One of the more common complaints in condo buildings is lack of communication. This complaint comes from the very people who fund the condo corporation and should be made more aware of what is happening in their own home. It comes up at Annual General Meetings and other owner gatherings.
Many condo corporations do a poor job of communicating with condo owners. Implications of this vary but can include removal of competent directors and unnecessary conflict.
Ironically, many of these same condo buildings have the ability to communicate more effectively with minimal effort by making better use of their website. What they may fail to do is establish a communication committee to manage communications.
The single biggest problem with websites and condo management systems is lack of content. Put differently, nobody bothers to put useful information on these platforms consistent with what condo owners and residents desire. An empowered communication committee can address this deficit of information.
Establishing a communication committee requires bringing together residents willing to volunteer their time to prepare communications for their fellow owners. This may be a newsletter, postings throughout the building or electronic communications utilizing the corporation’s existing communication systems. Properly maintained communication systems should be able to reach residents throughout the building using paper and elevator notices. Electronic communications, preferred by many, include e-mail, text, website and even automated phone calls. Measurement systems allow for understanding which communication methods are most effective.
The best communication committee members have some public relations or marketing experience. Technology experience allows them to prepare and distribute communications using the building’s communication infrastructure.
Communication Faux Pas
- When sending e-mail take care to avoid disclosing recipient contact information by utilizing the bcc option. Provide a mechanism for owners to unsubscribe from e-mail communications if they so desire.
- Don’t rely on a resident to develop a website or communication system. Should they become unavailable or inaccessible the system will be likewise unavailable. It is best to utilize a system understood and accessible to numerous individuals.
- Never assume that residents will proactively go to a website to access posted information. People require reminders when pertinent information is available and relevant. It is best for information to be sent directly to residents while also posting online for access at a later date.
Online Communication Best Practices
- Post information online regularly. Infrequently accessed websites and communication systems tend to be the consequence of too little content. When useful information is posted on a regular basis residents will get into the habit of regularly checking the site.
- Make the website or management system the central repository for all corporation information. Post all governing documents inclusive of declaration, by-laws and rules. Provide financial records inclusive of budgets and audited financial statements. Have service requests come through the site for prompt action and response. Allow for amenity bookings and visitor parking registrations.
Communication is the glue that maintains a cohesive and stable condo community. It is a continuous process integral to keeping people satisfied.