By Cal Lockett
This article is reprinted from CAI Coachella Valley’s June Quorum Magazine.
On May 15th, CAI announced the winners of their National Achievement Awards and Excellence Awards. The 64 CAI chapters from around the country and some of the international chapters compete based on chapter size. National Achievement Awards are given out based on submissions from each chapter in five categories. Submissions are reviewed and evaluated by a team of CAI chapter leaders. Excellence Awards are given out based on a comparative evaluation by CAI national staff in five areas considered critical for chapter success. CAI Coachella Valley won all ten categories for its programs in 2019. The awards will be given out at a ceremony planned at the National Convention in 2021 in Las Vegas. CAI-CV operates with over 150 volunteers who run all its programs through 16 committees. Congratulations to all CAI-CV members, committee leadership and volunteers, and to our esteemed board of directors.
CAI-CV WAS SELECTED TO RECEIVE ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS IN ALL FIVE CATEGORIES. THE SUBMISSIONS WERE:
- Buck-A-Door Grassroots Initiative submission in the Public Affairs category
- Homeowner Leader Education & Membership Initiative submission in the Membership category
- Strategic Planning Initiative submission in the Chapter Management and Development category
- Business Partner Mentoring Project submission in the Leadership category
- Community Association Board Recruitment submission in the Member Services category
ADDITIONALLY, CAI-CV WAS SELECTED TO RECEIVE AN EXCELLENCE AWARD IN RECOGNITION OF OVERALL EXCELLENCE IN ALL FIVE CATEGORIES:
Public Affairs (92%)
Chapter Management & Development (91%)
Member Services (89%) and Leadership (91%).
PUBLIC AFFAIRS ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Criteria: Activities demonstrating the chapter’s role in promoting CAI as the industry’s leading advocate for building better communities.
Submission Summary: CAI-CV’s Buck-A-Door Grassroots Initiative.
In California, the Legislature has taken an interest in the common interest development industry. The lawmakers don’t always fully understand the industry and recent legislation is proof that CAI involvement is not only necessary but is truly a fiduciary responsibility of our association members. In January, a new bill went into effect that is causing all California associations to go to the expense of rewriting their election bylaws. While this legislation was costly, it was much better due to CLAC’s involvement at every step of the legislative process.
In the fall of 2018, the CAI-CV board asked the Legislative Support Committee to find ways to raise new funds to support CLAC. The LSC began investigating programs that other chapters had used, and programs that had been used over the past 12 years by CLAC. CLAC’s existing Buck-A-Door program looked promising but was difficult to explain to boards. Past efforts by managers to explain the program and its impact on the legislative process fell flat.
The LSC engaged the help of the Chapter’s Professional Managers Committee to help test messages to find out exactly what was needed to convince managers to get involved. They also engaged the Chapter’s Homeowner Leader Committee to test messages and see what they felt would work. Overwhelmingly, the feedback was that they needed a one-piece brochure that had everything a board would need to make a decision. It needed to be simple, concise and compelling. And, it needed to be a hard copy that could be placed in the association’s board packet.
The LSC decided that the messaging needed to make the point that participating in the Buck-A-Door program would help them meet their fiduciary duties to protect home values.
- They needed to explain the legislative process to homeowner leaders and managers in simple terms.
- They felt they needed to give managers and boards simple step-by-step instructions.
- The brochure also needed to provide compelling reasons for participating and the assurance that participating was okay legally. They also provided answers to typical questions a board might receive from residents.
- The LSC felt that they needed to give concrete examples of how CLAC impacted legislation.
- And, finally, they felt like they needed to provide a sample resolution a board could adopt to make the Buck-A-Door part of their ongoing budgets.
The participation form was then simplified to minimize what boards needed to return to CLAC to participate. All of these considerations were developed and placed into a new brochure.
The brochure went to the Chapter’s legal team for review and then was sent to CLAC’s PR Committee for approval. Once approved, it was presented to the CAI-CV board for approval and then the marketing process started.
