Starting a new resident off in your community may be one of the most important tasks you do as a Board Member. If a resident is welcomed into the community and in a warm, friendly manner advised of their responsibilities as a member of a deed restricted community, it can pay off in dividends to the community. They can be a friendly resident and supportive of the Association’s rules and regulations and a productive, involved resident. Or they can become one of your worst nightmares.
To make a positive impression on your new residents, consider forming a Welcoming Committee. It will be one of the most important committees your Association can establish. The Welcoming Committee may very well be the very first person to establish contact with new owners. They can make or break the new resident’s relationship with the Association. We would suggest one Board Member either head up the Committee or serve on it and report back to the Board of Directors. The Association should then put together a “Welcome to Neighborhood” package (approved by the Board). We suggest that the package consist of the following items (depending upon your neighborhood):
- The Association’s Governing Documents (Declaration, Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Rules and Regulations, Architectural Guidelines, or any other pertinent documents including any amendments to the these Documents.
- A listing of local schools, churches, utilities, doctors, hospitals, urgent care center, veterinarians, and kennels.
- The Board of Directors’ contact information;
- Your manager’s (if you have one) contact information and perhaps some information about the management company and/or manager.
- Consider obtaining coupons and/or information from local businesses such as a dry cleaner, AVON lady, hair salons, spa, and fitness centers. You might even be able to persuade the vendor to pay a small fee to be part of this package.
- Copies of your Association’s newsletters. If you have a digital newsletter, run a copy off to put in this package and then you can request their email address to receive the newsletter.
- Information about your Face Book page (if you have one);
- Your web-site (if you have one). Include what type of information to find on it.
- A schedule of the Board or Members Meetings so your new resident can attend.
- A short form to determine if they would like to serve on a committee or in the future, the Board of Directors.
Once the Board and/or Committee learn of a sale of a residence, you should call the Realtor and ask for the new owner’s name and move in date. Contact the owner and set up an appointment to come by and visit for fifteen to thirty-minutes. Perhaps, you could offer a virtual meeting via Zoom or GoToMeeting if the owner and/or the designated person welcoming on behalf of the Association is concerned about COVID.
When you arrive at the new resident’s home, consider bringing a basket of fresh homemade muffins or cookies or loose flowers with the Welcoming Package. This creates a more friendly and inviting visit. You might even have a resident who sells products such as Mary Kay cosmetics, candles, soap, etc. and would provide you some samples to add to the basket with their contact information. If you are having this welcome meeting virtually you could drop the basket off just before the meeting.
After the Welcoming Committee has visited with the new owners, follow up with the committee person to see what transpired. Perhaps the owner wanted to become involved with the association, and you could contact them and get them involved. Every Association needs more positive resident involvement.
Make the association’s first contact with a new member a positive one. Some Associations unfortunately get off on the wrong foot by having their first contact with new members be one of a confrontational nature (i.e., a covenant violation). If there is a breach of the Association’s documents, follow up with the new members on that issue after the Welcoming Committee has made their visit. Don’t ask the Welcoming Committee to be the “bad guys.” You always want the door to be opened wide for them.
First impressions count! We all know this. So, make the Association’s first impression with the new member a positive one by establishing a friendly and informative Welcoming Committee