Joe Girard was the highest-selling car salesman in U.S. history, personally selling over 1,400 cars in 1973 alone. He had a simple rule to hit those kind of numbers: focus on volume of leads. And smart mobile home park buyers and owners share this same sentiment. In this Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast we’re going to discuss how Girard developed this attitude, and how we should all adopt it immediately to hit superior performance on buying parks and filling vacant lots.
Episode 199: In Volume We Trust Transcript
Joe Girard was America's greatest living sales person. He sold in one year 1,425 cars in the year of 1973. In 1977 he wrote a book on his career and how he was able to sell so many cars. This is a guy that sold more cars himself in one year than entire dealerships typically sold. In fact, he sold more cars in one month than most salesmen sell in an entire year. How in the world did he do it? Well, I've been reading that book called You Can Sell Anything to Anybody and basically his entire life story is based on the premise of volume. This is Frank Rolfe, the Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast. We're going to be talking about Joe Girard's ideas on volume and how we can apply those to being better mobile home park buyers and operators.
Girard was a guy who was very unsuccessful in most everything he did in his entire life. He was a late bloomer. He didn't really get into the car sales business until he was in his 30s coming out of several failed earlier enterprises, businesses that he would start, other places where he would sell. He was really desperate for success. In his first few days at the car dealership he noticed that most salesmen all followed the same pattern. They would stand around the dealership waiting for customers to come in the door. He had this idea what if I went out in the marketplace and tried to get more people to come in the door of the dealership? So he was one of the first people in America to adopt such practices as cold calling, and even direct mail.
Up until that time, most car dealers simply ran ads and depended on walk in traffic from people who saw their dealership, and that was a time back in the 70s where most Americans did buy a new car every so many years. But that wasn't good enough for Joe Girard. He wanted to go out there and he wanted to break records. He basically wanted to make lots of money. He wanted to make lots of commissions. He called his theory filling up the Ferris wheel. So what he meant by this was if he had a Ferris wheel packed with people, continually they would be getting off the Ferris wheel or in his thought then buying a car. So he wanted to pack that Ferris wheel. He didn't know which of these customers would buy a car. He didn't know when they would buy a car, but he did know that they would buy a car as long as he had plenty of them hanging around, thinking about him, thinking about the cars, thinking about his dealership, they would certain come in and buy. That's how he was able to sell roughly about three to four cars a day over a fairly length career.
So how can we adopt these methods to the mobile home park industry? Well, let's start off with the very idea of buying a mobile home park. If you go out there and call just a couple brokers, if you look at a couple listings on Mobile Home Park Store, if you make one or two calls per year, your odds of finding the ideal park are extremely low, probably not going to happen at all. Instead, you've got to ramp up the volume. There's several key ways to finding mobile home parks. I've identified them in the past. Brokers probably number one, and there are online listings, direct mail, and cold calling. If you're going to do this, let's do it in a big way. Let's not hold back. If you're going to call a broker to see if they have a mobile home park that fits your desires, your needs, your goals, why just hit one? Why hit 10? Why not hit 100? If you go to Mobile Home Park Store's resource tab, broker tab, you'll find a list of about 100 plus brokers who just sell mobile home parks. I would talk to all of them. And if I'm going to go ahead and send out 20 letters or postcards, let's ramp that up to 200. Let's ramp that up over time to 2,000. You see, volume is the key to all of these endeavors. Simply put, the more pitches you make the better your chances of winning. Imagine if you were at some kind of carnival midway. You think you'd have a better shot at winning the grand prize if I gave you three shots at knocking down the milk bottles? What if I gave you infinity? If I gave infinity to most anyone, if they have any basic skills at all, they're going to win the grand prize at that carnival midway.
At one time my daughter wanted to have a three row seating car. I had a Jeep Cherokee but she wanted me to get what all the other parents had which is a Dodge Durango. She wanted that because when you have a Dodge Durango back then, you had the ability to take the entire volleyball team or the entire basketball team to a practice or a game, but you couldn't do it with a regular car like that Jeep, that just had two rows of seating. But I really wasn't that sold on the idea because it really wasn't that important to me to own a Durango. I already had other cars. So I decided I'd kind of make some fun out of it. The average Blue Book value of a Durango back then, this is in the 90s, was $10,000. So I looked online on Auto Trader and I found there were roughly about 100 Dodge Durango's that fit the bill for sale simultaneously at that moment in the US. So what I did was I called each of them up. They all were asking $9,000 or $10,000, and I offered them $5,000.
