To succeed in most businesses, you have to make a commitment. And to do incredibly well financially normally requires long hours and sacrificing health and family time. That’s where I started out in the 1980s with my billboard company and rapidly advanced into a classic workaholic. Over the years, my health went down the drain as I would often work literally 24 hours a day (wait until you hear those stories) and only devoted an hour a day to dinner and free time. But then I got a reprieve from my impossibly depressing life through a quick sale of that business and a new career in mobile home parks.
In this event, we’re going to talk about the evils of workaholism, some practical solutions to this American crisis, and how you can be a success in the mobile home park business without sacrificing your personal life and health – which is one of its most important attributes. It’s a discussion of how mobile home park ownership offers you the ability to make money without investing a huge amount of time in management. There’s also an additional hour of questions on all types of topics. The event was hosted by Frank Rolfe who is “the human encyclopedia of all things mobile home park” according to the New York Times. We think you’ll find this recording time well spent.
This event may save your life in more ways than one.
Confessions of a Recovering Workaholic - Transcript
0:00:01.4 Frank Rolfe: Welcome to our MHU Lecture Series event. We titled this Confessions of a Recovering Workaholic. There's a lot of lessons learned in this, not only about the mobile home park business, but just simply about quality of life and my personal thoughts on that as well as the trailer park industry. So hopefully people will learn a little about things and then after I get done here we're going to have a bottomless Q&A. So any questions you have on the industry, whatever you want to talk about, all you'll do is just jump on the line and I'll be happy to answer any questions people have. So how did I ever become a workaholic? Well if you go back in time to the 1970s, people had a different idea on work. Today it's not in any way the same, but back in the 70s the concept was if you worked a ton then great things would happen for you and if you didn't work a lot, nothing good would ever come of you.
0:00:51.3 Frank Rolfe: So basically the culture was it was all based on the number of hours you spent. So that was the general theory. And so back in that day when I was in high school, I not only in addition to doing regular high school stuff, I volunteered to be on the yearbook. And my senior year I had risen to being the editor of the yearbook and back then, this is before the digital age, when you were a yearbook editor you had to physically like build the yearbook. So you would normally have a staff of photographers and writers, but they would never actually do their job because they were high schoolers and so they were notoriously terrible about meeting deadlines or even getting anything done. So sooner than later I realized I'd have to do it myself. So I started to go into all the events to take the photographs and this is back when you had to develop them yourself. So I had a dark room at the school.
0:01:45.9 Frank Rolfe: So I basically shot the photographs, developed them in the dark room, wrote all the copy, laid the entire yearbook out by hand and printed up the yearbook. And to do that I would often have to stay up at the school until midnight, something like that, because the yearbook pretty much took about five or six hours a day to get produced. So that's when I really started getting in this bad mode where I would work all of the time, all the way until midnight or so at night every night. And so then I went to college. And when I got into college, everybody back at Stanford, which is where I went, was working 16 hours or more a day. In fact, if you were working 16 or more hours a day at Stanford, you were considered a complete loser. That was kind of the culture. And so what people started to do back then, which I was taught to do by older folks, older classmates, was to basically chug caffeine. That's what you did. So what you would do is to do an all-nighter, no big deal, you would just start drinking caffeine. And people drank coffee.
0:02:51.1 Frank Rolfe: That was one option but another option people preferred was Mountain Dew. Why? Because Mountain Dew you could keep in the dorm refrigerator. Mountain Dew always tasted the same, wasn't complicated, came in a handy can, and it has the second highest level of caffeine behind coffee. So I was one of the Mountain Dew drinkers. There were others in the dorm who were the coffee drinkers. But basically you would chemically then stimulate yourself to be able to stay up all night without really having any immediate signs of being tired. Although when you came off of it, when you crashed, it was really bad. And if you stayed on the caffeine for too long, you would start shaking violently. So you had to learn over time how to do it. But once you had the groove of how you could basically through chugging Mountain Dew stay up all night, it became just a fixture of your world. So next thing you knew I was doing all nighters all the time. I was staying up all night writing papers.
