If you think communicating about the need to communicate is overkill, you’re wrong.
There’s no such thing as too much communication, especially when it comes to landscaping companies and HOAs.
HOA landscape maintenance involves a unique set of challenges, from multiple homeowners’ high expectations to communication to timing.
How do HOA property managers feel about the need for communication with their landscaping company?
We asked them.
How would they rank communication with their landscaping vendor? How about with HOA board members? Why does communication typically break down?
Here are the survey results, along with thoughts from Jenna Visco, a Level Green Landscaping branch manager who works with several HOA clients.
Let’s Start with the Survey Results
1. How would you describe overall communication at your HOA?
Poor - 0%
Ok - 11.11%
Average - 11.11%
Good - 55.56%
Great - 22.22%
2. How would you rank communication between your HOA and VENDORS?
Poor - 0%
Ok - 22.22%
Average - 11.11%
Good - 66.67%
Great - 0%
3. How would you rank communication between your HOA and MEMBERS
Poor - 0%
Ok - 0%
Average - 22.22%
Good - 55.56%
Great - 22.22%
4. What is the most common channel used for communications with HOA VENDORS?
Phone (call/text) - 11.11%
Email - 88.89%
Social Media - 0%
Other - 0%
5. What is the most common channel for communications with HOA MEMBERS?
Phone (call/text) - 0%
Email - 66.67%
Social Media - 0%
Other - 33.33%
Other responses: Mass email, Building Link
6. What is the most common reason for any breakdown in communication between your HOA and VENDORS?
- Difficulty obtaining updates
- Lack of communication
- Coordination issues (hierarchical). E.g., snow removal between account manager, site manager, etc. as it's more real time than other communications.
- When there is problem vendors sometimes don't want to deal with.
- Lack of follow up and or response
- Poor follow up
- Vendors don't follow directions or show up for jobs when they're scheduled to do so.
- Sometimes, the sheer number of emails
- Different points of view stemming from Judgmental opinions
7. What is the most common reason for any breakdown in communication between your HOA and MEMBERS?
- Multiple updates due to scheduling changes
- Keeping an updated email list
- People want what they want but are willing to lift a finger to help make it happen.
- Not reading an email sent to the community
- Communicating by phone
- Unmet expectations particularly since most residents are working from home and watch what the vendors do when on-site.
- Again, too many emails
- Different points of view stemming from judgmental opinions
Communication: “The Most Important Thing You Can Do”
Most property managers surveyed said communication is good — both between them and their landscaping company and between them and HOA members. None said communication is poor.
That’s good news, given how important it is.
“Good communication is the most important thing you can do,” Visco says. “Not only with the property manager, but with the HOA board.
“Property managers can be extremely busy,” Visco says. “They get hundreds of emails every day. Every message might not get communicated to the board in a timely manner.”
When HOA board members and residents aren’t in the communication loop, they’re understandably unhappy, Visco says.
“If an issue pops up, you don’t want someone stewing about it for five days or posting about it on their Facebook page,” she says.
It’s crucial to communicate before things go wrong.
“Proactive communication is important, especially about any improvements to the property,“ Visco says, “so they know we’re looking at the long-term health of the property and how to improve it.
“It’s their money,” she says. “It’s important for us to know if something is of high interest to them or little interest, especially when it comes to erosion or other safety issues.”
Keeping Everybody in the Loop
The best strategy at HOAs is to focus communication between the landscaping company and the HOA property manager, Visco says. Then the property manager can keep the HOA board and residents informed.
Imagine a hundred different HOA residents calling the landscaping company account manager to ask if crews can prune their shrubs, when they’ll be mowing, or if new perennials will be installed.
Every HOA community is different and has different services in their landscape maintenance contract. Some HOAs want the entire community mowed. Some just want common areas. One HOA contract might include mulch and pruning for each home,
another might not.
There’s a ton of potential for confusion.
Focusing on communication with the property manager keeps things running smoothly.
“Property managers are good about sending out messages about upcoming weed applications or pruning visits,” Visco says.
And if the landscaping account manager has a good relationship with the HOA property manager, that property manager will let them know if the board is unhappy about something, she says.
Level Green account managers communicate with HOA property managers and board members in a variety of ways:
Property Service Reports
Level Green’s digital property service reports detail exactly what services were performed when.
Were flower beds weeded? Trees pruned? Mulch delivered? Irrigation checked?
There’s no mystery — it’s all outlined for property managers, in a snap. It might include a photo, too. Crews might show property managers a hole they discovered on the property that should be filled in so nobody twists their ankle.
These instant updates keep communication flowing.
Attending HOA Board Meetings
“I encourage all our account managers to attend HOA board meetings, usually quarterly,“ Visco says. “It offers face time, and makes the relationship more personal.”
It’s a chance for account managers to field questions from board members, to give seasonal updates on work, to find out about any big events coming up, like summer picnics, block parties, or Christmas events.
Landscaping guidelines for HOAs include a lot of details. Meeting regularly in person makes sure everybody’s on the same page.
The Customer Portal
Level Green can set up an online customer portal, designed to connect an HOA or condo association property manager or board member with their Level Green account manager.
It collects all the information they need about their landscaping services in one place and gives them a bird’s eye view of what’s going on.
They know their account manager is looking at it, so they can be confident any issues will be addressed.
Multiple Points of Contact
Anybody out there get a crazy amount of emails every day? Raise your hand. Yup, everybody.
Sometimes, emails fall through the cracks.
Visco encourages account managers to contact property managers by phone or text.
“Property managers are super busy,” Visco says. “They can get 300 emails a day. They’re not going to see all of them.”
Account managers still send emails, she says, but they follow up with a super quick call or text alerting them to the email.
“That way, there are two touch points,” she says.
Communication with HOA Residents
Visco encourages HOA boards to use their websites and send email news blasts with helpful information about landscaping at their community, Visco says.
“But the overwhelming feedback we get is only about half of the communities read the email blasts,” she says.
The property managers who took our survey said email is overwhelmingly the most popular channel of communication, both with vendors and with HOA board members.
But when they listed problems with communication, some noted too many emails — or the fact that HOA residents just don’t read them.
It’s a tricky problem to navigate.
Sometimes, There’s a Free Plant!
Level Green offered Earth Day events at some HOAs in April, Visco says, encouraging members to come out, meet account managers, and take home a free herb or starter vegetable plant.
“It was a chance to see who we are, and ask any questions about their contract,” Visco says. “It’s another way to interact.”
Need HOA Landscape Maintenance? Trust Level Green
Thanks to the HOA property managers who took time to weigh in. When we know what you’re thinking, we can better meet your needs.
When we partner with an HOA, we know we don’t just have one customer — we have 150 or more.
We know you’re watching. That’s why we have measures in place to keep your HOA landscape maintenance running smoothly — and that includes multiple modes of communication.
Questions? Talk to us.
If you’re not already a Level Green Landscaping client, we’d love to add you to our growing list of happy customers. Our focus is on commercial properties like offices, mixed-use sites, HOAs, municipalities and institutions in Maryland, Washington DC and parts of Virginia.
Contact us at 202-544-0968. You can also request a free consultation online to meet with us one-on-one.
We’d love to hear from you.