It has been awhile since I have written here – mostly because I blog at www.core-acct.com/core-beliefs. There we share lots of ideas on how condominiums can successfully run regardless of what pressure the rest of the world is under.
Today I thought I would share how we are responding on behalf of our clients. Most of these items we have had in place for at least 6 months and were beginning to roll out to our clients.
- zoho meeting and webinar. The webinar approach allows us to have the board act as co-presenters and the condo owners to log in and watch the proceedings.
- Board briefing books. An e-book sent to the board about a week to 10 days in advance of the board meeting with all the information they will need to have for the agenda. This includes the financial statements, committee reports, management reports and suggested motions.
- E-Voucher system for bill payment. Some of our association still require a board officer (the treasurer) to counter-sign checks. Our e-voucher system automatically sends an email to the required board officers to review the documents and then e-sign their approval. This allows us to then either pay by ACH or check without requiring a business officer to find time to meet with us.
- Service request system. Unit owners can go online and report an issue and our system automatically logs it and starts a workflow which takes us all the way through vendor billing. This includes getting all necessary approvals from our team as well as the board.
- Our HOA Fiscal system to manage assessments and owner payments. We designed it to allocate the assessments in accordance with the CC&R’s and ensure that owner payments are easily tracked and recorded against the correct assessment.
The team tracks everything in our database. And yes, we spent a great deal of time and energy on customizing our CRM system to work this way – but it is so worth it. Our emails are automatically recorded as well, eliminating the need for any of us to CC another team member. We record phone calls and can even receive text messages. All this means that the account manager has everything at his or her fingertips they might need to know what is going on with their assigned client – which leads to more effective and timely decisions.
And we think the best part is that this is at no additional cost to our clients. By eliminating the non-value added time wasters we can leverage our time more effectively which means more work in the same amount of time per month. We win – we can work from home and reduce travel time: Clients win – they get superior service with no additional cost. They can talk to any of us and know that it will be taken care of.
In short, peace of mind for the boards. They see everything they want to see in order to make the best decision for their association and they know we are on top of everything that is going on. And all at no additional cost to their association.
If you are a service business and are still trying to meet with clients physically and sending emails to everyone in your organization to try and find a document, perhaps you need to re-evaluate your process. Consider:
- Moving away from landlines to virtual phone systems which can tie into your CRM
- Ensuring you have a project/client work management system which allows you to track the steps your team needs to take and also where you are in the process.
- Set up a record management system where the team (and maybe even clients) can upload documents so that they are in one place. Move away from unmanaged record storage on your local or even network drive. Save it to the database!
- License Zoom, Gotomeeting, zoho meeting (plug, we use zoho) or some other meeting software which allows you to set up both group meetings, classes, or on-demand one-on-one meetings. Even within your office, it is superior as you can share documents, jointly change the document, and share screens without having to get out of your chair. Efficient use of time.
- Stop sending emails. License Slack, use Teams, Yammer or the like to let people share ideas in a social way. Zoho and RingCentral (plug, our phone system) both offer means for us to share documents outside of the database as well as simply have a free exchange outside of email.
- And lots more. Everything you are currently doing that takes more than one person to do should be in some sort of workflow/document management system. Period. If you don’t want to license something industry specific, use Access and interface with Sharepoint (if you are using Microsoft 365). Anything but the constant extra work that your current process requires that slows down your ability to respond to clients and keeps you from scaling without extra costs.
Welcome to the new normal. Take the time to plan and fix one area of your business at a time and you will soon be ready for whatever the future offers you.