0:03:49.7 Frank Rolfe: It wasn't a test I probably ever took at Stanford. I didn't stay up all night before I took just cramming and cramming and cramming and thought nothing of it because I was so filled with caffeine from Mountain Dew. And so then I get out of college and I started my billboard company and I went right back into that same lifestyle yet again because that's all I had ever known. And that was if I was going to succeed with my billboard company, it was only going to come from me working a ton of hours. So if I did not work at least 16 hours a day, I was a total loser and I would never succeed at all. So I just basically gave myself the ultimatum, okay, you got to work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week because that's what successful people do. So that's how I got into that mode and that's basically what I did. I was just again doing the classic Stanford deal, chugging the caffeine, staying up all night, working insane amounts of hours. Why? Because I had to. I had to work insane amount of hours because I was convinced if I didn't then I would fail.
0:04:50.5 Frank Rolfe: And then came the Texas savings and loan crisis about 1987 to 1988. Most people don't know of it. You have to be at least as old as I am in your 60s to remember it, to have actually been an adult during it. But it was pretty much the worst recession depression that I had ever seen and for people who lived in Texas the worst depression since the Great Depression. Some effects said it was even worse. There were moments when every office building in downtown Dallas had been foreclosed on. You had people committing suicide on a daily basis. You couldn't even take your clothes to a dry cleaner because often they would go out of business when you went to get them back and your clothes would be gone. It was a dismal period. And I knew then my only shot at survival of my little billboard company was I would have to stay up all night every night. I would have to not only do my normal job, I would have to let people go to save money and then do their jobs too. So I kind of broke my world into three shifts. So I had like a three shift day.
0:05:48.3 Frank Rolfe: I worked from about 9 A.M to 6 P.M and then break for about one hour for dinner. And then I worked another shift that went from about 7 to midnight and then I would go into overdrive chugging Mountain Dew relentlessly when David Letterman came on. That was my trigger for the last leg of the marathon. This is back when David Letterman actually was funny before he became kind of a woke bearded idiot. But back in the early days of the Letterman Show it would keep me entertained. I had a little one inch Sony TV. People even remember those things. They were silver. It was a little tiny screen about one inch square. And that's the only thing that would fit on your desk back then because TVs were so massive. So I would turn that thing on. I would be on the corner of my desk. We would chug in Mountain Dew, stay up as late as I humanly could.
0:06:31.1 Frank Rolfe: Often I would be able to go until 3, 4 in the morning and then I would go home, go to sleep for probably four hours or so, get up again and go right back into the office or to my first meeting of the day, whatever it would be. And there was basically no hope of this cycle ever ending because I was absolutely convinced that if I stopped even for one day, if I dialed back the clock, if I stopped staying up past Letterman, if I said hey, I'm calling it quits whenever Letterman comes on, that would go bankrupt. That was basically my thought on life. So I was going to be doing this forever. But then it started negatively impacting my life. The problem was that I was getting so little sleep that it started to really mess me up and I started passing out all the time. So what would happen is I would be thinking that I would be just fine throughout the day and then suddenly I would feel it coming on and I would pass out.
0:07:28.1 Frank Rolfe: And sometimes I would sit down on the ground before I passed out, but sometimes I would pass out while walking, standing, pretty embarrassing. So I passed out once in a retail store. I passed out at a job site when we were building a billboard. So that was one of the byproducts was I was passing out. I didn't know exactly why I was passing out. The other problem was I was just a slave to working 16 hours a day so I had no life other than work. That was pretty much all that I had. And I was convinced if I stopped doing it, it would be a disaster. So I only saw my wife back then about one hour a day which was during dinner and the only other time I would see her is if she came up to the office and sat in my office because I couldn't leave the office because if I left the office for even an hour I was convinced my world would end. And then one day, one night actually it all came to an end because what happened was I was just minding my own business, working up at the office, it was probably 2 or 3 in the morning and suddenly my shirt started visibly shaking.
0:08:34.1 Frank Rolfe: So it was like it was taking a bite of its own and it was shaking violently and I thought oh I'm having a heart attack. At the same time my heart started racing just to a level that was not sustainable, so I immediately went to the emergency room and said, "Hey, I think I'm having a heart attack." And so they looked at me over and they did an EKG on me and they said, look, here's what's happened is you've had so much caffeine you've actually added a second beating center on your heart and so what's happened is where most people have an electrical shock that makes their heart beat, yours has two of them and that's not good because two, whenever time they get out of sync is why you've been passing out and then tonight where they got so seriously out of sync, kind of like a washing machine with the load just on one side, it just started shaking so violently that's where you came in. And there's no real cure to it except if you stop taking the caffeine then it will go down over time. So that's all we can do for you.
