Creating a database of owner information can be quite difficult, especially if you do not have any experience creating one. When a condo has well over 500 units, collecting information from owners can seem like an extremely daunting challenge. Nonetheless, the importance of keeping track of owner information using a database cannot be stressed enough. Utilizing our experience from working with hundreds of condo corporations of various sizes, we have summarized a set of tips below that can be used to successfully create an owner database.
- Create a Master Spreadsheet
- Create and Distribute an Intake/Registration Form
- Call Owners/Go Door-to-Door
- Incentivize Owners
- Use Condo Management Software
Tip #1: Create a Master Spreadsheet
Microsoft Excel is an amazing tool with countless benefits—one of which is its ability to make the tracking and organizing of information extremely simple. All you need to do is create the necessary headers, such as “name,” “suite number,” and “e-mail,” and insert the corresponding information under each header. Making changes in an Excel file is just as simple, so updating information when a current owner leaves or when a new owner enters can be done with ease. With Excel, you can also share your files with other staff members or third parties easily—just save the file, attach it to your e-mail message, and send it. It’s as simple as that.
Tip #2: Create and Distribute an Intake/Registration Form
Creating an intake or registration form and distributing it to owners is a great method to obtain information. Such forms should include basic questions regarding the owner’s name, suite number, mailing address, and the like. Have owners either return the form to your front office or scan a copy back to you. Once this information is received, you can then include it in your master spreadsheet. Your concierge and staff can also be a great asset to helping collect these forms during day-to-day operations. Any time an owner makes a request or asks a question in-person, staff members should encourage the owner to submit a form on-the-spot.
In the case of off-site owners, we understand that it’s common practice to mail forms out. However, we don’t suggest doing this, as response rates are typically quite low for mail items that require action. For instance, a Property Manager we had the pleasure of working with mailed out a questionnaire for his owners to complete and return. Out of 300 owners, only 1 returned a completed form. So how do you combat this issue? Luckily, there are programs on the Internet that allow you to create online forms, such as Google Forms. Google Forms is a program that allows you to create custom forms for online surveys and questionnaires. You’ll be able to share your customized form with owners through e-mail, and as they complete it, you’ll receive responses and summaries immediately.
Tip #3: Call Owners/Go Door-to-Door
Sometimes being old-fashioned is the best way to go about doing things. Go door-to-door so that you can talk to owners and collect their information. In addition, call your owners in order to collect their information through the phone. We find that while these two methods of obtaining owner information are extremely classical, they are also quite effective, as they add a personal element to the approach. Nothing is more meaningful to owners than a one-on-one conversation with their property manager.
Tip #4: Incentivize Owners
The reality is that you will encounter owners that simply don’t want to give you their information. Regardless of their reason(s), offering an incentive to do so may help change their mind. We find that engaging owners using rewards or prizes can help to incentivize and persuade owners to provide you with their information. A great example of this is the use of gift cards—whenever an owner provides you with their information, you can provide them with a small gift card in return (we noticed that a $5 gift card to a coffee shop is the most common). We realize that this may be another expense that you will have to incur, but we promise the permanent benefits of having a full database of owner information will outweigh the temporary expense of the gift cards.
Tip #5: Use Condo Management Software
If you are still not intrigued with the idea of creating your own database, there are luckily many condo management software products that you can purchase. Many of these programs contain features that allow you to easily maintain and edit unit information, as well as keep up-to-date with resident contact details. You'll also be able to conveniently export all of the owner information into a spreadsheet at any time.
Overall Benefits of Having a Database
Overall, having a database of owner information will provide immense benefits for the present and the future. Creating and maintaining a database ultimately allows you to keep track and remain up-to-date with information regarding new owners, current owners that have moved out, or current owners that simply made a change to their contact information.
Unsurprisingly, condos that have a more complete and accurate list of their owner email addresses tend to also be more successful at reaching quorum and passing bylaws. Such condos are able to get the bylaw messaging out to a greater number of owners and, using GetQuorum’s proxy software, significantly increase the number of online proxies collected from owners. For more information regarding how to effectively pass a bylaw, feel free to check out our article "Tips To Help You Pass Your Next Bylaw"
Try to ensure that the process of collecting owner information and maintaining the database becomes a “common practice.” We understand that the process of doing so may be tedious and time consuming, however this is an exercise, that once done properly becomes systematic and provides enormous benefits. All members of management and administration must understand this in order to ensure long-term sustainability of the condo’s operations.