There are 5 key communication tools that you should be using if you’re a condo board director or property manager. Good communication simply makes common and economical sense, and yet poor communication is consistently one of the top complaints at condo AGMs, with many a resident demanding more info about what is going on, when it’s happening, where it’s occurring and most importantly, how much it will cost.
Here are 5 communication tools to get you started:
Digital screen and/or cork bulletin board
Digital screens are all the rage when it comes to condo communication tools. They provide key flexibility, reach and allow you to post all your messages in rotation (including dayparting – the ability to post different notices in the morning and evening), but even if you only have a cork bulletin board (or as my pal Murray puts it, “cork media”), don’t despair.
The major key to either digital or cork is that the notice board provides one thing that no other tool provides – a captive audience. This means that your viewers will see your notice because they aren’t busy doing something else. They are likely standing in the elevator, avoiding the gaze and conversation of their elevator mates, by looking at the screen (or bulletin board). The key is to make proper use of the notice board and that means more than one solitary message day in and day out. It’s the one time and place where you have undivided attention… make the most of it!o What you post is critical to capturing their attention, but more on that later.
Many condo board directors love the idea of a condo newsletter as a communications tool but balk at the time commitment. Here’s the thing: people like to read newsletters! It’s a great way to get information in front of your key audience, and the best newsletters are written in bite-size chunks of info that keeps readers engaged. Part of my job on the CCI-Toronto Communications Committee is to review for Newsletter of the Year and I can tell you that the best samples have a great mix of fun, community, updates, along with the odd rule or two that educate residents while keeping it light and easy-to-read. If you can’t commit the time, hire someone to do it for you – it’s worth the expense. Even better is an online version so that you can curate content from the web, re-purpose it for later use, and track click (open) rates of various articles, which provides insight to what your audience responds to.
Lots of property management software companies provide a mix of these 3 basic modern communication tools. They are critical to modern communication but in the condo industry their usage needs to be carefully considered. Your audience demographic will play a huge part in how successful you are with these tools, and not always in the way that you might think. A younger demographic for example, could be far less likely to open an email attachment than an older one, so you may be better off embedding images for your millennial residents. It’s important to know your audience before implementing any tools!
This one may seem obvious and as a communication tool it is rather multi-faceted. It all boils down to your communication goals and no doubt your condo’s website should be a component to your communication strategy. However, many condos consider their websites to be the place where people will go online to hang out or book amenities. While this may be true, as a communication tool it should also be viewed as a storage resource. Any and all documentation that is pertinent to your condo’s communications should be here for residents to reference.
The condo industry is oddly averse to social media as a communication tool, even though building community is often a key goal for condo directors. While Facebook may not be the best venue to encourage online discussion, LinkedIn and Twitter can both be great tools. A recent survey of an ACMO luncheon audience indicated that just one of approximately two hundred properties represented make use of Twitter. Yet Twitter is the go-to resource for all “quick” information. I expect to see this take off, especially when the audience myths get busted.
This communication tool, is good, old-fashioned, from-the-trenches property management, but it’s worth noting. Regardless of all the tangible tools we use, face-to-face communication still ranks as one of the top ways to communicate with condo residents. But have you included it in your overall communication strategy? Are you proactive with face-to-face or is it reactive, or incidental? Face-to-face communication is a very powerful tool indeed, but it’s critical to get it right. Proper name pronunciation, body language, facial expressions; there is a lot to consider so as part of your communication strategy, there should be processes in place for this, too!