0:09:38.3 Frank Rolfe: So they just told me knock off the caffeine, you just have to stop completely, then stop taking it. So you know I still thought, well, I've got to stay up 16 hours a day so what I'll do is I'll just try to do it without the caffeine and it sounded good but it didn't really work. Next thing you know I'd often fall asleep on my desk and then I get a call in the middle of the night from my wife saying, "What are you doing?" I'd say, "Well, actually you just woke me up because I fell asleep on my desk on the piece of artwork I was doing for the billboard," or sales presentation or whatever the case may be. Sometimes I'd wake up and I'd actually rest my head on an electric typewriter once and all the keys were pressed into my forehead for a few days from being asleep on that. So it was not an ideal lifestyle. But I just couldn't give up. I couldn't give up the 16 hours a day because I knew if I stopped doing that I would be destroyed. And there was no end to the movie clearly.
0:10:34.9 Frank Rolfe: I was going to keep doing this forever. But then I suddenly got my big break and my big break was a guy named Dan Simon from a company called Universal Outdoor. It's a guy I had met at an industry convention and he had just gone public with his billboard company and he was trying to buy up as many other billboard companies as he could to bolster the stock price. Because you know when you go public people are watching to see what you do and he wanted to have the appearance of being this hard charging conglomerate, so he suddenly just called me up and wanted to buy me out because he knew me, he had my name, he had my number. And so I threw out a price which I thought was crazy high and he agreed with no pushback at all. And after only about 30 days of diligence and no financing contingency I had sold my company off and I was free for the first time ever of that terrible lifestyle that I had basically created for myself. And it's interesting to note that Dan Simon and I had bonded when we first met over our passion for trying to work 24 hours a day.
0:11:38.5 Frank Rolfe: We had shared stories of like how many days we had gone working without sleep and our best ways to stay awake with wanting to go to sleep. And then not long after he bought me out, I'd say within about a year, he fell over dead from a heart attack and he was only in his 40s. So clearly there's another example of why staying up all night every day trying to work in the same amount of hours is just not very good for you. It's really not very good for your heart. So then what happens? Well, so I sold the billboard company off and I decide I got to go into something else. So what do I go into? And I started calling up all of my landowners in the billboard business which were all successful people, they owned land and businesses and I was just trying to get ideas of what to do next because I had a non-compete on billboards, I couldn't go back into billboards, didn't really know if I wanted to go back into billboards. So I started calling people up and one of the people I called up was a guy named Rod and Rod owned a mobile home park and I had built two billboards on it.
0:12:40.9 Frank Rolfe: It's called Glenhaven, it's still there so are the two billboards. And so in that one phone call me calling Rod and I just called him up and said, hey, I want to learn more about Glenhaven and mobile home parks and he said, well I'll tell you what, if you really want to know I'll give you a sweet heart deal. I'll sell you Glenhaven right now for 400 grand, all you have to do is give me $10,000 down which is 2.5% and I'll carry the paper for you for 30 years, fully advertising. Now, what he didn't tell me until I asked him was what's the financial situation, of course Glenhaven was losing money every month. So it wasn't quite as rosy as it sounded but I thought, you know what? I put down the $10,000, worst case I'll learn a lot, maybe I'll probably end up walking and losing the 10 grand but what a great education I'll have on real estate, mobile home parks and who knows? It might work out in the end.
0:13:30.8 Frank Rolfe: So I just did it on a lark because it was a cheap amount down, it sounded intriguing to me, I'd always been fascinated by the trailer park business when I built the two billboards on it, I had to admit I always thought wow this is an even stranger business than billboards so I find that fascinating. And so when I bought Glenhaven I thought I would go ahead and self-manage the thing because again I felt like you have to work and if you don't work then you're a loser. So I had no idea what I was doing and I went out to my little office at Glenhaven which was a little single wide and I set about being there as much as I humanly could all the time. And even though I was doing work that could be delegated to someone for minimum wage I was convinced that you cannot succeed in American business unless you work a ton of hours. That's what I thought. But here's how mobile home parks started to change my life.
0:14:27.2 Frank Rolfe: The first big change that came of Glenhaven other than my billboard company was that now the customers came running at me and not vice versa because when I was in the billboard business I had to make a hundred sales calls literally to make a sale. It was very, very depressing. There's so much rejection. That's why I couldn't really keep sales people around because who wants to live a life of doing something like that? It's like a really bad episode of The Office with Dunder Mifflin in its final era. It was very, very hard to sell billboards. But now instead all I got to do is put it like an ad in the classifieds back then in Dallas. I would get like a hundred calls a week off that ad and that was refreshing because that was a lot of time that I used to have to spend was on trying to market the signs to rent them and now I didn't have to do that anymore because I already had built in demand and I thought wow, this is cool. I've never been in a product that people really want so much.
