Is Your HOA or RA Using Automation to Communicate with Residents?

( Published Monday, September 25, 2017)


Managers of Residents Associations and Homeowners Associations have a tough job. Your staff is tasked with the business of managing a community of diverse people, keeping property well maintained, organizing events and much more.

Because we work so closely with some of the most progressive RAs and HOAs, we’ve seen innovative ways that these groups are managing membership and communicating with residents through automation technology, telephony services, and more. We wanted to share some of their stories and successes, so you can see what is possible.

What is special about these communities? Most of them manage thousands of units, and even more people living within those units. Others are smaller clubs and membership associations, but no matter what size—from condos and apartment complexes, to luxury acreage properties and gated communities—these associations offer amenities and value to their members, and in turn, collect membership fees and communicate with residents about myriad concerns, events, and emergencies.

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Posting a notice at the clubhouse is fine, but probably not the best way to reach hundreds or thousands of residents. We’ve seen extremely savvy association administrators harness the power of technology, data, phone, text and web services to provide top-notch communication to their members. Not only that, they get better responses and engagement from members because of it.

Let’s look at some real-life scenarios and success stories we’ve seen first hand:

Emergency Communications with Residents

How does your association communicate with every member of the community in an emergency? RA administrators outside of Calgary recently put their tools and system into practice when a dangerous intruder lurked in the neighborhood. This community is just outside the city limits, in the wilderness of Alberta. The beautiful, ungated acreage lots and landscaping are maintained by the RA. One afternoon, a grizzly bear was spotted near a home inside the community. The RA administrators wanted to send out an alert to residents, letting them know about the bear and to take a specific course of action. They were able to quickly send text, voicemail, a website notification, and email alerts to residents to let them know about the danger. Each member of the community received the alert via their preferred communication method. In other words, if you had selected text and email as your preferred notifications, you would have received a text message alert and known right away about the danger in the neighborhood.

A Call for Volunteers

Within large communities, you’ll have various groups. Are you able to organize your members and communicate with them by groups? One of our associations does this for their Volunteer Group. Residents can opt in to any group, like the gardening club or volunteer group. When the time comes, staff send an automated message and follow-up communications to groups—letting them know about the next neighborhood clean up day, for example.

Collecting Annual Membership Fees

Membership fees for HOAs and RAs vary slightly whether you’re in the United States or Canada. HOAs in the States often have monthly membership fees, while Canadian associations are generally annual member fees. Regardless, fees must be collected and it can be a headache for staff to stay on top of payments.

One large community we work with once had more than 400 (out of 6,000) units in arrears, or overdue, by 60 days on their membership fees. They used Quick Call to send automated, personalized voice messages to only those members who were overdue. The results? They collected half (50%) of all overdue member fees within one week! Imagine the time saved by automating this process, rather than tasking a staff member to personally call each resident or follow-up on the collection.

Managing Members by Address

This one is the most basic, but many associations still don’t realize the capabilities they might have when the right tools are in place. RAs and HOAs need a database that is driven by address—not name, or email, or other properties that most platforms use as the legal entity per record. Organizing your database around address is perhaps one of the best ways to improve your membership management system and set yourself up for success. We did our research before creating Ivrnet Central, and this was one of the highest priority needs of community association groups—and at the time, something that the market just didn’t provide.

Making Payments Safer & Easier for Residents

Sometimes automation isn’t for everyone. Sometimes a personal touch is really necessary. Many older residents would prefer to talk to a human on the phone, rather than make a payment online. That’s understandable and we’ve talked to many of our associations about this issue. But we’ve found that traditional methods of taking a payment over the phone is not secure and it is not compliant with regulations. The attendant taking the credit card information might repeat the card number or personal data aloud, or worse, take the information and use it illegally.

PCI Compliance standards are the legal requirements that protect your personal credit card information. We offer PCI Compliance through all of our platforms, even over the phone credit card payments which are more vulnerable to security threats. RA staff in particular insisted that they still need to offer over-the-phone credit card processing to their residents. The solution is a service that allows a person to enter their credit card number securely with their phone keypad, so that they never have to say the number aloud or have the attendant on the other end gain access to it. This protects both the resident and the staff member, and ensures the highest level of PCI Compliance for your association.

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Club Events, Program Registrations and Facility Rental

Every community is different and offers different amenities. It’s one of the reasons why we have modules, like Facility Rental, that you can opt for or leave out depending on what you need.

We work with communities that offer a central clubhouse (or more), a lake (or three), tennis courts, a gym, rental facilities for weddings and events, a splash park, pool … the list goes on. These spaces must be maintained, rented out, and organized by RA staff. Automating helps staff do much more, with efficiency. You might offer facility rental forms and scheduling on your website, for instance, or community event registrations and reminders through automated telephony services like Quick Message or Quick Call.

We’ve found that associations are limited only by their technology or by their imaginations. Once they have the right tools, they realize the full potential that is now at their fingertips and start coming up with creative and innovative ways to use the management tools.

Getting Residents Engaged and Paying Attention

Finally, one of the best ways that our communities are using automation to provide better service to their residents is by making it personal. Staff can personally record their own voices for automated voice messages—it doesn’t sound like a robot or a sales call. Residents can choose the kinds of communication they get, and on what device. This kind of personalization and opt-in is crucial. It means residents are in control of how they receive the message, even when you use automation to send a mass communication. In return, they’re more likely to pay attention to the messages you send them.

Are you effectively communicating with your residents and providing them the best service possible? Let us know how your HOA or RA uses automation and technology. If you have any questions about how Ivrnet can help you do more, let us know right here.

Get Our New Guide:  The Guide to Selecting Association Management Software