Growing your security guard company by bidding on a homeowner's association (HOA) contract can be one of the most political buying processes you will endure as a security manager. When you enter these meetings, you don’t enter a board room; it’s a war room. You can find one group has a bone to pick with the people who favor the contract, and they aren’t going to sign the contract because it would mean agreeing with their rivals on the board.
Homeowner's association boards can be the hardest prospects to sell to in the security industry. We’re going to give you 3 tactical approaches to position your next proposal and then make that HOA security contract long term.
Do Your Homework
The first thing to do is review the HOA's covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R). The CC&R's are legal documents that control the community rules, values, and standards of living. The documents are designed to ensure a certain level of aesthetics and order that all active homeowners must abide to, such as:
- Resident behavior (no glass containers around the pool)
- Architecture (no fences higher than 8 feet)
- Common responsibilities - (fee schedules and fines for non-compliance)
One thing to remember though is HOA board members are dedicated to protecting and improving the CC&Rs and most hold monthly, or quarterly, or bi-annual meetings to review them.
If you do your homework and know which rules are most important to the majority of the board members, that will put you a long way ahead of the competition. Before your proposal meeting, do your homework and take some time to research:
- Minutes from past HOA meetings. You can see what topics have been discussed, so you know what the board’s priorities have been, what complaints have been raised, and what problems they have had in the past around the community.
- Past HOA budgets. This can tell you how much is approved to spend on security, so you go in with the right price and not underbid your contract.
And do your best to speak with a current resident. If you see “For Sale” signs or people walking their dogs while checking out the site, stop and politely introduce yourself. It’s an easy way to get some direct information about the neighborhood and get a finger on the pulse of the residents.
Win Board Member Allies
Larger communities typically have a HOA board member assigned specifically to safety, security and parking. That person reports on all these issues at every board meeting. Depending on the current security company, this member will typically be provided with some sort of incident report that will summarize the problems around the community. If they are not using an automated incident reporting system, it will be hard for them to compile the data into a digestible format and could spell the end of their contract with the HOA.
But if you are using a HOA security reporting system, you can walk in confidently and provide statistics & valuable reports that will give them actionable data they can use to to make changes in the community or CC&R's. When you make the security board member’s job easier, you’ve got their vote.
The same thing goes for property managers. When they call with a question about your guard tours, share the data that allows them to make a good report to the board. When you’re taking your site inspections throughout the property, notify the manager of any issues you observe. That’s one walk-through she won’t have to take.
Demonstrate Partnership Opportunities
It’s one thing to offer the lowest price or use the best dressed officers. But if you can display a track record of partnership, you’ll win board approval and be on the way to long-term HOA security contracts.
Showing off a tenure of reliability from not just your guards, but your entire organization will only help close the deal.
Demonstrate that you’ve held other HOA accounts, and understand why maintaining their CC&Rs is an important part of your service. That shows that you have credibility in this industry.
But also show that you are able to work well with other vendors. Being a successful hoa security company starts with being able to work well with other teams they use to keep things in order. Be willing to report broken sprinklers to their maintenance team, do the lighting inspections on the schedules they request, and give the management team all the specific reports they need in a timely manner.
Showing that you understand the nuances of the homeowners and the board you are working with will make it really difficult for another company to take that contract away. Do your best to get your first HOA contract in a Level A property. The other business will follow.