Consulting experts is often a great way to save on the learning curve, and to get off on the right foot. However, not all mobile home park consultants are created equal and, in some cases, they can actually hurt you more than help you. Here are the correct questions you need answered before selecting a consultant for a mobile home park deal.
What are the credentials of the consultant?
This is, by far, the most important question to ask when considering hiring anyone as a consultant. The most important thing a consultant brings to the table is past experience and expertise, and anything short of a seasoned career is not acceptable. There are people who hold themselves out as "mobile home park consultants" who have never even owned a mobile home park, or have owned one and let it go back to the bank in failure. So the first question to any consultant should be "so exactly how many mobile home parks have you owned, where are they, and how did they turn out?" Listen for the response. A legitimate professional can give you a laundry list of properties. A fraud will tell you "I've owned too many to name" or "I've been a part of this industry for 10 years" and completely sidestep the question.
What are the goals?
Before you hire a consultant, think through exactly what your goals are. Are you looking for someone to review the basic deal you are contemplating, to teach you the details of how the industry really works, or do you really just need someone to give you emotional support as you look to enter the mobile home park business. Remember that good consultants are not psychiatrists - they are only qualified to tell you about the mobile home park industry and specific deals. There is a business model called "mentoring" that is not really part of the typical consultant's role. Mentoring often costs $10,000+, and has no real targets or even the ability to quantify its success or failure. You are always much better off getting your "mentoring" from friends and family, as it is really a mental assignment and not the type of thing that an industry professional will engage in. When using a paid mobile home park consultant, you should be able to write your goals into a single sentence, and they should be tangible and objective.
What is the projected cost?
You are on a path to unhappiness if you do not figure out - up front - the cost of any consulting project. Never hire a mobile home park consultant who cannot give you an exact dollar figure for their services. Those that want to deliberately keep it "ballpark" are often the ones that are not really legitimate. And don't even think about using anyone who requires a "retainer" before they begin work. True professionals will give you their fees in advance, and not ask you to deposit money simply to discuss your goals and issues.
Is there a hidden agenda?
Always beware of mobile home park consultants who really are using a "bait and switch" on you to mask their real goals. Some people want to get their foot in the door to sell you expensive "coaching" and "mentoring" services. Others really want only to sell you their own mobile home parks, and will deliberately derail any other deal you come upon and steer you right back to a park they own.
A good mobile home park consultant can save you a ton of time and money by allowing you to leverage their lessons learned and expertise. A bad consultant will give you misinformation as a result of either not knowing what they're doing, or manipulating you with a hidden agenda. It's up to you to make the right choice in a mobile home park consultant.