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The third biggest hurdle that property managers of any residential community face according to a study conducted by Unicom Corp is maintenance, especially with regards to damages and unexpected maintenance.  Managing maintenance costs while keeping your residents happy and satisfied is a balancing act that requires proactive monitoring of community assets and having a clear plan of action to keep costs in check.  In this blog post, we focus on four necessary steps to help you create an effective balance between cost management and resident happiness.

Evaluate existing vendor solutions annually and send out RFP’s as needed

A highly important function of a community or property management company is to procure cost-effective maintenance solutions for the communities they manage.  Doing so can significantly lower operational costs, association dues, and maintain competitive rental rates. Every year, it’s important that managers evaluate current vendors and potential alternatives to identify cost-saving opportunities.  

In your evaluation of current vendors, assess:

  • The benefits delivered by the service – are they greater or less than the cost?  If it is less than the cost, it’s an indicator that a new service provider should be researched.
  • Performance – Do the vendors complete the work on time?  Are residents satisfied or dissatisfied with the work?
  • Insurance – Do vendors have worksman compensation, automobile, and general liability insurance to protect your company from potential injuries or liabilities?

As part of your RFP evaluation process, assess:

  • The vendor’s viability to fulfill the majority or all of the work requested.  Specifically, you will want to focus on the details of how they plan to complete the work.
  • The vendor’s turnaround for completing the work.
  • What does the vendor charge?
  • The references provided by the vendor on the quality of work, client ratings on search engines or vendor directories, and sentiment on social media about how well or not they deliver their services.
  • Insurance and licenses – Does the vendor maintain appropriate licenses such as worksman compensation, automobile, and general liability insurance?  Make sure the license expiration date is not within the timeframe that you are looking to have work completed and if so, clarify with the vendor that they will obtain current insurance.
Have clear contracts and guidelines

Before signing contracts with vendors for routine or specific work, make sure the contract has clear verbiage about the terms, conditions, and responsibilities of both the management company/community and the vendor.  This is an important step to establish a good vendor relation and reduce the potential for liability due to non-performance of either party of the agreement.  Make sure the contract contains the following essential elements: all the work that is to be completed, cost, the time-frame of the project or routine work (if it is an annual contractor on a per-work basis), and termination procedures.  Reviewing the terms with experienced property management or community association lawyers and the rest of your team is especially helpful in ensuring that the contract is clear and leaves no room for vague terms.

Plan for preventative maintenance

Planning for adequate preventative maintenance in advance delivers many benefits to any type of residential community.  Managers can better forecast the cost of maintaining and repairing equipment, thus increasing the accuracy and transparency in budgeting for the community association or apartment.  Additionally, managers can become more proactive in scheduling maintenance ahead of time to minimalize disruption for residents. To stay ahead of preventative maintenance, it’s essential that managers maintain an itemized list of all community equipment and inspection due dates, maintain strong relations with licensed vendors, and adequately follow-up with maintenance tasks.  The end result is that it all leads to a safer, happier community who can use their properties and community amenities with minimal interruption.

Use a comprehensive maintenance management system

Using a comprehensive maintenance software platform can increase staff productivity, eliminate liability, and increase competitiveness in the industry. There is a cost to using a maintenance management technology – software fees and training staff – but with correct implementation and constant usage, your management company will land in a win-win situation. Make sure that the technology solution you implement has work order tracking, vendor contact and insurance tracking, and high-level insights through reporting and dashboards. Overall, the benefits outweigh the cost in the long-run by ensuring safe and happy communities.

With many factors at play in your maintenance management plan, it’s important to keep the safety of the communities you manage, good vendor relations, and resident happiness your top priorities.  Sometimes a slightly higher cost in vendor sourcing, technology, or legal fees upfront can save potentially thousands of dollars later because the lowest-cost solution isn’t always the best and can raise a red flag.  Thus, it’s crucial that property managers actively review current and new vendor solutions, have clear verbiage in their vendor contracts, plan for unexpected maintenance, and invest in a robust technology system that will help managers keep their maintenance projects in check.

About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier community and property management suite that has helped thousands of community managers and back-office personnel enhance communications, improve customer service, and manage compliance and operations.  May we help your community achieve these success stories?  Book a demo to see how Pilera’s community management suite can help your company. 

The post How to Manage Maintenance Costs Effectively While Making Residents Happy! appeared first on Pilera Software.

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Streamlining maintenance is one of the most critical activities in community and residential management.  Community and property managers aim to increase the public appeal of the community and ensure the safety of its staff and residents.  The right technology can help managers to not only achieve but optimize those goals. As you research maintenance software options for your community and property management company, ask yourself these five questions!

1. Can residents submit maintenance requests?

Providing residents with a way to self-service and be notified about important things relating to their unit and the community increases engagement and builds trust.  When a resident identifies a maintenance issue in their apartment or within an area that lies within the HOA or condo’s responsibility to fulfill, they need a way to inform management of it.  

