Published November 2020
Florida Community Association Professionals’ (FCAP) training is offered on two levels. Level one consists of courses meeting Florida’s continuing education requirements for CAMs, and level two is the Florida Advanced CAM Studies (FACS) course. For further information about the more than 38 online continuing education classes available or to pursue the Certified Florida Community Association Manager (CFCAM) designation, please visit www.fcapgroup.com/membership/education-training/.
The latest CAM to advance his education and career with the CFCAM certification is Bill Webster. After growing up in Florida, Bill graduated from the University of Tennessee. He returned to Florida, where his father had founded a sporting good business, and Bill states, “After graduating from the University of Tennessee in 1976, I worked for my dad for 10 years before taking the business over upon his retirement in 1986. I spent 33 years working with my brother and one of two sisters until the business was sold to a public company in 2010.” One of Bill’s proudest achievements was being nationally recognized by the National Sporting Goods Association as Dealer of the Year. During this time Bill was particularly influenced by individuals he met at Vistage. “It provides a forum for CEOs to exchange ideas and best practices. It was a fantastic conduit for learning from the best.”
With experience and an open road ahead, Bill began his second career. “Having spent 12 years as treasurer for the HOA where I live, I felt like property management night be something I would enjoy,” he shares. Bill moved into property management in 2013 and is currently property manager at Royal Coast Condominium in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
Even in just a few years, Bill has seen the task of association management changing. “We have more on our plate now than when I first started. Technology and software are great tools to provide residents better communication and access to information. Maintaining the association website is now mandated by the state. In the high-rise segment, we now must implement an engineered life safety system (ELSS) by the end of 2023. This is a very costly project for owners.”
Bill has multiple outside interests as well as multiple careers. “My wife, Helen, and I love to travel (currently on virus hold) and have been fortunate enough to experience many places worldwide. She is an artist and interior designer, so we both enjoy the art exhibits and galleries. Lastly, I am also a gourmand who ‘loves to eat,’ not ‘eats to live’!”
Congratulations to Bill Webster for pursuing the next level of expertise in community association management with his CFCAM certification!
Management is about directing energy by guiding people toward practical solutions. Working to develop harmonious interpersonal relationships by using common sense will ensure your goals as a CAM are met.
When you are a community association manager, you must gain control over your work and not allow interference. Your salvation lies in reassuring your team—your staff, residents, and board of directors—that you are a great leader! Your attitude and motivation must be contagious to prove that you are qualified, competent, and confident, and that being on the front line, you are always looking out for what is in the best interests of the association.
“When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity”.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs for property, real estate, and community association managers to increase seven percent between 2018 and 2028, which is faster than average for all occupations during that decade. Job seekers with a college degree in business or real estate might have an advantage.
Courses, certifications, and professional designations in property management are available to provide further training and distinguish accomplished community association managers. Due to an aging population, the BLS projected more job opportunities within communities that focus on the elderly or health care.
As manager, you have three major roles to play. These are planner, provider, and protector.
Planner—Establish your goals and select them wisely. Select the optimal plan for the team and implement it. Take into account the needs of the association’s common areas and needs of the residents and the board. You need to establish a plan and decide where your team is headed and communicate your vision to the team. Draft a strategic plan for short-term and long-term goals. Allocate resources and measure the results of your actions with your board of directors to help you set realistic goals. The strategic plan will also provide a basis for evaluating and controlling the association’s performance and progress for each item. Stay updated on things like changes in rules and regulations, new laws, technology, amenities, lifestyle, property values, and other emerging trends related to real estate. Property owners want to be assured that the manager they’re dealing with knows what he or she is talking about, so always educate yourself. Read industry publications and attend webinars, watch YouTube Videos, and attend conferences and ongoing continuing education. I often refer to SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis which, is a framework used to evaluate and to develop strategic planning. SWOT analysis assesses internal and external factors, as well as current and future planning. A SWOT analysis is designed to facilitate a realistic, fact-based, data-driven look at the strengths and weaknesses of the association and institutes initiatives.
Provider—The manager has access to all information, materials, and any changes which the team (the board of directors, residents, and staff) needs. As manager, you have the authority to make recommendations to the board of directors for anything that the team and the residents need. Building your ability as a leader is the first step in the management provider process.
Once the team believes in you and trusts what you’re doing, you can then begin your goal setting. Your campaign for any changes should outline the reasons why a change is necessary. For instance, the board of directors will want to know what the long-term effects of the change will be. If the change is your idea, your staff will want to know how they will personally be affected by the changes you are proposing. Be sure to invite suggestions, feedback, and new ideas from the staff concerning their work. Be willing to put good ideas into action by making gradual changes. Always listen to and try to understand what your staff is communicating. Great managers are the ones who challenge the existing complacency, and who are prepared to lead their team forward towards a personal vision. Set the standards. Recognize issues, seize opportunities, and create a positive work environment.
Ultimately, managers are the ones who stop to think where they want to go and how they are going to get there. In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins creates a lasting and memorable metaphor by comparing a business to a bus and the leader as a bus driver. He emphasizes that it is crucial to continuously ask, “First who, then what?” You are a bus driver. The bus, your company, is at a standstill, and it’s your job to get it going. Get to know who is on your team, your board, and who your residents are. The more you know about the who and the what, the more you will be capable of handling the responsibilities necessary to be a successful provider.
Protector—The team needs security and confidence that you are there to guard and protect them. If someone from the team brings forward a good plan, you must ensure that this individual knows that you are open to her ideas and willing to present them to the board. If a resident, staff, or board member has a problem, they also need to know that you are there to listen. Develop a caring attitude. A good manager trains, develops, counsels, guides, and supports. Keep the team informed about changes that can directly affect them, such as policy changes, procedure or rule changes, product information changes, and performance changes. Give appropriate praise and recognition for a job well done for both the staff and the board of directors. A great manager gives constructive criticism and never makes personal attacks.
