Thank you for being our customer

It’s 8:02pm and my wife and I just put our kids to bed. Now I’m trying to figure out how to announce the new website that we’re launching at eNeighbors. It got me thinking about the beginning, when we started the company 11 years ago. And I couldn’t help but be filled with gratitude for everyone who helped make eNeighbors what it is today.

The list of people that have directly contributed to eNeighbors in one way or another is amazingly long, and for privacy reasons, I won’t list any names here, but you know who you are. And of course, without our customers, we would be nothing. So perhaps, most of all, I want to say thank you, to you – our customer.

It comes down to this – because you buy deals on eNeighbors, I can pay myself, and my employees. And we can continue to do the work that we love to do.

So, from the bottom of my heart, really, and truly, thank you.

In our Kansas City area neighborhoods – the only city where our eDeals program is offered – you have purchased over 50,000 deals from local businesses that offer service to the home – like lawn care, window washing, and carpet cleaning. And because you and many of your neighbors bought deals, we were able to negotiate bulk discounts with local service providers – saving everyone money, while helping local providers acquire new customers.

Your purchases represent over $4,000,000 in revenue for local service providers and an equal amount in savings just by buying together and scheduling together, one neighborhood at a time.

The success of eDeals in saving homeowners money and helping local providers grow their businesses, all while allowing us to grow our own business, has inspired us to build a new website dedicated to featuring money-saving deals from local service providers.

The new site will feature many of the deals from the service providers you’ve come to love. The user experience is greatly improved, however, especially on mobile devices.

Our “soft launch” is set for September 1st. An email with a link to the new site will be sent to all customers. More to come soon.

It’s time to get back to work…see you then.

Won’t you be my neighbor?

Study finds that 55% of Americans believe they are less familiar with their neighbors today than their parents were with their neighbors a generation ago.

Three out of ten Americans (27%) don’t know their neighbors first and last names;

Six in ten Americans (59%) who aren’t friendly with their neighbors say it’s because they’re just too busy to create meaningful relationships;

Fewer than half of Americans (48%) have borrowed something, like a cup of sugar, from one of their neighbors

(via FrontPorchForum)

The Neighborhood Challenge

Being part of a neighborhood board of directors is a tough job. It’s usually voluntary, so getting that extra effort not only from yourself but from the other board members is a challenge especially since the rewards are only intrinsic in nature.

Anyone that’s ever worked as a project manager knows how difficult it can be to manage a group of people who don’t always see eye to eye on every issue. Additionally, there are a number of community needs that constantly must be met.

I just finished putting together a great outline of these challenges and the corresponding solutions that eNeighbors offers to help conquer these challenges. My hope is that this document will help clarify how valuable the eNeighbors service is to neighborhoods and more specifically managed communities.

Here is the list of challenges addressed in the PDF:

– Communication
– Time Management
– Sense of Community
– Safety Concerns
– Architectural Compliance
– HOA Documentation
– Board Member Turnover
– Privacy of Information
– Community Value

View and download the PDF here

Do you get along with your neighbors?

Neighbors have gotten a bad rap. It seems to me that the perception is people don’t like their neighbors.

But apparently, if you’re like most people, you get along very well with your neighbors, according to a study by Zogby International on “Homeownership and Association Living”.

“An overwhelming majority of association members get along well with their neighbors (86%), and a substantial two out of three (64%) get along very well. Among those who report conflict, pets are the most common source (28%).” -Zogby International*

So why do neighbors get such a bad rap? I think it has to do with your neighbor’s ability to affect your life so dramatically – positively or negatively. If you get the wrong neighbor it can make you seriously consider picking up and moving out of town. On the other hand, the right neighbor can become a good friend, provide a sense of place, or at the very least, someone you trust to watch the dog when you’re on vacation.

In my own experience, I find myself complaining about a neighbor because I don’t or can’t communicate with them. Every single issue that I’ve personally had with a neighbor has been resolved almost instantly when I knock on their door and talk to them.

