Do you sense an overall lack of enthusiasm from homeowners when it comes to attending HOA meetings? Trust me, you’re not alone. This general emptiness when it comes to running a community can be frustrating and unfortunate. But as you already know, one of the most important roles of a board member is working with your homeowners.
Aside from keeping your community running smoothly, getting your homeowners involved and invested in their own HOA projects and ongoing participation is extremely important. There are always going to be opportunities for improvement, and you can’t meet every individual’s personal needs, but you can ensure the majority of homeowners are happy and confident in the direction their community and board is going. One major way to be able to accomplish this is to maximize participation from homeowners.
Whether you’re looking at making big changes within your community, hosting town hall meetings, or running effective general monthly HOA meetings, getting your homeowners to attend would make everything run more smoothly. Of course, you see homeowners come out of the woodwork when there is something they’re not happy about. But, planning and executing a meeting that homeowners actually want to attend? It may sound like a novel idea, but it’s possible, and we are going to give you some tips that can help to improve the attendance and participation of homeowners. These may seem like obvious ideas, but try considering them in a way you haven’t before, and be creative.
- First and foremost, refreshments. It’s not so much that you’re bribing your homeowners to attend. Offering a snack and drink can be a way to make the atmosphere a little more fun and inviting. Try making lemonade, providing some finger foods, or even baking homemade treats. Some homeowners will come mainly for the free snacks, but that’s okay! Getting them there is a good first step. This is a fun, easy, and inexpensive way to make an otherwise boring meeting a little more fun and personal.
- Next, spice up the agenda! Of course, this is essentially a business meeting, but try to make the agenda as interesting as possible and get it to your homeowners ahead of time so they know what to expect. Make your meetings as interesting as possible by identifying hot topics or community changes that will be appealing to your attendees. Choose a layout that is clean, easy to follow, and professional. Do your best to make this otherwise stuffy meeting feel a little less meeting-like and more like an opportunity for community members to get together, socialize, and accomplish the necessary business all at the same time!
- Keep the meetings short and to the point. We all have busy lives, and attending one more meeting may not be high on our priority list, but if you want people to attend the meetings, they need to be short. If you send an invitation to attend a business meeting from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., no one is going to want to go. Most homeowners work full-time, generally 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Be aware of others’ time, and do your best to maximize the time you do have. Get down to business by following these four simple suggestions:
- Start on time! Be sensitive to the fact that everyone values their time and you do, too. By starting on time, homeowners get the sense that you respect them and are aware of their willingness to participate. Starting a meeting late, on the other hand, can be frustrating for individuals who have made accommodations to attend and get involved.
- Limit meetings to two hours – MAX. Keeping your meetings to less than two hours is much more manageable for most people, and you’re more likely to get someone to come back if they feel like you used the time more efficiently.
- Stay on topic. Instead of having a particular homeowner (or board member) take over the entire discussion, stick to the topics on the agenda. Do your best to move the meeting along with comments, questions, or suggestions being limited. If someone is interested in discussing a topic at great lengths, invite them to stay afterwards for a one-on-one conversation rather than delaying everyone else.
- Consider splitting meetings. If you have an extensive agenda of items to discuss, consider breaking it up into more than one meeting. Focus on items that are higher priority and discuss those one night while saving the other, less pressing issues for a meeting at a later date. Plus, no one likes the information overload scenario. Relevant information delivered in a timely manner is much easier to process than unorganized, packed agenda items.
- Finally, give your homeowners advanced notice. People like to plan and schedule things in advance to be able to make accommodations for activities or events. If you don’t provide adequate notice, your community members may not be able to squeeze in one more thing. With that in mind, give early and frequent reminders to your homeowners about an upcoming meeting. You may even consider placing a sign near the mailboxes or at your community entrance as a reminder. Increasing the visibility and frequency of reminders may be a great way to get more people involved. But, be sensitive to the fact that not everyone may have time to go. In our experience, people often forget or lose track of time when it comes to attending HOA meetings. Send out a notice at least two weeks in advance to improve your chances of getting more community members to participate.
No one likes to attend long and boring meetings. By incorporating these suggestions, homeowners will feel a greater desire to attend, and your meetings will feel a little more inclusive. Don’t forget to get creative and make these meetings more fun and inviting. Get your homeowners involved by taking ownership of the difficult decisions that your community needs to make or, at least, provide them with an opportunity to connect with other residents and board members.
To learn about more ways you can help your community check out our board member training courses and be sure to check out our blog for fresh content every month.