Build Your Business Through Homeowners Associations
– by Matt Michel
A powerful way to build your residential plumbing or HVAC business, from Matt Michel.
A powerful, yet affordable way to build your business is utilizing homeowners associations (HOAs). According to the Community Associations Institute, there are more than 350 thousand HOAs in the United States, covering more than half of the population. By using affinity marketing, you can make HOAs market for you. Here’s how.
What is an HOA?
HOAs may be mandatory or voluntary. The trend is towards mandatory associations where membership is part of a home’s covenants. Mandatory HOAs include every home in a subdivision.
HOAs are growing. In 2020 four out of five new homes were part of an HOA. In the South, HOAs are less prevalent. Only 40% of new homes in the South belong to an HOA, according to iProperty Management. Still, HOAs represent a significant segment of the Southern homes and a significant opportunity.
The purpose of the HOA is to maintain common areas, including community pools if present. Frequently, HOAs govern architectural changes to protect home values.
What is important for contractors about HOAs is that each HOA is connected with all of the homeowners in the neighborhood it covers. The HOA collects dues from the homeowners, which they don’t like to pay and the HOA hesitates to increase. Therein lies the opportunity.
Creating an Affinity Marketing Program
Affinity marketing involves marketing to a group of people who share a common affinity, such as supporting a school, charity, or even a homeowners association. With affinity marketing, you find a way to support the organization and the organization’s principals, in turn, encourage its supporters to patronize your business. For example, you could donate $10 or $20 to the HOA for every service agreement sold to a homeowner in the covered subdivision. Or it could be $10 or $20 for every service call. The key is the HOA is responsible for promoting your business to the homeowners.
Every HOA is looking for more money. For the most part, the only funding for an HOA comes from homeowner dues. Anytime the HOA can raise money without raising dues, everyone wins. Affinity marketing makes that happen.
HOAs are either managed professionally or by volunteers. When HOA membership is voluntary, the organization is likely run by volunteers. When dues and membership is required by covenants, management is usually performed by a professional management company and a board of directors made up of volunteers from the neighborhood.
It is preferrable to reach someone on the HOA board to present the affinity marketing concept. On the other hand, success with a management company could open the doors to a number of HOAs.
Most HOAs operate a website. With a little Internet sleuthing, you can likely find a member of the board or the management company whom you can approach to talk about a painless way for the HOA to raise a little money (i.e., your affinity marketing program).
Some cities maintain directories of the HOAs in their towns. Search on the city websites of the communities in your service area to see if they are listed online.
The best HOAs to approach are those covering neighborhoods that are seven to ten years old because these neighborhoods are just getting ready for a wave of air conditioning change-outs. Neighborhoods of that age will give you sufficient time to build up relationships and generate a reputation that allows you to capitalize on the coming replacements and dominate the subdivision.
Spreading the Word
While it is the responsibility of the HOA management to spread the word and promote your business, you can help. Provide the HOA with post cards they can mail or otherwise distribute that explain the program. Ask the HOA if you can speak at the next meeting. If there is an HOA newsletter, whether print or digital, ask if you can advertise.
Pay as You Go
The beauty of an affinity marketing program with an HOA is the program is that it is pay as you go. If it is not successful, you pay nothing. Your only investment is your time. If you lack the time, delegate to someone in your company. These programs can work for small contractors as well as large contractors.