0:15:24.8 Frank Rolfe: And then I also rapidly realized that I was spending that time at Glenhaven doing things that really didn't need to be done. I would walk around Glenhaven. I would get on a little golf cart and cruise around Glenhaven thinking in some misguided manner that it was like a four-star hotel. Pulling up my golf cart to someone at a water in their yard. How's it going today? How are you doing? Is everything going good here at Glenhaven? I'm sure people thought I was absolutely nuts. I'm sure some of those people still give stories of what a weirdo guy on the golf cart going around as though it was some kind of big old deal, like some fancy Hyatt Regency Resort when it was just basically a mobile home park. But that's what I did because I thought that's what you do. And then I suddenly realized, why am I doing this? Nobody cares. They're paying the same rent whether I do any of this or don't do any of this. So why? What are you doing?
0:16:19.7 Frank Rolfe: I guess the four-hour work week concept started to get drilled into my brain here because I was basically doing minimum wage job functions for no reason. And that's when I suddenly realized after a year of being at Glenhaven that I didn't need to be the park manager and so I hired my first ever park manager named Stephanie. And I said Stephanie here's the deal. I'm not going to be coming in here anymore. You're going to be a little single-wide. And then not shortly thereafter she came to me and said I've got a better idea. Let's just ditch the single-wide. Let's sell it and I'll just office out of my own mobile home. And that's what we did. So not long after I vacated the single-wide. We no longer had a separate office. We just used basically a bit of Stephanie's house. And so that was eye opening because now I still owned Glenhaven. I wasn't there at all. But here's the scary ending. Glenhaven did better without me there because when I had been there cruising around all the time, always looking for the next best thing to do for my residence, I was just burning money.
0:17:27.7 Frank Rolfe: I once painted the laundry room three times because I didn't like the color of green. I couldn't get the green down right. The painter never could get the green I wanted. And I'd say oh let's try that green. And he'd say oh no that green looks too cheap and too tacky. Let's try for another green. So I was burning money on meaningless junk. And when I stopped going down there Stephanie didn't do any of that stuff. She didn't care. Residents didn't care. So I realized that all that time that I had spent, that year I had spent there was all for nothing. There was no purpose to it. And then my real big revelation came from Glenhaven because I realized for the first time in my life I was actually getting paid just for the simple fact that I owned something, that I owned Glenhaven. So if you ever go to England, the real estate in England is very interesting because you have these people who own this stuff but they don't take any active role in any of it.
0:18:22.0 Frank Rolfe: The Royal Family owns a huge amount of British real estate. And for example Prince Charles until recently owned this big thing that he got as part of being Prince Charles. But you know he was getting paid not because he was doing a great job or a genius or had great management skills, he was getting paid just because he owned it. And now he has transferred that on to Prince William. Now Prince William gets paid for it. Why? Is it because Prince William is out there going around greeting customers, making sure that the fish is fresh and that the French fries are deliciously cooked? No. Just because he owned it, because it was him. So I realized in the mobile home park business I was basically getting paid just for having my name on the title. And that was huge to me because when the billboard business, my billboard business would live or die literally based on my actions.
0:19:18.0 Frank Rolfe: So if I wasn't out there beating the streets, renting the ad space, collecting the rent, checking to make sure the light fixtures were working, making sure the ads got paid, I didn't get any money. But now suddenly I came upon this mobile home park thing and I'm getting paid just because I own it. And that was a huge life changing take away to me because I didn't know business like that existed. I thought every business out there was just like my billboard business, dog eat dog, working all the time, trying to make it all work out. And now suddenly, wow, you can just get paid for owning stuff. It was a big change to me. But you know you can still do the whole thing up even with mobile home parks. So even though you can say, well, yeah, you get paid for having your name on the title and everything and that's great, it's not quite that simple because you still have to buy the right park to make that work.
