As we've said before, communication is key, especially in a community. As a property manager or community association board, it's up to you to be in touch with your residents. It's important that you take their opinions and priorities into account whenever you're making decisions that will affect them. You probably don't know what your residents want and expect, but it's not difficult to figure it out. Chances are, they want to tell you as badly as you want to know.
Surveys are a great way to obtain feedback from your residents. They can be tailored to be about a specific topic or just general living, and they will allow you to get a feel for what the general attitude of the residents is. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, it will give you a better idea of if you are on the right track. Use the survey to help you identify problems, make decisions, and set priorities.
Here are a couple tips for conducting surveys:
- Conduct them regularly: Attitudes and opinions change, so it's important to conduct surveys periodically, but not excessively. Sending them out regularly will make your residents feel like their opinions matter and they will become accustomed to sharing them.
- Include a cover letter: Don't just send out surveys. Include a letter that explains why you are conducting the survey and asks residents to please fill it out.
- Pay attention to results: It's not enough to just conduct a survey, you have to take the results into account. When you're planning your budget for next year, try to include resident preferences in your decision making. Start slow by sending out surveys concerning non-critical issues. Once residents become comfortable with the process, you can start asking more important questions
- You might not be able to fix everything: Just because you identify a problem doesn't mean you're going to be able to remedy it immediately. Use surveys as a learning tool. Even if you can't fix the problem, at least you are aware of it.
- Share results: If a survey proves you listened to residents and made effective changes, share the results. If resident satisfaction increases or if community programs have been expanded, share the news with residents, realtors, developers and local media.
Taking the time to acknowledge the opinions of your residents will not only reduce rule violations and complaints, but also cultivate a strong sense of community. Your residents will appreciate it and are more likely to support your decisions if they feel like their happiness was taken into account. With knowledge of residents' needs and demands, communication is fostered and community living becomes easier for both residents and association boards.