Can your residents…
  • Submit work order tickets about their unit or common areas
  • Add pertinent details about the issue
  • Select access preference – Does the resident want to be at the property when the maintenance personnel arrives?
  • Receive updates on when the issue was resolved
  • View a history of all the tickets they have submitted & the status of each.
2. Can you manage maintenance tickets from start to finish?

A robust work order management system should not only provide managers with the ability to create tickets but to streamline them from start to end.  Managers should be able to triage tickets when they come in or are created, know the status of each ticket, and collaborate with staff members.

Can your staff…
  • Create unit level or common area tickets
  • Add pertinent details and attachments
  • Categorize and prioritize the ticket
  • Assign ticket to another manager, staff member, vendor, or yourself
  • Automatically notify the assignee of the new ticket
  • Change status or comment on the ticket.
3. Can you gain high-level insights on maintenance operations?

Community and property managers need access to high-level and granular data to understand their operations and make better-informed decisions.  Through the maintenance software, managers should be able to easily identify the number of tickets open/closed per month, their staff’s workload, the tickets that have not been worked on for a long time, and how many tickets each vendor is working on.  Managers should be able to easily capture this information for a specific community or across their entire portfolio. In Pilera’s maintenance system, managers receive an automated report with all the tickets that haven’t been touched for 30 days. This insight is essential for managers to handle the workload of their staff and vendors, prioritize work, and ensure that nothing falls off their radar.

4. Can you search for resident data quickly?

When a resident calls, emails, or walks into the management office to report a maintenance issue for their unit, you need to quickly search through your resident listing to create the ticket.  A maintenance management system should have a robust search capability. Searching by partial names or addresses, a resident’s unit, email, or phone number will save managers and staff members time if they are managing hundreds of tickets.

5. Can you maintain a vendor database effectively?

Building good relations with your vendors is crucial to the upkeep of your community or apartment complex.  As a manager, you need to know which vendors are approved to work for certain communities, the services they can provide, when their COI’s are expiring, how you’ve rated their services, and how to keep in touch with them for new projects.  

Can managers…
  • Track contact information, addresses, and maintenance personnel information
  • Assign vendors to categories such as entry management, landscaping, plumbing, and more
  • Automatically notify vendors of the new maintenance tickets assigned to them
  • Assign vendors to work for multiple communities at once
  • Rate vendors so you know who your preferred contractors are

Using the right technology when it comes to managing maintenance projects can make all the difference in contributing to communities that are well-run, safe, happy, and look good.  It’s essential to ask these five major questions when researching maintenance software options so that you can give your staff the best tools.

About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier community and property management suite that has helped thousands of community managers and back-office personnel enhance communications, improve customer service, and manage compliance and operations.  May we help your community achieve these success stories?  Book a demo to see how Pilera’s community management suite can help your company. 

The post Ask These 5 Questions Before Choosing Maintenance Software appeared first on Pilera Software.

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Managers overseeing daily responsibilities in a community or property management company handle countless documents.  They do so to keep track of information, streamline operations, and engage with residents. While adoption to online document management systems has been gradual in the residential/rental management industry, more management companies are embracing it as an essential way to streamline their operations. In this blog article, we highlight the key benefits of transitioning to an online document management system.

1) Transition to a paperless economy

Moving your documents to an online management system is not only economically friendly but also provides managers with many business benefits.  By providing a central place for residents to log in and view important community documents, managers significantly reduce printing and mailing costs.  Additionally, by not printing out all of your community operational documents, your staff will have more desk space and be better organized.

2) Many solutions are cloud-based

Document management systems are available to property and community managers through two types of solutions: on-premise and cloud-based solutions.  On-premise document management solutions are installed to the company’s server. They are also limited to a specific number of device installs based on the licenses purchased and cannot be accessed from remote devices.   Cloud-based services are online web solutions your service provider hosts and are accessible from any device.  Furthermore, cloud-based software solutions are highly beneficial to your business in many ways.  Your IT team does not have to install any software on your machine or download upgrades.  Even more important, if the management office is destroyed by extreme weather conditions, all of your documents will be safely stored online.    

3) Manage your documents better

By taking your documents to an online system, you can better manage them.  Industry solutions offer both document storage solutions and document management solutions.  A document storage service is a central repository that can house a variety of documents. Essentially, document storage services help you to keep a back-up of many files and share it with your internal team.  This type of document solution is generally very simplistic. A robust document management system provides community and property managers with the ability to streamline their file management process.  Managers can structure their folders, set user permissions, share files, notify residents of files they added, and more.

4) Secured access to documents

Since you manage hundreds or thousands of documents like company policies, budgets & financials, leases, and more, it’s crucial to make security a top priority.  There are three important layers of security that you should consider: platform security, personnel access, and file access. Ensuring platform security involves checking with the software company if they are using standard security protocols.  Some of these standard security protocols include HTTPS security and hash encryptions.  Personnel access involves a manager’s decision to give or restrict staff access to managing documents in the system. File access places emphasis on who in the community has access to certain files. A robust document management system should also allow managers to set permissions for board members, residents, tenants, and other occupants to gain access to files relevant to them.  