0:20:15.1 Frank Rolfe: So if you don't buy the right park, you might be spending 16 hours a day managing this park because it's right on the nice edge of failure and the only reason it hasn't toppled into the abyss is because you're manhandling it and keeping it alive. So what are some of the things that you don't want to have in your park so that you can own it basically passively and get paid just for the fact that your name is on the title? What separates that kind of park from the kind that you have to work all the time and you still may not make it? Well, the first thing is you've got to have strong demand. And we've been talking and writing articles about using test ads for the longest time. We used to get huge criticism. People, when we first floated the idea of doing a test ad before you buy a mobile home park, running an ad in the classified section of the paper and online, people would say, oh, that's immoral. That's the worst thing. I can't believe you ever even proposed someone do that.
0:21:11.1 Frank Rolfe: I mean, everyone does that. It made no sense to me at all. Again, mobile home park owners are just perpetually picked on by everybody. They just love to kick us, beat us. But have you seen any office building or anything that doesn't go out and put up the coming soon office building when there is no office building coming soon just to gauge how many people call off the sign? Every product in America is consumer testing, consumer demand test to find out what's going on. But you've got to do that because if you don't have strong demand, the model doesn't work at all. I learned that bitter lesson on one of my early parks I bought over in Louisiana. I didn't know about a test ad or anything and I just kind of liked this park because it had a tennis court and a pool and a little his and hers pool bathroom thing. I thought, oh, this is my first classy park.
0:22:00.4 Frank Rolfe: I had never had a park at that point that had a pool and I've never had a park other than that one with its own tennis court. But it was lacking one big item. There was no demand. It was an area of Shreveport that no one wanted to live in. It was too far out and had a crummy school district. And so basically after I bought it, no one wanted to live there. And if you remember earlier in the conversation, I said that one refreshing thing was that my phone rang off the hook at Glenhaven. Well, it didn't ring off the hook at this one. No one ever called on the ads. And because no one wanted to live there, I couldn't evict anybody. So if you didn't pay your rent, I couldn't really evict you because I knew if I evicted you, I couldn't find anyone to replace you. So someone said, hey, well, I can't afford my rent this month. I'll give you half. I thought, well, half is better than none and that's where I'm sadly going to end up is with none if I kick them out. So I can't.
0:22:47.5 Frank Rolfe: So you've got to have strong demand. If you don't have strong demand, you're going to spend all your time searching and searching and hoping to try and dig up a customer and you don't. You want the customers to come running at you wanting to live there. The second issue is having any permitting problems with the city with your mobile home park. You really don't want to go to war with the city. You don't want to battle the city. You just want to basically collect rent and when people move out of homes, replace them. If you have a vacant lot, put a home on a lot. But you don't want to duke it out with the city and all those steps. And at the same time, cities hate you. When you own a park, the cities want to get you out of town and they want to get you out of town because you cost them a fortune. Every kid in a mobile home park costs the county or whoever pays the school tax about $8,000 a year on average. Yet the average mobile home park lot only pays in based on your tax rate, typically not much, $500 to $1000 a year. That's it.
0:23:49.3 Frank Rolfe: So the city is losing a fortune on mobile home parks. We did the calculations once on a park we owned in Arnold and that park was losing the city $1 million a year. Before you say that's ludicrous, no it's not. Picture a 140 space park with a lot of kids. Almost every home in there had one or two kids. That's what you ended up with. You lose it after property tax, you lose a million bucks. Now the city knows this and the city knows that any other use of that land, they make money. If you put in an apartment complex, wouldn't have as many kids, have a lot bigger tax bill. Better yet, let's put it in a strip center, all sales tax, no cost. Office building, that's all tax. Self storage, that's all tax. Everything is all tax, no cost. And then you've got the old mobile home park and it's just sticking it to the city like there's no tomorrow. Super high density, lots of kids, lots of cost. So the city doesn't want you in their confines and you can't blame them. If you were the city fathers, you wouldn't want you either because in a city, losing a million bucks on one property is absolutely unheard of.
0:24:58.7 Frank Rolfe: Think of what they could do with that million bucks. They could pave roads, they could do all kinds of things. It would lower the burden of the city but yet they can't because the mobile home park is there and there's nothing they can do about it and it really agitates them. So as a result, some parks are so hated by the city, the city fights you at all times hoping you can't bring any more customers in. And if you have that kind of issue, then what you'll be doing is you'll be thrust into all the time talking to lawyers and trying to figure out how to get out of your mind with the city. So make sure in your diligence that the city is okay with your park. They're not going to ever like it and they're not going to like you because they know you cost them a bunch of money but since it's already there, they know by laws of grandfather they can't do a thing about it. You want a city that's basically resigned to the fact as much as they don't like you, they can't get rid of you.
