By Robert M. Nordlund, PE, RS
Association Reserves, Inc.
As a leader in Reserve Study education the past 30 years, I am enamored with the concept of using “webinars” to teach our clients about Reserve Studies. Just think: managers & boardmembers can gain important industry information and knowledge from the convenience of their homes, offices, or favorite coffee shops… or anywhere they happen to be with their laptop, tablet or smartphone!
What is a Webinar?
For those who don’t know, a webinar is a web-based seminar. Attendees watch the webinar on their screen, and listen via headphones or their device’s speakers. Webinars are often broadcast “live” and recorded for convenient playback at a later time for anyone who was unable to attend.
Depending on the hosting organization, the webinar may be open to all by simply clicking on a link at the time of the broadcast. Most professional webinars require advance registration and some webinars (particularly those providing Continuing Education credit) may involve a registration fee.
Webinars vs. Traditional Industry Luncheons
Let’s explore this interesting comparison: Each month you have an opportunity to attend a CAI luncheon hosted by your local chapter to hear an industry expert speak on a particular topic. You are required to register and pay in advance. On the morning of the luncheon, you organize your day around attending the event. You might choose an appropriate outfit, budget some time to check traffic, drive to the venue, park your car, and get settled. After the speaker has completed their presentation, you might appreciate the insights gained during the Q&A session. You may even elect to go up afterwards and ask the speaker a question yourself. All in all, it’s a great experience and professionals in our industry have been participating in this type of learning opportunity for years.
Now remove the dress requirements, eliminate the traffic, disappear the drive time and the hassle of finding a parking place, but keep all of the educational benefits. You can understand why webinars continue to gain popularity! Most webinars allow the attendees to submit questions to the speaker in advance or in real-time, and in some webinar formats attendees are able to interact with one another. The one downside of webinars is that you miss out on the catered lunch. But the best benefit of all is that a 35-minute webinar takes only 35 or 40 minutes of your time.
Association Reserves Webinar History
Association Reserves hosted our first webinar in March 2011 with 46 attendees. The topic was Reserve Studies 101: The Component List. The program was so successful in educating our clients that we have continued to host a webinar just about every month since.
Because of that webinar experience, I was asked to be the speaker at a CAI/National-hosted webinar in 2013 and presented “Saving Smart – Best Practices for Reserve Funds”. Even though the webinar was produced by CAI with an emcee based in Alexandria, VA, I conveniently remained put in my California-based office. Participation in that webinar didn’t require speakers or attendees to get on a plane, rent a car, or stay at a hotel. It was a very effective and efficient way to educate a national audience. Attended by over 100 managers and volunteer boardmembers from 33 different states, the recorded version is still available in CAI’s online library of more than 150 on demand webinars.
Community Associations Benefit From Webinars
One of the many fascinating characteristics of our industry is that the multi-million dollar, not-for-profit community Associations we serve are run by a revolving door of volunteer boardmembers. It’s a role that comes with significant responsibilities and little or no prior training. We know from experience that responsible leaders will keep the financial health and future of their communities in mind when they make decisions. So we spend a significant amount of our time and energy on Reserve Study education to help our clients make wise decisions, save time, and avoid costly Reserve Funding errors.
Our online Learning Center contains hundreds of articles, answers to Frequently Asked Questions, dozens of webinar recordings, CAI’s Reserve Specialist (RS) Certification Requirements, National Reserve Study Standards, and a summary of National Reserve Legislation.
New boardmembers and managers need to learn Reserve Funding decision points and how to avoid missteps. Most seasoned boardmembers and managers want to stay up-to-date on the latest reserve legislation and trends, learn how to save time or get answers to pointed questions, and explore topics of special interest.
Webinars offer a great, effective, efficient, inexpensive, and easily accessible resource library. With a webinar, schedule and geography are no longer a limiting factor for managers and boardmember education. Everyone, anywhere, has access to national-class speakers on a variety of topics. Recorded versions are made available to watch “on demand” at each person’s own convenience.
Webinars promote community association success. Managers and boardmembers can learn about Reserves, or any other topic, from the convenience of their home or office!