By Steve Hoogenakker, Taylor Made Lawn and Landscape
CAI-MN was happy to receive many responses to its survey. With 56% of respondents being Community managers, and the remaining 44% being Community management owners and supervisors, CAI received a broad cross-section of the relevant membership. The survey covered questions about where they learned their craft initially, where they’re getting the training now, and the biggest challenges that face managers, association boards, and the industry as a whole. We asked what events they went to, and which events they would attend in 2009.
The series of Managers Luncheons proved to be the most popular event, with 86% attending in the last year. The relatively new Golf Tournament was attended by nearly half of those surveyed, and the future growth of the tournament is really a bright spot. The golf committee and Scott Franzmeier did a fantastic job last year, and sponsorships sold are already well ahead of 2008.
In every event that we measured in 2008, the respondents plan to attend even more events in 2009.
We asked managers where they received their training to become a community manager. 48% received it from their current mgmt. company, while only 18% received it from a previous employer. This suggests that there hasn’t been a lot of movement of managers switching employers. As a matter of fact, more managers taught themselves versus getting their training from previous employers.
As for future professional development, managers were choosing CAI over CIC Midwest by a 5 to 1 margin, and over IREM by a 20 to 1 margin.
In some of the more interesting results, we asked what the largest challenge facing managers was.
The number 1 result was “training and knowledge of board members” and number 2 was dealing with irate members. These two items comprised 63% of all challenges. The education committee has taken note, and its subcommittee, the Home Owner Training Track, has just started its free homeowner education in February and will continue with events that will educate board members and homeowners. This is aimed at making association managers’ lives a little easier.
When asked what the largest challenges facing the industry as a whole, the survey results took an interesting turn! Three-fourths of people said that cutting costs while maintaining quality service was the biggest problem, and dealing with foreclosures and reserve funding basically made up the rest of the responses.
So, nearly 90% responded with money problems. It’s odd that the challenges facing managers vs. the management industry were completely disconnected.
If managers’ challenges were disconnected with industry challenges, there was no question that the challenges facing client associations matched those of the industry in general. Over half of the respondents named “maintaining replacement reserve funds” and another 24% said the willingness of boards to increase revenue were the major challenges. Most of the other responses dealt with foreclosures, delinquencies and bad debt. While training and dealing with board members was the overwhelming challenge facing managers, they were nearly unanimous that the challenges facing the association industry and client associations were about money.
The remaining portion of the study focused on where more training is needed, program subjects, speakers you’d like to hear from and the importance of networking, education and real estate credits.
The two areas that managers thought they were least trained in were “understanding building components,” and “Fundraising outside of annual/monthly assessments.”
And for topics your peers would be most interested in learning about? How about “Collections” and “Dealing with delinquent members” as number 1 and 2 respectively. Do you sense a pattern here? The one topic that wasn’t mentioned anywhere else came in at #3; “Technology for associations.” One of the choices that received the fewest number of top interest topics was “Going Green.”
When we get to the factors you use to determine whether you’ll attend an event, educational content was far out front as number one. Half as many people would go to the seminar if they could pursue or retain credentialing. Another area that was a surprise was that 33% of respondents listed real estate credits as the most important factor. This is odd because in a typical luncheon, we only get requests for CE credits from between 5-8% of attendees. I know the education committee would like to hear more from you about this subject, because the state of Minnesota has put onerous requirements to obtain CE accreditation — going from a 4 page application to about 17 pages. If real estate credits are important to you, I suggest you bring that up to someone at CAI.
Finally, when asked how CAI could serve you better, you wanted seminars in different areas of the metro, classes outstate, and educational events for board members and homeowners. The Home Owner Training Track will go to a different corner of the metro every three months, and the board is considering recording some of these sessions, so they’d be available to all of our valued members across the state. Thanks for the many people who took time to fill out the survey. I encourage you to continue to let CAI know how we can serve you better. This leadership group does listen to you, and will do their best to meet your needs.