The development time for this new program was approximately two months and utilized three CAI-CV committees and more than 20 volunteers. In March of 2019, the brochures were printed and sent out electronically to all CAI-CV managers and homeowner leaders. The program was a huge success. Click here to download the Buck-A-Door Brochure.
LEADERSHIP ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Criteria: Training, development, and/or recognition programs that empower volunteers and/or members to be effective, efficient leaders.
Submission Summary: CAI-CV Business Partner Mentoring Project.
The purpose of the 2020 Business Partner Mentoring Project was to provide a written mentoring program for new and existing business partners to help them understand how best to maximize their investments of time and money in the chapter. The CAI-CV Business Partner Committee was frustrated that earlier attempts at mentoring programs fell short of expectations, typically because these programs were time-intensive and included having to train mentors and then rely on the mentor’s schedules to meet with business partner members.
A new idea was formed and the Business Partner Committee collaborated with the CAI-CV board to prepare a single brochure specifically designed for business partners that spelled out exactly what they need to do to build their business and maximize their visibility through CAI-CV. The 2020 Advertising & Sponsorship Plan achieves this goal by including simple step-by-step instructions for business partners in one easy-to-read brochure.
The Business Partner Committee surveyed business partner members and discovered that many were only involved in a few CAI-CV activities. They discovered that the businesses that found CAI-CV successful followed a certain pattern of activities and involvement. The CAI-CV board asked the Business Partner Committee to develop a single brochure that could be given to new and existing members.to serve as a mentoring program – not to replace face-to-face mentoring, but to supplement it when meetings were impossible or delayed.
The Business Partner Committee also researched what most business partners needed to present to their parent companies to gain approval for an appropriate budget and volunteer time to maximize their involvement with CAI-CV. They also investigated and prioritized every possible touchpoint where a business partner might benefit from a CAI-CV activity.
These new findings were woven into a single comprehensive document that was mailed and sent out electronically to existing members and prospective members. The Business Partner Committee began surveying members in July of 2019. The findings showed that business partners with the greatest success had dedicated professional marketing people
employed to assist with building relationships with managers and board members. They discovered that these professionals had a pattern of activity that worked: Successful marketing through CAI-CV included maximizing face time with boards and managers. Building relationships was key. To do this, these businesses used a combination of sponsorships, advertising, committee volunteerism and attending events.
The next step was for the Business Partner Committee to distill these lessons and make them applicable to most members who did not have professional marketing people on staff. This helped businesses see what works and to know upfront what does not work. The brochure is clear that if they choose only to invest money in sponsorships or advertising,
they cannot expect to get a great return on their investment. They also need to volunteer and attend events.
The committee drafted their mentoring instructions and then incorporated them into the existing marketing plan. This draft was presented to the board for approval in August.
The brochure was edited and reviewed by some of the Chapter’s HOA attorneys. The final brochure was printed and distributed electronically and by mail over an eightweek period to solicit participation. Recruiting for corporate sponsors continues through February.
By January 1, 2020, CAI-CV had increased corporate sponsorships and total dollars raised significantly. Feedback from business partners has been fantastic. They are grateful for the assistance and some are already seeing positive results. This effort helped CAI-CV really understand the needs of our business partners who are the primary source of funding for the chapter. By developing a mentoring brochure that fills the gap when face-to-face mentoring falls short, the chapter has found a way to meet its members’ needs.
MEMBER SERVICES ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Criteria: Services provided to a member that successfully meet the needs of individual CAI member groups (business partners, managers, homeowner leaders) and contribute to member satisfaction and value.
Submission Summary: Community Association Board Recruitment Project
The CAI-CV Homeowner Leader Committee surveyed the Chapter’s Homeowner Leaders and discovered that one of their main complaints was the difficulty of recruiting new board members to serve in their communities. The purpose of the “Who Me?” brochure is to provide a tool for community associations that would assist them with recruiting new board members. The brochure would also help explain the board’s fiduciary duties and the key ingredients needed by board members to govern a thriving community.
