Most mobile home parks have some form of office – whether it’s a free-standing building or inside the manager’s home. And it’s pretty standard practice to set office hours so residents know when they can and can’t come by to pay rent, look at homes, or discuss problems. So how do you set effective office hours?
What are your priorities?
The first question is: what are you trying to accomplish in the office? If you are 100% occupied, then the role of the manager is basically to collect rent, monitor rules, and work with residents if there are any problems. While we recommend at least one day with later hours for those residents who can’t come by the office while they’re at work, most residents put their rent through a mail slot and don’t require face-to-face encounters. However, if you are trying to sell or rent vacant homes – of RV lots – then you need to orient your hours more towards late afternoon and evening, and also perhaps be open on Saturdays. Remember the old adage “be easy to buy from” and you can’t rent or sell (or even have a showing of a home) if you fail to be open during reasonable hours at the convenience of the customer
What is your staffing?
Do you have just one manager, or do they have an assistant? Sometimes your manager has their own obligations, particularly if they have a day job. At a property in North Dakota we had a manager that was a teller at Wells Fargo, so they could have no office hours between 9 and 5 – and that worked just fine. Before you come up with your office hours, you need to look realistically at your staffing and their needs. If you have an assistant manager, for example, it will be easier to have weekend hours since they can trade off.
What can you afford?
Mobile home parks face the same restrictions on minimum wage as any other employer, and you cannot have office hours that exceed the hourly considerations of the manager. If you are paying what equates to ten hours per week of wages, then that’s your office hour limit – and that does not include other items that may come up such as driving to the bank to make deposits. If you don’t know your employment law for your state, you need to talk to your state MHA or similar group.
What are your customers’ needs?
We have a property in Ohio that is senior and having office hours during the day works great and nobody feels deprived. But we have another property that is all-age and those same hours would make it hard to show and sell homes, as those residents can only make evening or weekend appointments. We already discussed it above, but we can’t emphasize enough that you must be “easy to buy from” and your office hours should emanate, first and foremost, from what your customers need and not what is convenient for you.
Every mobile home park office needs reasonable office hours. These theories will help foster that discussion and help you set hours that are a win/win for everyone.