5) Help your staff increase efficiency & decrease cost

Overall, a comprehensive document management system helps community and property management staff to save time across all the communities/apartments they manage.  Specifically, an enterprise document management system will help managers and staff to reduce redundant actions. For example in Pilera’s document management platform, managers can share documents to multiple communities.  This is a powerful capability because managers can replace files in its original location and the system will update shared files instantly.  Think of a 50-page company policy that you need to share with board members in 100 communities you manage.  With an online document management system that handles file replacements efficiently, managers need not worry about the hassles and costs associated with printing and mailing.

About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier community and property management suite that has helped thousands of community managers and back-office personnel enhance communications, improve customer service, and manage compliance and operations.  May we help your community achieve these success stories?  Book a demo to see how Pilera’s community management suite can help your company. 

The post 5 Key Benefits of Taking Your Community Documents Digital appeared first on Pilera Software.

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A website is a long-term investment into a community’s operations.  When a website is well-built and nurtured over time with the purpose of keeping residents informed, it can help managers and board members to build stronger relations with the community, while running it more efficiently.  Residents can get access to information easily amidst their busy schedules, be more informed, and feel more connected to their community. How can you make your community website stand out from the rest, and provide residents with a central place for all information about the community?  In this blog post, we go over five important tips to make your community websites more effective in engaging and informing residents.

Tip #1: Show off your community’s persona via design and content.

A website is an online representation of what a community’s mission is and what values they stand for.  The community’s mission, ideals, and values are all collectively a part of their brand. For example, does your community mostly consist of high-end, luxury homes?  Or, is your community a fun-loving one where managers and association leaders work with the community hands-on? Or, does your community have a vast amount of amenities and are skilled in maintaining them?  High-end, luxury, fun-loving, collaborative, skillful – all of these are qualities that your community potentially imbibes. It’s important to convey those qualities through your website design and content.

Tip #2: Write in a simple manner.

One of the most essential goals for a community is to be as informative as possible because it improves operations and helps to increase resident satisfaction in the community.  For your content to be informative it’s important to write in a clear and concise manner without using industry jargon.  This will help residents to easily comprehend the information they are getting.   Once you’ve written content for the website, send it another community leader for review.  

Tip #3: Answer the questions your residents want and need to know.

Residents will browse on the community’s website for a reason.  The more helpful and detailed the information on your website is, the more satisfied residents will be knowing that they can get their questions answered at any time of the day.  The main purpose of any website is to provide solutions to a person or company’s problem or provide answers to a question, and it’s no different for community websites. Your community website may address the following information for residents:

  • Community contact information (names, phone numbers, and email addresses) and office hours.
  • Board member names and positions.
  • A frequently asked questions (FAQs) page answering any questions that residents regularly ask. How can residents submit an architectural change request to be reviewed and approved by the community?  How can they submit maintenance requests?
  • How residents can get access to community documents, governing documents and rules, important messages and community events.
  • Does your community comprise of rental properties?  Provide information about those rental properties, procedures, and how to submit an application.
Tip #4: Add multimedia to your content mix.

There are many ways to tell your community’s story and one of the best ways is through multimedia in the form of videos and images.  Multimedia is much more engaging and easier for residents to not only process and understand but resonate with. Furthermore, videos and images create a more personal connection than simple text does.  According to Hubspot, eye-tracking studies showed that individuals pay closer attention to content that includes images and are able to retain information three days later when the image is paired with the content. Additionally, individuals are four times as likely to watch a video about a company’s product or services than to read about it and close to 77% of businesses surveyed state that videos had a direct positive impact on their business.  Here are some ways to integrate multimedia into the community website:

  • Add photos of your team members, community gatherings and meetings, amenities the community offers, and other areas of interest.
  • Show an introduction video to your community on the home page detailing community history and culture, values and mission, the services provided, leader background, and special aspects of the community.
  • Create “how to” videos to educate your residents on a variety of community-related topics or about the services the community offers.
  • A simple thank you video message to your community members appreciating everyone’s contribution can strengthen the bond between the board and residents.
Tip #5: Implement responsive design.

According to comScore’s mobile usage study, approximately 65% of internet users in the United States consume information on multiple devices.  For a community, this means that information must be readily available in more than one device to provide a great user experience to residents who may own different devices.  A responsive website design is key to providing easily readable information to your residents, whether it be on a laptop, desktop, tablet, or mobile device of any size. Responsive design allows for flexible stretch or compression of website pages and its elements (navigation bar, text, images, and other multimedia) to fit the device it is being viewed on.  Therefore, you’ll want to incorporate responsive design for compliance and to provide your residents/board members with a good user experience.

