Mobile Home Park Mastery: Episode 238

Spring Clean-Up Events

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The advent of Spring brings new challenges to park owners in the form of lawn maintenance, higher water bills, and annual pothole repair. But it also brings forth an opportunity to improve your sense of community, property appearance, and dedication to pride of ownership in the form one single event: the Spring Clean-Up. In this Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast we’re going to review what these events are, why they work so well, and how it’s time to put one in your schedule.

Episode 238: Spring Clean-Up Events Transcript

Wikipedia defines spring as a season of the year, but it also defines spring as a mechanical device that stores energy. And at Mobile Home Parks, spring is probably a little bit about more the latter than the former. This is Frank Rolfe, the Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast. We're gonna be talking about not only spring, but what we call the Spring Clean-up Event. Now, why is spring such an important season to Mobile Home Park owners? Well, first all, spring ushers in a period in which residents just get happier, it's warmer outside, the sunlight is longer, school is gonna be ending soon. And people are just generally happier. And as we all know, it's a whole lot more fun being a landlord when your residents are happy, then when they're unhappy.

Also spring brings grass turning green, flowers coming out of the ground, and all kinds of aesthetic improvements brought forth by Mother Nature. And of course, spring ushers in the period in which residents spend more time outdoors, one of the big reasons people like Mobile Home Parks is they like being able to use their yard, they like to be able to walk around, and spring allows that to happen. Also with spring, you get warmer weather, which allows some important things in Mobile Home Parks to happen, painting, that's a big one, sealing roofs, that's another big one and asphalt repair. These things cannot happen during winter because the weather temperature is too cold.

Finally, spring is the time to clean up after the long winter season. During the winter, leaves fall off the trees, tree limbs fall on the ground, trash tends to accumulate 'cause people don't wanna chase it around the yard and put it in a bag because it's too darn cold out. So spring is a moment in each year that we look forward to, because we know that if we have a strong spring, we can put the park in a good position. So that is why we started doing Spring Clean-up Events. Now, what is a Spring Clean-up Event? 

Well, the concept is to get the entire community involved. We don't wanna have it something where the park is doing all the work and the residents sit there and go, "Gee, I wonder what they're doing today?" We want the residents to also join in the effort, because if we get the residents involved, we build that sense of community, which is one of the strongest amenities that Mobile Home Parks have. And to build that sense of community, it's very important that neighbors get to meet each other. We try very much to foster that in the Spring Clean-up Events. Not only do we get everyone together on a single goal, but also we always provide a free communal meal. This allows people to not only work together side by side, but to also discuss things, current events, things that are important in their lives, find commonality of interests, which then fosters greater relationships and makes those residents who were strangers before suddenly become acquainted neighbors.

Also at a Spring Clean-up Event, your manager gets to have a better role because they are the head of the event, and the residents therefore get to meet the manager. You may have a new manager, you may have new residents, you may have residents who have lived there a while but never actually even met the manager. So our Spring Clean-up Event is kind of a "welcome to the manager" event, just as much. And of course, there's one huge by-product of the Spring Clean-up Event, and that's getting the park all cleaned up. If your park looks good at the start of spring, it typically goes all the way through the end of the year. Vice versa, if you don't put in any effort at spring, all of those congregations of leaves and limbs and trash, well, they just seem to haunt you for the balance of the season.

And don't forget, that spring also ushers in the prime selling season for mobile homes. That's the time, not only a mobile home, but an apartment of single family as well, that most people tend to start thinking about moving, it's warmer out easier to move, school is ending, time to change school districts, time to have a three-month holiday from all of the worries of getting the kids to school, to instead be focused on moving. And we want our properties to look as good as we can going into that very, very important prime selling season.

So how do we do a Spring Clean-up Event? Well, the first thing you have to do is you have to pick an official date. Now, based on your geography, that date may vary. Right now in Southern parts of America, and in most of the Midwest, it's starting to hit 60 with some degree of consistency. However, if you're in the far north, if you're in the upper peninsula of Michigan, you're nowhere near there yet, you may hold off on your Spring Clean-up Event, who knows, maybe til May, until you get a consistent chance of good weather. 'Cause you don't wanna hold the Spring Clean-up Event at a moment in which the weather outside on your official day might be 40 degrees, that will defeat the purpose. So pick a date, that's a time of the year where you feel pretty confident looking at all the weather forecast that you will have good weather.

