By Daniel Brannigan, CEO Insights
Association websites can be a tremendously valuable portal for management companies that want to provide 24-hour communication with owners. A strong association website allows management to communicate with association residents, prospective buyers, service providers, employees, media and the public. An effective website can disseminate important information to each group in one complete package that can be updated as necessary.
“Websites allow management companies and associations to be accessible on the resident’s timeframe. So often, people in communities are volunteers so they tend to do things ‘off hours,’” says Susan Sanders, Vice President of AtHomeNet, an Internet development and hosting company.
Many management company and association websites list community descriptions, contact information, and some might even have community documents posted, but Sanders says most aren’t taking advantage of the available technology.
“Management companies and associations need to use technology to their advantage. Automate as many tasks as possible; only use human resources where they can truly have an impact,” says Sanders.
Including services such as online payments, amenity reservations, and even a frequently asked questions section can significantly increase management efficiency. Every question answered or service available to residents on a website is one less task that a manager needs to address.
Drew Regitz, president and co-founder of AssociationVoice, also an Internet development and hosting company, explains that websites need to have useful and useable information.
“It’s not necessarily if you build it they will come. It’s not the ‘Field of Dreams,’ so to speak,” says Regitz. “You’ve got one chance to make an impact with your site. First impressions count. If you don’t have useful and usable information, they won’t return.”
Some of that useful and useable information includes a calendar of events, an online survey, a chat room for residents, an intranet component—so employees and associations can communicate and share on their own site—and vendor portals where request-for-proposals can be posted and vendors can respond directly.
Several service providers specialize in creating and maintaining websites specifically for community associations or management companies. Cost typically depends on the size of the site and the features involved.
Some services even help place your site high in search engines queries. However, once you get visitors there, you’ll want the features to keep them coming back.
Daniel Brannigan is editor of CEO Insights.