The Power of NO is a Stronger YES!

“The Power of NO is a Stronger YES!”

&

Reconnecting a Disconnect

I.

“The Power of NO is a Stronger YES!”

This sage advice is simpler than it reads. Learned it at a recent seminar, where the presenter was making the case for experiencing enhanced personal and corporate Success.

How so? Begin by defining what constitutes Success for you. Then, what is a primary indicator, or measures for that matter, of Success – relative to the personal, familial, business, political, or social situation of choice, assignment, or otherwise?

Next, identify the distractions which are, or might be, hindering one’s Success in said environment. Then, insofar as possible, say NO to tolerating and continuing these distractions at present and into the future.

For example. Like some – to – many of you reading this blog posting, I’m dealing with declining occupancy in a landlease community I own, located a four hour drive from my office. Success there, is improving – to – max physical and economic occupancy. My present distraction? When arriving in town for a property visit, I too often find myself dealing with peripheral matters (e.g. minor repairs, interpersonal networking), rather than concentrating on what it’ll take to reverse course, and get the property back on course to improved occupancy. I’ve got to start saying and practicing NO to these distractions when in town on business!

But that’s only half the story, this Power to say NO to distraction(s) hindering business success. The other half the tale, has to do with exercising a Stronger YES – to measures new and renewed, that enhance one’s potential to achieve much needed personal and corporate Success!

In this business example; I already know – but have not fully implemented the following measures:

• Starting with the property. Is curb appeal, on and off – site signage, and rules enforcement where they need to be, to ‘show’ this landlease community in the best possible light, especially with NO deferred maintenance (e.g. potholes, burned out street lights, etc.)? For more information, read Landlease Community Management text. See end note # 1

• Is staff (in this case, an on – site, MHM® certified manager) phone interview ‘sharp’ and on – site visit ‘savvy’, when it comes to rental homesite leasing and home sales? Has to be! No excuses!

• Time to change whatever newspaper classified and telephone directory ads are in place? Use AIDA acronym for design guidance: get reader’s Attention, arouse their Interest, stimulate their Desire, & motivate them to Action, i.e. phone the property or visit it in person!. Is system in place to record ad response volume to said ads, to clearly know when to replace with ‘fresh copy’? This latter point implies one must have at least three dynamite ads in hand, to rotate, at all times.

• Satisfactory – meaning effective – online presence, via corporate or property’s web site; visit MHVillage.com to place ‘home sale listings’; and, just as important, ‘How is your property described’ on MHI’s Community Attributes System (‘CAS’)? If you don’t know, visit mhicas.org & find out TODAY.

• Attractive, up to date, trifold two or three color brochures available in sufficient quantity, to distribute in local Chamber of Commerce office (Be a member!), and wherever visitors to your local housing market eat and spend the night?

• System in place to accurately and faithfully record, measure and track all telephone and internet inquiries relative to the property, as well as on – site visits? System should, no – make that ‘must’, include a requirement to routinely calculate two Conversions Percentages: # phone inquiries ‘converted’ into on – site visits; and # of on – site visits ‘converted’ into approved move – in and or home buyer applications. Set property performance goals and check on performance!

• Visit (last) local independent ‘street’ MHRetailer (1 ½ hours away in this instance), to see ‘how we might help each other’ be more productive and profitable. Do they know or remember how to ‘sell into’ a landlease community? If not, ‘splain’ the process. Does local practice include payment of finders’ fees? Note. More to follow on this key topic in part II of this blog posting, so read on…

• Talk to the ‘Big Four + 1’ independent, third party chattel lenders to see what home loan programs apply to your typical homebuyer; and what it will take, credit score wise, for them to qualify. For example; inquire about 21st Mortgage Company’s exciting new C.A.S.H. Program. For information, contact Lance Hull @ (800) 955-0021 X 1218. OR, buy a copy of the MH $$$ Primer for $24.95 for contact information relative to the ‘Big Four + 1’, and more. See end note # 1.

• Ponder whether it’s time to get into the ‘rental unit’ business, and or engage in one or another self – finance methodology (e.g. ‘captive finance’, lease option, etc.) pursuant to selling new and resale homes on – site?. And in the case of self – finance, know that ‘being in compliance’ with federal and state finance regulations is a new and serious paradigm for landlease community owners/operators nationwide. At present, there’s but one company active in this troubled arena: Rishel Consulting @ (217) 971-3968

• Relative to one’s local housing market, defined by telephone area code(s), know how to ascertain Area Median Income or AMI (via zipskinny.com website) and or Annual Gross Income of a prospective homebuyer or family unit, to estimate truly ‘affordable’ and ‘risky’ Price Points for new and resale homes? If not, obtain copy of FREE ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh! Worksheet’ to learn how to use these important steps to better serve your home – buying customers! See end note # 1.

So, the next obvious step here, for me, is to purpose to plan and speak a Stronger YES per ‘all the above’ business improvement measures at this landlease community. How ‘bout YOU? Is it time, for YOU, to realize the Power of NO, is a Stronger YES?!

End Note # 1. To obtain these items, simply phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

II.

Reconnecting a Disconnect

According to MHI, there’re 8,000 fewer MHRetailers (both independent ‘street’ & ‘company store’ types) than there were in 1998, when the MHIndustry shipped 372,843 new HUD Code manufactured homes. Since then, the estimated number of vacant rental homesites, in landlease communities throughout the U.S. has risen to 250,000; while annual home shipments have dropped, and remained at a 60 year nadir of 50,000+/-, for the past four years!

