Remember your first day of high school? Both your body and mind were in that awkward stage due to growing pains. Chances are you wouldn't wish to go back to those times! Whether it's entering high school or building your business, growing pains aren't fun.
When it comes to growing your community association management business, deciding the right thing to do can be a challenge. (Do you choose to deliberately stay small and form a boutique management company? Sell your business to a larger firm? Or buckle down and focus on growth?)
The Industry is Growing
As recently as 5 years ago, prospects were bleak. In the recession that followed the housing bubble burst, the growth of homeowners associations was on the decline. Developers turned to building rental communities when they realized that millennials prefer to rent. But, recent economic recovery has helped to usher in a new era of performance and demand for new homes in well maintained communities.
In fact, by 2012, new community developments were once again growing. With new construction came new associations, and the demand for CAM professionals and management companies also began to rise. Today, you are likely seeing this for yourself, with transition opportunities coming your way on a regular basis.
Virtually all signs point to continued economic growth, so the better you position your CAM business to grow in the next few years, the more opportunity you have to capitalize on this trend. But you'll need to first get past growing pains within your own organization.
Let's take a look at some of the challenges and complexities of growing your CAM business:
Small Business Growing Pains
The most commonly cited challenges for small businesses to grow today include:
- Staffing: In Entrepreneur magazine hiring new employees was cited as the most common growing pain among 56 percent of business owners in a 2014 survey.
- Revenues and profits: The same article pointed out that increasing revenues and profits can be a challenge. Another report from the U.S. Small Business Administration explained that businesses can even be challenged by too much revenue. Who knew!
- Change management: Growth is among the more obvious types of change, and transformation is never an easy matter to handle. This will be especially challenging when the business is not fast, agile and adaptable.
- Time management: Inc. Magazine interviewed several small business owners. Yoav Schwartz of Uberflip pointed out that running his firm during times of growth was especially challenging when delegating tasks. Strategies must grow alongside expansion.
These are the more common growing pains for small business owners. But management company executives have their own unique challenges as well.
CAM Industry Growing Pains
CAM executives cite these setbacks standing in the way of growth:
- I can't afford to grow: Management companies operate on notoriously thin profit margins. This can make it difficult to come up with the funds needed to bring on new staff, new systems, or new marketing.
- We're too busy to grow: In smaller management companies, it's easy to get bogged down in the day to day minutia, if you fail to set and follow through with smart goals.
- My clients will suffer if I grow: Many management companies are afraid to grow because they feel that the services they provide to their existing clients will suffer.
Management executives have to ensure that they are putting their best feet forward in times of expansion. In many instances, the right technologies and management tools can go a long way toward helping the firm adjust to newer and broader responsibilities associated with growth. (Or hire someone who can help!)
Overcoming Growing Pains
Leadership experts agree on a trio of factors that are most important in times of growth - people, process and technology. This combination is critical for core management responsibilities, and will be inherently more challenging when your business is expanding.
Let's take a look at what CAM business owners can do to gracefully embrace opportunities for growth in the coming years:
- People: Have a plan in place to hire the right employees at optimal times. From serving your clients properly to accounting and transparency, employees will need to get acclimated quickly to the demands and responsibilities of the job. Getting this right can significantly streamline your company's growth.
~ For community association managers, be sure to hire only certified employees.
~ For accounting professionals, be sure to have training and development courses lined up to teach them the unique properties of the industry and how to use your management software.
- Process: Your policies will need to be at once exhaustive and strong while still maintaining agility to adapt to growth and other changes along your path. Work these out and you'll be in far better shape when the time comes to expand your business.
If your objection is lack of time to work on growth, this is the area you want to work on first. Evaluate all of the current processes in your business, and determine what repetitive or redundant tasks you and your team members are doing. Then start working to consolidate and eliminate unnecessary processes. Also, don't be afraid to outsource processes that are a particular roadblock.
- Technology: Streamlining and automating repetitive tasks and leveraging the efficiency that comes along with new technologies can bolster your operational performances across the board. This makes expanding your business more feasible, even when it is sudden.
Adopting new technologies can be frightening at first, but it can also give you a near instant boost in efficiency. If you aren't using modern technologies such as mobile, you should consider doing so. Check with your provider to see if there are features you could be leveraging that you are not currently using.
At the end of the day, you can't afford to take a backseat on your management company's growth. Get proactive and work through growing pains to build constructive growth within your management organization.
Are you experiencing growing pains? We've got the perfect tool to help save you some time when bringing new people on board. Click below to get 15 sample job descriptions that you can use for your management company.