Challenging the status quo of Residential Experience

Hi all, I hope 2019 is off to an amazing start and you are keeping up with your new year’s resolution! Just like you, I&I has goals to reach as well. Today, we are going to talk about some of our new features that are helping us achieve our goal of changing the status quo of residential experience.

Let’s talk about some of the 2019 changes. First, it’s not change for the sake of change. That said, change is inevitable, and something to be embraced, etc. etc., but that’s not a good enough reason to change. A good reason to change is because you want to remove friction from a process and make it simpler for residents to connect with their community association.  As with all system or process changes, these implementations are done with the community’s best interests in mind.

The expectations of community living are changing. Residents are expecting a much higher focus on experience from their community associations (and us).

Help me welcome our Resident Success Team

We used to have a traditional system of having one person answer the phone and politely making the transfer to the correct extension. However, Community Managers were often out on the field leaving our callers no choice but to leave a voicemail on certain occasions. Well, I am happy to say that gone are the days of residents needing to leave a voicemail if they call during business hours. Our Resident Success Agents (RSAs) are part of what is called a “Round Robin” approach. Simply put, the call gets automatically sent to the agent that has been idle the longest. Our RSA team is equipped with a ton of new features to better support our residents. Here’s a quick list:

1.    Live chat capabilities

2.    Internal and external knowledge-based articles

3.   Searchable community news feeds

4.    Resident interaction history all in one screen

Our purpose for this change is to provide the best possible service, accurately, and without any transfers or voicemails. Keep in mind that this is for residents. Board Members should still contact their Community Managers directly by means of either their direct office or cell phone. We feel this is a more cohesive approach to getting things done!

Introducing our unity portals

We’re going to significantly invest in designing ways to help residents better connect with each other and their community association. Our unity platform is the first step in that direction. The old online portal was through a 3rd party that provided us with zero customization. We are now the designers and creators of the online unity portal. We named it unity simply because that is the sole purpose of our system, to bring unity to your neighborhood. Some of the key features that are either available now or coming soon are:

1.    Intuitive search bar for questions

2.    Live chat (see RSA section above)

3.    Community forum for questions, ideas, and suggestions

4.    Training videos and tutorials

5.    Board member reports for violations history, architectural statuses and work orders

6.    Frequently viewed or trending topics automatically highlighted

7.    Group chat capabilities for Board Members and Committee Members

We are certainly excited for these upgrades but challenging the status quo of residential experience is no easy task. Thanks to all of our insightful customers, we have this wonderful opportunity to help create frictionless systems for our residents to enjoy.

We’ll not bore you with all of the details and thinking behind the new internal processes – you’re busy people, and our main intention for this post was to let our clients know about the changes to the user interface side. We thank you and welcome all ideas and feedback below.

-       Sal Silva, CEO of I&I

347.jpg

HOAs and Airbnb clash because of Yosemite.

Fresno has seen a significant rental boom over the last couple years. Have you noticed the same thing happening in your neighborhood? Have you noticed a hike in short-term rentals? National parks have always been the #1 attraction in Fresno. Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Park have all seen record numbers in 2016 and 2017 attracting millions of visitors each year. In fact, according to the National Park Services, Yosemite has seen an increase of 21 percent from a year earlier. So what does all this have to do with rentals and HOAs? Airbnb. 

Short-term rentals are becoming increasingly popular in Fresno as National Park tourism continues to reach new heights. This creates a huge opportunity for homeowners to make extra money by simply renting their home or a bedroom for a couple days. However, most HOA documents do NOT allow for a home to be rented through a short term service like AirBnB.

Homes primarily are required to be used for single family residential use, meaning any type of rental normally must be in longer term increments (minimum 6 months or a year) to a single person or family with the intent of living daily in the community. 

Additionally, many documents do not allow for the running of a business out of a home in the association, AirBnB is considered a business activity. 

Please refer back to your governing documents for specifics on rental restrictions or running a business from the property. It is always important to seek legal counsel for further support and clarification. 

madhu-shesharam-390606-unsplash.jpg

Events You Don't Want To Miss!

There’s never a dull moment in the Valley. This time year especially, when the Valley is filled with great events for all ages and interests to enjoy.

