Insights from the CEO of Capital Consultants Management Corporation
Bart Park, the 46-year-old CEO of one of the nation’s most successful management firms, draws on Old Testament insights – the Golden Rule – when managing communities.
“CMCAs perceive this business as a paper business. It’s not,” Park says. “It’s a people business. When you treat people the way they want to be treated, it just works.”
Authoritarian vs. Humanitarian Approach
“I hate the stereotypical homeowners association,” Park confesses. “I find them dogmatic, draconian, and all about the rules.”
In his view, HOAs should stop nitpicking about covenant violations and focus on creating ways for people to bond with their neighborhoods. Examples include sponsoring daddy-daughter dances, 10Ks, volunteer outings and Little League.
“HOA management is about understanding people.” Park continues. “People are nice. And the more you can get them connected to each other and their neighborhood, the better your communities and the more property values go up.”
“The tangential benefit is that you don’t have to enforce the rules because people do it on their own,” he adds. “Fewer homes go on the market, and when they do, they sell for more.”
The Golden Rule
Park’s management philosophy is ‘treat others as you’d like to be treated.’
But what happens when a resident has been harboring too-tall weeds, or a boat in the driveway?
Instead of jumping on the homeowner, assume he or she simply doesn’t know the rules. The first step, then, is education. After you’ve explained the rules (try language like, ‘when you bought your home, you liked the neighborhood because the yards were clean. That’s why we have this rule…’) help the homeowner find a solution. Refer him or her to a boat storage unit with a 5 percent-off coupon. If the problem is overgrown weeds, give him or her a discount at a landscaping business.
Cap off the interaction with the message, “Here’s the place all your neighbors are using.”
Of course, a smart CMCA will have set up those discounts with business partners ahead of time.
And never, ever send out a covenant violation letter on a Wednesday. If you do, so it lands in the homeowner’s mailbox on Friday at 5:03 pm. That gives the recipient all weekend to stew over it, and call you Monday morning in a fury.
From chlorine to a corporate chieftain
Park, who calls himself a “straight shooter,” is anything but conventional. He dropped out of high school to work first as a lifeguard then an auto mechanic. He entered the industry as pool manager, then moved up to covenant enforcer; then community manager. He worked under mentors such as CCMC founder Ed Budreau and David Gibbons, former CAI educator of the year.
Today, his 600-employee company has a client roster that includes Celebration in Orlando, Florida; Las Vegas’ Mountain Edge; and Dallas’ Craig Ranch and Heartland.