Communication is critical in any relationship, and that includes the relationships that you have with your neighbors. One of the higher order goals that we have here at eNeighbors is to increase communication in our neighborhoods to make them better places to live, providing those who live there a sense of community. So, whether you get along with your neighbors or not, sign up for eNeighbors today. Who knows, maybe you’ll resolve a conflict or meet a new friend who has a lot in common with you.

*This study was commissioned by Community Associations Institute, a national organization devoted to common interest community research, development, and scholarship.

The Neighborhood Champion

There’s always that one person in every neighborhood. You may not know them personally, but it’s likely that you’ve benefited from the time and effort that they put into your community.

I’m talking about the person who plans the annual garage sale, organizes the progressive dinner, gets the kids together for the pool party, publishes the neighborhood newsletter, and may even call you for a donation for the neighborhood swim team.

As you might imagine, I love working with these people. At some point, I’m almost always in contact with the “neighborhood champion” in every community that uses our services.

If you sit on the board of directors in your neighborhood and you don’t know who your neighborhood champion is, I implore you to recruit them immediately. The energy that they bring is overwhelming and will be amplified with the support of the board of directors.

Neighborhood champions are so important because they bring the community together through constant communication. They spend hours in Microsoft Publisher creating flyers and newsletters in hopes that they can get a few more people to come to the Fall Bash.

I was talking with a neighborhood champion today who explained to me how eNeighbors acts like a neighborhood champion, which got me to thinking about the similarities between eNeighbors and the neighborhood champion:

  1. eNeighbors constantly communicates with the neighborhood by automatically sending out weekly eNewsletters via email. Neighborhood champions constantly communicate by sending out paper newsletters.
  2. eNeighbors promotes and organizes social events online and even accepts RSVPs. Neighborhood champions organize social events by printing flyers and making phone calls.
  3. eNeighbors forms social groups like bunko clubs, playgroups and poker games. Neighborhood champions form social groups too, it just takes a little more effort.

Whether you have a neighborhood champion or not, eNeighbors can help keep your neighborhood connected. If you’re interested in seeing more, Request a Demo today.

Can a website slow cars down?

To a certain extent, it can. How? By increasing awareness.

The Highlands Ranch Board of Directors asked the city of Leawood, KS to conduct a speed survey due to the concern that cars were speeding through the neighborhood, putting residents and children at risk.

Then, they published the results on their neighborhood website.The survey showed that only 3% of cars (20 vehicles of 647) were going over the speed limit by 10mph or more.

The highest recorded speed was 41 mph.

While 3% sounds like a small number, it’s not for a street like 141st Street where thousands of cars move through on a weekly basis.

At some point, it may make sense for the board to pursue traffic calming measures like roundabouts. If they do decide to request this from the city council, it will take the support from the entire neighborhood.

Educating residents early on and keeping them informed of their progress will be critical to garnering the support for traffic calming measures in the future, if that turns out to be the right thing to do.

In the meantime, the board has opened up a dialogue in the community allowing people to comment on the article or to submit private “Community Feedback” to the board.

Part of the reason I wanted to post this information was because it’s a great example of how an online neighborhood communication channel can add value to a community. I also think that our other customers will appreciate knowing what other boards are doing about speed problems.

66224 – My new favorite zip code

If you go to and type in a zip code, it’s unlikely that you’ll find your neighborhood. Since we’re still technically in beta and limiting the number of neighborhoods that are online, our zip code lists are pretty sparse. However, yesterday we launched another neighborhood in zip code 66224, making it the first zip code with more than one online neighborhood. Congratulations 66224!

If your neighborhood isn’t online yet, what are you waiting for? Request a demo today.

Where the magic happens

Running a virtual company has huge cost-saving benefits, but the downside is you don’t get a chance for the “watercooler” chat. There are about 4-7 people working on eNeighbors at any given time, some in Overland Park, KS, one in California, and me, I’m in Boulder, CO.

Anyway, in an effort to make things a little less virtual, I thought I’d show everyone where the magic happens in Boulder, CO.

