Mobile Home Park Mastery: Episode 240

Pick Up The Phone

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If you own a mobile home park with even one vacant lot, you probably have a plan to fill that lot with a new or used home to obtain stable, monthly lot rent. And if you are going to sell or rent a home in a mobile home park, your success or failure begins with the simple action of picking up the phone. In this Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast we’re going to explore everything you need to know about getting that phone line answered and answered properly. With the “prime selling season” fully underway for mobile homes in your park, this is a timely issue that all park owners need to understand.

Episode 240: Pick Up The Phone Transcript

In many American movies, there's that one scene where the phone rings, and if the actor or actress does not pick up the phone, they won't know that they're in imminent danger, the whole crowd and the theater is hoping, praying, they pick up the phone. And yet, that's exactly where most mobile home park owners st regarding when the phone rings... This is Frank Rolfe of the Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast. We're gonna be talking all about just simply picking up the phone, so here's how the metrics work in most mobile home parks, every time you get a call, your manager should be trying to make that call into a showing, because without a showing, you won't have a sale or a rental. So everything begins with the phone ringing, and with someone picking up that line. So how do we take control over that, how do we make sure that the phone gets picked up? Well, the first thing you have to do is you've got to get a phone line, many park owners stupidly allow the park line, the official number that's given to the public and all advertising to go directly to the manager's cellphone.

They don't even own that number, the manager owns their phone number, you can imagine the problem if you later fire the manager, all of your customers and all of those legacy ads will be calling the manager who I'm sure will inform that it was a terrible place to live, instead, you must have always control over the phone, it has to be the park's own line. Now, once you've got that line, next thing you need to do is you need to port that through a service such as Who's Calling, or if you have rent managers, your software... The system is called VOIP. It doesn't matter what system you use, what matters is that the phone number when ported, which then goes through forwarding, let's say to the manager's cell number, that when that call comes in, it tracks everything, the number of the caller, it also tracks the length of the call, and it records the call. Now you have power. Now you can find out the facts, now, at the same time you're getting in Who's Calling or whatever service attached to your number, it's also time to train the manager about how to properly answer a phone, you don't answer the phone at the mobile home park with...

Hello? Or what's up? Or huh? No, the correct script should be, it's a great day at the name of the property. How can I help you? It's pretty simple. It needs to be professional. It needs to be upbeat. If someone's calling to spend big money to make a move to live in your property, I think they deserve kind of a professional phone reception, next, your manager must be trained they have to pick up the phone. It can't be optional. And there's absolutely no excuse for not picking up the phone, if the manager says to you, "Well, I couldn't answer the phone I was out on property." Wait a minute here, this is 1935. If you're at on property that manager's got that cell phone in their pocket... Certainly they can answer it. I don't care what they're doing. There's nothing as vital as answering the phone, driving their car, walking through the park, showing someone a home, it only takes a minute to answer the phone, even if you can't continue with the call because of some pressing issue, you can at least answer the phone and say, I'll call you right back. That's the professional way to go. Not answering the phone is simply not an option, and you can never let the manager think for a moment that it is 'cause it is not.

No one is so important and so busy, they cannot answer the phone. Also, now that you have Who's Calling, you can see what's really going on, looking at Who's Calling, you'll know exactly how many calls you got, and you will also know exactly how many you answered, how do I know?

Because it shows a length of call time, so if the call is just a second then it was never answered, and I guarantee you, you'll be horrified when you first look at those records for your very first week of Who's Calling, because you'll find that manager probably did not answer 80% or 90% of your actual calls, you can find out for yourself if you don't trust Who's Calling, I urge you to just mystery shop, star 67 your phone if you like, and call the same number the customers call and you see what happens.

You'll just go to voicemail over and over and over, you simply cannot succeed if the manager refuses to answer the phone, it's not an option, so if you've got a manager who's doing well in everything else they do, if they're collecting money and keeping all the residents happy but won't answer the phone, what can you do? Well, you know, there are some other options. They're not free. They're not cheap. What is it? You could hire somebody to answer the phones, you could have those phones roll over and go to another person, let's say if it doesn't get answered in perhaps three rings, so there's a solution for you, but then the problem is who's gonna answer the phone?

It's probably a good exercise to really know what's going on in your property to designate the person who it rolls over to as yourself, you'll be mildly disappointed in your manager's performance, a little freaked out when your phone rings all day long, because with some managers that's the way it's gonna go, they're not gonna answer that phone, it doesn't matter what is going on, if they know someone who's gonna answer on the roll-over, they'll simply let it roll over.

Now, another option you have, of course, is to change managers, there's an old saying, it's easier to change people than to change people, if your manager displays a habit where they refuse to answer the phone on a consistent basis, you know that your business will never survive this, so you have to do something, and if you can't afford to have someone act as the roll-over person and you yourself can't be the roll-over person, then you've gotta change the person who's the primary receiver of those calls, and you'll have to make a manager change. Another option you would have If your manager is doing great in everything else, only until such time as you are sold out on homes, you could choose someone else on the property and designate them as your sales person.

That solution works in many occasions. You find someone who's got great sales skills, time on their hand, somebody who can go and open a door and show a home effectively, and you pay them a commission, and they operate independently of your manager, their only function in the park is to sell...

To answer the phone, they don't do anything else, they don't collect money, they don't do anything other than that one sole function. But if you look at the value of filling a lot and selling a home today, that's really not necessarily a bad thing to have someone who's better, more tuned, more of a people person in the role of selling and renting those homes, than leaving it to your manager who will they just won't ever answer the phone. Now, there's a simple metric, typically to sales and rentals, which is you need three calls to get a showing and three showings to make a sale or rental, and when we've looked at properties that are not performing based on expectations, when we really focus on that, you're quick to see what the problem is.

Now, the problem comes in different styles, you could have that you're getting lots of calls and no showings, you could be getting lots of showings and no sales or rentals. Now, if you're getting lots of showings no sales and rentals, that problem could be that your pricing is wrong, your price is too high for the competition, or you're not properly presenting the product because perhaps it's not of the caliber the customers require to wanna commit their time energy and money to it, but it's also possible if you're getting calls and no showings, it's clearly just one item, nobody is answering the phone, because if you don't answer the phone, you can't get any showings, and if you don't have any showings, well, then you're simply out of business...

And nothing will ever work. We had a manager once in a property in Kansas City, they claimed that they weren't getting any calls. So what do we do? Well, we forded the phone, I forded the phone to myself, and the minute I do... My phone rang off the hook. That was the good old days. They weren't that good, that's before the advent of technology allowing you to have who's calling and a physical control of your calls coming in, but today, if you don't take advantage of all of the options that technology gives you, you're really making a terrible mistake. I've not seen a property yet that has a decent location that you cannot cure if you simply take control of your phone and make sure that it is properly answered. This is Frank Rolfe, the Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast. I hope you enjoyed this, talk to you again soon.