The early ones told me to go jump in the lake. Most told me I was an idiot. But when I got to about the 20th or 30th call in I hit an architect down in Chicago and he said, "You know what, you're exactly correct. There's about 100 of these Durango's on Auto Trader, and I'm not getting any calls at all on it. I'm sick of having it clog up parking space at my house, so I'll sell it to you for $5,000 cash." Turned out better than I thought. Not only did I get $5,000 cash for the car, half of what I should have paid, this car had all the extras on it - heated seats, leather seats - it was a great deal. The deal was only possible though because of volume. If I called just one or two of those ads on Auto Trader, I would have spent $10,000 and not gotten as nice an automobile. So I'm also a big believe that volume is the key.
So what else can we apply volume to? Buying mobile home parks, absolutely, there's no question volume is the key to success. But where else does volume arise when you own a mobile home park? Of course the obvious answer is fill in your vacant lots. First of all, there's more than one way to fill a vacant lot. A lot of people think well if I want to fill a vacant lot, I'm going to have to go out there and buy a new home from a manufacturer. Well, that is an option but that's not the only option. You can also buy a used home from a manufacturer. But then again, you might not have to buy a home at all. Maybe you could have a Lonnie dealer bring in their home.
A lot of dealers are the folks named after the book Deals on Wheels by Lonnie Scruggs. The name Lonnie is unusual. It became kind of the name for it. These are people who like to buy and sell, or buy and rent mobile homes. They need a park to put them in, why not make it your park? That's another way to fill a vacant lot. Or possibly you can get a dealer down the street from the park who would want to bring in one of his older trade-in homes into your lots and sell it on location. We've done that many, many times. Always works very, very well. A lot easier for that dealer to sell that old home when there's location attached to it, as opposed to sitting in a parking lot. Or maybe you want to fill your lot with an RV. Lots of Americans are retiring into RVs as opposed to mobile homes because RVs don't have any negative stigma. And they pay the same as a mobile home park person now. The only issue of course is it's an RV and the lenders don't like it quite so much. So I would do that in moderation. Also make sure your permit allows for it. It's another way you can definitely fill up a handful of lots.
Then there's organic moves. These are people who are unhappy in whatever park they're currently in, so you decide to go ahead and help them out, and pay the cost to move from wherever they are unhappy at to your park where they're hopefully happy at. There's also home wholesalers. These are people who go ahead and buy and sell homes. Not like Lonnie dealers, they don't sell to the customer, they sell to the other park owners. But the bottom line is there's more than one method. Again, like Joe Girard would say, let's fill that Ferris wheel, let's try all the different options simultaneously.
Then when it comes to selling or renting homes in your own park, once again volume is key. More ads you run, higher quality of the ads you run, the better the chance you will have of call ins and walk ins to fill those homes. We have some parks that fill up to eight homes a month. When you're doing eight homes a month, to do that kind of pace, one thing you have to have is volume. You have to be running lots of ads. You have to be answering the phone, answering with a smile, asking people to come in.
So where else can we apply volume to? Well, there's volume in almost everything in that mobile home park that would be successful. Volume of times that your manager goes and talks to the residents on how to make their property a little nicer. Volume of ideas to help engage the residents in creating that sense of pride and that sense of community. Everything in life is really, if you really think about it all revolves around volume yet so many of us don't do it. Why do we not always engage in heavy volume like Joe Girard? Well, typically we just don't want to put in the effort. So I would say that if you really want to hit volume you're going to have to go ahead and create mandates to yourself of what you expect from yourself. You only live once and you are all you have to depend on, so you've got to make some serious, serious agreements with yourself on what you're going to do. I would urge you to write on a sheet of paper on every endeavor in your park, whether buying or operating it, what the goal is and then outside the box what would be the ultimate plan to achieve that goal.
When you see that ultimate plan, say to yourself, "Even though I don't want to, it's outside my comfort zone, it's more work than I'd care to do, I am going to go ahead and follow that written guideline. I am going to force myself to follow that path to success." And when you do that, you'll find that path typically leads to volume. Because again, volume is what you can truly trust in as a mobile home park owner. This is Frank Rolfe, the Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast. Hope you enjoyed this. Talk to you again soon.