Overwatering Delinquencies

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I was fortunate to join YPO (Young Presidents Organization) when I was… young. The organization exposed me to leadership principles and concepts at the forefront of various industries. In many ways, that has been a blessing. But it has also been a frustration as I came to realize the apathy within the condo/HOA industry for advancement. In many ways, our industry continues to operate in analog despite our digital surroundings.

This was most apparent when I owned a property management company. We had to write our own software, develop community websites, and adapt systems from other industries that were lightyears ahead of ours. One area where we saw dramatic improvement was in the collection of delinquencies.

Like most management companies, we handed delinquencies off to a local attorney and forgot about them. But we grew tired of the poor results and substandard reporting. And our Boards were frustrated with the endless saga of accounts that took way too long to resolve and cost way too much in legal fees.

Through an effort of continuous improvement and best practices, we have experienced dramatic success in collections for the condo/HOA industry. Simple adjustments have led to meaningful improvements, such as understanding the best ways to communicate proactively with homeowners, making refinements to payment plans and payment methods, determining the least expensive yet most effective forms of legal action, etc. Accounts that previously took 180 days or more to resolve are now being resolved in an average of 90 days. Legal actions that previously cost thousands of dollars are now being performed for a fraction. This is all the product of continuous improvement and best practices that have found the low-hanging fruit for our industry.

Still, many managers continue to operate in analog. They send their delinquent accounts to the same place they have for decades, using the same regressive policy and practices. Occasionally they will become frustrated with these analog practices, banging on the top of that old TV in an effort to improve the picture. But the rest of the world is watching Netflix in 4K.

I recently installed a digital irrigation controller at my house. It seemed logical enough that this new technology, which gathers local weather data, could make adjustments to my watering schedule. But I had no idea. The system paid for itself in a matter of months and my lawn looks perfect. I am no longer wasting water or dealing with substandard results as a result of my analog system. My lawn has gone digital! And the only question I ask is why I waited so long to do something that was so obviously beneficial?

Shouldn’t you be asking the same question about your collections? Our industry is overwatering one account while another is parched. And if our “lawn” has looked good in recent years, it has not been from the proactive efforts of the legal community, but rather the byproduct of a good economy – even an analog lawn looks good when there is regular rainfall.

Isn’t it time you break free from the analog practice of collections and go digital?


Gar Liebler is the Founder and Visionary of a national real estate services and investment company headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

His original property management firm, LandArc, was founded in 1985 and grew to operate in multiple states. After selling LandArc in 2015, Gar shifted his focus to value-added services for the community association industry, both as Visionary for LifestyleLink, a digital event management software for highly-amenitized communities, and with the national leader in assessment recovery, Equity Experted.

Gar also serves on various professional boards and charities.