The Homeowner Leader Committee started by surveying the Chapter’s homeowner leaders to discover ways CAI could help them govern their communities successfully. Once they learned that recruiting new members was a major concern, they appointed an ad hoc subcommittee to investigate what educational materials were already available. They researched CAI national, the CAI Foundation, and asked for input from other CAI Chapters. After finding that there was no current brochure or booklet that could be used, they created an outline of the information that needed to be included.
The ad hoc committee used one of CAI-CV’s Board Member Workshops (BMW) to ask board members what exactly they felt potential board members would need to know to decide whether to serve. The answers to these questions and the outline of materials found on the web and from CAI were combined to form a first draft of the brochure. The concept brochure was then tested with board members via an Eblast and the feedback was very positive. A few changes were made, and a copy was then sent to our HOA attorneys for proofing and editing. The final copy was offered to Chapter members at CAI-CV events and has been a huge success.
The “Who Me?” brochure directly solves a major problem reported to CAI-CV from our homeowner leader members. The feedback so far indicates the brochure is a home run. Orders are coming in each week for additional copies. The brochure is designed to explain the HOA industry and attract the right kind of people to serve on boards. It uses subtle language to encourage good behavior by existing board members. It also pushes readers to value CAI designations and to rely on professional management and professional advisors (CAI business partners). This brochure has a positive influence and brings value to all the Chapter’s members while solving a major problem for our association members.
CHAPTER MANAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Criteria: Chapter management or development initiatives and/or tools focused on strengthening the internal workings of the chapter.
Submission Summary: CAI-CV Strategic Planning Initiative
In January of 2019, CAI-CV began a year-long strategic planning process to help direct Chapter activities for five years starting in 2020. CAI-CV is 39 years old. For most of those years, the Chapter was headquartered in the same location and had many of the same events and classes and had roughly the same number of members. In 2014, the Chapter board felt CAI members needed more education. They decided to start looking for a classroom and transitioning itself into a primarily education-oriented nonprofit. Over the next few years, the Chapter moved from a small industrial office to a class A building with a classroom that fits up to 50 students. They also significantly increased revenue and members. Now, in the new building, with double the membership and double the revenue, along with many new classes and events, it was time for the Chapter to reevaluate and plan for the next five years.
The goal of the CAI-CV board was to develop a plan that would help navigate the next five years, continuing their focus on education for all three membership classes. Strategic planning is a cumbersome process with many moving pieces being evaluated by many people. Our results are relatively new, but it appears the process we went through, including as many members as we did, had had a unifying effect on the Chapter.
So far, we are seeing value at every level. Business partners have increased their sponsorships and advertising like nothing that has ever been seen before in the Chapter’s nearly 40 years of existence. Every class we offer for managers, assistant managers, board members or business partners is full. Our membership continues to grow each month. The Chapter hands out evaluations after every program or event. Feedback from these evaluations shows an amazing increase in satisfaction among members who feel they are getting value from our programs.
We are vastly expanding CAI-CV’s presence in the general community. Already, we have published two HOA Living brochures in partnership with two cities. With Realtor meetings and the affiliation with Desert Cities HOA Council, we are reaching far more people than ever before – thousands more. As we continue to grow our manager and board population, we bring more value to our business partners and their responses to our marketing plan this year shows they are in agreement with our direction.
MEMBERSHIP ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Criteria: Membership acquisition, retention, and/or development efforts that enable CAI to expand its membership base.
Submission Summary: Homeowner Leader Education & Membership Initiative
The goal of this initiative is to increase education, membership, and outreach to community association boards in the Coachella Valley. After a year-long strategic planning process, the CAI-CV board decided that one long-term strategy for the Chapter would be to focus on educating community association board members. To elevate the industry and alleviate the most reported problems in the industry, CAI-CV felt that the best outcomes would come from helping community board members understand their fiduciary duties. To protect them from their biggest threat, litigation, CAI-CV also had to convince boards to use professional advisors, especially professional management, CAI designated insurance brokers (CIRMS), CAI designated reserve specialists (RS), HOA lawyers (CCAL & Specialists), and licensed contractors to advise them before making major decisions. As part of this education, CAI-CV felt it needed to help community boards focus more on protecting and enhancing home values and less on keeping assessments low.
