SIGNAGE, SIGNAGE, SIGNAGE

Blog Posting # 602 @ 11 Sept 2020; Copyright 2020: Educatemhc.com

Perspective. ‘Land lease communities, previously manufactured home communities, and earlier, ‘mobile home parks’ comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing!’

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SIGNAGE, SIGNAGE, SIGNAGE

Signs are everywhere! But have you ever stopped to think how they affect and influence your personal and business life? I did so recently, and came away with these musings.

My first experience with the effectiveness of creative sign-making occurred decades ago, as I drove behind a Klosterman Bakery delivery truck. Below the company name was this message: ‘I just left a great restaurant!’ To myself, I thought: “Hmm. Wouldn’t I prefer to ‘follow’ him to discover a great restaurant?” Well, I penned a letter to the CEO of Klosterman’s, making that recommendation. And guess what? A few months later, as I pulled behind another of the firm’s delivery trucks, I read this message: ‘Follow me to a great restaurant!’ Never heard from the firm, thanking me for my suggestion. Just figured a junior marketing exec used my suggestion, and got promoted for doing so. Oh well.

Then there’s the first practical signage lesson learned in (then) manufactured home community management. It was 1978, and during my first week on the job with Turtle Creek Management, managing four rough ‘trailer parks’ in IN & KY., I asked to visit the ‘best run community in the U.S.’- as an example to aspire to. Well, they sent me to Wymberly in Georgia, then owned by Craig White. First thing I noticed as I drove on-site was an attractive 2 tall X3’ wide plywood sign mounted on 2X4s, a foot off the ground, with flowers planted underneath. Message? WELCOME HOME. And on the reverse or exit side, DRIVE CAREFULLY. That sign idea was an inspiration to me, then a professional property management trademark, when I went out on my own a couple years later.

Fast forward 30 or more years. That’s when I drove on-site, visiting a MI. property managed by now retired Lynwood Wellhausen. When I commented on how slow everyone seemed to be driving, he took me off-site to see the signs I missed when entering the property. Each one, with white letters painted on a bright red background, asked: ‘How Would You Feel If You Injured a Child While Speeding in This Community?’ And a few years later, a variation to this theme, became available via the internet. 2’wide & 3’ tall, again white letters on a red background, with this message: DRIVE LIKE YOUR KIDS LIVE HERE!, followed by this sourcing address: www.DriveLike Your Kids Live Here.com

Now here’s a cute sign story. In southern Indiana – can’t recall the specific town, there’s a small billboard on the outskirts, near a hotel, which proclaims: ‘A Lovely Place to Stay’. Nothing more, nothing less. Well, when I first saw it, I jotted down the message, pondered it, then decided it’d be a fitting subtitle, so to speak, on property entrance signs gracing superior land lease communities. The new message? ‘A Lovely Housing Discovery!’ Know what? Chrissy Jackson, ACM, and a few others have borrowed that idea over the years, and such signs now exist at several land lease communities around the U.S.

No one, in my opinion, has done a better job with offsite and on-site signage than Florida Communities of several decades ago. What’d they do? Began with full-size highway billboards enroute to all their properties, each one featuring the late entertainer George Gobel, rowing a boat on a lake, headed for one of the firm’s properties in the distance. Then, once on-site, it was obvious entry signs were repainted every six months, and ‘beautified’ with fresh flower plantings every couple months. Seriously. And at the Information Center, a sign announcing: ‘Reserved For Future Resident!’ Then, driving thru the property, see ‘kick down’ signs featuring a Smiley Face caricature – frowning. Message? ‘Sorry, I’ve Been Taken!’, informing one this rental homesite was already leased, awaiting a new home.

A couple other contemporary sign trends. More and more we’re seeing dual signs on-site; one in English, the other in Spanish; oft times providing instructions on how to pay one’s rent electronically – along with other messages. And, for those land lease community owners/operators who host Home of the Month contests every spring and fall, consider having an A-frame structure supported sign (i.e. 3’X4’ plywood on 4”X 4” frame for portability), proclaiming: HOME OF THE MONTH! Paint this in bright colors, including corporate logo, and move it from rental homesite to homesite each month, identifying ‘winners’.

Bootleg signs. Property near an interstate highway? If so, consider mounting aluminum plate signs, painted in same PMS colors as official highway signs, containing only the name of the property – with an arrowhead at either end, showing exiting vehicles which way to drive. Done well, they oft remain in place for years. In this case, imitation is more than just flattery, it’s a practical help to prospective homebuyers/site lessees enroute to your land lease community!

Land lease community leasing/sales (a.k.a. Information Center) offices are notorious for offbeat humorous messages posted therein. Here’re several examples purloined from community offices during Mystery Shopping visits:

• ‘Writers of Bad Checks will be Beaten, Stomped, and Stabbed. Survivors will be Prosecuted!’

• ‘Business Hours: We’re Open most days about 9 or 10. Occasionally as early as 7, But some days as late as 12 or 1. We’re Closed about 5:30 or 6. Occasionally about 4 or 5, But sometimes as late as 11 or 12.’

• Nodis. ‘Trespasers will be persekutedd by 2 mungrel honds that don’t like STRANGERS n’ a 2 barrel shotgun loded fer troble. DAM if I aint gittin Tired of This HELL Raisin on My place!!’

And probably one of the most frequently seen ‘signs’ has long been, plastic license plates containing the name and phone number of the land lease community, along with this message: Neighborhood Watch! And while vinyl bumper stickers are more temporary than permanent signs, here’s one that was popular back in the k1980s: ‘I (heart) MY MANUFACTURED HOME!’

Now here’s a personal sign story. Back when George Allen, son of the famous late NFL football coach with the same name, was running for U.S. Senate in Virginia, friends of mine would appropriate one of his yard signs, 2’tall & 3’wide, that said: ‘George Allen for SENATE’. Then they’d stop by our home at night and mount the political sign in our front yard. Always good for a few curious telephone calls next day and the next.

So, do you have a favorite ‘sign story’ you’d be willing to share with us? If so, let me know via gfa7156@aol.com

George Allen, CPM, MHM
EducateMHC

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