The Top 10 Ingredients of a HIGHLY Successful Community Association Board Meeting
By Salvatore Sciacca, Chicago Property Services
So you serve on the board of directors of a condo, townhome or community association? Or perhaps you are a homeowner at a condo association? You probably have a full time job and perhaps are married and have a family. If not, you probably have some hobbies or have season tickets to the Cubs games. Right? Well then the last thing you are probably thinking about is heading over to the board meeting next Monday. I would know. I used to own a condo AND I served on the board as the Secretary. And I will admit that I reluctantly fulfilled my duties.
Well now that I am on the management side, I have come to realize the utmost importance of having a HIGHLY effective board meeting. In fact, the board meeting is the most important event that takes place within the association, second only to the annual meeting since that is where the key decision makers (otherwise known as the board members) are elected by the homeowners. This is where “the rubber hits the road,” where the tough decisions are made, assessments are increased, special assessments are passed and even where fists go flying when tempers flare in certain circumstances.
So what are the elements of a highly successful board meeting?
- Set your monthly meeting schedule well in advance (1 YEAR in advance). Board meetings should be planned well in advance. Ideally, the board Secretary should take the lead and plan the meeting calendar with the President and management for the entire fiscal year, one year in advance.
- Commence the board meeting process (45 days in advance). Start the board meeting process about 45 days in advance. Get the wheels in motion. Ensure bids are coming in on time. Don’t ask for bids the day before a board meeting. Start checking the action list and the items that need a board vote. Do as much as you can to avoid last minute scrambling.
- Finalize agenda (about 2 weeks in advance). The manager and the board president should start to finalize the agenda of the board meeting at this time. There should be clarity on what issues will be voted on before the board meeting takes place.
- Announcements/Notices (30 days/2 weeks/1 day). People forget meetings. Everyone seems to have so much on their plate. So the more communication in advance, the better. Post paper notices and supplement with electronic notices. Paper notices should be posted at least 1 week in advance preferably.
- Get homeowner input/feedback (about 2 weeks in advance). The more engaged the homeowners are, the better the community will operate and thrive. So if you are struggling with homeowner attendance at board meeting, ask them for their input ahead of the board meetings via a survey. Then take the information, compile it and add it to the management report.
- Management report (sent out about 7 days in advance). This is a very important element of an effective meeting. The management report contents will vary dramatically depending on the association and management company. Typically, it might include some financial summaries, a report of items addressed and resolved, a report of open action items that need discussion and approvals, upcoming events, a working 5-year capital plan, and a summary of “in force” contracts. This report will help prepare the board members for an effective well flowing meeting.
- Reminder about proper board meeting etiquette (send along with electronic reminder). This is a way to educate new homeowners and a way to remind people that board meetings are first and foremost a forum for board members to conduct business and make decisions. It is not a 1-hour open session and/or bitch session.
- Roberts Rules of Order (during board meeting). This is a typical way of how associations conduct business, how to call a meeting to order and how to vote and approve contracts. It is certainly not mandatory but it seems to be prevalent within the community association industry.
- Keep on track (during board meeting). Make sure someone is the agenda captain and make sure they are empowered to keep the meeting on track. It is easy for board meetings to get sidetracked for an hour while reminiscing about the roof deck party that is still the talk of the community 3 years later.
- Follow up/action items (within 24 to 48 hours post board meeting). It is essential for the manager to follow up on the board meeting action items soon after the board meeting or even better have a laptop right at the board meeting and update a system with the decisions in real time. This would be the ideal best case scenario so as much follow up as possible is taking place right during the board meeting.
Experience the Benefits
Highly effective board meetings help make communities better. Better meetings mean more action is taking place, more improvements are happening and people feel like their assessments are actually well spent. Take some time going forward and make sure your board meetings are highly effective and you will experience the benefits of doing so. And what are the benefits you might ask? Well after attending a board meeting, you can go home, open up a can of cold beer, and comfortably watch a DVR recorded game of the CUBS winning yet another game in 2016 knowing you just knocked the ball out of the park during your associations’ board meeting.
About the Author
Salvatore J. Sciacca aka “Condoboss” is one of the nation’s leading experts in the community property management industry and is also recognized for his stress relieving blogs and insight on personal and organizational transformation. He is also the President and Founder of Chicago Property Services, Chicago’s #1 community property management company specializing in management and operations of condos/townhomes/HOA’s of 100 units and under. Salvatore is also the founder of managmycommunity.com (MMC), which is a state-of-the-art online support portal for community associations.
With over 20 years of industry experience, Salvatore is recognized for his extensive knowledge of capital planning, preventative maintenance, cost-saving measures and community building techniques. He holds industry stature as a Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA), the designation of Association Management Specialist (AMS) and is fully licensed as a manager (License #: 261.001386) through the State of IL.
Salvatore has also traveled extensively around the world and has meditated with Buddhist monks in Nepal and met the world’s happiest man, Matthieu Ricard. He’s passions include cooking, traveling, meditating and hiking. He is also the founder and executive director of the Chicagoland Italian American Professionals organization.
Salvatore can be reached at: 312.455.0107 x102 or at email@example.com.