Now is the perfect time to align your team to prepare for what’s ahead. You may have aggressive goals in the new year to acquire new associations, expand your team, increase profitability, or all of the above. No matter the goal, you’ve also got the added challenge of staying competitive and, hopefully, a step or two ahead of the pack.
Here are five ways to ensure you stay on track and turn your vision into reality.
1.) Keep Yourself and Your Team Informed
The community association industry is rapidly evolving – are you keeping tabs on the trends and getting this information to those on your team or in the company that need to know?
Keep a finger on the pulse of the industry as a whole by following market research published by Pew, the Foundation, The US Census Bureau and the National Association of Home Builders who continuously monitor market trends and workforce demographics. The Community Associations Institute (CAI) is also a robust source of industry data and input from other community managers within the organization.
Think about ways that the changing demographics are shaping the workforce – Baby Boomers are retiring, and the Millennials and Gen Xers expect a full suite of advanced tech. What does your business need to do to prepare?
With 25 million Americans age 55 and older residing in community associations (with more retiring every day) – how are you managing that market? Are there self-managed planned communities in your area that might benefit from your business?
2.) Understand and Monitor Social Media
If you’re not currently using social media for your business, it can feel like a daunting endeavor. You may be fearful of negative comments or confrontation. Unfortunately, it comes with the territory. What matters is how you respond to comments and that you respond. Ultimately, you have an opportunity to take control of social media. Use it to gain awareness of your brand and develop positive PR for your associations.
When kicking off your business’ social media accounts, plan and make a strategy. Perhaps begin with an Instagram account – and make sure to add a linked icon to it on your company website! Post once a week with pictures of things like your office and staff, an office party or seminar, or beautiful images of your community associations. After a few months of doing this, do a retrospective, and adjust your strategy to either expand or sustain the current process and go from there.
3.) Preparing and Scaling for Growth
Everyone wants to grow their business, and it’s critical to prepare for what may change. You can thrive with fewer growing pains by:
- Leveraging the power of technology to facilitate effective communication and streamline processes.
- Investing the time saved to build relationships and partnerships with your community association’s boards and homeowners.
- Choosing scalable business solutions that can easily accommodate new clients, whether you add a dozen doors or hundreds in a single day.
- Deploying intuitive technology built for today’s workforce that streamlines training and onboarding new hires.
- Keeping your current community associations happy by providing superior customer service while expanding ways for them to interact with the community.
4.) Keep an Eye on the Competition
Research what your competition is doing and how you can gain a competitive edge. Growing a successful business means you know your strengths and weaknesses. Some questions to ask: can you deliver a similar service with a twist that makes it better? Is their social media presence enviable?
What are people saying about your competition? Read reviews on Yelp, Google Reviews, Glassdoor, and other popular review sites.
Bottom line, you need to take a long, hard look at your company image, and create a workable list you can accomplish with your team in the coming year.
5.) Highlight the Value of Your Service
Competition between community association management companies is stiff. Boards are actively seeking management companies that share their vision, and have the technology and staff to bring value to their communities. They want an exceptional customer experience wrapped in an affordable package. It’s a tall order, but you can achieve it with an unwavering focus on bringing value to your current and potential clients. Here’s how:
- Build partnerships: let your boards know that everyone is on the same team by creating a “partnership” mentality by using “we” and “us” phrases, which leads us to the next point.
- Present your case for being a trusted advocate and advisor. Tout your experience, training, education, certifications, and other assets that demonstrate you are worthy of their confidence.
- Ensure the board knows your job is to work on their behalf, and you’ll bring available assets – human and tech – to make their community a safe, welcoming place to live.
- Establish your value. You’ve done your research, and you know what differentiates you as the leader among your competition. State your case clearly, so current and prospective clients recognize you are miles above the rest.
Technology is here to stay, and it will only get more ingrained in everyday life as time moves forward. Learn more about how you can thrive in a new year by adopting state-of-the-art community association management software that supports your staff, delights your board and homeowners, and scales as you grow.
Beth Gilbert is the Sr. Director of the Community Association Market at AppFolio. Beth brings over 15 years of Product experience to AppFolio and is currently responsible for developing the vision and strategy for the Community Association market. She is passionate about building relationships with customers to learn about new ways to partner in the success of their businesses.