Apply these three tips and improve your ability to keep an HOA board happy with your company.
Your landscape maintenance company has many types of clients: residential, commercial and maybe even municipalities. All of these have their own list of demands, and there’s one group in particular that can pose a challenge – the homeowners association. Why?
When your client is a HOA, you primarily interact with the president. The president speaks for the board. The board, in turn, represents the entire community. Often, there is a management company that gives guidance to the board. That’s a lot of people to please. Here are three suggestions to help you do so.
1. Empathize: Put yourself in the president’s place. As a business owner, you should be able to empathize. You answer to your clients, and often you must answer for your employees. They answer to their neighbors, resolve disputes, handle budgets, communicate with contractors and get paid nothing. Remembering that motivates you to make the load lighter.
2. Communicate: Be proactive in communicating with the board and management company. Why is this so important? Imagine your crew normally mows a large common area every Tuesday. However, this week, the crew leader notices the area is unusually wet. He decides to skip mowing and focus on other areas. Email or call the president and let them know, even if you are sure they will not mind. Remember, you work for the entire community. If one homeowner notices the change and takes issue with it, they will go to the board president. If the president is already aware, they can diffuse the issue, maintain their respect in the neighborhood and keep your company popular in the community.
3. Don’t make enemies: Seems obvious, right? Again, HOA communities can pose a special challenge. Individual homeowners should address concerns with the landscaping to the board. Not all of them will, though. Some will speak to your crew or call you directly. It may be tempting to brush them off, but that would be a mistake.
Don’t give them a reason to approach the board or start complaining to their neighbors about the landscapers.
HOA boards can be great to work with, and the large contracts they manage are desirable. Apply the three tips above, and improve your ability to keep them happy with your company.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This was written by Ben Bowen, who is the landscape manager for Ross NW Watergardens (rossnwwatergardens.com) in Portland, Oregon. Bowen’s a third generation landscaper and has been working with his father, the owner, since 2003.