SOA Communications Good, Bad or Indifferent?

somersett UnitedIt has been nine months since the last BOD elections wherein BOD candidates put forth an agenda to improve communications between the BOD, Community Management and Somersett residents.  Obstensibly to be accomplished via the SOA’s Communication Committee and BOD representative Susan Novell.

Given that the Communication Committee’s specific Charter is: “to assist in the development of communication systems that 1) will enable the Board, Board Committees, and management staff to directly communicate information to Homeowners; and 2) will enable Homeowners to directly communicate information to the Board, Board Committees, and management staff”, it is difficult to see where any significant progress has been made in this regard. Especially via the Association’s website, a major avenue for Association communications, which is in dire need of update.

With regard to new SOA website features, the following has been suggested in the past without success:

  1. A homeowner forum/blog section, wherein homeowners can express their ideas, concerns, questions, letters to the BOD, etc. and expect answers when appropriate. The current website does not support a forum for homeowners to directly communicate with the BOD and/or Management Staff.
  2. Informative BOD, Committee and Staff Reports. The current website publishes nothing more than committee meeting dates and abbreviated meeting minutes with little detail.       Frequent status reports as to what the BOD and SOA Committees have accomplished or are proposing should be posted on the SOA website and included within the bi-monthly newsletters.
  3. News items important to the community. This is a completely neglected feature.
  4. Document Access: Not all SOA documents are accessible on the SOA website (e.g., the SOA’s governing documents), but require separate login to the FirstResidential Services website to access. This should be corrected with all of the SOA’s governing documents available on the SOA website.
  5. A revamp of the website templates to make it more user friendly.

It is recognized that Communication Committee positions are staffed by volunteers who cannot devote full time to committee endeavors and that their suggestions and proposals are subject BOD approval.  However, it is not clear to the average Somersett resident what, if anything, has actually been accomplished.

Comments on how you believe the SOA could improve homeowner communications are welcome and can be emailed to the Communication Committee at

9 thoughts on “SOA Communications Good, Bad or Indifferent?

  1. One suggestion would be to formally propose (so that it becomes an agenda item) an addition to the budget for technology support so that competent technical support could be engaged to update the website, Facebook site and other related technical issues. Without good technical people to implement suggestions for improvement for the website (whether from the board or from residents) will either take a very long time or will not be implemented. The level of effort to accomplish these changes in not currently in the budget of the SOA.

  2. I think that criticism of the Board maybe misplaced. It is First Residential (FR) our Associations management company who should be under fire. Clear consistent communication is a FR responsibility, and despite the Boards efforts they seem to be consistently failing.

    In the last two years I have attended Board, Committee meetings and listened to the pleas for a MIS computer systems update worthy of the 21st Century by Rob Duca and others.

    The much discussed, much dissected homeowner survey from 2 years ago (now) administered by FR, was lacking in depth. This was due to the lack of up to date info concerning our residents – owners and renters. I realize that some of this info is considered confidential…but scanning the publically available list of names and addresses on MySomersett, it should be easy to come up with relevant usable data. This can be cross-checked with the TCTC’s card entry/scanning system…to see which residents are facility users.

    The fact that residents in rented property have to be registered with the HOA, means that uptodate information should be continually available with any decent MIS computer system. That coupled with a “count only” on delinquent dues – so we can see how well FR are doing their primary job collecting. FR should be able to provide on a monthly basis a count on the number of properties owner occupied and those rented, with the current number of Somersett residents. With the new Lennar building and constant change in ownership of the existing houses/empty lots, the list should be updated monthly.

    Somersett Living published bi-monthly does provide community information, but is heavily biased towards golfing and real estate sales activity. Little community news, almost no news on Reno happenings is included. The events calendar is published in each magazine issue. Until June, the main calendars of events were blown up and posted in the reception revolving bulletin board. The May/June Poster of events were only removed when I complained to the receptionist in August, she blamed the lack of a current events poster on the “FR office upstairs”

    FR should be continually sending out info on events, activities prior to them happening to their email list! It was such an email sent out on the bridge group – which enabled me to participate. It would be good if their is a pool closure for “accidents” that all be informed by email immediately.

    Based on my personal dealings with FR (and their predecessor company – now Associa – just fired by Sierra Canyon) – the management companies are slow to respond to complaints, answer routine questions, and often give out inadequate information (especially on maintenance issues).

    communication communication communication…..

  3. The Board is not interested in putting serious communications matters into the budget or on an open session agenda. Since the members know so little about the necessary technology and therefore can’t control it, they shy away and instead speak in feel-good terms about communications while producing nothing.

    Kind of reminds me of people who think they know computers because they use one at home, but couldn’t get a job in Silicon Valley if they died trying. We need action not the same old talk of the last several years.

