Monthly Archives: September 2015

Greener Grass

shutterstock_147542228Perhaps one of the best things about living in a neighborhood with an HOA is how amazing all the yards look. The grass is always green and the plants are well-kept. Of course, that takes a lot of work. If you want to make your yard look as breathtaking as your neighbor’s, check out these grounds keeping tips.

Learn How to Mow Your Lawn

There is a right way to mow your lawn, and doing it correctly can go a long way in improving the look of your grass. For starters, always make sure Continue reading

10 Remodeling Tips

Remodeling your home is an exciting adventure, but it can also be overwhelming. If you are considering remodeling your home, check out these ten remodeling tips to help make the process a little easier and a lot less stressful.

Make a Planshutterstock_254969464

A remodel is like any project, and it’s never a good idea to jump into any project without a plan. Having a plan before you start allows you to stay on track, so you don’t end up spending more than you wanted to, or with a remodel with which you just aren’t satisfied.

Think Long Term

It’s easy to think about what looks good or sounds good right now, but you want to look at the bigger picture too. Those cheaper windows may save you a few dollars now, but more expensive windows may end up saving you significantly more by reducing your future energy bills. Other factors to consider when remodeling are long-term maintenance issues and future repair costs.

Get Some Good Help

You probably aren’t planning on doing this remodel yourself, but don’t just run out and hire the cheapest contractor you can find. Find one who has experience and proven qualifications. It’s worth paying a little more if you end up with better, longer-lasting results.

Do a Little Research

When you do find a contractor you like, do some research. Don’t be afraid to ask previous customers if they had a positive experience with the contractor. You can even visit a current job site of the contractor to make sure the site is clean, organized and safe.

Be Nice

It’s easy to get stressed during a remodel, especially when things aren’t going as fast as you want them too. However, don’t take it out on the contractors. Treat them well, and appreciate the work they are doing. Getting along with the contractors will make the entire project a little more bearable.

Don’t Neglect the Contract

Asking for a contract isn’t rude. In fact, it’s a good way for both you and the contractor to protect yourselves. Make sure the contract is detailed and includes the contractor’s responsibilities, the cost, the start date and the completion date.

Consider the Downside of Remodeling

Don’t forget to think about all the negative aspects of a remodel, such as delays, the cost and the inconvenience. While you shouldn’t let that deter you from your project, it’s a good reality check. By really understanding what you’re going to face during the remodel, you won’t be unpleasantly surprised when you suddenly can’t use your kitchen or bathroom.

Give Yourself a Backup

Not being able to use your kitchen is one of the most annoying things about undergoing a remodel. Save yourself the headache by creating a backup. Put a small refrigerator and microwave in another part of your home, so you have access to food even when your kitchen is inaccessible.

Pack Away Your Valuables and Breakables

Don’t risk your beloved treasures. A remodel can be dangerous for your breakable items. Make sure to pack them away, so they don’t end up in pieces on the floor. It’s also a good idea to put away your valuables. You’re going to have a lot of people in your house during a remodel, and one of them may have sticky fingers.

Work on Your Communication Skills

Last, work on your communication skills, so you can effectively communicate what you want. If you are unable to clearly communicate your expectations or concerns, how is the contractor going to understand you? Being able to communicate effectively means you end up with the remodel you want.

When the remodel is over, you’ll be happy you did it, but during the process, you are sure to have some doubts. These ten great tips, however, can help reduce your anxiety and stress, so you can just focus on the finished project.

Selecting a Management Company

Managing a community with an HOA is a lot of work and takes a lot of knowledge. If you think a management company is the better solution for managing your community, it’s time to start looking. However, searching for the best company to meet your community needs may seem overwhelming. Luckily, these tips can help you find the perfect one.

Determine the Level of Interest in Volunteering

shutterstock_215700556Before you start looking for a management company, determine if you actually need one. If you have a lot of residents who are interested in running the HOA, and they have the necessary skills, you may not even need a management company. However, if people don’t really want to volunteer their time, or they aren’t willing to learn the ropes, a management company can take the pressure off of the homeowners.

Understand Your Community

If a management company is the best option for your community needs, you want to take a look at your community as a whole to fully understand it. This will help you identify your needs and determine which company can best help meet those goals. Determine the size and complexity of the community, and how many services/amenities you want or currently offer. In general, the more complex the community, the more work the management company will need to do, which means higher costs.

Check References

Once you’ve found a few companies you like, don’t just rely on their word. Find out if they have done business with any other communities. If they have, talk to those communities to find out what they liked or did not like about the management company. If the company doesn’t have any local references, or if they haven’t been in business very long, you may want to pass because you don’t know what you’ll be getting into.

