As the summer season approaches, homeowners associations (HOAs) and community associations need to start thinking about preparing their amenities for use by residents. From maintaining pools and tennis courts to organizing community events and budgeting for emergency repairs, many tasks must be completed before the HOA summer season begins.
Your community budget should be completed by now, but budgets are educated guesses, not guaranteed costs. The HOA summer season is a great time to review the health of your financial situation and see how your anticipated expenses have stacked up with actual spending. Check your budget to ensure that you are on track for summer expenses such as:
Additionally, ensure that any long-term or major repair preparation is budgeted correctly. The summer season kicks off some major natural disasters for many (we’re looking at you and hurricane season, Florida), so it can also mean some major repairs or updates like:
And don’t forget for community events such as block parties or pool opening celebrations!
Once those decisions are made, you'll want to ensure your vendors are ready for their responsibilities and deadlines. Start by reviewing existing vendor contracts to ensure all needs are met. Summer months typically mean droughts and less grass growth, for example, meaning a shift in landscaping responsibilities should be taking place – whether that’s fewer mows per month, or some growth enhancement to keep lawns lush, your contract should accommodate for those needs or should be modified to do so.
Review all your current contracts, and begin sourcing new vendors for additional, short-term needs.
The HOA summer months are a time for fun but can also be a time of increased risk. Your community should already have an emergency preparedness or business continuity plan. Taking time before the HOA summer activities begin to review and update that plan will save you time and energy.
If you don’t have a plan at all, make one. It should include information including (but in no way limited to):
When reviewing your plan, be sure to make essential updates such as:
Making your residents aware of the activities and changes planned for the HOA summer months is a great way to generate greater community and homeowner engagement. There are a few ways to go about this, such as:
There are many things to consider when preparing your HOA for summer–and remember, there is plenty more you can do on top of everything here. If your community faces an uphill battle tackling these summer preparation tasks, consider bringing in a little help.
HireSmart Virtual Employees are fully equipped to tackle every item on this list. Whether you need assistance managing your maintenance and repairs calendar, reviewing and making changes to your community budget, or juggling all of the above tasks and then some, HSVE has a community association management VE for you. Find the virtual assistant that’s right for you with a free 30-min consultation
The dreaded tax season is upon us once again. As with any business, management companies need to ensure their tax filings are in order. The 2023 deadline to file is April 18th, so there are still a few months to manage your management company’s tax return prep. Here are a few things to remember:
Every year, businesses (and individuals alike, honestly) struggle to submit their tax returns on time. It’s a daunting, cumbersome task, and time can get away from all of us when important deadlines loom overhead.
Knowing application deadlines for all your various forms is an excellent step in tax preparation. Because the 2022 Tax Season officially began on January 23, 2023, businesses can now submit completed tax returns, but not all are prepared to do that.
If you’re not ready, the best first step in your management company’s tax preparation should be to apply for an extension as soon as possible. Businesses can use this extension to file taxes for the company beyond the original deadline of April 18, 2023. Getting in as quickly as possible means one less task on your checklist to worry you’ll forget about.
Once you sort that out, you can build the rest of your calendar. Remember to include the following dates at a minimum:
Management company tax documentation can be complicated because your business works with many other businesses. Keeping track of all of those files is, fortunately, less of a hassle in this digital age we’re in, but still not an easy task.
You’ll likely need to go through multiple technology platforms to get the paperwork the IRS requires and find a convenient way to allocate it all in one place. While time-consuming, it isn’t impossible, and hopefully, digital copies mean fewer chances of misplaced receipts or coffee-stained invoices.
A good approach to this hurdle is to start by segmenting the types of documents and paperwork you’ll need to get together to file correctly. Here are a few to add to your list, but remember to check with an accountant for any forms we may have missed:
The list of documents you need to prepare for vendors can get lengthy depending on the kind of vendors you utilize and how much you’ve paid them. This list can include, but is not limited to:
What this whole list really amounts to is a lot of paperwork. Paperwork to file, paperwork to send out, paperwork to take in – it’s a lot. And it’s something your HireSmart Virtual Employee can easily handle on your behalf.