Note the key elements (1: coke on desk, 2: computer, and 3: dog…)

Neighborhood social networks and the importance of privacy

I just read a Business Week article titled “Social Networking Goes Niche“. I loved reading it because it validates the eNeighbors model of neighborhood social networking. It even goes on to say that advertisers will pay more to advertise on sites like eNeighbors with greater targeting ability.

What I really liked reading about though is the evolution of social networking and the greater need for privacy controls over your personal information because eNeighbors has aggressively pursued privacy for our users (almost) from the beginning.

I’d like to think that I’m a visionary, but I’m far from it. It’d be great to claim that I knew privacy would be really important for social networking sites, which is why I built it into the eNeighbors app, but really, I just let my customers tell me.

The first 10 neighborhood websites that we built were stand alone sites that included a public and and private side. Approximately 70% of the information was publicly available. It’s a good thing that we didn’t commit to this approach because it turns out that not everybody wants this.

Our customers were vocal about their concerns over information about their neighborhood being made publicly available. One by one, we started to move things behind login. First it was the social event photos of their kids at the Easter Egg Hunt, and then they wanted financial information behind login, when finally they asked, “Why don’t you just put everything behind login?”

So we did.

What a great decision that was. It not only answered the privacy issue, but also made things more exclusive, creating greater interest from the neighborhood. (What’s behind that login screen anyway?) Early indications are that this is helping to increase adoption rates (the number of homes registered in a community).

But I digress.

Privacy and information control will make or break niche social networks. If we weren’t able to assure our customers that their information will be kept private, I don’t think we would see the registration numbers that we do. At MySpace, you can hide behind an alias in a sea of 100+ million users, but in smaller social networks where you might actually run into people you meet online, it’s necessary to have control over what information you share with others.

Our community experience

We have experienced the value of an eNeighbors website. Nottingham Forest South has 582 homes and is about twenty years old. Enhancing our ability to communicate had a measurable impact on our community.

There were several challenges we faced as an aging community:

1)How do we revitalize our neighborhood and get more people involved?
2)How can we get more people attending our social events?
3)How do we educate our residents to gain voluntary compliance with our covenants and restrictions?

We had restraints. We realized that our number one issue was communication. Our neighborhood had published the same monthly paper newsletter for twenty years. It was expensive and boring. The Board of Directors had limited space to deliver the meaningful information. The cost of production and mailing costs were significant considering the size of our community.

We also had difficulty finding residents willing to serve. Retiring board members were encouraged to recruit a replacement. This was an effective process but it literally involved begging each year.

Finally, the straw that “broke the camels back” was when 25 kids showed up at the Easter Egg hunt. We were prepared for over 100 so the 25 children walked away with what looked like a Halloween load of goodies. Somehow we had to find a way to put community back in the community.

We had a website but so what. No one could remember the web address and no one visited the site which had grown stale with out of date information. How much were we paying that guy to manage the site? Too much for zero value.

The eNeighbors product did wonders for our community. Using their process we were able to get over 70% of our residents registered to receive eAnnouncements (email notifications from the board with links to content). This process enabled the Board of Directors to send email to the majority of the community with ease. All of a sudden we were sending weekly eAnnouncements. Communication had basically become free. The following Easter over 100 kids showed up at the annual hunt. Because of the registration process we knew exactly who was coming and bought the exact amount of supplies for the event. We were amazed that residents were filling out online registrations at 11:00 p.m. The key was reminding residents of the event three times the week before the event with a feature called bulletins which is basically instant email.

The following November we found ourselves in the enviable position of having more resident volunteers for board and committee positions than available openings. We attributed the interest to the new communication process.

The real proof of the success of the new system appeared when a hail storm rolled through the community. Our architectural committee received over 300 applications for a new roof in four months. Every one of the applications was sent using our new eNeighbors website. We gained 100% compliance.

Excuse me if this sounds like a sales pitch but if you have issues in your community and you are considering eNeighbors and are willing to commit to their process you won’t be disappointed. It took several mailings over four months to get our community registration to an acceptable level. It took some patience on our part. The fact we knew exactly who was registered and more importantly, who was not registered made the process measurable and kept the board focused.