Believe it or not, the poor economy has presented management companies with growth opportunities. Builders have cut back and—in many cases—halted new community build-outs. And while just a few years ago homeowners were quickly selling and trading up to larger properties, today they are staying in their homes until the market gets stronger.
While this scenario appears adverse to growth, it actually has homeowners looking at their current homes and communities with a sharper eye. As they stay put, more than ever homeowners want a community that looks beautiful at a reasonable cost, and they demand excellent service. Management companies should see this as an opportunity to step in and partner with association boards in supporting homeowners and their communities.
Builders go to great lengths to develop and construct a community and create a brand or lifestyle that commands higher prices and competitive home buyers. “Community association board members should have the same vision and goal-planning skills to maximize the brand equity in their community,” said Kenneth Gal, chief executive officer of Shiny Objects Marketing. When a community manager and board are focused in this way, in the long run they can overcome adverse market conditions.
An active adult community in North San Diego recently completed a new street lighting system. The community manager knew that safe, well-lit streets as well as cost savings were priorities for residents. By aligning the community’s values with a revolutionary green street-lighting system, this manager spearheaded a major construction project that has resulted in a $20,000 savings in utilities and 66 percent reduction in energy consumption.
“This demonstrates how a management company can not only add to the value of the community, but also how it can bring neighbors together to solve problems and orchestrate improvements,” says Tim Taylor, senior vice president of Large-Scale Management at PCM.
And while it may seem that recreation is expendable, managers at our company feel otherwise. We regularly underwrite community gatherings and fundraisers as well as reach out to vendor partners to sponsor or donate to these events. For example, last year, Valley Crest Landscape, which serves the Woodbury Community Association in Irvine, Calif., donated hundreds of pumpkins to the annual Halloween Harvest.
“When residents realize that their landscaping company or pool cleaning service has helped sponsor a family-oriented event or fundraiser, it creates more value and a stronger bond between the community, the manager and the community’s service providers,” says Joely Mazzotti, general manager of Woodbury.
Actions speak louder than words when a management company can bring neighbors together to weather downturns in the real estate market, complete a major capital improvement project or stage a family-themed event. Not only is the community manager doing his or her job well, but—most important—he or she is demonstrating a commitment to a long-term partnership in creating a valuable community.
Donny Disbro, MBA, CCAM
Professional Community Management of California, Inc.