0:25:49.2 Frank Rolfe: Next, you've got to be in a strong location that puts you in the right side of supply and demand. Now, the locations that work in America are simple. Things people want to live in are nice suburban areas and safe urban areas. Nothing else. Nobody wants to be in an urban area that's unsafe and no one wants to be in a suburban area that's lousy and has bad schools. So it's basically the same thing that you want, is what mobile home park residents want. If you do not have that location, you're right back to the problem that people are not going to want to live in your park. And when they don't want to live in your park, then you're going to be spending a whole lot of time trying to figure out how to prop it up and how to keep it alive. You're back to the 16 hour day problem. Next, you want to have infrastructure that is city water and city sewer and directly build electricity and gas. You do not want private utilities and master metered power and master metered gas.
0:26:47.1 Frank Rolfe: Now, you might be able to survive with one of those if you've checked it completely out and everything is in good repair and there won't be any problems. But those kinds of things can again make your life miserable and force you to do a whole lot of work. You also have to be in a density that is not going to put you in harm's way from the fire marshal because the fire marshal, he has precedence over grandfathering. So even though you say, well, my park was built in 1960, he doesn't care. He doesn't care anything about that. All he cares about is what do I have to do to keep people safe? And if he suddenly declares that the homes are too close together in your mobile home park, then he might request that you remove some or every other one to lower down your density and that would absolutely destroy your budget and cause you all kinds of grief. So you've got to make sure that your density is correct.
0:27:37.8 Frank Rolfe: And then you've got to make sure that you don't have just those old, old 60s and 70s homes that drag the appearance down and nobody wants to live in. Because once again, you are back in the mode that nobody wants to live in your park and you are spending 16 hours a day sending out flyers trying to come up with your next great marketing scheme to beg people to live there. And so once again, you are looking at a lot of time spent on that. The business model just doesn't work. You also don't want to have a whole bunch of park owned rental homes. Now it's one thing if you bring in homes and you sell them through 21st Mortgage or PEP or Triad or one of those groups because you are the catalyst. You are doing what the mortgage companies should have been doing if they could, that the manufacturers dreamed of that have all fallen apart and that is you are allowing people to have a mobile home signed on a lot when they couldn't get the financing without you.
0:28:34.6 Frank Rolfe: So that is part of the way the 21st program works, the PEP program works is you do have some obligations in the sale. You don't co-sign the note. You are not on the note. But you have an obligation that if the home goes empty traditionally, you have to cover the mortgage payment. You have to forego the lot rent. You have to make the repairs until you get that home sold and back out the door again. So when you have really, really, really tons of park owned homes, particularly rentals, you take on all of these miserable attributes of apartments and nonstop repair maintenance and now you are working your way back into a 16 hour a day job. Now some people are okay with that. We had someone who went to boot camp and they found an old beat up mobile home park in the state of Alabama and they deliberately filled it with nothing but rentals. Like 100 lots and he put like 100 rentals in there and he rented them all for like $800 a month and you can't knock the business model.
0:29:33.2 Frank Rolfe: It looks like a pretty smart model. He was taking in $80,000 a month of revenue but it was a full-time job and he was truly there 16 hours a day managing all of the repairs. So that is kind of what happened. So if you want to do that, I mean it is there. It is called the detached apartment model concept. But again, that is another time killer. Also paying too much for your mobile home park and barely being able to pay the bills, that's always a terrible idea. When you buy the mobile home park, the whole goal is to make money with it. It is not just to say that you own it. So if you just want to say I own a mobile home park, well then maybe you should buy a fractional share in one and not forego the whole thing because it is going to be a whole lot of work if your numbers don't fit. You will be perpetually scrounging not only to pay the bills but you will be terrified about your loans when they come due and how you are going to get them replaced.
0:30:26.0 Frank Rolfe: And then finally having a really bad manager that does more harm than good for you, that is a real good way to end up having to put in a huge amount of hours on your mobile home park because basically it is even worse than you managing yourself if you are trying to manage the bad manager that everything you tell them to do, which is the right thing to do, is exactly what they don't do. So if Stephanie going back to Glenhaven had been a terrible manager, then my opinions of the mobile home park industry might have been completely different. I may have thought well you know what? You do have to work 16 hours a day. You do have to be in the park office every day because otherwise your business will fail because that would have been the case. But if you get a good manager like Stephanie was at Glenhaven, you soon rapidly learn that wait a minute, I can own a lot of mobile home parks and still not put in a huge amount of time on them. So why the quality of life is the most important thing, what have I learned about that from this adventure in the mobile home park business?