Today’s tough and stark reality? Far fewer MHRetailers are selling far fewer land – and – home packages (i.e. homes sited on realty owned fee simple); and, far fewer new HUD Code homes into landlease communities! Simultaneously, LLCommunity owners/operators ‘all but forced’ to market, sell, and self – finance new and resale homes on – site, are now caught in a No Win financial regulatory squeeze, by dint of the S.A.F.E. Act and provisions of Dodd – Frank federal legislation. Now they’re now looking elsewhere for infill assistance. (Maybe) re – enter the independent ‘street’ and ‘company store’ MHRetailers!

It is high time to reconnect! During the early to mid – 1990s, before HUD Code manufacturers became enamored with the ‘big box = big bucks’ maximize profitability business model, and independent ‘street’ MHRetailers decided to compete head to head with traditional site (stick) homebuilders, I routinely taught a seminar – with the tongue in cheek title: ‘The Care & Feeding of MHRetailers’. Here are some of the measures LLCommunity owners/operators used to routinely effect, to grab and keep the attention of local MHRetailers, whether they be of the ‘independent’ or ‘company store’ variety:

• Have a supply of business cards (Preferably with something interesting, helpful, even valuable, on the verso or reverse side of the card, e.g. map or directions to the property, a $ savings move – in coupon with expiration date, list of five or 10 good reasons to reside there, maybe a mission statement). The Goal is to make this (your)business card a ‘keeper’! Is yours a ‘keeper’? If not, make it so!

• Have attractive trifold property brochures on hand, describing the property, its’ features and amenities, also containing basic contact information (& website, if property has one), even a sketch map showing how to travel to the landlease community. And a brief testimonial or two really helps set the tone of the brochure.

• Schedule and effect personal, and or manager, visits to all local MHRetailers’ salescenter, at least once each month; every other month once a productive relationship is in place and working well. Also be active in your state’s MHAssociation, especially if there’s a local chapter in or near your local housing market; so as to network with one’s peers, especially MHRetailers! Be known!

• During the periodic (monthly) visit to MHRetail salescenters, restock one’s business cards where appropriate, same with brochures. Also a ‘winning strategy’ is to arrive with a large plastic plate of fresh, aromatic, home baked cookies for the MHRetailer staff. And while there, get to know ‘everyone’, especially the new sales persons.

• Secure permission, then prepare a photo collage describing one’s landlease community. Some collages measure 2’X2’, others 3’X3’ in size, and feature a few mounted 5X7 color photographs showing ‘best views’ on – site. Also list the name, address and contact information for the property on the collage. Even have a plastic holder mounted thereon, to hold a supply of aforesaid property brochures. Sometimes the collage is mounted on a wall inside the salescenter, or on an easel, just inside the entrance. If you’ve not done this before, be prepared for a pleasant surprise, because ‘it works’!

• A couple times each year, buy a supply of good quality ‘premium gifts’, to distribute to all the MHRetailers in town. Examples: trigger coffee mugs with subject property’s logo and phone number on it; leatherette or vinyl 8X10 tablet folios, with property logo and phone number on an inside panel – easily visible to ‘seller’ as he or she is writing deals. Even a smoky plastic pencil holder, and tablet holder, to put on their desks, each featuring the property’s logo and phone number. Goal here? Your property(ies) # 1 on salesperson’s mind when selling homes, and recommending where they move it to enjoy the landlease community lifestyle!

• If property is having Home of the Month competition, the best outside judges to use are the local mayor, editor of the local newspaper (He/she’ll likely send a reporter and or photographer – but that’s OK, it’s ‘free publicity’), Chamber of Commerce executive, and – local MHRetailers! And while they’re on – site, take them to lunch to build that relationship.

So, what do you think? Is it time for YOU to reconnect with the local MHRetailer(s) in or near your local housing market? Probably. But also know, there’re probably going to be a couple significant details that are going to have to be considered and resolved. First; if you’ve been selling new homes on – site, for any stretch of time, you’re going to have to decide to STOP doing so, if you’re serious about encouraging MHRetailers to, once again, ‘sell into your property’. Otherwise, if you’re marketing and selling homes on – site, you already know MHRetailer’s reluctance to send otherwise interested and qualified prospective homebuyer’s to your property, out of fear – imagined or otherwise, that they’ll be distracted by what ‘deals’ you’re offering, or intentionally/unintentionally enticed by your on – site sales staff. Really can’t have it both ways, except for in extraordinary situations.

And what are the present ‘local practices’ – if any, and or appropriate, regarding payment of ‘finders fees’ (a.k.a. birddog fees) to salescenters or salespersons (Establish ‘up front’ with MHRetailer, which it is to be!). And, the pre – leasing of vacant rental homesites in landlease communities? Both practices are local economy and housing market driven, relative to ‘supply and demand’; with the first practice, characteristic of ‘soft markets’, where there’re plenty of ‘vacancies’; the latter practice, characteristic of ‘tight markets’, where there’re few ‘vacancies’ to be filled in landlease communities.

Time to Reconnect!

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George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM®Master
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry &
The Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class
Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 46247
(317) 346-7156

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