Now to be clear, a traditional Virtual Assistant shouldn’t be used to replace an accountant. This is important stuff, and the actual filing and final accuracy checks should all be done in-house by trained staff or an accountant. But having your Virtual Employee (VE) aggregate all of your documents, set your schedules, assist with tedious tasks, and essentially manage your time can make your 2022 Tax Season run much more smoothly.
When you’re ready to take care of your business tax return, a HireSmart Virtual Employee is just a click away. Contact us today for your free 30-minute consultation to see if a VE is the right choice for you.
Virtual employees add diversity of experience and perspective to your team.
Many business owners hire consultants, coaches, advisors to help them see things in a different way, to get a different perspective from a trusted source.
It’s especially common in real estate and commission sales-type businesses where outreach and messaging are critical to success.
There is value in bringing in not only an extra pair of eyes but an objective outsider point of view that isn’t bogged down by too many details.
The outsider holds a valuable perspective simply by being an outsider.
When you’re so caught up in your business, knowing all the problems, all the details – you might be missing the forest for the trees.
Consultants and coaches and advisors are usually pretty expensive – especially the ones with good reputations.
So, you might not be ready to pay for that kind of outside analysis and support.
There’s another way to get a fresh take on your business from people who are already on your payroll and care about your success.
Yes, I’m talking about your employees and in this case specifically HireSmart Virtual Employees.
Virtual employees have an outsider perspective that can be valuable if they’re encouraged to express their ideas and insights.
They’re an excellent way to diversify your team.
Diversity is a term that gets thrown around a lot.
Where I’m coming from, it’s not about showing that you have a diverse staff, so people think you have enlightened business ethics.
Diversity is valuable in business because fresh ideas, new ways of understanding, and creative approaches are born from being able to see things in different ways.
When your staff is diverse, you can benefit from a diversity of experience, cultural values, styles of education – even different ways of thinking.
HireSmart Virtual Employees are known for their high quality and low labor cost value.
They also have value because they bring their own unique cultural approach to business, work and life.
If you’re interested in taking advantage of highly skilled, dependable and motivated virtual employees who can also see your business from a fresh perspective, click here for a free consultation.
Disaster preparedness is a crucial component of success for all businesses, including community associations and their management companies. From mundane scenarios like planned water shut offs or unexpected loss of power to natural disasters like coastal hurricanes and midwestern earthquakes, it’s important to plan ahead.
But that planning and the interim preparation that should come with it (consistent training and plan updates) can be a huge time commitment – for your boards and your managers. Finding the time to schedule plan reviews, training modules, and document maintenance is tedious. Virtual Employees (VEs) can be a big help to you before, during, and after disasters.
A Virtual Employee (VE), or virtual assistant is a great asset when it comes to organization and maintenance. So, it makes sense that for a long-term project like a business continuity plan, a virtual employee is an ideal solution. VEs can help with planning by:
You know how your board members can be – many are in their golden years, galivanting off on trip after trip. Sure, they get together occasionally for the required board meetings, but even those can be held remotely now. Scheduling between multiple concurrent vacations can be dicey, and when your team is spread across the country (or worldwide!), it can be challenging to find time for extra meetings.
Still, maintaining a disaster plan is an important step for the company's overall safety. A VE can create a schedule that outlines when each community’s disaster plan will be reviewed and updated and ensure that all board members are made aware of the schedule once it’s finalized. That way, your boards can either plan ahead and schedule travel time around those meetings or work with the VE to negotiate a new meeting time.
Having a plan is important, but so is maintaining that plan safely and consistently. A VE can attend each of the scheduled review meetings that the plan to help facilitate any changes that need to be made and streamline the document maintenance process.
They can also be tasked with ensuring the documentation is accessible by all necessary parties – that’s not just board members. Any sort of information that residents might need can easily be generated by a VE:
Ensuring that someone has eyes on this information and is diligently keeping it as updated as possible is the best way to guarantee accurate information and assistance is available when an emergency occurs.