About Pilera

Pilera is your all-in-one community management suite for communications, work orders, help desk functionality, resident access, and more.  We also offer powerful community and company websites called Pilera EasySite. What’s the best part of our websites? There’s absolutely no coding experience necessary.  Our simple drag and drop functionality makes it easy to place various elements such as photo galleries, contact information, event calendars, and weather displays. EasySite also integrates with Pilera’s various modules.  For more information on Pilera EasySite, contact us or schedule a demo.  

The post Does your Community Website Stand Out? 5 Tips to Engage & Inform Your Residents! appeared first on Pilera Software.

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Staying updated with the latest property management news is key to improving your operations internally.  Additionally, certain news and trends can impact the services you provide to the residential community.  Learning about challenges communities encounter and how they respond to those challenges can provide your management team with newer perspectives.  In this post, we focus on the latest community and property management news in the HOA, condo, and rental space. Here you’ll learn about several communities that are rebuilding homes after natural disasters hit many communities last year, a new regulation calling for increased transparency in HOA’s, marketing practices, budgeting, and energy efficiency considerations.  We also share tips to spark some brainstorming about these topics so you can implement these tips for your communities.

Communities continue recovering from wildfires in California, Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and Irma in Florida last year

In CAI’s Common Ground September/October issue, the theme “Strong Response” emphasizes on several community associations that are currently rebuilding their communities after weather-based disasters in 2017 destroyed many homes – wildfires in California, Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and Hurricane Irma in Florida.   This took an emotional and physical toll on residents and now they continue to work together in rebuilding their homes. Communities have developed stronger architectural design guidelines that are more sustainable for residents in response to the natural disasters. Additionally, residents and management have created committees and re-evaluated association documents to allow for a more flexible response.

How can your communities prepare for an emergency?

  • Assess the likelihood of each type of situation your communities might encounter. Understand the strengths that can be used or weaknesses that need to be improved.
  • Develop an emergency plan for before, during, and after an emergency. The plan should encompass management/board roles and responsibilities, resident communications, technology tools to manage data, building structures and preventative maintenance, compliance with association guidelines, and effective insurance policies. In this ebook from Pilera, you’ll learn how to prepare for an emergency and develop plans to safeguard your communities.
  • Form committees to develop guidelines for the community such as home safety, fire committee, and architectural committees. Invite residents who may have expertise in specific areas to give their ideas and help form these guidelines.
Property Management Company in New Zealand Criticized for Social Media Ads

Quinovic’s franchisee, a property management company based in Auckland, New Zealand recently came under criticism from many landlords and an activist group, Renter’s United. Quinovic’s Te Ao franchisee published three image and text-based ads on Facebook targeted toward landlords, asking them “Are you subsidizing your tenant’s social life?”  Quinovic took quick action by requiring those ads be deleted and their CEO Paul Chapman issued a statement to the public stating that the ads did not conform to company brand standards and that they had taken action.  Meanwhile, Quinovic’s Te Ao apologized for the ads, stating they did not intend to hurt tenants’ and landlords’ sentiments.

What can be learned from this situation?

  • Property management companies need to make sure that their marketing strategy aligns with the business goals and values the organization as a whole is trying to promote. It can be very tricky to use humor as a marketing appeal to achieve the desired reaction from potential customers. In this case, the attempt at humor hinted at a current issue facing the country’s rental industry.  Thus, the ad was not well accepted by tenants, landlords, and activist groups.
  • If your property management company has developed a company policy, the best way to promote compliance is through communicating those policies and training employees in franchisees, or property managers and board members (if in HOA or condo associations) in communities. These policies should be written in simple language and then shared with property managers and board members. The simplest way to share these policies is through a document management system that can be updated and accessed at any time.
  • It is essential for a company to have a strong crisis mitigation plan to address widespread criticism internally within the company or its franchisees, and externally to its public stakeholders such as clients, potential clients, and activist groups.
Kuester Management Group Shares Budgeting Strategies With The Industry

With budgeting season ongoing, HOAs are busy analyzing this year’s expenses and activities to prepare for the upcoming year.  Recently, Kuester Management Group provided some great tips to help associations draft better budgets and manage costs effectively.  These are some of the best practices the company suggests to balance cost effectiveness and savings in contracted services. They also provide some great tips on increasing transparency and analyzing previous budgets.  Balancing cost effectiveness and savings in contracted services will help to lower association dues for homeowners and generate enough finances to cover expenses.  The association should practice transparency internally and externally when it comes to funds. Internally, steps the association can take include listing all financial sources and expenses. Externally, they should inform residents on how their dues are being spent to create a better residential living experience. That will help to minimize resident complaints.  Additionally, associations should analyze previous budgets and spending to identify which activities account for the highest cost. Furthermore, Kuester suggests requesting more bids from contractors to determine cost-saving opportunities and negotiate for better rates.

How can you use current or new technology to plan for budgeting season?

