Michelle Harmon was recently promoted to General Manager of Water Oak Country Club Estates in Lady Lake, Fla. She says she and her staff don’t view their residents as the people who purchased a home. “We view them as integral parts of this community—and people we are here to serve,” she explains.
By Michelle Harmon • General Manager, Water Oak Country Club Estates • Lady Lake, Fla.
I was recently promoted to General Manager of Water Oak Country Club Estates and I have loved the challenge thus far. But my extensive background in hospitality has made the transition easier than you may expect stepping into this large of a role.
I have spent decades working with hotel and resort guests, ensuring they are comfortable and taken care of and I loved every minute of it. Working with our Water Oak residents and members has allowed me to forge lasting connections in contrast with hotel guests who come and go. This is their home, and we will have these relationships for a long time.
I make it a point to spend as much time with our residents as I can, a priority that is shared by our whole team. I think that’s what makes Water Oak so special. Most of our staff has non-traditional backgrounds, with many, including myself, coming from hospitality. We don’t view our residents as the people who purchased a home, we view them as integral parts of this community—and people we are here to serve. Bringing that hospitality touch to the community management team has been really rewarding. When we speak with our residents, they make it clear how much they love living here … and who wouldn’t? It looks like a resort and has resort amenities. But, more than that, it’s the place you get to call home.
We place a high emphasis on resident interaction here at Water Oak. I will often take care of administrative tasks from my home office, so that when I am on the property I can get as much face time with our residents as possible. Any concern or suggestion, we want to hear it.
Beyond fostering relationships with individual residents, investing in my relationship with our HOA has been high on my priority list. The relationship between community management and a community’s Homeowners Association is not always an easy one. But in this short period of time, I have already seen my team’s investment pay off.
I speak with the president of our HOA every single day, if not multiple times per day. We also know how lucky we are at Water Oak to have such a wonderful group of people living here, as our counterparts. They care about this community as much as we do. Sometimes we have differences of opinion, but having a solid foundation, trust and mutual respect for one another allows us to resolve any issues that may arise.
We are all working toward one common goal … making Water Oak a wonderful place to live and play. By establishing open and honest communication with our residents, we hear their feedback and can work toward implementing their wishes. This, in turn, makes Water Oak more attractive to prospective members and an enjoyable place to work.
Bringing the new amenity center—complete with a pool, dog park and event lawn—was part of a joint effort between the passionate HOA and a hospitality-minded community management team. In addition, we are redesigning our 18-hole golf course and just earned our USGA Championship Golf Course rating. Our community loved the golf course for years and the new design will only enhance that. These special touches are what makes this Lady Lake community feel like a vacation year-round.