5 Ways Your HOA Website Holds the Key to Better Communication
Every homeowners association urgently needs fluent communication with its residents—and among residents themselves—to ensure that the HOA accomplishes its goals and the community itself both develops and maintains a true neighborhood atmosphere. Without that level of communication, misunderstandings develop, standards slip, and relationships dwindle. With the right homeowners association website, however, you can keep the lines of communication open in ways that transform a planned community into a great place to live.
Easy notifications and updates
If you’re still sending out notifications and updates the old-fashioned way—via a combination of e-mail, snail mail, telephone trees, and in-person chats—you need a better alternative that can keep up with the pace of modern life. Instead of spending time and money on postage, envelopes, and paper, why not simply send out information directly through your HOA website?
If you choose the right provider for your site, you’ll have direct access to integrated communications, including the ability to send e-mail messages and texts to all or specific groups of residents. With these built-in capabilities, you’ll be able to send out invoicing, handle architectural change requests, alert residents to community events, and so much more—without the need to use additional software or external websites. (And don’t forget to verify that your software provider includes online payments as a feature for residents!)
Private messaging without third-party websites
Not everyone is equally comfortable walking up to a new neighbor’s front door, making an introduction, and attempting to build a relationship. Beyond simple introductions, many people are uncertain of whether or how to create connections with others in their community. To bring neighbors closer together, give them communication tools they can use to trade notes about community matters, and even build and foster friendships—all without using any tools other than those provided directly through your homeowners association website.
Many HOA website software providers build only rudimentary communication capabilities into the products they offer. Some do not include private-communication features; others make all communications either private or public, but don’t allow for a mixture of both. In fact, still other providers offer no member-to-member communications capabilities at all, assuming that communities will use established social media venues instead. When you choose the right provider, you receive all these capabilities and more.
An electronic “bulletin board” that keeps the community up to date
In the old days, community developments maintained clubhouse bulletin boards, and encouraged residents to post notices about everything from items for sale to volunteer opportunities and teenagers looking for part-time neighborhood work. Nowadays, people’s busy schedules leave little time for clubhouse visits to check out listings of used bikes or pet sitters. Like private messaging capabilities, many homeowners association software providers consider an electronic alternative to the classic bulletin board to be a low-priority feature, especially given pervasive membership on social media sites.
But why force your members to resort to third-party websites when you can offer them a built-in, truly private messaging feature through your homeowners association website? Make the right choice of HOA software provider, and you’ll have immediate access to this feature, with many customization options.
Privacy where and when you want it
Some people display relatively little concern about allowing their personally identifiable information to appear online in ways that make it accessible to other people. Others take considerable precautions to protect their information as much as they can, especially when it comes to what they share on social media sites. On a homeowners association website, a member directory feature facilitates resident-to-resident communication, but not all residents are equally enthusiastic about public display of their information.
Ideally, you want a way to share this information, but at the same time offer individual control over the amount of it that any resident makes public. Unfortunately, not all HOA website software providers offer this feature at all, let alone with a customizable level of individual control. That’s why it’s especially important to scope out the full feature set of any homeowners association website provider’s product, and ensure that it offers the flexibility you want before you sign up as a paying customer.
Information only one click away
Homeowners associations generate and maintain a considerable volume of essential documentation, from board meeting minutes to covenants and other agreements. Once upon a time, if you were a member of an HOA board or held administrative responsibilities within a community, you needed to prepare a printed packet of information for every new resident who moved into one of your neighborhoods. On top of that, you held ongoing responsibility for disseminating additional updates. This chore quickly becomes time consuming and can involve a noticeable expense for paper and mailing supplies.
To save time and money, today’s homeowners association’s often circulate these documents and updates via e-mail attachment—but to do so, they need to obtain and update a full list of resident e-mail addresses, and unless they engage in lengthy rounds of confirmation e-mailings, they may not know whether the documents they send out actually reach their destinations. Choose the right HOA website software provider, however, and you can create and maintain a document repository directly on your community website, alert residents to new documents via built-in communication channels, and keep the entire system up to date without the huge hassle of doing it the old-fashioned way.
The full-featured choice is the right choice
You’re always better off with more and better features, especially when you decide to establish a website for your homeowners association. Of the many provider options you can choose, make sure you check out all the features built into their product offerings, as well as how these features are implemented. Can you make case-by-case decisions about who can see specific categories of data, including but not limited to individual personally identifiable information? Can you restrict the visibility of certain documents to individuals who hold specific roles within HOA board management? Will you be able to communicate directly with members without using third-party capabilities to do so? Overall, can you roll up all these features into one website, and remove the need for third-party solutions?
At HOAStart, we know that the answer to these and still more questions should be yes, and that your community’s HOA website should offer the greatest range of features, functionality, flexibility, versatility, and communication options possible. You’ll find all the features we’ve described above in our software, along with many more, and in every case, you’ll also find the flexibility to use these features the way you want to.