Online Solutions for the Community Association Industry.

Van Wyck HOA

"More than just a website..."

During a mundane Landscape Committee meeting in the spring of 2008 Joseph Caplan raised the question of whether their management company would support a community website.

Without hesitation their property manager agreed there was a need for a website and took the idea to McGrath Management Services, Inc. Of course, the significant work began after an extensive Google search displayed AtHomeNet as the premiere community and association hosting company. Caplan promptly contacted AtHomeNet salesteam member Jeanette Payne for information and within a few days poured over the extensive list of website features available.

Once the decision to go forward was made; the AtHomeNet Support team brought the website online efficiently, and after a few days of setting up the resident database, online authentication protocol, feature set and graphics seemed complete. The website was announced to the Van Wyck communities in The Van Wyck Gazette community magazine with a sense of mixed anticipation and exasperation.

The statistics clearly showed no activity, at first; but within a relatively short period of time, Caplan managed to bring a new website serving a community of 400 homes to not only a central information resource with thousands of hits monthly, but also to the point where AtHomeNet bestowed their "Community of the Year" award in just a little over one year?

Van Wyck's website's meteoric rise to prominence among residents and beyond within the greater community is largely due to the extensive set of features that Caplan makes use of on a weekly basis. He provided a list of some of the most important ones and how he uses them as follows:

The Public Home Page is the brain of our website. Information is clearly presented in the most straight forward manner. The page is arranged in a topic hierarchy with "breaking news" prominently displayed, followed by related categories such as "local news" and other significant information.

The Message Board is clearly the heart of our website. Residents voice their candid opinions in comments about the community, questions about maintenance, and even contractor recommendations. The occasional controversy stirs a jump in page views and more than once resulted in a daily statistical record.

The Events Calendar is vital to our website as the source of clubhouse availability, and pertinent information such as pool schedules, class registrations, and community committee meetings.

The Resolve! eForm is probably the single most effective problem resolution tool available to the homeowner. Developed with the eForms template and delivered to the Management Company and a Board Member, over 10% of community homeowners have submitted the eForm to request a warranty repair, report a serious issue, or suggest an improvement.

The Document Menu is likely the most valuable single source of community documentation available. Almost every homeowner that elects to hire a contractor to expand their patio requires the Architectural Modification Request document available online.

Other documents include Pool Rules and Regulations, the Warranty Request Form, and the Advertising Request Form.

The Van Wyck Gazette is the community online magazine with a menu tab on the public home page. The Gazette supports the website and vice versa. In fact the magazine is read by more visitors to our website than homeowners.

The Advertising of community and home based business ventures is the current priority of the website. Revenue from sponsors and advertisers is expected to support our current AtHomeNet services, possibly expand into additional features, and publish the Gazette. The continued support of several friends of the community and the Management Company has made the success of the website a reality. By any measure, our website has grown to become the "go to" source of information, opinions, entertainment, and advertising.

Building "Community" through the website

Van Wyck HOA's current sponsor, Toll Brothers, advertised on the website which contributed both to our statistical peak of 9,000 page views last spring and their sale of over 103 homes in the community. The HOA's support of homeowner entrepreneurs helped local visionaries the Cohen Sisters grow their baked goods venture at the Fishkill Farmer's Market into a yearlong success story.

The description of a medical mission to Africa by a homeowner was featured in the Van Wyck Gazette. The write up about the follow up mission was published in the following issue with full color photographs. The Art of Living community group advertised their cultural event on the website's homepage with a link to promotional material inside the website.

Caplan makes it known regularly that he is proud to serve as the website administrator and continue to encourage the growth and utility of Van Wyck's internet presence. He also makes a point to express the communities' appreciation to McGrath Management Services, Inc. of Fishkill and Bedford, New York for their continued support. As well as Toll Brothers, a current sponsor, and a group Caplan is focused on impressing through the realization of the website's full potential.

Whether administrating the websites or delegating responsibility to other Board members, the success of AtHomeNet's web hosting services is highly regarded within the community. Caplan is now focused on the development of their community magazine with "page turning software" to be placed on Van Wyck's public homepage.

Van Wyck's management company, McGrath Management Services, although modest, manages over 5,500 homes in metropolitan New York, very upscale properties. Caplan is in discussions with one of their officers, Kevin McGrath, to offer additional AHN website solutions and a wider "Van Wyck Gazette" distribution.

As of January of 2010, Caplan accepted the communities' first payment for advertising, which will go towards paying for the website itself. In February, Caplan proudly posted advertisements by Panera Bread and Edward Jones Financial Services, who have both paid full year subscription fees up front. Caplan's advertising revenue generating efforts have also yielded several other interested clients, opening the door not only to generate funds for the website to pay for itself; but also to use the site itself as a business tool to generate a net profit for the community as a whole on a yearly basis. As of March 2010, Van Wyck's "Friends of the Community" advertising program has garnered national, regional, and local accounts. Edward Jones Financial, Panera Bread Bakery and Cafe, and Folkes Heating and Cooling are major accounts that by Caplan's estimates will more than pay for their AtHomeNet subscription expenses for the next 5 years!

Van Wyck's Community Newsletter has now become a magazine that serves 5 communities totaling nearly 500 homes, and impressed the managing editor of a local Newspaper, The Southern Dutchess News. One of their recent issues issues was uploaded to the website in full color. AtHomeNet's Graphics Department even provided a separate tab for the magazine on the public home page.

With an unlimited potential for improving the community's connectivity and bringing in revenue, by every other statistical measure the website continues to break targets: a higher login rate, a peak daily page view rate of over 500, a peak monthly page view rate of 9,000, and an average 30 day page view rate of about 6,000. Most importantly, the single factor Caplan is most proud of is that the website has become the "go to" source for reliable information, news, and opinions!


About AtHomeNet
AtHomeNet® is the nation's premier provider of customized, affordable websites for communities and Professional Association Management Firms. The company was founded in 1998 by husband and wife team, Jeff and Susan Sanders. With their HOA websites now being used in over 1.8 million homes in and more than 6 countries, AtHomeNet continues to grow as a company and enhance their services in the ever expanding world of online technology.

AtHomeNet, Inc.
P.O. Box 1405
Suwanee, GA 30024
(800) 556-7852
(770) 904-7930