Cracking Your Community’s Communication Cipher

So, how do you go about getting your Community to read your communications? Delivering information to your Association is often a cumbersome task. The reasons for communicating on behalf of an Association is to accomplish something – whether it is to encourage them to follow through with a course of action, correct a violation or informing them about events in their community. This is a necessary and vital component of our jobs.

Given that e-mail is the number one form of communication today, capturing your residents’ attention, given the multitude of junk email and spam an addressee receives, can be a challenge. When managing a new or even existing community consider asking yourself a very important question: What sets this Community apart?  

Understanding why the community’s population chose to live and remain there may have a significant impact on both how you address and manage them and provide an insight into understanding their needs. It may make the difference between your residents deleting or scrolling through a correspondence or reading it and relating to you.

We all have a document file folder full of template emails that can easily be cut and pasted with the change of an Association’s name. These correspondences are great starting points, but we may benefit from taking the time to dig a little deeper. I have managed communities where the owners purchased for prestige, luxury and/or location. Effective communication to this type of property may be best served with frequent language or references that appeal to the surrounding area where they purchased their home. Highlighting area events, new amenities, or the latest technology improvements can usually spark interest. Dialing into the specific aspects of the Community that they do and do not like can also help you to formulate effective communication that garners response.

It’s also valuable to determine if the majority of homes were purchased as investments or primary residences.  Are there recurring periods of absences from the community, as in student housing or vacation homes?  Will your communications fall on deaf hears to certain segments of the community or during certain periods of the year?

I am currently working in an active adult condominium community. And, it’s been enlightening to learn that this maybe the residents’ first time living in a multifamily unit, and thus were not anticipating many the of the various issues that can arise with having neighbors above, below and next to them. In my correspondence I have had to take them back to basics, as you would with first-time homeowners. The catch is to be respectful of the fact that many are well-educated previous single-family homeowners. Therefore, you should be wary of avoiding condescending language, and rather convey information in an upbeat and positive manner.  Encouraging them to embrace new aspects of their new home while noting the issues that they may not have thought of is vital to their comfort within their community.

Additional ownership to consider include those who didn’t foreclosure or short sale due to the residential market crash and are still waiting in the shadows to sell.  In this case, highlighting the features of the community that are being improved and stressing the importance of curb appeal and property value appreciation will most likely hit home. Additionally, mentioning local vendors who are offering group-rate discounts on maintenance services can be an attention grabber.

Taking the time to customize your communities’ communications will hopefully engage them to take the time to read your correspondences.  This, in turn, may make your residents feel more connected to their managing agent and their community.

By Brittanie D. Davis, CMCA, AMS, PCAM

Brittanie is employed by FirstService Residential and is currently the Community Manager of the large-scale active adult community Potomac Green Community Association in Ashburn, VA. She has spent the last decade managing and maintaining new, old, historical and converted properties throughout DC, MD & VA.

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