10 Tips for Field Service Businesses Working With an HOA | Part 1
Part 1 | Part 2
For a field services business that primarily services residential customers, nothing is more valuable than repeat customers. Especially when there are several months, even years, between one service and the next. Your ideal customer is someone who trusts your company and schedules services through your field service business every time they need work done. By far the best way to secure a large number of repeat residential customers is to partner with a business or organization that handles many residential property needs.
Joining a real estate association, for instance, is a great place to get started and hear about new work but one of the best connections to make is an alliance with an HOA (Home Owner's Association). HOAs are private governing bodies of individual neighborhoods. They are usually founded by the developers themselves and then membership is automatically granted to every homeowner who buys a home in the neighborhood. Each homeowner pays annual dues, is subject to certain rules about property upkeep and appearance, and a gets a vote on proposing, changing, or upholding HOA policies.
The HOA Influence
The reason HOAs are so valuable to the field services industry is the amount of influence a single organization can have over dozens of homes and homeowners. Not only can they call on a business to help them upkeep the public areas, HOAs often choose a small handful of local businesses to give as recommendations when homeowners discuss their maintenance problems or renovation plans.
HOAs also have the power to sanction homeowners for failing to keep up with their neighborhood requirements. A shabby looking house on the block can lower property value for all surrounding houses so HOAs often direct homeowners falling behind to a few businesses that guaranteeable help homeowners get back up to neighborhood standards.
This means that not only can HOAs be a great source of referrals, they also ensure that local homeowners keep up with their maintenance schedules and call in work orders on a regular basis. Naturally, you want your business card to be the one they hand out. Not to mention the convenience of job dispatching when many of your work orders come from the same neighborhood.
If you have been lucky enough to connect with an HOA and begin building a relationship, the following ten tips can help you show that you are ready and willing to be their dedicated home services provider.
1. Learn the HOA Rules by Heart
The most important thing to an HOA is that their resident members keep their homes up to the neighborhood standards. These are defined in the CC&Rs or "Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions" documentation. Over the years, voting members have agreed that these standards are necessary for the neighborhood to maintain it's stable and rising property value and they need services who can be relied on to help homeowners uphold these standards.
Whether you do landscaping, painting, plumbing, or repair work, learn at least the basics of their CC&Rs by heart so that you can guarantee that all the work you do for the neighborhood is compliant with the local standards.
2. Keep Up with Changing Policies
Once you are familiar with the current rules and have begun impressing your new prospective neighborhood worth of clients with your expertise and awareness of their community, don't forget to keep up with any changes that occur while you maintain a partnership with the HOA. While most homeowners aren't interested in making changes or voting, some HOAs have a few active members that are constantly tweaking the details of the rules.
Take the time to stay current on these rules by asking if there have been changes each time you check in. This is not only a responsible business practice for HOA pairing, it also shows that your service is genuinely invested in helping the HOA uphold their policies. Simply by caring, you may effectively endear yourself to the active and governing members of the HOA who likely make both the policy changes and the business recommendation decisions.
3. Be Available for Consultations
Because HOAs are made up of homeowners rather than specifically hired team members, they often don't have the expert knowledge they need to make important neighborhood decisions. Whether it's how to prepare for a new playground or how to address a plumbing issue cropping up in multiple neighborhood homes, there will be times when the HOA needs to call in an expert consultant. You might be surprised how many invoices can be created by providing professional inspections and consultations for the HOA ruling council.
Make your business available to be an HOA's expert consultant in your field of business. These services can be scheduled the same way you would handle a normal home inspection or, if it's a neighborhood job, you can put together a unique service just fulfill the needs of your HOA clients.
4. Diversify Your Services
Homeowners are used to looking into a different company for each time of home repair and maintenance service but an HOA will have the big picture in mind. The more field services you offer, the more of their bases they can cover by partnering your company. Some home service businesses specialize in providing 'jack of all trades' services and most have at least a few extra services that could be learned or made available for the convenience of a valuable customer. You may also get some traction arranging for convenient combination services with your team and another business that can round out your field services package for an HOA's needs.
Don't be shy about talking to interested HOAs to find out what they're looking for in a services business. You might discover that some of their needs are simple enough to provide like maintenance on the neighborhood clubhouse or pool facilities as well as individual houses. Simply by being willing to consider additional duties and diversification, you can build the respect and utility HOAs have for your business and earn dozens of additional work orders.
The number of privately owned homes inside HOAs in our country is staggering. Since the 60s, over half of all new homes are built into HOAs and lately, it's closer to 80%. This means that any field service busienss in any industry has a lot to gain from partnering and ingratiating themselves with the local HOAs, as well as the individual homeowners. Join us nex time for the second half of this article where we'll talk about HOA homeowner packages, becoming a part of the community, referrals, and more!
For more tips on how to market and grow your local business, contact us today!