Choosing the right condo communication system

Date Published : Apr-03-2020

Written By : Phillip Livingston

If you’ve been looking for a communication system for your condo, you already know that there are a lot of options to choose from. But more is not always better when you’re trying to find the best option.
The truth is, there may be more than one great communication system option for your condo association. It really depends on your building’s individual needs and preferences.  

 

Communication is the cornerstone of condo management

Communication truly is pivotal in nearly all the roles that a condo property manager is responsible for. Being able to connect with residents is important. The more comfortable they are coming to you with issues or concerns, the easier it is for you to resolve those problems. If people are reluctant to speak with you, or don’t know how to reach you, little issues quickly compound and multiply.
Poor communication is an issue than many condos struggle with. It’s not that property managers don’t care. Rather, the communication tools that property managers use simply don’t work. If your messages aren’t being heard, or you’re having trouble communicating with your community, consider using a more comprehensive communication system.

 

Things to consider

Having a plan will help you make the right choice when trying to find the best communication system for your community. You should have an understanding of what you want the system to help you achieve, who will be using it, who you need to reach, and how many people you need to reach.

 

What is the objective or goal?
Of course you want to improve communication between you and your community, and there are certain things, such as notifying residents about board meetings, that the association is required to communicate. But beyond that, what specifically would you like to do? Do you want to decrease the number of violations by making rules and regulations clearer? Do you want to be more transparent about finances? Do you want to simplify your service request process? Or do you simply want to have a system that more of your residents will use? It’s okay to have multiple goals, but it’s important to identify them before you decide on a new communication system. Not all tools are created equally, and some are more robust than others.

 

Who will be using the system to manage the condo?
Are you the only one who will be using these communication tools? Or do you expect board members to use them as well? Make sure the system allows for multiple users if you plan to work collaboratively.

 

Who will be receiving the information?  
So many condos have already upgraded their communication medium and are using email, digital display boards or websites. Unfortunately, messages still haven’t gotten anywhere. Simply switching to texts, SMS, or email is not necessarily the right answer. The best approach is to allow your residents to select how they want to be contacted. This ensures they will receive messages on the mediums or platforms that they use most often.

 

How many people do you need to reach?
If you’re managing a small community, then you may have some additional flexibility when it comes to communication. It’s going to be easier to reach 50 people than 350 people. If you need to reach hundreds of residents, email or announcements should be part of your plan.
 

Communication systems

Once you know what you need your communication system to do for you, you can make an informed decision about which tool(s) to select.

 

Email

Email is cost-effective, easy to use, and most residents will have an email address. You can send a message to your residents at any time, and they can check it from their computer or phone.
The biggest challenge with email is collecting the addresses. If you manage a large community, or multiple buildings, you might have a lot of initial grunt work to do.
Email can be tedious if you’re receiving different messages about amenity bookings, payments, service requests and visitor parking all in one account. Some messages will require an immediate response while others won’t be so urgent. You will have to come up with a system to ensure you don’t miss anything important.
If you’re sending out an important message, you should still make physical copies of the announcement and post it in the lobby or near the elevators. This is true no matter what form of digital communication you use. Not everyone is online.

 

Digital displays

Captivate your audience with elevator or lobby display screens. Residents are more likely to see important messages on these screens because they’re not busy doing something else. Older communities generally prefer this communication tool because the information is right in front of them; they don’t have to log in to anything to see your message.
Screens may require a small to medium financial investment, but they can be very effective. The biggest downside is that there is no opportunity for residents to ask follow-up questions through this communication system.   

 

Resident portals

A resident portal is an online platform designed to make condo living easier for condo communities. Both managers and residents can benefit from this platform. Platforms vary, but managers can usually send announcements through the portal and recipients can often ask to receive messages via email or text.
Residents can also use the portal to book amenities, submit and monitor service requests, add or edit personal information, and sometimes, pay rent online. They can do these things at any time, making it a convenient option.
Residents usually email the property manager or management company to request access to the password-protected portal.

 

Communication software

Condo management software can improve communication, and save associations time and money. Not only does this software offer easy-to-use communication solutions, it can assist in streamlining the service request process, simplify voting, and create more transparency when it comes to the building’s finances.
Condo Control Central has created communication features that go beyond basic announcements and emails. Management can send messages via email, text and automated voice message. Managers can store all important documents in one convenient file library, and control who has access to folders and files. They can even send out individualized condo fees through the online platform and save money on printing fees.
The software is beneficial to residents as well. They can check announcements or submit service requests directly from the Condo Control Central phone app.

 

 

The software is very secure, and can improve multiple aspects of condo living and condo management.

 

Websites

A well-designed website will keep residents engaged and make them feel like they’re part of a community. A strong website is easy to navigate and can easily become a central communication point to which other communication platforms, like newsletters or the condo’s Facebook page, can be found. Florida has even passed a law that requires all condo associations with 150 or more units to have a website that complies with specific requirements.
Websites are generally easy for all residents to navigate, and some managers even use their website as an extra marketing channel. Residents can find almost everything they need on a good website, including contact information and FAQs.
Just make sure that there is a password-protected page where residents can find more sensitive information or documents. You don’t want to give the general public access to information that could compromise your residents’ safety or privacy.   

 

Conclusion

When managing a condo, you may need two of three communication tools to create an effective communication system. For example, send out an announcement about a scheduled fire alarm test. Some residents will check their email and see that announcement, but not everyone will. So you can use a lobby display screen to share this message with residents who are walking in an out of the building. Finally, post a notification about the test on the condo’s website. By using different methods, you increase your reach and engage more residents.