You've filled the position for a community association manager…now what can you expect?
“A community association manager has the opportunity to create a sense of community that people really love and that enriches the community living experience,” writes PeytonBolin's founder, Jane Bolin, in her book, Mastering the Business of Your Association: No More Condo Commando.
Creating that community, however, isn't for the lazy, weak, or shy.
What your community association manager needs to do
After filling that position, the community association manager (CAM) needs to get clear about what the association wants to accomplish in the next 20, 90, and 180 days. There is a short-term outlook and the overall mission and vision for the association.
Often board members are inundated by unit owner contact and need a CAM to help support them. One of the most important tasks of the CAM role is to serve as a point of contact for the community. “Since it's not a best-practice to have unit owners go knocking on the doors of board members to lodge complaints or request maintenance, CAMs can also serve as the buffer here,” suggests Bolin.
A successful CAM also will bear social and administrative responsibilities. Social responsibilities center on building community and having set goals to see whether the events and tasks hit the mark. For communities that currently have social committees, a CAM's assistance in goal-setting and metrics could enhance the success and the committee members' experience.
An engaging CAM will encourage positive real-life interactions among neighbors. It's no easy task in the digital world, but an experience CAM will plan in-person events appropriate to their community. Those events can include block parties, classes at the community center, holiday gatherings, neighborhood BBQs, welcome wagons, and more.
Community is also fostered by online communications, so a CAM should be able to easily (and responsibly) navigate the world of social media.
Because written communication is more easily misunderstood, a CAM needs to create clear, mindful social posts that invite more bonding among neighbors.
For example, a CAM can set up a neighborhood Facebook Page, where everyone can share neighborhood events and photos, or mention upcoming events or garage sales. Just make sure that your CAM is monitoring the Facebook Page so it doesn't become a hotbed for gossip or an online complaints window.
Keep in mind that most management contracts don't contemplate social media, so this is an area of discussion before signing the contract!
Neighborhood newsletters can achieve the same bonding effect of social media, though without the immediacy. After discussing the purpose of the HOA newsletter and its guidelines, a CAM should be able to assemble an e-newsletter or print version on schedule.
Other administrative tasks a CAM may take on include:
- Conducting surveys. CAMs should survey the board and association periodically to learn what's working, what's not, and what the areas of improvement are, writes Bolin.Providing a management packet before a meeting. This packet should include financials, community occurrences, maintenance reports, and violation reports. Equally important to what's contained in the packet is when the packet is given. The CAM should provide this to attendees prior to the meeting ─ giving members enough time to go through the materials and understand them.
- Providing a management packet before a meeting. This packet should include financials, community occurrences, maintenance reports, and violation reports. Equally important to what's contained in the packet is when the packet is given. The CAM should provide this to attendees prior to the meeting ─ giving members enough time to go through the materials and understand them.
- Planning for an emergency. Is your community prepared for a natural or man-made disaster? Unfortunately, this task is often overlooked yet vital to maintain a sense of safety within the community. A CAM should help develop an emergency plan for the association.
How you can help your community association manager
Your CAM has many responsibilities weighing on them, and you can lighten the burden by doing a few things. One way to help is to give him/her room to get the work done.
“If you trust your manager, you're not micromanaging their day,” states Bolin. “They know what they are accountable for and do it.”
Also, make sure you communicate clearly and reasonably with your CAM. In other words, don't suddenly make demands that can't be met in a reasonable time frame or suddenly ask them to take on more responsibilities that were not mentioned before the CAM filled the position.
Moreover, communication should be drama-free and not personal. In other words, if your association has concerns about how the CAM is performing duties, the communication should focus on what is not being done, how it could be done, why it needs to be done, and so forth. However, communication, even in sensitive issues, should not be a personal attack on the CAM.
Where to get more help for your community association manager
If you need guidance with your CAM or are a CAM in need of guidance, we can help. Download our ebook for more on the role of CAMs and how to run your association like a business. We specialize in community association law and are experienced in best-practices for association boards.