Innovations in HOA Management

The business world is changing, fast. How is HOA Management innovating?

Globally, corporations are in a state of flux, spurred by innovation, and shuffling to keep a pulse on what consumers want to buy and how they want to buy it. Amazon has acquired Whole Foods, ramping up online grocery sales, introducing a landmark checkout process, and rattling competitors. Spotify now allows musicians to post songs directly to the platform – muddying the future of the music label. Lyft and Uber continue to reshape the urban transportation economy. Tesla Motors, in dramatic chaotic fashion, undertook production of an electric car for the masses. Fast-casual restaurants, which provide diners broader choice and healthier options, have traditional fast food on its heels.  Many industries are charting boldly ahead.

Others, drag their feet (or knuckles).

It’s baffling that the management of Homeowners Associations, which 60% of Denver Metro Area homes are a part of, innovates so slowly.  HOA management is too often carried out on clipboards, with paper checks, in the forests of email chains, and on dusty websites. This lack of progress helps fuel an already difficult dynamic and cycle: Boards become frustrated with Management, earnest managers burn out and quit the industry, owners feel ignored, management “hides” from boards, and everybody eventually mutters, “I hate HOAs.”

Not all of this is the fault of Management Companies. The latest innovations often go to more lucrative, larger, and flat-out cooler industries first. In some ways, we wait for crumbs from the tech table. Which is too bad, because HOA Management is complex and stands to benefit from new ways of delivering service, fresh approaches to operations, and money-saving accounting solutions.

Despite these setbacks, innovations do exist, with more on the horizon. There are things that can be done now to benefit HOAs, and the next five years look promising. Here are a few ways CAP (with help from third parties, like our software company, CINC) has worked to push forward, and our plans for the future:

  • Daily reconciliation of banking and financials: It’s frustrating when financials aren’t timely. In 2018, accounting software and bank accounts can reconcile daily, greatly increasing efficiency.
  • Websites which are actually useful. HOA websites should have features that solve actual problems. Today’s best sites allow owners to see ledgers in real time, pay by e-check or credit card, host custom content and documents, submit architecture requests and work orders, sign up for text messaging, and provide real-time access to HOA business. Frankly, we think they should look good, too. Photos galleries and modern design aesthetics help keep owners engaged.
  • Blast Emails, Text Messaging, and robo-calls: Communication is key, and in today’s world, customers expect options.
  • Streamlined Late Letters and Violations: Today’s systems integrate HOA rules into their operating framework.
  • Environmental Sustainability. We help coordinate between the HOA, municipalities, and vendors on large-scale sustainability initiatives. Low-flow toilets, lighting refits, modern water solutions, and community gardens are a few money-saving projects available.
  • Financials on time: Late financials should be a problem of decades past. Today’s HOA accounting software, when used to their full potential, can produce financials early in the month. We provide them on the 6th business day.
  • Reporting and Accountability: Innovations isn’t all about tech. Sometimes it means listening to the customer and making a change. The biggest complaint in the industry centers on engagement, proactivity, and communication. We engage with a two page strategic plan, crafted collaboratively. Then, we report regularly to boards and owners.
  • Board training: Learn how to fulfill your board position. Know Robert’s Rules of Order. Get educated on Colorado HOA law.

Coming soon:

  • Mobile Application: Thanks to our software company, CAP will be launching a mobile application in the next quarter. “The CAP App” is built for owners and boards, and provides solutions from accounting to repair issues and more.
  • High-Rise Management: High-Rises are complex machines. Packages circulate, water shutoffs affect various stacks and floors, residents misplace keys, neighbors have conflicts. A more robust software is needed to keep it all in shape. We plan to integrate these in the coming year to supplement our already robust base solutions.

There are a few innovations we’ve chosen to avoid: Compliance inspections by aerial drones exist in some communities nationally. While efficient, this makes us uncomfortable. Recently, venture capital has begun moving into the HOA Management field, quietly buying management companies, streamlining them for profit, and pushing ancillary fees. More management companies are integrating full-scale construction departments, good for the bottom line but bad for customer choice.

Ultimately, we look to HOA Boards to tell the industry what’s lacking. We want your ideas. Let us know: how can innovation help your HOA and the Management industry evolve?

Frank Cole