Based in Southern California, The Avalon Management Group has three offices that have served HOA communities throughout Orange, Riverside, and San Diego Counties. In business for more than 30 years, the company was started by Mark Jones, AMS, PCAM.
Recently, we sat down with Mark to talk about his company and vision for elevating the standard of today’s management companies.
Q: What makes Avalon Management different than other management companies?
“We are different because of our focus on establishing long-term partnerships with the communities we serve rather than just being hired to handle the workload. To do that meant viewing the client and the communities as partners where there was open communication, respect, consistency, and mutual benefit. We spend a great deal of time interviewing any prospective community before we partner with them to ensure that their goals align with ours, and they have the funds available to properly maintain the community. Client selection is half of the challenge to a successful organization.
Today, Avalon Management stands out for making that vision a reality. However, we also differentiate ourselves through how we use technology to reinforce those partnerships. We also focus on hiring the best talent that share our vision and maintain fair pricing. Lastly, I think that what makes us different is our incessant focus on ongoing process improvement. We can always do better and be better, so we keep working. That involves ongoing education, training, and development as well as community surveys and one on one staff meetings with everyone in the company so we can get continual feedback from those we serve and who work on our team.”
Q: What drives the philosophy and purpose to your business, making it stand out from other management companies?
“When I started Avalon Management, I wanted to make sure it was different in every way possible from the management companies I saw in the industry. The purpose behind that was to give HOA communities a viable reason to use a management company in a way that would help them flourish rather than do the bare minimum. I thought about how I would like to be treated if I had a community and wanted to ensure I could balance a budget, handle the unexpected, and provide services and amenities that would increase home values and the resident’s quality of life.
I have also seen so much frustration with management companies in other communities because residents feel like they are dealing with rules so it becomes very antagonistic. Instead, the purpose of Avalon Management is to build the community up and work together with a shared vision of a higher standard of living. It’s about what we can do to help residents have a great place to call home.”
Q: How does your company culture help your success?
“To create the environment I previously mentioned in every community we serve requires that our own company culture reflect the same values, purpose, and beliefs. Therefore, company culture is everything and determines whether we succeed or not at what we do. For example, our staff have to be satisfied and love their jobs in order to create that same feeling in the communities we serve.”
We have done well at that, with many of our employees being here since the beginning well over 30 years ago. The average staff tenure has been at least 10 years or more, which speaks to the culture we have created for them.”
Q: What role do people play in your organization?
“Our people are the lifeblood of our organization and the primary reason for our success. Their experience and knowledge provide incredible value to the communities we serve.
In turn, it’s important to me and the rest of the team that we give them the tools they need and recognize the importance of balanced workloads. We also provide access to ongoing professional development opportunities and continually reward them for their service and loyalty.”
Q: What types of changes have you seen in the industry that you are addressing or working toward solving?
“The industry has seen its challenges with continual changes in legislation and laws that impact what can be done in HOAs. Some have been tough to handle for those who may not have prioritized things like preventative maintenance or proper funding of the reserve budget. Other legislation has affected everyone in the industry, again pushing us to do things differently than we imagined, such an addressing discrimination claims between homeowners.
Recent events like the pandemic have also tested our ability as an industry and forced many to address important issues, including the need for more companies to digitally transform themselves and learn to work in a remote way.
In all these situations, the lessons learned were to be proactive, focus on continual improvement, focus on fiscal discipline, and be innovative in addressing complex and unexpected situations.”
Q: What do you see as the future of the industry?
“The future of the industry will be continued digital evolution and a rising demand for talent. We will have to respond with better wages and working environments as an industry to attract this talent.
Ongoing legislation will also demand that we spend more time working together as colleagues rather than competitors, so we can ensure our industry continues to have the room to operate in a way that helps our community partners.
We also believe there will be an emergence of a “third” budget, that addresses aging infrastructure, which is absent from your normal operating or reserve budget.
Rising costs will permanently affect budgets, and supply chain problems will delay many projects, education of these problems to the residents will now need to be a new part of management duties.”
Q: How has Avalon Management helped raise the standard of property management on a local/regional level?
“When I see the awards that we have won for the positive impact we have made and see our talent praised across the industry, I know that we have been able to raise the bar on what our industry should be doing in terms of service, value, and innovation.”