How an HOA Website Can Improve Community Relations for Your Homeowners Association
Are you still scrambling to communicate with community residents every time your HOA board issues important notices that all members must read? Do you send out invoices for dues and fees through e-mail or even in postal mail? Does your HOA foster relationships among members, or do your residents feel more like strangers than like neighbors? If you struggle to manage these types of situations, you may think that you simply need to devote more time to homeowners association business. But given that most HOA boards and administrators are volunteers, more time is something you simply may not have. So how can you bridge communication gaps and improve community relations?
Some HOAs immediately assume that the answers to at least some of these questions lie in conventional social media websites. Rather than pay for website development, let alone investigate what that might cost, they decide to make do with the feature sets available through the social media sites with which they’re already familiar. “Everyone uses social media,” they think, “so we’ll just leverage the connections people already have to bring our community closer together.”
Sounds logical, but it’s not as functionally adequate as it might seem. First, social media sites impose their identity on the information you present and the communications you establish. Sure, you can upload photos, and personalize your online presence to some degree, but you can’t turn a home page on a social media site into a truly customized online presence. Besides, not all residents are equally willing to sign up for accounts with the social media sites you’re likely to choose, and without resident memberships, your online presence becomes more of an online absence. Bottom line: If you’re not using a website that you control, you can’t sign up members for a venue that you can ensure they’ll see.
Regardless of how much you could use an existing social media venue to channel neighborhood communication, you can’t use it to ease the chore of invoicing dues and fees and wrangling resident payments. If you’ve been at this a while, you probably remember (or maybe still struggle with) paper invoices. You set up a template in your word processing software so you can generate what looks like a community letterhead, and every time your dues and fees come payable, you print out a stack of invoices, find a way to address a batch of envelopes without developing writer’s cramp, spend a bunch of money on stamps, and head to the post office. Then you wait for a trickle of checks and money orders to appear via return mail, and make a bunch of trips to the bank for seemingly endless deposits. Finally, you tally who’s paid and who hasn’t, and begin the time-consuming process of chasing down the missing money—at about the same time that your next batch of invoices comes due.
Maybe you’ve transformed that process from mail merge to e-mail, but you still face the task of collecting from and communicating with a long list of individual payees who can be tough to reach. And maybe you’re really tired of the entire process. “Wouldn’t it be nice,” you think to yourself, “to do this online?”
But after you investigate payment processors, website development, and the costs associated with setting up an online presence that can accomplish these things for you, perhaps the eye-rolling confusion of it all leads you to return to the manual process you wanted to abandon. Now you’re back to the stack of potentially alienating “please-pay-up” letters you have to send out every month or every quarter.
Meanwhile, how do you bring residents together to foster neighborhood spirit? Block parties only work well on the blocks on which they take place. Community events only bring people together if they know about them, and if your only means of notifying people is some combination of mail, e-mail, or notices posted on a bulletin board in the community center, you’re not reaching everyone equally well, let alone efficiently.
Instead of cobbling together a combination of time-consuming communication methods, social media sites, and “what the heck else are we going to do,” why not set up a website for your community and manage all of these communication and billing tasks online? “We already investigated that, remember?” you say, pulling up the frustrating research you did into payment processing and website software providers.
When you’re ready to simplify the administration of your homeowners association and make it easy to build up community spirit, we have a really simple solution to all those problems. We’re HOAStart, and our HOA website software can do all the things you want to accomplish—online billing and payments, resident communication, architectural change orders and tracking, member message boards and directories, and much more—at a price that’s within easy reach of virtually any community.
Why should you build a website for your HOA through our software? For starters, we’re professionals in helping homeowners association build, customize, and maintain community websites. Because we’ve been at this for a long time, we know the features that HOAs want—and we’ve already built them into our software. We understand the intense frustrations of billing and payment cycles, and we’ve streamlined that entire process into one that runs entirely online. Furthermore, we understand not only the importance of good communication with residents but the value of neighborhood spirit, not only in defining the advantages of an individual community but in attracting and retaining great residents.
To make it easy for you to evaluate our software and find out how well it can meet your needs (including some you may not even have put on your list just yet), we do something that nobody else in our industry does. We offer you a completely free 30-day trial, during which you can build out your website, test drive it with your board and membership, and see how we can make your life easier. You don’t even need to provide credit card details to start your free trial. Simply sign up and get started—with the friendly assistance of our expert onboarding specialists.
Ready to make HOA administration easier and resident communication a breeze? HOAStart is here to help, and we look forward to welcoming your community online.