If you're looking to establish a lasting (and profitable) relationship within the community association and property management marketplace, you need to understand how it works and what "makes it tick". There's a lot of opportunity to be had, but there are also many issues to navigate and pitfalls to avoid. And it all starts with a review of the basics.
Start with the Basics
What's the purpose of the community association (condo, hoa, etc.)? Primarily, it's to manage and govern the common elements of "multi-family" homeowner communities. These communities, ranging from single family homes with shared grounds (roads, street lighting, landscaping and shared amenities) to sophisticated high-rise urban condominiums, are very popular throughout the state of Florida (and nationally). In all, there are five (5) primary types of community associations, responsible for a variety of property types:
- Homeowner Associations (HOA): Typically single family homes. (36% of the marketplace)
- Condominium Associations (COA): High-rise, mid-rise, low rise, villas and townhomes. (57% of the marketplace)
- Cooperatives: Ownership of "stock" in shared multi-family. (2% of the marketplace)
- Mobile Home Parks: Lots and homes can be rented or owned. (4% of the marketplace)
- Timeshares: Shares in properties are owned for scheduled usage. (1% of the marketplace)
Community associations are regulated by Florida Statutes 718 (COA), 719 (Co-op), 720 (HOA), 721 (Timeshares) and 723 (Mobile Home Parks) respectively. Associations are corporate entities (typically not-for-profit), with Bylaws, Declarations and Articles of Incorporation, run by a Board of Administration (a.k.a. Board of Directors) and most (particularly HOA and COA) are managed by licensed property management companies. By definition, the "Board members" are the decision makers and management has "influence" (although some degree of decision making can be delegated to the extent the law allows - and the Board tolerates).
Understanding the Interests and Influences
It will be much easier to promote and sell your products and services to community associations when you're aware of the key interests and influences that drive the board and management:
Proper maintenance and upkeep of association property is not an option - it's a legal obligation imposed on the Board by statute (as noted above). The Board and management have a vested interest in fulfilling that obligation, and that opens up a lot of opportunity for a multitude of related goods and services. Specifics will likely vary by association and property type. For example, a "gated community" HOA will likely need to maintain the "gates" and related security systems, as well as internal roads, lighting, landscaping and related amenities, which often include pools, clubhouse facilities, tennis courts and more. High-rise condominiums must maintain the roof, the building exterior, elevators, mechanical systems, and multiple amenities, including a clubhouse, fitness center, business centers, rooftop pools and more. And all of this maintenance is needed both on a day-to-day and periodic basis.
As if this was not enough, Florida law also places very specific legal, financial and operational obligations upon the community association, creating the need for related professional services, including legal, financial, reserve, engineering and related matters. These mandates drive the key "consumer" needs of the property association. But there's more....
It known that well maintained and operated properties typically command higher property values and are more desireable for most consumers. Although the association itself (as a corporate entity) realizes little benefit from higher priced homes within the community, the individual homeowners do, and that makes value and desireability a "matter of interest" for the elected Board and contracted management company. If you position your product or service in that light - having added value beyond the basics, you will be better positioned to tap into that key motivating factor.
This is all part of smart selling and marketing - to understand the needs, interests and influences of every potential prospect. Read more on this subject in our blog post entitled Marketing to the Association Board Member.