Mobile Home Park Mastery: Episode 291

How To Hold An Open House

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The demand for affordable housing is huge, but finding the applicant with the necessary down-payment, earnings level and credit score to actually buy your vacant mobile home is more difficult. One great way to spur traffic to any mobile home park is to hold an “Open House”. In this Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast we’re going to focus on how to hold these events successfully and unlock the potential in your market to fill homes at a faster pace.

Episode 291: How To Hold An Open House Transcript

If you have one or a handful or a whole bunch of vacant park owned homes in your mobile home park you wanna sell, one of the best ways to get things going quickly is to hold an open house. This is Frank Rolfe from Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast, we're gonna talk about how to successfully hold an open house to get your home sold and out the door.

So here's how it works. First off, you have to pick a date and it needs to be at least three weeks of advance notice. So, you can't just say, "Yeah, I'll hold an open house." And then hold it next week. You have to give people at least three weeks to build enough consumer excitement and to spread the word enough to get the big crowd that you really need to have to make an open house successful.

And then you need to have at least one home, and it's gonna be your show home, and maybe that's the only home you have, or maybe that's the best of the group that you have, and you are going to put a lot of focus on that one home. You're gonna get that home in really, really great condition, both inside and out. You're gonna get that yard all clean, you're gonna get a nice path made to the deck in case it rains so it's not muddy. And if possible, you're gonna wanna stage that home, at least a little bit. Now what's staging? Staging is when you bring in furniture to mock up in the home to try and make the home look more appealing, 'cause many people do not have the creative ability to look at an empty space and visualize, "Oh, there's where the bed would go, there is where the sofa would go." So you help them along.

Now, you can buy, in today's world, inexpensive furniture to stage, you can buy it through IKEA, you can buy it through a number of online sources. But here's another tip, if you don't wanna spend a lot of money, you don't have to do that, you can go down to Goodwill or Salvation Army, and you'll be shocked at the quality of the furniture that you can find there for next to nothing. Now when you're looking at furniture to stage the mobile home, make sure that it's very, very small in stature, because we all know mobile homes are not really very big on the inside. Do not go for giant overstuffed chairs, do not go for any piece of furniture that's big, 'cause you wanna create the illusion that the space is plenty roomy.

Now, some of the key items people normally will put in when you stage a home, you might put in a sofa and a couple of chairs in the living room, you might put it in just the bed, in the bedroom, and also don't forget to add a little flourish, like some mirrors are good to make rooms appear larger and more at home.

Now, you've got to have really great signage that shows people how to get to the home. That's essential. So when they pull into the park, they're gonna have plenty of signs with arrows down the street, take a right here. And then on the home itself, you gotta really, really promote that, you need pennant streamers and signees, so no one can miss where the home is, you're wasting traffic, if people come into the mobile home parking yet they can't find where to go.

Now, as far as your marketing goes, one of the best ways to market for the open house is to send a letter to every single person in that mobile home park and let them know that you're going to be having this open house and you would love for them to bring their friends and family, and if they do, they will get a $500 referral fee. Now, why is that important? Well, because most of the people who live in your mobile home park are a wonderful source of potential customers. They already have a built-in support network of friends and co-workers, so you wanna get them on board to really promote the event as well as you do. And then put it on all of your online sources, places like Facebook, you can put a banner out on the fence, any and every free or nearly free advertising source would be advisable to really build that traffic up.

And you're gonna need to also offer some kind of free food if they attend, might be free pizza, hot dogs, free drinks, whatever it is, so that when people come in to attend the open house, they know that it comes with free food. You'd be shocked at how many people are attracted to the concept of devoting a little bit of time in exchange for some free food.

Now when people come in, you need to make sure that they check in to the open house. So when they arrive at the open house, they need to go ahead and check in, which means they give you their first and last name, and their phone number and their email so you know exactly who they are, that way you can follow up later with your marketing to try and get them to go ahead and buy the home. So the way it works is, you gotta give yourself three weeks advance notice, you need to go ahead and get that home staged and ready to go. Great signage to get people to the home, strong marketing to let people know the open house is coming. Organize free food for those who attend, and then make sure that everyone who attends checks in.

Now, what can come of this open house? Why is this worth this much effort? Well, we've had open houses that have sold at a single event, a whole handful of homes. So if you look at the value of getting those homes out the door, the lot rent offsetting the home price you're carrying in your floor planning or renting the home, if that's your model, it is well worth your effort to go ahead and hold an open house, even though you do have some initial capital outlay as far as the food, the staging, the advertising, an open house can really get your park on the map.

And don't forget, you're gonna get some follow-up for many of those customers, even if they don't buy the show home, even if they don't buy something that first day, you'll have residual follow-up from that as far as people coming in and saying, "Yes, I think that I'll go ahead and buy that home, but maybe it's a little bit later," so there's a huge value add to all people coming to your open house.

Now, when you also hold the open house, don't forget that you're also going to be creating a lot of just interest in that general area. You may get real estate brokers who come by, you may get people from all kinds of different ancillary real estate capacities that wanna see what you have to offer in your park. And again, word spreads. Are there any downsides to holding an open house? No, none at all. None that we have seen. Now, if you can, it's also advisable to mock up and have at the ready more than one style of home, just like a car dealer has multiple makes and models on their lot. It would also be good for you to have not just one home staged and ready for the open house, but maybe a second or even third model too, that's entirely different.

Maybe you have a three-bedroom, two-bath, and then you also have a two-bedroom one bath, or maybe you have a new house that's all ready to go, coupled with a used home, because every customer needs to match to the right home for them, and if you have multiple options to show them then it gives you much greater odds of finding the one that's correct for them. The bottom line is that right now with the recession that we are undergoing here in the US, whether it's official yet or not, the demand for affordable housing has never been higher in the US, our phone is ringing off the hook in almost every market, but you still have to translate, you have to harness that affordable housing demand into getting your homes out the door. And with the price points being higher today on new homes and used homes, it would behoove you to ramp up the number of potential customers by holding an open house. One more item of know, if you're gonna hold a successful open house, you need to have a good manager running the event. So it's going to be a team effort.

In many markets, we have a manager for the park, but we also have a sales manager, and then we may also have an assistant manager if it's a very, very large property. Everyone needs to be working in conjunction. Because the goal here is you have lots of customers, and just like a retail store, you need a lot of people to work with them and meet with them and show them around. Also, the strength of your sales person is gonna be very, very important here, because if you have a quantity of customers looking to buy, you wanna make sure they have the basic scale skills to deals closed. The bottom line to it all is if you've got some homes, I don't care if you have just one, two, three, four, five, or 50, remember that we're going into the prime selling season right now, so the time is right, this is a really good time to hold an open house.

This is Frank Rolfe, from Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast. I hope you enjoyed this. And talk to you again soon.