While boards make decisions for the community, homeowner input ensures that those decisions reflect their wishes. But as any board member who’s faced an empty meeting room knows, inspiring homeowners to get involved in the association can sometimes be a challenge.
To encourage residents to start attending board meetings and actively participating in the direction of the community, discuss implementing these tips for increasing meeting attendance with the rest of your board. By taking strategic action before and after the board discusses business, you’ll see more homeowners attend more often.
- Create an interesting agenda. If agenda items aren’t clear, then homeowners won’t pay attention to them. Be specific: instead of writing “old business” and “new business” on the agenda, write “dock replacement discussion” or “mid-year budget update.” This way homeowners will see agenda topics that interest them, increasing the chances that they’ll come to the meeting.
- Give advance notice. Post the agenda well-ahead of time so that homeowners can make time in their busy schedules to attend.
- Announce the meeting through multiple communication channels. Go beyond posting the agenda on the club house bulletin board. Post reminders along with the agenda on your community’s website, social media channels and on an app like TownSq. Don’t be afraid to post a reminder as the date approaches since the meeting isn’t top of mind for many homeowners.
- Serve snacks. Food always brings people together, and the same principle can be applied to board meetings. This is an especially important tactic to use if the agenda includes a heavy topic, and you want homeowners to be present for the discussion. Additionally, people will start remembering that there are usually snacks at board meetings, and they might even start bringing their own. This gives the meetings a strong social aspect that will keep people coming back.
- Prepare for questions ahead of time. Don’t put anything on the agenda if you can’t answer homeowner questions about it. If a major discussion topic is out of your area of expertise, ask a vendor to come in to answer questions. If you can give homeowners the information they want, they’ll be more likely to see meetings as useful for gathering information.
- Keep the meeting short and on-topic. If the board can’t move on from a certain topic, homeowners will get up and leave.
- Be considerate of homeowners. Strike a balance between actively listening to homeowner comments, answering questions and getting through the agenda items at a reasonable pace. Open the meeting by asking people if they have any questions or comments about certain topics so that they can be addressed without the board discussion being interrupted later on. To feel like they are truly a part of the community, homeowners need to feel heard, included and welcome at board meetings.
- Thank homeowners for attending. Publish a short recap of the meeting in your next newsletter and include a message thanking homeowners for attending. If homeowners know that other members of the community are attending board meetings, it might encourage them to come, too.
By putting these tips into practice, you’ll not only pack the room at your next meeting – you’ll encourage homeowners to meaningfully engage, which will help the board make your community a place you’re proud to call home.
Read our ebook, 7 Clever Ideas for Annual Meeting Participation, today!
About the Author
Emily Ramirez, CMCA®, AMS®, worked in the HOA Industry in the San Francisco Bay Area for fourteen years before making the move to Colorado and joining the Colorado Association Services family. The first nine years of her Associa career were with Associa Northern California, where she was the director of community management in the Los Gatos office. Over the years she has managed a diverse portfolio that includes condominiums, planned developments, co-ops and single-family homes. Emily is an active member of the Community Associations Institute, where she served the Bay Area Central Chapter as the 2017 Chapter President and as a member of the board for six years.More Content by Emily Ramirez