We have compiled just a few of many upcoming favorites that you may want to check out!

OLD TOWN CLOVIS CRAFT BEER CRAWL

Sunday, March 11th, Old Town Clovis opens its streets and stores for your full enjoyment. The Beer Crawl will showcase some of the best breweries, and local food trucks. For more information, please visit oldtownclovis.org/craft-beer-crawl/

ROCK-A-PALOOZA

ApCal, the “best outdoor live music venue in the Valley,” will host its annual season kickoff party on March 31st. This year they will host one band playing ALL 70s music — one band playing ALL 80s music — one band playing ALL 90s music! For full details and tickets, visit apcalwine.com/apcal-concerts/rock-a-palooza

BIG HAT DAYS

Sponsored by the Table Mountain Casino, and put on by the Clovis Chamber April 7th-8th. Big Hat Days is the largest two day festival in Central California drawing over 140,000 visitors. To find out more about this fun-filled event, visit clovischamber.com/events/big_hat_days/

CLOVIS RODEO

The 104th annual Clovis Rodeo will be celebrated on April 26-29. This professional Rodeo will include special events, entertainment acts, and much more! The Clovis Rodeo draws crowds from across the nation, to watch cowboys and cowgirls participate in events such as bareback, saddlebronc, and bullriding. For the full schedule of events, visit http://www.clovisrodeo.com/ww/

So as you can see, the Valley offers many fantastic options for entertainment and fun! We highly encourage you to take advantage of all that the Valley has to offer.

ClovisRodeo.jpg

The Future of HOA Amenities

Innovative amenities in master-planned communities are redefining HOA developments. These days, homebuyers aren’t just looking at location when home shopping, they also seek amenities and extraordinary features.

According to a recent Common Ground article, developers across the country are responding to the home buyer’s desire for “a sense of community, and belonging to something bigger than a sub-division tract house.” Buyers are more increasingly, looking for health, fitness, recreation, and cultural opportunities to be at their reach. Here are some of our personal favorites! :

Dog Park - where your dog can romp about off leash, and play with other dogs.

State-of the Art Fitness Center – fully equipped for the private use of residents and their guests.

Community farm and farmers market – here, you can conveniently pick or purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, within walking distance from your home.

Over-sized play structure designed by kids – this monster play area comes complete with a climbing park and giant playground for the little ones to enjoy.

Zoo – a great attraction just in your backyard that’s also pleasurable for the community-at-large.

So, as for the new look of HOA communities, one can only imagine how far developers will go to allure home buyers with special amenities - and we’re looking forward to it!

Food Trucks and HOA's?? Winning!

Should your HOA be in the Food truck business? The answer is most definitely, yes! Food trucks are becoming increasingly popular amongst HOA’s, and I&I highly encourages our HOA board members to join in on this movement as a way to build stronger ties within their communities.

According to a recent Washington Post article, residents are happier when they feel cared for in their community.  Also, residents tend to stay longer and complain less frequently when they like where they live. Food trucks offer a great way to promote togetherness within your HOA community through food and fellowship.

food truck11.jpg

Inviting a food truck into your HOA for lunch or dinner provides a great way for neighbors to come together. Food trucks offer food options for all to enjoy, they are inexpensive, and most importantly it will bring your residents out to engage with one another. Imagine if you will, arriving home from work to find a food truck parked in the common area of your residence. Upon approach, you find your neighbors picking up their dinner, and enjoying one another’s company while doing so. Now, all you have to do is simply walk up to the food truck window and place your order. Bam! Your dinner for tonight is done, and you won’t have any dishes to wash. 

The convenience of it all is well worth the minimal price you will pay for your meal. Plus, you will have an opportunity to chat with familiar faces, make new acquaintances, and you will be the family hero at the dinner table. So, no matter how you slice it or dice it, it’s a win, win.

Our team at I&I values strong community ties and not only encourages our HOA’s to follow suit but, we also make this a practice within our office. For example, after our monthly staff meetings, we have a ‘cell phone free’ lunch as a team. During this time we commune with one another without interruption. This affords us an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation and strengthens our friendships.