Virtual Employees or virtual assistants are often very efficient at helping you plan ahead so that any disruption to your business as a result of a natural disaster will be minimal.
This starts in the planning and preparation phase. Not only can a VE maintain business continuity documents, but they can also help create some of them. For example, a VE can create checklists of assigned duties that each board member needs to handle in the event of certain emergencies.
This can be as simple as making phone calls to residents reminding them of scheduled maintenance that could impact their electricity or water, or as complex as coordinating with local energy providers due to dangerous downed power lines. Whatever the task lists look like, knowing which person is responsible for what tasks will be critical in keeping the community calm and progress moving when a disaster happens.
Also, because they are remote employees, VEs likely won’t be impacted by localized crises like natural disasters, making them ideal to assist in ways those in the thick of it cannot. When a community is forced to evacuate due to flash floods, a VE can be available and ready to field phone calls and emails from scared residents, removing that burden from equally frightened board members.
Being prepared for a disaster is vital to any business. It's also something that can sometimes seem overwhelming, especially if you're just starting out on a board and have never had to deal with emergencies before.
But VEs aren’t just great for your board members’ disaster prep planning – a VE can help management companies in the same ways. That's why we suggest using virtual employees for ALL your disaster preparedness plans, whether they’re for your communities or for your management company.
A virtual employee is there to keep everything running smoothly during an emergency event – for everyone. Click here to schedule your 30-minute consultation today to learn more about how a HireSmart Virtual Employee can streamline your next disaster prep meeting.
An HOA capital expense (CapEx) project can be stressful. It’s a big undertaking, and you must make sure that your community association is organized and on schedule. If you don’t have time or the resources to do this yourself, hiring a virtual employee (VE) can save your community association time and money by helping with a capital project.
Project managers are in high demand for a good reason – doing the work is hard enough without having to PLAN the work you’re trying to do! A HireSmart VE is the perfect asset to help manage your community’s capital project from the sidelines.
Now hiring someone to manage your capital project might feel like you’re adding costs to an already expensive process, but it can help to save you money in other ways. For example, a VE can work without distraction from any other projects which might be going on in your community association right now. This means they're more likely to finish the job quickly, saving time and money long-term.
VEs can tackle just about every component of a major capital project, from research and record maintenance and management, liaising between the board, the vendors, and the community, and handling important timelines to ensure progress and timely project completion.
A HireSmart VE is the ideal person to handle research for your CapEx project. They can find out all the information you need about a project to make an informed decision, such as:
When it comes to keeping records, a virtual employee can help you stay on top of the details. Your VE will help keep track of important information related to capital projects. This includes:
A key component of project management is effective communication. When it comes to communicating capital project details, your virtual employee can be an invaluable asset.
VEs can act as a liaison between your community association board members for any project components that require their approval, such as changes or delays in construction schedules or new vendors. They can also provide regular status updates on project progress to ensure everyone is always up to speed, eliminating time-consuming games of “telephone.”
Your VE can also handle community-wide communications about the project’s progress. Updates about parking structure clearances, road closures, lighting or electrical updates, or any other information that might impact their daily routine, can all be handled by a Virtual Employee. Emails, phone calls, SMS texts, or bulletin board notices can all be handled by a HireSmart VE.
As a collective board of people, managing relationships between multiple points of contact can get … dicey. Your virtual employee can manage all contractor communications so that they only have one point of contact if or when issues arise during production or installation processes — saving everyone involved time by reducing communication overhead associated with multiple people needing access simultaneously (i.e., notifying multiple parties).
This makes tasks like scheduling and meeting management significantly less difficult. With only one person managing the board’s calendar, there are fewer chances for meetings, installations, or vendors to be double-booked by accident.
Ready to kick off your community’s next big project? HireSmart Virtual Employees are custom trained to handle whatever workload you need and can make CapEx project management seamless for you and your board. Contact us today for your free 30-minute consultation to see if a VE is the right choice for you.
