Mobile Home Park Mastery: Episode 234

Motivating Managers

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The performance of your community manager will have a huge impact on your park’s profitability. So how can you maximize that performance? That’s the topic of this Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast in which we’ll look at the key building blocks to motivation and how to elevate those to the next level. Since much of these steps have little or no cost, there’s no reason why every mobile home park owner is not focused on this concept.

Episode 234: Motivating Managers Transcript

Webster's defines motivation as providing someone with a motive to do something. This is Frank Rolfe from Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast. We're gonna be talking about how to motivate your manager, how to make your manager excel at their job. Now, let's go over some basics of motivating managers. There's basically three general categories you can use to make the manager perform. First, positive affirmation of the job that they're doing. Managers, like all people, love to be told, "Good job, you're doing terrific." Second, monetarily. Managers, like anyone else, tend to perform better when they have a monetary interest into that higher performance. And then finally, as long as you're dangling the carrot, you also have the stick, and that's if they don't hit the goals and targets that you have set down, then they run the risk of being replaced with someone who can.

Those are basically the three camps of what you can do. Now, how do you enact those three items? How do you make each of those items tug people forward or push them forward to attain levels of performance that you maybe had only dreamed about before? Let's start off with the positive side. Studies have shown people from the earliest of age perform well when they are given constant positive reinforcement for jobs well done. What are you currently doing with your manager to make that happen? How often do you compliment the manager? We found that even giving managers simple awards like a trophy from the trophy shop pay huge dividends. If they know that you really appreciate what they do, they'll try harder. However, many owners make a mistake. They don't understand this. They take the manager for granted. They never say, "Gosh, I wonder what I can do to tell that manager what a terrific job they did of getting that home sold, or what a great job they did of collecting in the money despite all the complications from the COVID eviction ban?" Pondering it doesn't help.

And you know how inexpensive it is to give people compliments? Verbally, they're free. If you wanna give them gift items, like a little trophy or something, what are you talking? 20 bucks, $30? Do you have any idea how much greater profitability you can unlock by doing things like that? The answer is an enormous amount. Kindergarten teachers, first grade teachers, all lower school grade teachers, they all know this trick. They know that if they put on your quiz that you've got an A on a little sticker, saying, "Way to go," that you're more likely to do it again. Yet as adults, for some reason, we don't always ponder that opportunity, and that creates an opportunity that's basically lost.

Then you have monetary. People who reach certain goals, you give them additional money in the form of a bonus or possibly in the form of a commission. That doesn't require a whole lot of thought on the owner's side. The only thing that's hard to figure out is what's the appropriate amount. I will tell you from experience of years of motivating managers, it's gotta be enough to get someone's attention. If you say, "Oh, well, if you get that home rented, I'll give you $10, that's not gonna get it rented." We have found that typically, for any bonus structure to really have an impact, it's gotta have at least a couple hundred dollars or more of money involved. So if you say to that person, "Well, if you get the home rented, I'll give you $250," well, they will try really, really hard. But I also read a lot of books and talked to people who are much more well-versed in motivating people to hit targets. I talked to a guy once who... That's what he did, he was a professional management consultant, he worked with factories. And he found that the key item really was not just using money, money is all good and everything, but finding what that person's currency is, what their own personal thing that sometimes they value more than money.

For example, if someone is really into sports, you might be able to get them to do an amazing job if you gave them instead of money, two tickets to the sporting event, because see, they wouldn't normally buy that for themself, they couldn't rationalize doing that. But since it comes to you as a gift, they can't do anything about it, and they're forced to do the thing they love the most. Talk to your managers and find out what they're really interested in, what are their hobbies, what are the things they really like to do? If you can find that currency, that currency is worth more than money, and they will perform at an even higher level. I will also let you know that if you're gonna go ahead and set parameters for contests or things in which people compete, trying to win that prize, make sure that it is at least attainable. Don't say to someone, "Well, if you can get six homes rented in this month, I will give you $500," and they've only ever rented one, because those things are deflating. When you set contests that are completely out of line, what you're doing is you're setting insane expectations that never can be accomplished, it actually makes the other thing happen. It makes the manager actually resent you and not work as hard.

So if you're gonna go ahead and do something designed to motivate, make sure it's something they can actually hit. Don't throw out numbers that you deliberately set so high they can't ever hit it, because partially you don't wanna pay. On the negative side, I'm trying to give them the feel that if they can't get the job done, that they might be replaced. Again, you've gotta set the bar at a reasonable level, or they'll just give up because they'll know it's hopeless. So if you say, "Well, here's the job. I need you to collect X percent of the money, and we need to get out of all these vacant homes, I need to get at least one a month out the door," and assuming you're in a decent market and a decent clientele, okay, that's achievable, but don't be setting ridiculous targets. Don't tell someone, "Well, up till now, we've only ever collected 80% of the rent, and now you're new on the job. Here's the deal. You have to hit at least 95%." That's not fair. That's just going to cause resentment of the manager, and rather than make them try harder, they're gonna give up. They might just walk off the job.

Remember that when you lose a manager, it takes a huge amount of time and cost on your part to replace them. So it's clearly not the best idea. So then how do you do it? Well, number one, try and distill things down to a science. When people perform, it doesn't always get the desired results, but sometimes it's beyond their control. If you had a great salesman trying to sell mobile homes for you, but the market only dictates a price of $40,000, and you're trying to get them to sell it for $60,000, they might go through all the steps amazingly well and still never sell anything. So instead of having a macro, "Hit this or else," instead, give them baby steps. Say, "These are the things I want you to do," and then measure those steps. Don't go all the way to the ending. Don't say, "Yep, this is what you gotta hit. You better be doing this." Instead, say, "Okay, what are the steps to getting the home sold? Let's see. Number one is, run the ads. So I wanna make sure you're running the ads. Let me see that. And then the phone has to ring. Let's see how many calls we get. And then we'll have to have showings. How many showings did you get and how many closings did you have?"

Now you've distilled that down to a more reasonable level. Now their performance could actually be measured. People across the world get incensed when they feel that they've been treated unfairly. Nobody ever is gonna respond well if they don't think that you are judging them accurately. If they're doing a terrific job, yet they're not hitting your target 'cause your target is unrealistic or they don't have the raw material to hit it to begin with, all you're gonna harbor is bad will, bad feelings with the manager. And when a manager feels unappreciated, when they feel that their job is in jeopardy, what do they do? Well, they mentally start looking for a different job. So what's gonna happen is you're actually going to see your benefit, your targets will be harder to hit. So instead of you actually taking forward advancement to having that manager achieve the targets that you desire, you're working against yourself. What about the cost of everything we just talked about? Well, compliments, free, small tokens of gratitude, very inexpensive, contest and commissions, not that expensive. Just a mere tiny portion of whatever benefit you would have. And putting together a system of action steps and monitoring those action steps, again, financially very little. Sometime, yes, but not a whole lot of money involved.

Bottom line is, as owners, we all owe it to ourselves to really watch over our managers and push them to a higher level, because when you push 'em to a higher level, you're not the only one who wins. They win, because now they feel fully appreciated and fully compensated. And the residents win. They get a better manager who provides 'em a better community, and those needing affordable housing find it readily available. So when you worry about a manager and how well the manager is doing, sometimes you might be thinking instead, how are you doing at managing the manager? This is Frank Rolfe from Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast. Hope you enjoyed this and talk to you again soon.