0:31:24.0 Frank Rolfe: Well, I learned that my self-worth is not contingent on working 16 hours a day. And I was... In fact, I was wrong about the entire concept that money was the only thing in life you were going after. So as I matured I've come to realize that relationships are actually the most important thing. And that's been proven out by a study. There was a landmark study at Harvard, the longest running study they ever did. They ran the study until everyone in the study had died of old age. So it went through two generations of faculty at Harvard. And what they did is they followed people from all walks of life, poor people, rich people and at the end of the movie they would ask them, so how was your life? Was your life happy? They'd track every year. Are you happy? Why are you happy? What they found in the end was the people who had really great relationships, they had lots of friends and a lot of family and they were the happy ones regardless of how much money they had. And the people who had no friends, had no strong relationships, had nothing like that going on regardless of how much money they had, they were very, very unhappy.
0:32:33.1 Frank Rolfe: Now, I even moved from Dallas to Ste. Genevieve, Missouri in search of better relationships for myself and my family because I read an article once that said you can't really be happy unless you connect with your neighbors. And I didn't connect with my neighbors in the big city, not in the manner I wanted to. I didn't have the same morals, same goals as they had. So I had to move all the way up to Ste. Genevieve, Missouri to actually find people that I can connect with. You also have to be good on your health because health is critical. You cannot really have a happy life if you are in bad health and then that revolves right back to the problems with doing the 16 hour a day working situation. You cannot maintain good health. I'm convinced of that. There is no way, if you look at all the things they tell you need to do to live long and be healthy, it includes such things as having at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Can't do that. It includes having lots of exercise. Can't do that. It includes fresh air and eating well.
0:33:33.1 Frank Rolfe: Well, you can't do that when you are sitting at a desk all the time. So basically, if you want to get healthy, you can't do the 16 hour a day stuff. So then how do you maximize your quality of life? What have I learned from that from this mobile home park adventure? Well number one, money is just a tool and your quality of life needs to be the goal. And the money is just there as a tool to try and help you but it is not the end result. So when somebody says, oh, you know, I have a lot of money, I don't care about that attribute. What you care about is what is your quality of life? Back when I had my billboard business, I knew a guy who had a huge quality of life. His name was Herman and he was a sign painter. But he had a higher quality of life than any of the billboard owners. He had fantastic relationships with his wife and family. He had everything going for him. He was a very, very happy guy. He had a nice house out in the country. He had a Jaguar XKE. He was just doing great. He didn't work a terrible amount of time.
0:34:30.6 Frank Rolfe: He sure did make a huge amount of money. But again, he was extremely high on the quality of life scale. Now when I lived in Dallas, there were 5 billionaires in my neighborhood. And I knew all of them because I was president of the homeowners association. But I cannot say they were particularly happy people. I don't recall them being all smiley and laughing all the time. Pretty serious folks, pretty much working the 16 hour day. That's what people did back then. So the key is anyone can attain a high quality of life if you work at it. This is something that is very egalitarian. There's nobody listening to this that cannot have a high quality of life if you put some effort into that. But to get there you've got to reflect on what really makes you happy and then map out how much you'll need money wise to pay for that. And when you do that you'll find it's really not that much. I watched a show Yellowstone, Rip Wheeler in one episode told someone, when you really think about life and all the important things in life, they don't really cost that much money.
0:35:35.2 Frank Rolfe: And that's true. It doesn't cost much money to have relationships, to laugh, to be healthy, to go for a walk. These are not money focused. So basically having a very high quality of life if you really think about it is very attainable by everyone. So how can you still fix your life? Even if you're where I was at my worst. Let's say you're listening to this and saying wait a minute, this sounds a lot like where I'm at because I'm working 16 hours a day and I'm not happy and I want a higher quality of life. Well, the first thing to know is I found my happiness through mobile home parks because that's what gave me the tool I needed to have a high quality of life. So I went from the person who was basically never at home to the guy that was named by the school as the only parent who never missed a single sports game or activity throughout my daughter's high school years. And she was in a lot. She played volleyball, basketball, track, and I was there at every single game and every single tournament.