Your staff needs to know where they stand and how they are performing against your reasonable expectations. You can achieve this through a structured evaluation review system, but such systems often become formalities with little or no communication. The best time to give feedback and address a situation is when the event occurs. Since it can have a great impact on the person receiving it, the feedback should be honest, simple, and always constructive. Make an attempt to change the attitude and behavior. Here are some suggestions in accomplishing this:
Always look for something positive to say. Offer some recognition of the effort which has been put to work. When talking about improvements, be specific; this is what is needed, and this is how you should work towards it. Never say anything inflammatory or negative, such as “you’re wrong,” “do better,” or “shape up” without outlining the steps needed for improvement. While your team will soon realize that this is your formula and method, they will still enjoy the benefits of the information, constructive criticism, and training. Always praise good work. If you do not acknowledge it, it may not be repeated simply because no one knew you approved and were satisfied. Recognition is about feeling appreciated. In opposite terms, if people do something well and then feel it is ignored—they will not bother to do it so well next time because they may feel that no one cares.
The feedback you give your team about their work is fundamental to their motivation. They should know their strengths and their weaknesses. It is important to be positive, to indicate what needs improving by being constructive, and to indicate what is expected of them in the future. It is important to schedule weekly staff meetings to discuss and review any items or issues that need to be addressed.
As a community association manager, you have the responsibility to represent and to develop the effectiveness of your staff; these are tasks you can expand to fill your available time—delegation is a mechanism for creating that opportunity. The objective of delegation is to get the job done by someone else. With delegation, your staff has the authority to react to situations without referring back to you.
Maintain the highest standards by welcoming input from the residents, staff, and board members. Establishing the highest standards will build pride and self-confidence. Everybody brings different skills to the position as well as a different level of enthusiasm and style of dealing with people. To be among the best in the industry, managers must maintain a positive attitude and be able to establish good relationships with owners and staff.
Allow for individuals to contribute appropriately. Listening with empathy is a valuable skill. Your attitude is visible in dealing with the situations as they occur. Sympathy, patience, and people skills are important character traits for a great manager.
Managing people is a challenge. Managers must play many roles in associations and handle various situations. You have the opportunity to make a huge impact upon the way in which your association operates. As your vision becomes more focused, your ideas will appear stronger and more credible. Not only will it be easier to convince others that you have developed your own positive management style, but it will also be easier to maintain your own conviction and motivation when you reach any pitfalls or obstacles in the road. Your common sense and experience are your best guides in analyzing the problems that you face in your day-to-day challenges as a great manager. You can shape your own destiny, work environment, and company culture in becoming a great manager.
Is it legal to see who received violation letters? The reason I ask is because my neighbor and I received letters about six months ago to clean our sidewalks, which we both cleaned. However, my neighbor across the street whose sidewalk was so much worse than ours did not, and she is a board member. Today, I received another violation letter for the same sidewalk issue! I want to know if the board member/neighbor received one. Is that possible?
Also, when a homeowner is late on the annual dues, is that information available to all homeowners or just the board?
By the way, I use your board certification manual all the time and love the CAM Matters YouTube shows.
– Stephanie Sue
It is my understanding that violation letters are not “protected” information unless released to a third party who is not an owner/member.
Similarly, the balances due or credits on everyone’s accounts would be available on an accounts receivable report. It is my understanding this is not “protected” information. The thought here is that all owners are parties to the same contract (the Declaration) so all parties to the contract get to know if all other parties to the contract are fulfilling their part of the contract. Some A/R reports list lot/unit numbers or account numbers or names, but an accounts receivable report will tell you the status of any owner who has a credit or owes money.
You can get this report by making a records request by certified mail with return receipt requested. The association has 10 business days to give you access to the report. That means that within 10 business days the person in control of the records must set a date, time, and place for you to come look at the records. You may make copies with your own portable electronic devise at no charge. As a courtesy, the person in control of the records may email them to you. However, when in doubt about access to records or the release of them, always check with your attorney.
Can I email a proxy to the management company or does it have to be hand delivered or mailed to the management company?
Chapter 617.0721(2) now allows for the receipt of proxies electronically. So, the answer is, “yes,” they can be emailed or faxed, or people can take a picture of them and send the photo by email.
We are using a two-envelope system. Can the outside, larger envelope be opened before the meeting? Owners often put their proxies into the larger envelope. If not, do we need to provide a separate envelope for them to return proxies so we can count before the meeting?
At an attorney’s workshop, he mentioned needing a committee of owners to count the outside envelopes and the ballots. I can’t find this anywhere. Is this perhaps a new regulation?
There is a lot more information about elections in the Florida Administrative Code, Rule 61B— The committee referred to is probably the one in paragraph (b) below.
61B-23.0021 Regular Elections; Vacancies Caused by Expiration of Term, Resignations, Death; Election Monitors(10)(b) Any association desiring to verify outer envelope information in advance of the meeting may do so as provided herein. An impartial committee designated by the board may, at a meeting noticed in the manner required for the noticing of board meetings, which shall be open to all unit owners and which shall be held on the date of the election, proceed as follows. For purposes of this rule, “impartial” shall mean a committee whose members do not include any of the following or their spouses:
At the committee meeting, the signature and unit identification on the outer envelope shall be checked against the list of qualified voters. The voters shall be checked off on the list as having voted. Any exterior envelope not signed by the eligible voter shall be marked “Disregarded” or with words of similar import, and any ballots contained therein shall not be counted.
Though it is expensive, I would send another envelope for the proxy marked ‘’PROXY.”