What’s in Your Career Remembrance File?

What’s in Your Career Remembrance File?

I.

“You just don’t take a mobile home and stick it in your pocket like you would a diamond bracelet,” says Peggy Vaughn, manager of Hickory Lake Mobile Village, in a news story titled: ‘Huge trailer’s not at home after being taken from (sales) lot.’

“In the wee hours Friday, a 16-foot-by-70 foot Fleetwood became a very mobile home when thieves hauled it off a retail lot near I-65 in Scott County. Friday’s theft of the pale-pink and white abode occurred with nary a sound, at least none loud enough to wake the neighbors.” Marcella Fleming, staff writer for the Indianapolis Star.

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Following, are some choice pickins’ from my career remembrance file, mostly property management, manufactured housing, and landlease community related.

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Let’s begin with this ‘How NOT to enforce Rules & Regulations, and encourage good resident relations’ gem. It was a posted ‘Notice to Residents’ I plucked from the laundry room bulletin board, in the old Eastwood Mobile Home Park, circa 1984.

ATTENTION: ‘All Park Resident Who Improperly Dispose of Their Trash or Use Our Dumpsters for Their Own Private Dumping Grounds.’

“You people are filthy, disgusting slobs who walk around without a single ounce of common – sense or a brain in your heads. Since I have been associated with this park, I have brought in 26 homeowners, doubled the rental occupancy, removed four long – bed dumpsters of trash, and have changed the clientele in our ‘rentals’ from scums and bums to decent, hard – working people.

It’s pretty evident I care about the environment you people live in, why the hell don’t you? These dumpsters are to be used for your trash only! Not old water heaters, washers and dryers, sheds, swing – sets, automobile parts, etc.

Any trash I find not disposed of properly, I will no longer give warnings, I will find (sic) you $25.00 per bag. Tell your children, tell your spouse, and tell your neighbors. If you see anyone disobeying (sic), tell me!” The ‘Park’ Manager

This travesty occurred before professional property management found it’s way into, what we today think of as, landlease communities. Hopefully we won’t see this sort of bullying ever again. And to that end, here’s the timely and helpful ‘Six Rs’ mnemonic device for Cultivating Good – to – Great Resident Relations! Good Resident Relations = More Resident Referrals = Great Resident Retention!*1

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Don’t get me started relating memorable Mystery Shopping experiences, and the important Lessons Learned from them, unless you’ve got lotsa time on your hands.

Like the day I walked into a local apartment community’s Information Center. There, taped on the inside of a closet door that should have been closed, was a large poster featuring a big sleeping bear, with this caption underneath: JUST WAKE ME IN TIME FOR THE WEEKEND! Surefire commentary on the work ethic of that office. Hmm. Perhaps that’s why we were hired to ‘shop’ the leasing staff in the first place. Lesson? When was the last time YOU looked inside – and outside the closet doors in your Information Center(s)? Bet you’ll find some unsettling surprises. Read on….

At an independent ‘street’ MHRetailer’s sales center, a few years ago, I came across yet another large poster, this one picturing a life – sized hangman’s noose, along with this motivating caption: A REMNDER ABOUT HOW IMPORTANT SALES ARE AROUND HERE! Well, I suppose IF the message ‘works’, the poster is worth keeping around – but certainly NOT where customers can see it. When do ‘high pressure sales techniques’ ever equate to long term satisfied home buying customers? Hardly ever!

And how ‘bout this ‘unofficial’ notice I removed from the bulletin board in yet another landlease community Information Center: ‘NOTICE: This Department Requires No Physical Fitness Program! Everyone gets enough exercise jumping to conclusions, Flying off the handle, Running down the boss, Knifing friends in the back, Dodging responsibility, and Pushing their luck!’ Yes, that really happened – the poster removal, that is. So again, what’s on the bulletin board in your Information Center(s)? Go check!