0:36:36.3 Frank Rolfe: And that was because I got into the mobile home park business and that was the unique feature was I didn't have to be there all the time on a job site. Unlike the billboard business where I would have been bankrupt being at my daughter's events because I would constantly be out there trying to hustle to rent billboard space, to check on the signs. Not the case with the mobile home park. I was basically getting just paid because my name was on the title. You know, I interview lots of people on these lecture series events. We try to do one every month. And the common theme is that people spend only around 4 hours a week managing their mobile home parks. Now that's not totally accurate on a really hard turnaround one. It's more where you end up when the turnaround is complete. But still, it's pretty impressive when you can own an asset that's pretty highly valued and you only put in 4 hours a week.
0:37:28.5 Frank Rolfe: Imagine someone who owns a McDonald's for example. You know, most mobile home parks cost about what a McDonald's franchise costs. And you look at how much effort a McDonald's franchisee spends on the restaurant, and I should note because I used to rent lots of billboards to them, it's an horrendous amount of time. Most of those McDonald's owners, they show up before the McDonald's opens which means you have to be there like at 5 in the morning. And many of them don't leave until after the dinner rush. So they are guaranteed 12, 13, 14 hour a day day. So I can replicate that same amount of income, that same amount of value with mobile home park and spend only maybe 4 hours. And that's a huge, huge difference obviously. Also, being your own boss is a part of owning mobile home parks. It allows you to move away from the big city. And I have found that living in a small town, yet still within driving distance from the city for entertainment and healthcare and that type of thing, is the second best decision I ever made.
0:38:31.5 Frank Rolfe: Maybe the first, but definitely the top 2 other than being in the mobile home park business because I just really like that quality of lifestyle. And again, that would not have been possible if I was still in the billboard business. I couldn't possibly do it. But being in the mobile home park business you can kind of live wherever you want. And I elected, and of course Dave, my partner elected, we both live in small towns. So here is the big takeaway. If you don't like your lifestyle right now, change it. Life is just too short to be miserable. So smart strategic moves can take your quality of life from zero to extremely high virtually overnight. This is something that any and everyone can take advantage of if you really want to. If you are miserable, at least you owe it to yourself to start thinking about what you can do to be happier. Because really we don't know a whole lot about life. What do we really know?
0:39:23.0 Frank Rolfe: We really just know if we are happy or we are sad. And if you are sad, you definitely want to break out of that rut. You've got to be always in pursuit of that quality of life or you are not really focusing on the big item. Now, it also means you can't listen to others who will tell you that you've got to follow the traditional path of being a slave to money and to work 16 plus hours a day, because that's what happened to me. I was just told by everyone as I was growing up, oh gosh, if you want to be successful you've got to work at least 16 hours a day. So I heard that pounded into me throughout high school, throughout college, when I got out of college, always the same mantra. And those people were dead wrong. I look back at those people today and say, okay, whatever happened to them who were such big promoters of this idea? And they must have had just miserable lives. So I basically got conned the whole time really, because the people who were telling me this is what you've got to do, well they were completely wrong.
0:40:20.1 Frank Rolfe: Instead, I should have watched over the other people who weren't so vocal about it like Herman, the sign painter. I should have replicated his kind of lifestyle. I would have had a higher quality of life, much less stress, not spent all those hours, not almost killed myself with caffeine. So don't listen to everybody and what they tell you to do. And also don't listen to people necessarily about owning mobile home parks, because there are people out there even when I bought Glenhaven who told me, oh no, you can't own a trailer park. You're an idiot. That thing will fail miserably. You're going to get murdered. It's awful. They had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. They had never actually been in a mobile home park. They never owned a mobile home park. They had no idea. You know, there's an old saying that the only person who can talk about which is better between two things is someone who has owned and experienced both. And I was looking for reinforcement for buying a mobile home park from people who had never owned a mobile home park.
0:41:12.5 Frank Rolfe: And it's kind of a really, really bad idea obviously, because I was looking for reinforcement from people who couldn't give it to me, because they really didn't know. All they knew about mobile home parks is what they saw on TV or in the movies, so they just had this really bad stigma and told me not to get in it. I can't imagine what a miserable life I would have ended up with if I had not taken the plunge about the park, because everyone I talked to told me not to. Not one single person said, oh yeah, that's a great idea. But nevertheless, I didn't listen to them because I am responsible for my own quality of life. And I knew it was worthwhile taking the shot that it might lead to something good, and that's exactly what happened. So the key to it all is mobile home parks, they are a great tool to a good quality of life. They give you an opportunity to build an amazing asset with great cash flow and great value without sacrificing your life to get it done.