  • Retrieve past budgeting documents from your accounting system to identify cost-saving opportunities Kuester shared.
  • Create internal help articles for your staff members on the budgeting process so that actions performed are consistent.
  • Use a vendor management system that will help you organize your current list of vendors, their Certificates of Insurance (COI), rate vendors based on their performance, select your preferred vendors and approve vendors or contractors to work for a specific community.
To Allow Solar or To Not Allow Solar, That Is The Question

Solar panels are becoming a more desirable way for homeowners to power their homes because of long-term savings and its positive impact on the environment.  Soon enough, HOA’s will have to deal with the questions (if it already hasn’t been addressed) of whether or not to allow residents to install solar panels in their homes, and if so, where the panels will be placed.  Currently, half of the 50 states passed regulations that prevent HOAs from placing restrictions on the placement of a solar panel due for community aesthetic reasons. Texas, California, and Oregon are a few states that have regulations in place that prevent HOA’s from denying requests from residents to install solar panels in their homes.  However, with that being said, HOAs can still make decisions on where the solar panel is placed.

How can you use current or new technology to plan for budgeting season?

  • Stay updated on latest news regarding your state’s regulations as they pertain to solar panel placements in homes in HOAs.
  • Upholding transparency is always the best policy. Inform prospective homeowners on what is permissible in the community with regards to solar panels. Are solar panels allowed, and if so, what are the rules that need to be adhered to? Be sure that this is clearly stated in the association’s CC&Rs (governing documents). Make the CC&R’s available online for prospective buyers. This is especially important because the permittance of a solar panel can be an essential factor in the homeowner’s decision to buy a home in the community. For current homeowners, make sure the CC&R is available on an online portal or FAQs section they can easily access. Send emails to your residents reminding them of association guidelines and how they access the information.
  • Survey your community to determine whether there are many residents requesting to install a solar panel. If so, consider it an important topic to discuss in the next board meeting.
New HOA Law Passed in South Carolina

Recently, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed into a law a new regulation in an effort to enhance transparency in HOA communities.  Under the new law, South Carolina HOAs are now required to submit their governing documents to the Clerk of Court, notify potential homebuyers if the property they are about to purchase is part of an HOA, and inform the homeowners of any increases in budgets at least 48 hours in advance.  

What does this mean for your HOA association?

Your current processes will need to be evaluated to comply with the new laws in place.  This extends to how you will communicate these requirements to your staff, property managers, current homeowners, and potential new homebuyers.  Designate responsibilities to board members and property managers regarding communications to potential home buyers and current homeowners. Evaluate how your current homeowners prefer to receive their information – by phone, email, text, or through a website.  Send information to the residents about budget increases in advance through their preferred communication methods.

Staying Updated

Keeping up with the latest community and property management news is essential so that your company and associations can gain fresh perspectives on managing many aspects of your community from emergency situations, making operations more transparency, marketing to new clients and more.  Google alerts, property management-based blogs, social media, and local news outlets are great resources to be updated on the industry.

About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier community and property management suite that has helped thousands of community managers and back-office personnel enhance communications, improve customer service, and manage compliance and operations.  May we help your community achieve these success stories?  Book a demo to see how Pilera’s community management suite can help your company.  

The post Latest Property Management News: Emergency Preparation, Budgets, Solar, and more appeared first on Pilera Software.

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Greetings,

This month we have added some enhancements to our current community and property management features that improve design, readability, and organization of information.

Enhancements:
  • Work Orders
    • The Community Meeting Work Order PDF report now includes a location field detailing where maintenance has been requested.
  • Automated Report Emails
    • Automated email formatting has been improved to provide better readability.
  • Microsoft Excel Reports
    • We’ve improved the naming conventions for several reports that managers can download in an MS Excel format which include common area work order, unit area work order, occupant call log, and unit call log reports.
  • Jenark
    • Jenark work orders are now ordered chronologically by newest to oldest when displayed in Pilera.
About Pilera:

Pilera Software is a premier community and property management suite that has helped thousands of community managers, board members, and back-office personnel enhance communications, improve customer service, and manage compliance and operations.  May we help your community achieve these success storiesContact us today for any questions about our software or these new updates or request a quote!

The post New in Pilera: June 2018 Release Notes appeared first on Pilera Software.

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Once you’ve evaluated the current situation or emergency plan (whether you have a plan in place or not, and if you do, how much and what needs to be altered), it’s time to draft or update the plan.  Work on the plan with your management team, staff, and board members.  Consult with your most preferred vendors, insurance agents and other community members create a maintenance plan to address preventative and recovery concerns.

Create a Plan for Disaster/Emergency Preparedness

Drafts of your disaster aversion or preparation plan should be well-documented, comprehensive,  and made accessible to employees.  Leave enough room for flexibility but don’t create ambiguity.  Furthermore, the plan should incorporate the following information for each type of emergency:

Objectives

First and foremost, determine objectives that your disaster recovery plan aims to achieve.  Identify timeframes for each objective and resources.  Then break down each objective into tasks.

