Hiring a community manager to assist with the day-to-day operations of a homeowners’ association (HOA) can strengthen your community and simplify your responsibilities as a board member. A good community manager will advise on key association aspects and serve as your representative with other service providers. Fostering a strong relationship with your manager benefits everyone, providing both your board and residents a direct avenue for support. Read on to learn how to work better with your community manager and maintain a successful partnership.
Understanding the Role of a Community Manager
A community manager’s responsibilities are defined in your community’s governing documents or your contract with your management company. While they vary by association, a community manager is most commonly responsible for the overall operations and administration of the association in accordance with board policies, governing documents, and applicable local, state, and federal laws and regulations.
A community manager works closely with the board to perform many vital functions and resolve any complaints or issues that come up along the way. Contrary to what some may think, managers don’t make decisions for the community; they serve as consultants, make recommendations, and execute the board’s decisions.
How to Work Better Together
Serving on your association’s board of directors can be a rewarding experience, but it’s a position with many responsibilities that can easily overwhelm a board. A community manager helps with the heavy lifting, providing support, advice, and oversight in all aspects of the association, including maintenance, financial, and administrative. To ensure an effective relationship with your community manager, consider these to-dos:
Set clear expectations. Define your expectations in an agreement or contract and refrain from using ambiguous or confusing wording.
Be objective. Work as a team with your community manager and consider other ideas or opinions when solving an issue.
Communicate openly. Communicate often and effectively, set meetings with your manager, ask questions, and be open to dialogue.
Ensure adequate resources are available. Allow the community manager to have the tools and information they need to do their job well.
Be knowledgeable. Know your organization’s needs, understand what’s in your governing documents, and learn the federal, state, and local laws and regulations that may impact your association to help your manager best serve you.
It’s part of a community manager's job to know the operations and structure of your HOA, but making it clear to them how they can help you accomplish your goals as a board member is the key to a sustainable partnership.
How to Foster a Positive Working Relationship
Any professional relationship can, at times, go through hurdles. In fact, a recent report from the Foundation for Community Association Research found that the biggest challenge facing community association managers is balancing demands from association boards, homeowners, and their management company while facing limitations that prevent them from properly fulfilling their role. To help foster a positive working relationship and ease the burden on you and your community manager:
Define expectations in a contract. Make sure your community manager understands these expectations and is eager and willing to meet them.
Budget appropriate funds to sustain necessary partnerships. This includes not only your community manager, but also other professional service providers, like a lawyer, CPA, or insurance specialist, so it’s not an issue down the road.
Communicate service gaps proactively. Don’t wait to address the things you think may become a problem. Talk to your manager early on and remedy the situation as quickly as possible.
Conduct an annual review. Routinely check that your association is getting what it bargained for, including the services promised and the agreed-upon price.
Tips for Maintaining a Long-Term Partnership
Community managers bring expertise that helps them carry out the policies set by your association’s board and oversee a community’s daily operations. Many are credentialed, proving that they’re dedicated to serving you and your association with the highest industry standards. Having multiple responsibilities, among other factors, are significant in their overall sense of satisfaction—and may contribute to their longevity in serving your community. Here are tips for maintain a good partnership long-term:
- Show you value their expertise by enlisting them as a major contributor to solving important community issues.
- Keep their workload manageable but also ensure they have a variety of tasks assigned for each day.
- Provide opportunities to help homeowners and be involved in events that create a positive relationship.
- Acknowledge how they’ve helped you improve your community—whether it’s the appearance, financial health, or enhanced processes.
6 Reasons Your Community Should Hire an HOA Management Company
Community management companies can help board members fulfill their roles, complete requirements, and assist with duties. These companies administer the association's business affairs and support maintenance and accounting efforts, and so much more. If your board is on the fence about hiring a community management company, read our article, “6 Reasons Your Community Should Hire an HOA Management Company,” to learn the benefits of having one.