We firmly believe that great relationships come out of bringing people together and showing that you care.

food truck6.jpg

Time to "Bloss-Out" in the Valley

Spring arrives early on the Fresno County Blossom Trail. Around mid-February to early March, county orchards of blooming fruit and nut trees offer much pleasantry for all of its visitors to enjoy. Whether by car or bike, you are sure to be amazed by the scenery filled with the likes of peaches, apples, apricots, and plums, just to name a few. The vast array of colors and scents are sure to leave you delighted!

While taking a trip across the trail, you can visit farms, diners, and wineries. One of the first farms you will encounter is the Simonian Farms which has been around since 1901. Here, you will be transported back in time to old Western towns. The stage is set with vintage tractors, restored gasoline pumps, and antique balloon-tire bikes for fun-filled photos.

Blossom.jpg

As you travel further down the trail, wine enthusiast will appreciate stopping by the Cedar View Winery. The winery’s picturesque acres of blossoming fruits are sure to please. While there, you may also want to take the time to discover information about the rare Alicante Bouschet grape. Following the winery, the trail leads you to the Hillcrest Farm in Reedley. At this quaint stop, young travelers will be delighted with a miniature steam train ride that is sure to be a hit!

Clearly, this satisfying day trip offers something for everyone to appreciate and enjoy. Be sure to also visit this same trail between May and September for its transition to the Fresno County Fruit Trail. Along this route, you will have the opportunity to visit many seasonal produce stands and acquire mouth-watering souvenirs. Visit gofresnocounty.com, for more information.

Increase Your HOA Meeting Attendance in 2018

It’s a new year and increasing the number of HOA meeting attendees is the goal. So, how do you go about accomplishing this seemingly difficult task?

In an article originally posted by Burke Nielsen in the Utah Chapter Community Association Institute 2017 Quarter 4 Newsletter the following 3 ideas were offered:

1.     Be Open to Member Feedback

 Homeowners have ideas and opinions about their community, and what they think is best for it.  Sure, sometimes their ideas are just plain nuts.  But if you listen you will also find that homeowner input can provide insight into concerns and ideas regarding issues that may be worth exploring.  In addition, homeowners are happier with their community when they feel like the board members share their same interest and are willing to listen.

 2.     Ask for Help

 Many homeowners think that they aren’t needed or even wanted at the HOA meeting.  This makes it difficult to communicate community needs and encourage involvement. In some cases just asking for help can go a long way to getting neighbors involved.

 3.     Make it a Social Event

 Most HOA meetings are just business as usual – and to be honest, they kind of need to be.  After all, most HOAs only have one meeting a month to get their work done. But homeowners find these meetings boring.

 By combining the annual meeting with a neighborhood social, homeowners have another, “fun” reason to go to the meeting. You can always sneak in the financial summary and board member election before dessert.  By making the annual meeting a positive experience that meets the social needs of the members along with the business needs of the HOA, you can improve homeowner moral and encourage more participation.

Boosting the attendee numbers will remain a challenge for community leaders. But, as community leaders continue to encourage the importance of meeting attendance, community members will grow to value being involved.

How-to-Get-People-to-Attend-Meetings-1080x540.jpg

12 year old Boy Scout melts our heart

A couple weeks ago, a Homeowner called into the office and asked if we could speak to his son as he had something to tell us. He handed the phone to his son, who introduced himself as Roland, Boy Scout of Troop 257, based out of Clovis, CA. He informed us that the American Flag at his Association was starting to look wearisome and was ready to be retired. He asked if he could purchase a new flag out of his own allowance that he had been saving for months and requested that his troop have the honor in properly retiring the flag.

The Manager on the phone was captured by Roland’s request, when she got off the phone, she dashed around the office, telling us about what had just taken place during her conversation with Roland. The story spread like wildfire- the entire staff at I&I fell in love with Roland’s passion and devotion towards American Tradition. The Property Manager informed the Board of Directors who as well, adored Roland’s testimonial and of course granted the request of his troop retiring the flag. The ceremony is scheduled for September 25. Pictures to come!  

We were so touched by Roland’s movement, I&I has pledged to help support Troop 257. If our facebook post gets 5,000 shares, we will donate $5,000 to the Troop! Do your part now, be a “Trooper” and share this story to get Roland and his Troop the $5,000!