Safety Procedures

Draft a safety procedures document for both employees and residents, detailing practices to help keep them, their families, and team members safe in an emergency.  Nothing is more important than the people’s safety.  Also, detail how residents can avert certain dangers. Residents should be informed of whom to call in case of a disaster and how to evacuate.  It may be helpful to work with the local fire department to practice drills for different types of events to help employees become prepared.

Personnel Roles and Responsibilities

Outline the role each managerial team member and board member is responsible for performing and overseeing.  An emergency situation undoubtedly puts a lot of pressure on employees who need to take prompt but careful action and oftentimes make tough decisions.  Training employees and conducting regular drills can be very helpful.

Resident and Employee Communications

Determine which communication channels and emergency-specific broadcast methods are the most effective for quickly reaching out to residents and employees.  Recognize that there isn’t one communication plan fits all solution.   Some residents may prefer phone calls over text messages and emails, or vice versa.  Social media is also an effective set of real-time platforms that can be used to inform community residents and those outside of the community. Additionally, as your community grows in diversity, it is important to send messages in the residents’ most preferred language.  This reduces the communication gap significantly and residents can take required action quickly.

In a “high-level” emergency situation, using a communication system that features Reverse 911 will overwrite resident primary contact preference and send instant phone calls and email messages.  The communications strategy must also incorporate a contingency plan for alerting residents of an emergency in the event the community loses cellular service.

Vendor Communications

If the emergency situation requires the presence of a maintenance vendor, then you’ll need to have a process to immediately send messages to them.  Residents should have access to maintenance vendor contacts at times when they are unable to get a hold of the management team first.

Performance of all Community Equipment

To prepare for both the anticipated and unpredictable events, evaluate all community equipment and facilities to ensure proper performance.  All equipment must be functioning, up-to-date, and in compliance with local laws.  Make sure that the warranties are renewed on time.

Common Area Safety

All common areas in the community should have emergency safety equipment such as extinguishers and medical kits.  Review your state’s legislature to fulfill the requirements of placing safety equipment and gear in these areas.

Resource Aid for Residents

Catastrophic events are cause of immense stress for residents.  Management should supply information to residents on shelter areas, local Red Cross and other assistance agencies.  Keep this information readily available for resident access.  Include an area map with local resources highlighted and ensure that it is easily understandable.

Insurance Review

Evaluate your insurance coverage every season to ensure that community and resident property have the optimal type of coverages.  Selecting the optimal types of coverages will help minimize financial loss and liability.

Revision

Once your plan has been drafted, reviewed by your team, and revised for any required changes, share the document with your team through a document-sharing service.  As your plan changes due to new internal or external circumstances, update the document and re-upload it.

Pilera Software is a premiere community management solution that provides managers with a simple way to communicate with residents during an emergency.  Send phone, email, or text; choose one out of 90 languages to send automated email and text messages to residents; deliver emergency messages via  Reverse 911, and schedule messages up to two weeks in advance.  Contact us for more information.

The post Aversion/Disaster Mitigation – Preparing Your Community for Emergencies (Part 2) appeared first on Pilera Software.

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Budgeting season is imminent as we approach the end of the year.  The management team and board members are immersed in activities such as financial and operational performance comparisons, past budget evaluations, contingency planning, and reserve funding.  Not to forget, approval from board members and the resident majority is equally important.  

The center of any budgeting plan should be to discover cost-effective ways to operate the association, plan for emergencies or unexpected events, increase resident/owner satisfaction, and enhance community appeal to prospective residents.  Take a pause before you begin budgeting.  Here are some tips on how you can utilize Pilera’s community management software to assist in this process.  These tips will help you to gather data, communicate with your community during and post budgeting, and manage the wealth of knowledge throughout the association or organization.

  1. Gain high-level insight into your community’s operations

    Before creating a budget for the upcoming year, take a step back and review all of the association’s operational data.  Pilera’s activity logs can help you identify key pieces of information:

    • Distribution of resident questions, requests, or complaints – When an internal staff enters an activity log, you can get detailed insight on any issues that arose this year.  An activity log is a record in Pilera that tracks resident interactions or requests that can be assigned and followed-up on.  For each community, you can filter by category, date ranges, and assignment which will display all related records. The status will give you insight on how many activity logs were resolved or are open. The association can compile a list of issues that require action, the costs involved, and who is responsible for each.  Most importantly, for budget reviews, customized reports can be exported into Excel for further analysis.
    • Who hasn’t yet paid assessment fees – Since associations receive money in the form of resident assessment fees, it’s crucial to include the possibility of nonpayment or delinquency in the budget’s contingency plan.  With Pilera’s rule violations and activity logs, management can determine how many residents have not paid last year’s assessment fees. The amount of money that might go uncollected the next year can also be estimated.  Additionally, we provide at-attorney lockdowns with most of our accounting partners.  
  2. Evaluate vendor performance and resident maintenance requests

    Regular maintenance is a pertinent activity of associations and it’s essential to understand performance and costs related to each service request activity.  Granular and high-level insight is required to determine where costs may be saved.