    Also, the Board has NRS on its side when it (NRS) says that only items that relate to NRS 116.31087 MUST be placed on the agenda. Any other items requested by owners are at the option of the Board whether to put them on the agenda or not. Usually the request is denied. Oh yes, 31087 has to do with a written complaint from a unit’s owner alleging that the Board has violated any provision of NRS. Now that has to be put on the agenda!

    Why re-invent the wheel? There is a website company by the name of Association Voice that is used by HOA’s across the nation, and they will customize to meet the needs of a particular association. Also, there is another nationally known one whose name escapes me, but they are out of Atlanta, Georgia. Last time I spoke on the phone with them (when I was on the Communications Committee) they were willing to fly out at no cost to the Association to make a presentation. I got off the Committee when I saw it was a do-nothing committee.

    1. Joe

      I do believe that the Board is committed to clear and frequent communications on all issues.

      It is the Management companies job to provide a proper MIS system that provides controls, provides data and allows communication by the Board with and between the members.

      I see that you have suggested a management company (Association Voice) who have a 21st Century skill set, and the adminstrative qualities to enhance communications. My suggestion is that we use the same Tahoe-Donner company and MIS system – much admired by the members of the strategic planning and communication committees (and the consulting company, in their December 2014 “future” study)!

      Why try re-invent a broken wheel, when we can employ a smoothly functioning system which is already in effect in a neighboring Association.

      Perhaps with 21stC management skills, communication skills, we would be able (perhaps) to have “gates” on the community’s private streets, that would allow us to use the home-link system in our autos!

  4. With respect it is FSR not FR and their primary job is producing financial reports, only one of which is Accounts Receivable, i.e. collection status, for Board review and response.

    Consistent and frequent communication to owners (should be weekly and immediate for emergencies) is the responsibility of Lauren as the community manager handling the Somersett account for FSR. Whatever happened to what started out as Melissa Mails and then less frequently Lauren Letters?

    There should be two websites: one for owner personal information, e.g. account monetary status, address, phone numbers, email addresses, etc. that only the owner can access; and the other for everything else that owners need to know about or want to share with others, similar to what Somersett United and word-of-mouth now provide in its absence.

    “Somersett Living” is essentially a glossy backdoor real estate endeavor to make it appear Somersett is like a happy happy Disneyland that “you” should move into. I believe Somersett keeps it because the advertising pays for it.

    The first thing the Communications Committee should do is round up copies of publications from other large HOA’s and see the types of information they contain and how they are written. Good places to start are the well-managed Del Webb’s and other HOA’s around Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Southern California.

    Sierra Canyon (Del Webb Reno) owners make up too large a percentage of the Somersett association membership to be ignored, yet they are treated as an afterthought in Somersett Living which goes on blah blah blahing about activities they cannot participate in. Fortunately Sierra Canyon does a much better job of its own keeping its owners informed (don’t get me wrong – that is in comparison to Somersett, but still needs improvement) and has a great electronic “bulletin board” for owner postings, e.g. “I am a new owner. anyone know of a good dentist.” “Looking for a handyman – please let me know if you know of one.” Etc. Etc. Etc.

    Association members first started taking about community communication in 2005 and here we are ten years later with no improvement. Why can’t we be more like three americans on a french train and get things done instead of talking about them on and on.

    BTW Sierra Canyon changed from Associa to FSR in January, some eight months ago.

  5. Visited the SOA website to see what the communication issue is all about. Turns out that the criticisms do have some validity. Under the SOA Member Log-in tab there is a “News and Documents” link that contains an “Association News and Happenings” section. However, there are only two postings here; 1) A Communication Committee Town Hall presentation held in February 2014, and 2) the Finance Committee 2015 Budget presentation held in October 2014. Nothing in the last 10 months? So much for current news from our BOD and SOA Committees.

    In addition, it is evident that the main focus of the SOA website, as well as the bi-monthly newsletter, is for The Club at Town Center activities. Nothing of significance for Sierra Canyon or the other sub-associations. Perhaps this is by design, given that Sierra Canyon has its own website and activities center (Aspen Lodge). Maybe there is some justification for Sierra Canyon to “Secede from the Union”

    1. Communication Critic

      At least you can log in …

      Surely you meant October 2014.

      Some associations post their financials monthly – with variances – so all can see what is happening with the 2015 budget versus actual.

      A place for residents to report issues with the extensive landscaping we all are paying for … complete with action commentary from FSR.

      The City Reno has a site where you can post (ask?) about your concerns and suggestions.

      1. It’s true. Most readers of this blog don’t have the technical skills necessary remember a user name and password, much less log in to a website. Besides, everything that is lacking, is already available here.

        1. Association Voice is not a management company. It is a website/ communications company used nationwide by a large number of HOA’s. It is considered to be the leader in the field. Del Webb Reno (Sierra Canyon) has had it for years.

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