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Like to receive holiday and birthday cards? Anyone who subscribes to the Allen Letter professional journal knows, every year we rank the ‘manufactured housing – themed Christmas cards’ we receive in December, then feature the winning card in the January issue of the newsletter. And we’ve received some doozies over the years…like one that pictured ‘half a doublewide’ being pulled down the highway, with the center (mating) side wide open, displaying holiday decorations and gifts. And another one, a singlesection manufactured home being towed through the sky by Santa’s reindeer. Cute.

Well, here’s a true Christmas card story you’ve not heard before. Remember colorful, outspoken, iconic, St. Charles, MO., MHRetailer Bob Bross? I’ve long counted him as one of my best friends in the MHBusiness! Well, he’s retired now. But in his heyday, and he certainly had a few (heydays, that is), he was known to save holiday greeting cards received one year, then recycle them the next year. How so? By crossing out the original sender’s name inside the saved cards, then affixing his firm’s address label above the crossed – out signature. Then he’d enclose the recycled card within a tri – folded sheet of his company’s letterhead stationery, bearing this message: “PLEASE DON’T FUSS ABOUT THE ENCLOSED CARD. CONSIDERING THE LOUSY BUSINESS CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE PAST YEAR, YOU’RE LUCKY TO GET THIS ONE!” Seriously. That’s vintage Bob Bross.

One year, Bob added this message to the recycled cards: “Being in the manufactured housing industry brings to mind a friend, who spent years of effort and thousands of dollars to cure his bad breath problem, only to find out that no one liked him anyway!”

Someday, ask me to share Bob’s collection of eight ‘After the Party’ standardized excuses and explanations, containing blank spaces where sender (offender) inserts offended parties’ names, e.g. ‘Dear _____________________. I regret telling the firemen it was you who turned in the false alarm. But of course I had no way of knowing they would be such bad sports about it. Those fire hoses sure have a lot of pressure, don’t they? And the water was so cold!’ (Signed) Your friend ____________________.

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Speaking of (studio) cards. The best one ever, for enticing apartment renters to consider buying new manufactured homes to move into a landlease community, is this one, used ‘for years’ by Country Village.

Top of the front panel features caricature heads of a happy young couple, along with a similar sketch at the bottom, but of a top – hatted villain dressed in black. The verse in between the caricatures goes like this:

‘There was a young couple named Trent, who spent all their money on RENT.
They’d scrimp and they’d save, but their landlord (the knave), walked off with the Trent’s LAST RED CENT!’

Next card panel, inside, again shows the same happy young couple, and reads: ‘The Moral is: Rent is Money Spent. (Don’t be like the Trents). Invest in a Home that You OWN…

And the final, inside double panel of the colorful studio card, features an artist’s rendering of the property’s clubhouse, followed by a list of the property’s amenities, and a sketch map showing how to find one’s way to Country Village. An idea worth trying? I certainly think so….

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15 years ago, Ed Zeman, of Zeman MHC (LLCommunity portfolio owner/operator) in Chicago, crafted this (slightly edited) list of ‘Top 10 Things (an investor) Hears From a Landlease Community Owner During Negotiations to Buy Their Property’:

• All the lot rent is always in by the first of the month, no one is ever late here!

• My rent (rate) is way under market, so there’s plenty of room for rent increases.

• This local housing market is really hot. Those 25 vacant lots could be filled in no time, and you should sell 50 homes next year. This is best community in the area!

• Rental mobile homes are a great source of revenue. We never have a problem with them, and all our residents are carefully screened!

• What’s the big deal about my underground oil tanks and lines, the wetlands next door, asbestos in my clubhouse, and the flood plain and landfill this community was built on? No one’s ever said anything about that before now.

• My community is worth more. This place can be a real money – maker, and those REITs are banging on my door wanting to buy it!

• This is the best well water anywhere, and the EPA never has a problem with our sewage treatment plant. In fact, the plant operates so good you could drink the discharged effluent.