    • Analysis of of Maintenance Requests & Work Order Lifecycle – Through Pilera’s work order module, management and board members can analyze how many work orders come through for a specific maintenance category (such as irrigation or engineering), the costs for each, job status, and the time it takes for each job to be fulfilled. High costs on electrical fixes may inform that a discussion with the vendor is necessary to find any cost-saving opportunities.
    • Comparison of Vendor Performance and Costs – It’s also important to evaluate all your vendor information to help you make maintenance/operational decisions for the association.  Through our new vendor management app, you can rate each vendor’s performance, add notes, track insurance expiration dates, and select your preferred vendors.  Vendor performance information in conjunction with service cost data for the past year will help you project next year’s costs. 
  3. Communication to board members and residents

    Keeping your community in the loop throughout the budgeting process and critical decisions is of utmost importance to stay compliant with association bylaws and state laws.  Pilera affords a variety of ways to communicate with residents and board members.  You can invite residents to budget ratification and other budget-related meetings through email, phone, and text messages.  You can ensure that no resident misses out on communications. They can decide their preferred method of communication and the language they want to receive the text and emails in.  Residents self-manage their contact information, while on the front-end, management staff and board members can simply send the messages.

  4. Get instant approval on issues via electronic voting

    After preparing the budget draft, it’s time to get homeowner’s approval.  Following your state’s laws and community bylaws, you can create an electronic form to capture homeowner’s votes in real-time.  Add fields to capture information such as resident name and contact information (which is already pre-populated in Pilera when they fill out the form), other custom form elements (such as text, drop-downs, number fields, and more), receive comprehensive results in real-time, and limit one response per unit.  If an owner owns multiple homes, they get one vote per home unless the community and state bylaws mandate otherwise.

  5. Manage your community’s budgeting expertise

    Managing knowledge has become increasingly important for associations for many reasons, no matter what the topic involves.  Each year while you’re creating a new budget, you’ll learn something new that will be valuable for the next year’s budget.  Securing that newly-gained knowledge is important as your budget process evolves.  Also, how do you retain knowledge in the event a person leaves the company? Or, if a board member steps down or moves away from the community?  Pilera has a knowledge base to help retain all the knowledge as your team builds their experience.

    How does it work?

    • Add as many questions and answers as you need.
    • Categorize them with keywords such as “finance”, “budget”, “reserves”, “assessments”, etc.
    • Set access permissions for residents or internal use only.
    • Search by keyword to bring up the questions and answers at any time.

    Keeping an organized document repository is another important aspect of knowledge management, which our software can assist with.  You can upload important financial or budgeting documents, categorize them, and set access permissions for residents or for internal use.  Whenever a document is uploaded, the recipient is automatically notified by email and you can view who opened the email/document.

Budgeting is a crucial, yet challenging task for any association.  Therefore, it’s important to be able separate the key pieces of information from the ocean of data that surrounds you.  Each year, the budget may be different based on your community’s requirements and how much it has evolved since the previous year.  With Pilera’s community management suite, we can help you decipher operational changes by providing high-level insight into your community’s activities; easily send messages, invites, and documents to homeowners; and keep track of new information in the knowledge base.  Contact us to learn more about our community management suite.

The post 5 Ways Pilera Can Assist in Planning Your Association Budget appeared first on Pilera Software.

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A business manager can create strategies for improvement to various internal processes, but the strategy is only as good as the implementation.  Many managers are recognizing the need for a comprehensive vendor management process to improve efficiency along with other goals to increase the bottom line.  Here, we’ll go through a step by step process that will help inform your vendor management process.

Steps to Creating a Streamlined Vendor Management Process
  1. Evaluate your current process for managing vendor information.

    Change management process involves recognizing that improvements can be made to make processes more efficient.  Once recognized, managers can move ahead to the next step, which is to fully audit or evaluate how the current vendor management process works (if you have one in place!) Identify strengths and bottlenecks or shortcomings in the process.  Assess:

    • The company’s current maintenance life-cycle.
    • Types of maintenance tasks, priority levels of each, and which vendors are currently contracted to handle each.
    • Efficiency of the company’s due diligence process for evaluating existing and new vendors.
    • Existing policies or codes that vendors must abide by.
    • The amount of time staff spends in managing vendor information.
    • Method by which vendor information is tracked.
    • The current request for services process to select new vendor(s).
    • Vendor’s ability to remain in compliance with governmental regulations.
    • The number of individual(s) responsible for handling vendor management currently.
  2. Assign responsibilities within your organization

    With any change in process, you want to ensure that accountability is maintained.  Assign one or more individuals specific responsibilities and outline expectations.