For a manager, setting performance goals is the tool of alchemy – turning regular employee productivity into solid gold.
I’ve written a lot about Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in the past and how they’re a powerful tool for setting up virtual employee success.
They allow you, as a manager, to identify the indicators that are most valuable to you and to your business.
When you communicate those indicators to your virtual employee and make sure they’re being met, you secure the value of your labor dollars.
Really, if there’s only one management strategy you use, it should be KPI.
But even when you set and manage KPIs, there’s another step to elevate your virtual employee into higher achievement levels – setting performance goals.
According to the McKinsey organization blog, setting performance goals directly benefits the employee –
“Encouraging employees to set performance goals helps push performance and serves as a motivator for ongoing development.”
And also benefits the business –
“Goal-setting can help improve employee engagement in a way which elevates performance and benefits organizations overall.”
Not every employee will want to set high reaching goals – they may not have the time or energy to invest more of themselves in their jobs.
That’s fine, they can continue to meet their performance indicators and stay in that lane of steady, solid performance.
But, maybe you have a virtual employee (VE) who seems excited by the opportunity to learn new skills, take on additional responsibility and improve her position by helping to grow your business?
This person has the potential for solid gold employee performance using the alchemical power of setting goals.
Harvard Business Review offers four helpful approaches to setting goals that supercharge employee performance:
Now, Harvard is fancy and all that, but we’ve helped our clients improve virtual employee performance through goal setting for years.
If you’re looking for a staffing company that knows how to maximize productivity from virtual employees, click here for a free consultation.
As the end of the year draws closer, management companies are faced with less and less time to plan for “the future.” It’s around the corner, creeping up quicker than any of us are prepared for, and it signals a time for a lot of additional tasks – write-offs, annual reports, and annual budgets for each community, not to mention for the management company, are all coming up due. These are all important, but the biggest task might be planning out the calendar for the coming year.
Now we know that community association managers are the unsung heroes of communities. They're behind the scenes, working hard to keep everything running smoothly and efficiently for each community they serve. So, it can be difficult and time-consuming to manage multiple priorities while still paying close attention to detail. Having an accurate calendar of events is crucial and with help from a Virtual Employee (VE), your community managers can focus less on scheduling and tedious meeting management tasks, and more on the rest of the communities’ needs.
A Man(ager) with a Plan
Whether you manage one community or fifty, scheduling conflicts are just a fact of life. As a community association management company, your managers are expected to attend many different types of meetings.
Nearly all associations have regular monthly board or committee meetings. That’s at least the full board, anywhere from 3 - 7 people or more, plus the additional faces on any committee (like architectural committees), which means there are a lot of schedules to consider when finding a time and day of the week that works for everyone required to attend.
Associations also have special annual or semi-annual events such as the Annual General Meeting (AGM) where members vote on important issues like electing a new board member and setting the budget for next year.
All those meetings should be scheduled relatively far in advance so you can give the legally required notice to community members. With each community needing their manager’s attendance, the number of potential scheduling conflicts starts to snowball out of control.
By introducing a HireSmart Virtual Employee, management companies can redirect the experienced focus of their community managers onto more specialized tasks without losing any traction on time management needs. A VE can easily work with all parties necessary for each
meeting to determine the best date and time each type of meeting should take place and plan out your managers’ annual schedules in advance.
In Case of Emergency, Call Your Virtual Employee
In addition to regularly scheduled events, there are always emergency situations that require immediate action by your association's governing body. If there is an emergency (like a burst pipe flooding one of your buildings or a broken elevator), it is likely that another meeting will need to be called relatively quickly, and management involvement is much preferred so that everyone can discuss what should be done about this issue. Instead of a manager taking time out of their day to handle that emergency meeting planning a VE can be available to respond to the board and quickly find the best time for their manager to attend.
Let Someone Else Handle the Paperwork
For a community association manager, it might be tough to manage the day-to-day responsibilities and plan for an upcoming AGM or committee meeting. But don’t worry! There are plenty of things that a VE can do to help prepare the board for these important events.