• There are no maintenance expenses, since my son and I do everything!

• The 50 acres next door is not zoned for manufactured homes, but it could easily be rezoned. I have a verbal OK about that.

• (After six months of discussion) I think I’ll wait until the capital gains tax rate is reduced.

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So, what’s in your career remembrance file? An inquiring blog readership would like to know. Take a look and send me some gems to share in the future….
II.

‘Biggest & Best Ever!’

What do 40 Texans, four state manufactured housing association executives, two dozen women executives, all our landlease community asset class’ REITs, and best of the privately – owned portfolio owners/operators, as well as a Cavco, Inc., Community Series Home (‘CSH’) have in common? They’ll be at the 20th annual International Networking Roundtable in San Antonio, TX., when it kicks off Wednesday afternoon, at 4PM, with a Marcus & Millichap ‘State of the Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class’ presentation, followed by showcasing dozens of these properties ‘for sale’! And then ‘the fun’- the superb education, interpersonal networking, and deal – making begins….

Yes, that’s where things stand two weeks before this annual seminal venue begins. More HUD Code housing manufacturers (e.g. Clayton, Champion, Cavco, Palm Harbor, Fleetwood, Athens Park, and others) will be in attendance than ever before! Why? In the words of one manufacturer’s Business Development Manager (‘BDM’), when thus queried: “Communities are back. Communities are hot!” And that they are.

So, if you’re reading this blog, and own one or more landlease communities, and either sell new and used homes on – site, or are thinking of doing so, YOU need to be at the Networking Roundtable to meet these home manufacturers – and much much more! Need capital to acquire and or refinance landlease communities and homes? All the major realty – secured and chattel (personal property) mortgage lenders and brokers will be present this year.

See brochure attached to the BEBA (Blast Email Blog Alert) accompanying this week’s blog posting, or phone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. But I need to warn you. Our max number of registrants is 200, and we were at 175 on the first of September. So, don’t be left out, register today!

III.

Last week, this blog announced the release of Chris Nicely’s new online book, describing HOW TO effectively market and sell HUD Code manufactured homes at independent ‘street’ MHRetail salescenter, and on – site in landlease communities. An
e-book, it’s titled Pillars of Promotion, and contains ‘six proven tactics that drive more qualified traffic, and increase (home) sales opportunities!’ Well, a bunch of blog floggers (readers) responded, buying copies. Did YOU? Price is $49.95; BUT he’ll sell it to you for less, if you’re a dues – paying member of any state or national manufactured housing trade association. To order, phone (865) 385-9675. Tell him ‘George sent me!’ Thanks.

IV.

This blog was the first national MHTrade news media to provide preliminary details about the upcoming National Summit for independent ‘street’ MHRetailers & in – landlease community home sales center operators. The event date is 13 – 15 November, and location will be in the Chicago area. I met with the organizers, Chad and Bill Carr, of Rainmaker Consulting, for three hours last week, and gotta say, ‘I came away impressed’ with what they plan to do to ‘motivate, educate, & rejuvenate MHRetailers’ who’ll be gathering from throughout the U.S. and Canada. At the very least, if you market, sell, and or self – finance new and resale manufactured homes these days, get your name on the list to receive additional information when it’s available. Call (800) 336-0339. Think about it. Attend this mid – November National Summit, and leave with new, exciting, proven practices; plan implementation during December; then, kick off the New Year 2012, with a ‘higher altitude attitude’ and a new game (business) plan designed to increase and sustain your new (and resale) home sales volume during the months ahead!

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End Note.

1. For more on ’mnemonic devices’, read George Allen’s Collection of Figurative Language & Figures of Speech, PMN Publishing, Franklin, IN., 2011. Available for $19.95 postpaid, by phoning (317) 346-7156. A handy, and at times humorous, reference tool for any amateur writer or journalist in your firm or family, or among your friends.

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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