  3. Organize existing vendors into specific categories

    Depending upon the needs of your community(ies), you may have a few select vendors or you may have many in the tens or hundreds. Organize them into categories that are most critical in your operations: type of maintenance, level of criticality, geographic location, and most preferred.

  4. Draft compliance/due diligence process

    There are many consequences of an improper/inefficient compliance policy, such as legal risks to your company, damage in reputation, and not to mention, injury to residents, staff, or contractors.  Don’t let your company make monumental mistakes.  Craft a policy (make sure it’s organized and documented) for vendor compliance, how a company will perform its due diligence, and how the policy will be communicated to existing and potential vendors.  What are the minimum requirements a vendor must have to be compliant with your policies, especially related to certificates of insurance and insurance coverage?  The policy will inform expectations set by your company, that are either negotiable by a reasonable limit, or nonnegotiable.  In the near future, it will help to save time in evaluating vendors.

  5. Invest in software to track and manage vendor information

    Software is undoubtedly a large investment for your company in terms of what it costs your company, learning curve involved, financial savings, and time savings.  Know your organization’s current scenario and needs to identify a software that is the best fit.   Conduct your own due diligence of the software applications you research.  Vendor Management software features to search for include:

    • An editable and easily manageable vendor profile record.
    • Ability to assign vendors to service requests on both a common area and owner unit-level.
    • Track insurance certificates and expiration dates.
    • Track vendor costs.
    • Easy ability to link vendors to communities or communities to vendors.
    • A way to track vendors across multiple communities, reducing duplication of information.
    • Communication methods to vendors to notify them of service jobs to be completed, especially a method to update vendors across multiple communities at once.
  6. Monitor, analyze, and revise

    Once you’ve started implementing your new vendor management process, start monitoring it.  Compare your assessment after the implementation to before (in Step 1).  Are you noticing any improvements to your key performance indicators, such as decrease in cost, reduced time in managing vendor information, faster vendor response times, more favorable vendor ratings on the list, less amount of calls from residents trying to follow-up, etc?  Take stock of the successes and shortcomings in the process and review an action plan with your team to reduce bottlenecks.

Pilera is your all-in-one community management platform for managers, board members, and residents.  Our web portal helps streamline and simplify communications, work orders, rule violations, and activity management processes. The Vendor Management platform, our newest offering, provides managers with a simplified way to organize and track vendor information and their associations to communities and work order tasks.  Learn more about Vendor Management as well as our other new features and enhancements in our latest release notes.

The post 6 Steps to Create a Vendor Management Process appeared first on Pilera Software.

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If your community management company doesn’t already have a structured vendor management process in place, it’s time to consider one. Vendor management has become a mainstream topic in the community and property management industry.   Management companies must often contact third-party contractors to resolve maintenance issues in residential units or common areas.  Significant emphasis is most commonly placed upon vendor compliance, management efficiency, and enhancing customer service to residents/owners in the community.  Need more reasons?  Read on!   

  1. Improve organization of data

    When you have a solid vendor management process in place, coupled with a software system to handle data management and retrieval, the benefit to your team is a database that lets you easily sift through and manage your contacts’ information.  Increase efficiency of staff by having one central place to add, track and manage all information.  The most vital pieces of data you can manage in a database are insurance expiration dates, which vendor is allowed within which community based on specific tasks, and which are preferred vendors versus other types of vendors.       

  2. Simplify due diligence and evaluation processes

    Due diligence is the process by which you evaluate a potential investment or service prior to signing a contract.  Creating a set of standards by which to evaluate vendors simplifies the due diligence process and eliminates those who do not meet the criteria.  Furthermore, legal complications are reduced on your end by contracting with only those vendors that are committed to compliance.   

  3. Resolve maintenance issues quickly

    As information is easily available to your team, selected vendor(s) can be contacted immediately to resolve maintenance issues that arise within the community.  Integrating software into the vendor management process mix can help ease your communications to the vendor, resident, and internal staff.    

  4. Manage costs better

    Following a vendor management process increases the likelihood that you’ll be within your HOA/COA budget as you set expectations on costs, types of maintenance required, and frequency of maintenance.

  5. Maintain a safe and clean community for residents and staff members

    By keeping trusted and meticulously vetted vendors in your circle and within quick reach, you can keep true to your promise of a clean and safe community for residents and staff.  

Think of this process you’ll create as a way to increase the bottom line, remove inefficiencies,  and allow staff to have peace of mind.  Keep in mind, that a vendor management process is only as good as the implementation of all its working components.  Take a look at the next blog post in the Vendor Management Series: “6 Steps to Create a Vendor Management Process“.  

Pilera is your all-in-one community management platform for managers, board members, and residents.  Our web portal helps streamline and simplify communications, work orders, rule violations, and activity management processes. The Vendor Management platform, our newest offering, provides managers with a simplified way to organize and track vendor information.  Learn more about Vendor Management as well as our other new features and enhancements in our latest release notes.   

The post 5 Reasons to Implement a Vendor Management Process appeared first on Pilera Software.

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