For example, a VE can:
● Plan the agendas.
This can be useful not only for big meetings like the AGM, but plenty of others as well, to help the new board meetings acclimate. This ensures that items are prioritized in a way that makes sense, so they don't waste time or forget important items.
● Help with deliverables.
Important takeaways, such as meeting minutes and financial statements, are important to the success of any board meeting. Having a VE handle that responsibility ensures the documents get done in time and accurately reflect what happened at each meeting.
Having this content readily available for every meeting is just another way these meetings take up less effort for community managers and streamline other tasks in the process.
HireSmart Virtual Employees aims to simplify the way management companies, and community association managers handle their day-to-day. From time management to efficient preparedness, Virtual Employees hired through HSVE can make a massive difference, especially during year-end. If you’re ready to find a Virtual Employee to add to your team, click here to schedule your initial HSVE consultation
Maybe you’re familiar with virtual employees, and maybe you’re not. Whatever your situation, here’s something to consider.
A virtual employee is the right fit for any job that requires a computer with reliable internet and a phone.
I’ve used virtual attorneys, accountants, financial advisors, technical assistants, customer service representatives, and graphic designers, I’ve even had remote consultations with doctors.
I’ll bet you’ve done the same.
When you have a job that needs doing, there are two things that really matter – price and quality.
Unless you like to regularly get coffee with your bookkeeper, do you really care whether they live in the next town over, or across a continent or two?
And that bookkeeper that lives in the next town over, let’s look at her average hourly pay in the US. According to Indeed, for 2022 it’s $21/hour.
Please keep that number in mind while I digress with the following example.
You’re shopping for shoes, and the salesperson puts two pairs down in front of you. They look identical, you try them on, and they feel identical.
The materials are the same, the craftsmanship is the same, the return policy, the box they come in, everything is the same except for one quite important detail – the price.
One of these pairs of shoes costs $100, and the other pair costs $50.
Your first instinct tells you something must not be quite right; something is too good to be true. That’s what I’d be thinking right along with you.
You try them on anyway, each pair, first the expensive ones and then the cheaper ones.
All your five senses tell your brain that they are actually the same even though one costs half as much as the other. But your brain resists the truth because we know that price usually indicates quality.
Except sometimes it doesn’t.
Let’s return to our $21/hour bookkeeper. At HireSmart Virtual Employees, we will find you a bookkeeper for $10, maybe $12/hour. That’s half the cost.
Will that same bookkeeper do data entry for you? Yes. Will she fill in on customer service when necessary? Absolutely. Will she set up meetings with clients for you? Of course.
Will you pay benefits on top of wages? No. Will you pay social security taxes or disability benefits? No. Any payroll taxes? No.
I think you see what I’m getting at. Let your competitors be the ones who pay double for the same quality of service.
If you want to gain the competitive advantage of lower labor costs and smile all the way to your bottom line, click here for a free consultation.
Do you prefer DIY or DFU? Here is my analysis! Watch this video and share with us - which team do you relate to?
We’ve come across entrepreneurs who needed help delegating tasks. However; they were not sure what tasks can be delegated to a virtual employee. Thanks to the internet and the development of online tools, remote workers are now capable of doing more than ever before by knowing the tasks that you can delegate to your virtual employee.
Virtual Staff and remote workers have helped businesses grow by managing tasks from answering phone calls, accountings, setting appointments, taking care of their social media presence, and a whole lot more. They helped entrepreneurs free their time so they can dedicate more time to developing their business more.
In a previous article – How to Delegate Tasks – we have outlined the important steps a business owner has to take before assigning tasks to their staff. But how do you know which tasks you need help with? As a guide, you can ask yourself these questions and make a list:
Now that you have the list, you can then categorize them according to your virtual staff’s role and the level of difficulty. To guide you further, here are the common roles that a virtual employee can perform for your business:
In HireSmart Virtual Employees, we provide a step-by-step guide in helping you make the most of your virtual staff starting with choosing the right one and even helping with pre-training them as well! Book a free call with us to find out how.