Get to Know the Company

You’ll get to know the sales team pretty well, but don’t just focus on them. Learn more about the rest of the company, employees and departments. Ask what types of people the company hires, and how they retain their employees. Find out what their core values are, and make sure they mesh with your community’s.

Read and Re-read the Contract

When it’s time to sign the contract, make sure you really understand what you’re signing. First, determine if this is a standard contract that every community gets or if it has been tailored to fit your community. Your community is unique, so your contract should be too. Also, make sure the contract offers some flexibility to make changes in the future.

If your community can’t handle the stress of managing the HOA, hiring a management company is an excellent idea. Just make sure you follow these tips to help you find the right management company for your community.

Skill Development Series: Part Three

As a community manager, board member or property management company, project management skills are an important piece of the puzzle. When managing a community or property, there are many projects you’ll undertake. These three skills are some of the most important you’ll need to successfully manage a project.

Leadership

When you’re managing a project, one of the most important skills you need to have is leadership. Without it, you won’t be able to motivate the people working under you. Leadership isn’t just the ability to tell people what to do. Anyone can give someone an order. To be an excellent leader, you need to be able to inspire people, and one of the best ways to do that is to set a good example. When you do your job well, are assertive and pleasant, people are more likely to push themselves up to your level by working hard.

Communication

Communication is always a good skill to have, but it is especially important when you are leading a project. To ensure everyone does a good job, you need to be able to Continue reading

Skill Development Series: Part Two

Among the important skills to learn, to be successful in the community and property management industry, are accounting and financial skills. By learning these skills, you can ensure the community or property management company is going in the right direction.

What Types of Accounting/Financial Skills Are Important?shutterstock_272117306

There are a lot of different accounting and financial skills that can help with Continue reading

Skill Development Series: Part One

Even if you don’t do much community or property management technical/computer work, it’s still a good idea to become a little “tech savvy.” If you don’t know much about computers, this can seem difficult, but there are many ways you can improve your technical prowess.

Do Some Reading

What did you do when you were in school to learn information? You read books. So, if there’s something you don’t understand, read about it. Read books, magazines and online tutorials about technical skills to help educate yourself. Books and magazines are great because you can really trust their information. Of course, if there’s something that confuses you, you have no one to ask for help. Online tutorials will have additional sources and user comments that help you understand confusing points, but anyone can make an online tutorial, so there may be some incorrect information.

Join a Club

Another excellent way to learn more technical skills is to get together with people who have a lot of technical skills. Even if you don’t have much experience, you can still join clubs to learn more. Since you’ll be surrounded by people who know everything you’re trying to learn, you’ll have a lot of people you can ask for help.

Take Technical Classes

If you prefer more traditional learning, take a technical or computer class. Many universities and community colleges offer classes that can help you improve your technical skills. On the downside, you’ll have to fit the class into your schedule. You can’t learn at your own pace. However, with a class, you have a trusted teacher who can help you understand complicated information and other students who can work with you.

Benefits of Improving Your Technical Skills

If you do some of the technical work for a community or HOA, improving your technical skills is a must because it lets you do your job more efficiently. However, even if you have someone to handle all the tech stuff, you still want to have some idea of what they are doing. This allows you to get actively involved. If you don’t know anything about computers or tech, you can’t determine if they are doing a good job. You may not even know what they are talking about.

Don’t just ignore the tech side of community management. Get actively involved by learning more technical skills, so you can help create a better community.

AssociationVoice holds product training with support every Tues & Thur

Vendor Consolidation

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Board members, community managers and homeowners are constantly hiring vendors for various reasons, such as
landscaping, painting, fencing, roofing, etc. However, some vendors just do a better job than others, which is why some communities with HOAs have pre-approved vendor lists. When something needs to be done, it has to be performed by one of the pre-approved vendors.

Pros of Creating Pre-Approved Vendor Lists

When you have a list of pre-approved vendors, you have to do a lot of research to decide who makes the cut. That means Continue reading

4 Tips for a Quality Team

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A team may be made up of a lot of individuals, but to get the job done, each person has to come together to accomplish the task as a whole. Only by working together and appreciating each other can a board make the important choices that improve the neighborhood. These four tips can help turn your board into a quality team.

Choose People With Good Attitudes

You can save yourself a lot of trouble by Continue reading

Making New Board Members Feel Welcome

Joining a board of directors can be overwhelming for new board members, especially if everyone else on the board already knows each other and how to work together. Making the newcomer feel welcome is the best way to help them ease into the roll. There are many different ways seasoned board members can make someone new feel welcome.

Show Them You Are Happy to Have Them as Part of the Team 

When the new board member arrives, make sure everyone greets them in a happy tone. Don’t just assume they know they are a Continue reading