t make life difficult for yourself when you can make it easier. Although it can be important to maintain the ability to accept mail-in payments, or checks that people give you face to face, it’s even more effective to let your website do the payment collection and processing for you.
But if you’ve been through the process of setting up a previous site for your homeowners association and remember running into problems finding a payment processor you could integrate productively into your site, it’s time to raise your expectations. The right homeowners association website software provider will integrate payment processing directly into their software offering, so you can set up invoices to transmit via email through your website and accept online payments directly on the member side. Look for a site provider that offers you the ability to accept both credit and debit cards as well as virtual payments via check through ACH debits.
Simplify the clarity and flow of your ARC-request process
You specify and maintain architectural standards for a reason that everyone in your community believes is important: A shared emphasis on maintaining property values and creating a neighborhood with a consistent style. But if your ARC process bogs down in a trail of lost and strayed email messages, your procedures may jeopardize your results.
Residents may request changes and modifications that fall outside of what your covenants will accept, but in most cases, they make these requests in good faith. It’s important to be able to counter their requests with timely, easy-to-track responses that thread together in a way that preserves the entire conversation. If you share responsibility for ARC requests with other community admins, you also want a way to converse privately about each request and keep those responses in the communication thread as well.
That’s where a website-based ARC submission process can help you speed up reviews while you keep essential details and documentation together. The right homeowners association website software provider gives you a ticketing system that accepts attachment of digital samples and other documentation, and unifies the entire process of review through a cohesive interface.
Keep your residents up to date on changes and expectations
Change is the ultimate constant, and that’s true in homeowners associations as well as everywhere else in modern life. Of course, you expect your entire community to abide by and respect new board decisions that affect the way your HOA takes care of business. Whether that’s a new procedure for resident and guest access through a secured gate, or an enhanced recycling service that involves using different bins and placing them in a new location, you need to keep your community up to date on what’s what.
The right homeowners association website software offers you multiple communication channels through which you can connect with your residents and keep them up to speed. A newsfeed can serve as a bulletin board, with pinned posts that provide ongoing reminders and new posts to offer additional updates. Optionally, that newsfeed can accept resident posts, comments, and social-media-style likes and up votes—but truly versatile website software gives you the option to turn off those community contribution features if necessary.
The ability to send text or e-mail messages directly to residents through your website offers another level of convenience and connectivity. Of course, residents need to maintain the right to opt in or out of these types of communications. For those residents who agree to receive them, you can provide quick, meaningful updates about little crises and big moments. Has a beloved cat or dog dashed out a front door and run off down the street? Quickly mobilize a search party through text messages. Is unexpected utility work going to disrupt water or electrical service during an emergency repair? Contact your residents and let them know.
Spotlight community life to foster community spirit
Photographs immortalize life’s important moments—and with the prevalence of camera phones, everyone’s a photographer. When your community gathers for a block party, all-neighborhood yard sale, or other event, use your homeowners association website to share images that everyone will enjoy and appreciate—that is, if your website software provider offers you the ability to set up multiple photo galleries so you can dedicate one to each memorable event.
Guide new and current residents to essential services
The longer you serve as a homeowners association admin, the better you can predict the questions current—and especially prospective—residents will ask you. When’s trash and recycling picked up? Which school district are we in? What’s the policy about pool time, tennis court use, or access to any other community amenity? All these and other recurring inquiries become ideal subject matter for a frequently asked questions website page. Look for a homeowners association website software provider that offers you a FAQ page template you can configure quickly and easily to provide this kind of essential information.
Be web wise
Make your community website a productive part of your HOA administrative role. With the right homeowners association website software provider and some on-track business practices, you can get ahead of your neighborhood responsibilities and enhance how your community operates.