Does Your HOA Website Software Offer These Convenience Features?

Does Your HOA Website Software Offer These Convenience Features?

What’s the gold standard in homeowners association website software packages? The ideal website software platform offers you the flexibility to determine how you want to work, what you need to do, and how you want to accomplish it. Look for these convenience features in any website software product you consider.

The key to keys

Pool keys, gate keys, and all the other small items that homeowners association residents need—and lose: For most HOAs, these little things add up to a great big headache. That’s because for every new resident who needs them, and every current resident who misplaces them, someone involved in the administration of your homeowners association has to send out a form, request payment, wait for it to arrive and clear, and then convey these items to the resident as appropriate. Even in small and medium-sized communities, all of this adds up to a whole bunch of effort and time—and that’s time that administrators like you can use to do much more important things.

After all, most homeowners association administrators are volunteers, which means you’re chiseling away an hour here and there that you’d rather recapture for your private life. Wouldn’t you prefer to spend your HOA time on something more meaningful than paperwork?

But although many homeowners association website software packages enable you to conduct online billing for routine dues and fees, not all of these packages include the ability to issue one-time billing for non-recurring charges.

Of course, all of these online billing features rely on secure online payments to make them tick. It doesn’t do you much good to send out digital invoices attached to e-mail messages if your residents then must mail you a check or show up with one in hand. Likewise, if your system isn’t set up to accept ACH debits, it can’t process online payments directly from checking accounts. Finally, you want HOA website software that also enables you to record manual payments so the few residents who still want to pay you by paper check can do so.

Flexible invoicing

When it comes to your bottom line, you want the ability to collect your homeowners association dues and fees the way your community expects you to do it. Some HOAs break up their dues and fees into monthly payments. Others send out annual or semiannual invoices. Your homeowners association website software needs to keep up with your billing schedule, and offer you the invoicing frequencies that make sense for your specific needs. Likewise, you want the flexibility to set up the payment terms you prefer, whether that’s net 15 or all the way up to net 60.

Beyond the basics of invoicing setup, you may want the ability to pass through payment processing fees and add them to your invoices. You also may prefer to allow partial payments so residents can pay in installments. Furthermore, you may decide to assess late fees once payments pass beyond a specific secondary deadline.

Although every community is different, some combination of these parameters will work for virtually every homeowners association. That’s why it’s essential that your homeowners association website software offer you the full range of these types of options.

Easy, secure payments

Flexible invoicing for your community; dues and fees is only half the battle. In fact, the process of collecting payments from residents may be more complex and time-consuming than the act of invoicing them.

Some communities use transaction systems that shuttle their residents offsite to enter payment details and then transfer them back on site to receive confirmation. Sure, those types of processes can work, but the double handoff isn’t without the prospect for transaction-processing errors. The last thing you want to happen in the midst of a resident payment is a software glitch that prevents you from receiving their funds. Additionally, many of these payment systems force individuals to sign up for an account to use the service, and not every resident is willing to do that.

And these hassles and headaches don’t include perhaps the biggest one of all: The security—or the lack of it—of the payment processing system itself. Yes, if you choose one of the big third-party processing systems, you can count on them to implement the level of security necessary to protect payments and personally identifiable financial information, but if you roll your own payment system and choose the processor yourself, how do you know how well that entity will protect your residents’ information?

The ideal way to deal with all these hassles is to opt for a homeowners association website software provider that builds the services of a secure payment processor directly into your website, and that handles all the critical personal information seamlessly so your website itself never stores or processes any of it. The payment page is part of your website, but the secure processor handles the payment process and its data.

Intuitive site design

All these administrative conveniences make a wonderful contribution to the ease and efficiency of your essential work. At the same time, you want your website to be easy to design, configure, change, and update—and you want it to present a sleek, professional appearance on every page.

If your homeowners association website provider offers you professionally designed page templates that give you both structure and flexibility, you can achieve attractive, stylish, effective results quickly, without the need to take website design classes or learn software programming to do so. This is yet another way in which your software package can make your life easier at the same time it respects the fact that you’re a volunteer.

What’s the best way to ensure that the HOA website software you choose meets all these criteria? Look for a provider that offers free demos and trial periods so you can verify that the product actually includes all the functionality your community expects. Additionally, verify that the provider offers you a full help system, preferably one with support for multiple learning styles. That means you’ll want a full step-by-step feature guide for administrators who want to follow along with a complete set of written procedures, plus how-to videos that highlight some of the most significant features – and in between, you want downloadable illustrated guides that display significant onscreen steps.

Register for our August 1st webinar on The Importance of an HOA Website.

Register for our August 1st webinar on The Importance of an HOA Website.

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