In January of 2019, the board began a strategic planning process. At the session, the Chapter decided that they needed to try to reach out to community board members with educational options far beyond what the Chapter had formerly offered. They felt it was critical to include messages about the board’s fiduciary duties and the need to use professional advisors to protect their communities against litigation. The CAI-CV board asked the Homeowner Leader Committee to take responsibility for this effort, and to work with the Education Committee and the Membership Committee to develop the appropriate classes and to increase outreach and eventually increase membership of homeowner leaders. The Homeowner Leader Committee surveyed the Chapter’s existing members for topics and, working with the Education Committee, developed 115 hours of education for community board members to be offered in the Chapter’s classroom, starting in 2019 and reaching the 140-hour goal by the end of 2020. In September of 2019, a complete course list was published for 2020 that included dates, times and venues for the 140 hours of classes. The classes were further broken down into beginner, intermediate and advanced courses based on the Chapter’s experience with community board members over the past three years.
In March, an agreement was made with the Desert Cities HOA Council (DCHC) to create an affiliation with CAI-CV and bring them into the Chapter under the authority of the Homeowner Leader Committee. It was decided to keep the DCHC board and run the program the same as they have for the past ten years. It was also decided that they would encourage their members to join CAI-CV but not make it mandatory to attend DCHC classes. The Homeowner Leader Committee, working with the DCHC board, negotiated a venue in Cathedral City and another venue in Palm Springs for DCHC meetings. DCHC volunteers were given a list of CAI-CV professional advisors to include as their guest speakers. It was agreed that CAI and CAI membership would be discussed at every DCHC meeting. DCHC averages 40 board members at every meeting and their mailing list is 300. In April, the Homeowner Leader Committee launched an online forum to test the idea with existing committee members. The forum was tested and tweaked over two months and a demonstration
was provided to the Chapter board in August. In July, CAI National said that they were developing a statewide blog for all the California chapters. For that reason, the local effort was put on hold. In December, after seeing that the CAI national blog would take longer than expected, the CAI-CV board gave the Homeowner Leader Committee permission to launch. So far, they have about 100 community board members involved. To join, individuals must be on an HOA board or a volunteer leader in their HOA and must also be a member of CAI or DCHC. The Committee has one volunteer who administers the forum – adding new members. They also have two volunteers monitoring conversations to make sure things don’t get out of hand. CAI-CV classes and events are advertised on the forum.
Working with the Membership Committee, the Homeowner Leader Committee engaged the services of a college intern to help develop a list of nonmember Coachella Valley board members. In California, CIDs are required to file a Statement of Information with the Secretary of State every two years. This information is only available by pulling up the corporate information one HOA at time. The information must then be rekeyed into a spreadsheet. Typically, there is only physical addresses and often information is missing and needs to be looked up. This is a time-consuming task but has paid off. About one-third of the HOA board members attending CAI-CV educational events are from this list and have ever been to a CAI function before. The list only contains two people from each HOA, the president and secretary. We get close to 2,000 names and addresses and then cull out our existing members. This list is used to solicit for attending events and educational courses throughout the year. We did two mailings in 2019 and will do four mailings in 2020. We have shared this list with DCHC and hope it will boost their numbers. We recruit at every class to make sure that entire boards are plugged into CAI. We also encourage the board to put CAI membership in their annual budgets to future boards have access to education.
All these efforts were approved by the CAI-CV board and launched in 2019 and all have been very successful. These programs have significantly increased CAI-CV’s membership and we are seeing exponential growth in community board members joining CAI, attending events and volunteering to serve on CAI committees. The greatest value to the Chapter has been the hundreds of local HOA board members who have heard and become believers in the need for community board members to be educated and to begin to protect their associations against potential litigation by being professionally managed and using CAI professional advisors.