And once you choose that date, let everyone know, send something around to all the residents, letting them know the Spring Clean-up Event is going to be on Saturday, whatever date it is, you can even put a little sign to that effect by the mail boxes. So you gotta pick that official date. Next thing you have to decide is whether or not you wanna bring out a roll off dumpster, we always do. You may not want to. You may say, "Well, that's kind of expensive. Maybe I'll just get everything together and stack it all at the office and then decide how best to remove it." I guess a lot of it depends on the size of the park and how much debris there may be. But if you've got a 100 space park or something near, I'm sure you'll need a roll off dumpster. It's not a huge cost, but it is a cost. It's gonna cost you probably at least $1000 to bring that roll-off dumpster out for the event, but that gives you one spot for everyone to throw all tree limbs, leaves, debris, everything into that one spot. So it may well be worth the money to do that.

As for the communal meal, that's a choice that you have to make based on what you think people would enjoy. You wanna have barbecue, you wanna have Mexican food, you wanna cook hot dogs. It's up to you. We find that most people don't really care what type of food that you serve, as long as it's something that most people would find an attractive meal. So the whole point of it is people getting together, sitting side by side, making introductions and talking. They don't seem to ever be that focused on the food itself, just as long as the food is good.

Also, you wanna set up your manager as a leader and to be the leader, they have to know what the purpose is, so be sure and tell the manager what in the world you're doing. The Spring Clean-up Event's goals are to basically just that, clean up the property and improve its aesthetics and have a happy time where residents meet each other. It's not supposed to be some form of enforced labor. That's something you could do with a contractor if you want, because you're not trying to foster any other good vibes other than you paying them for their service rendered. But in this case, you want the residents to have a productive and happy time, so the manager needs to be a little bit of a manager, but also a whole lot just of a community director, and they need to be kind of an ambassador of goodwill and a mayor of the town all rolled into one. So you need to get the manager in tune with what their role in the event will be.

Also, it doesn't hurt if you wanna add in a professional, because here's the deal, you cannot under any circumstance allow your resident volunteers to do things such as operate power tools. This is not an event where anyone is to in any way be in harm's way or injured. So if you're gonna wanna go in and fix decks and things that require a drill or a saw, you'll have to get a professional and only the professional to do that. So you may wanna go ahead on that Saturday, and besides the roll off dumpster, also provide someone to do that work. Now, you see this on HGTV all the time, and the shows where people renovate their homes and they put in the labor, do you notice that they never get to use the power tools, they always get to paint. That's what this event is as well, only professionals should use tools. The residents, just things they can do with their hands that are very basic and safe skills.

And on that note, you need to provide safety equipment, that safety equipment should include typically gloves and eye protection. But before you hold the event, I would talk to your insurance agent and say, "Hey, I'm holding this event, tell me everything exactly that you want me to do in order to hold it." You again, wanna make sure... You would have a disastrous event if anyone was to get injured, that's not in any way the purpose of the event. It's to bring people together in a happy format. And don't be afraid to let the general community know about the event as well. We've had a large number of volunteers participate, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, all kinds of college, sorority and fraternities have also joined forces on those spring clean up days to help out residents.

You'd be amazed how many non-profits are currently looking for things to do, things that meet their guideline of their mission statement, and they welcome things such as this, low impact things that do great things for the community, but are very organized, very time efficient, and don't cause them a lot of problems.

Finally, after the event, continue on with the theme of, "Hey, let's make this property look great during this nice, warm, pretty time of the year by having a yard of the month program. All you do is you select one yard each month, they put a sign in yard saying, "Yard of the month," and you give them a nominal amount, $25 or $50 in a gift card, just to thank them for putting in so much time and effort to make their yard look so good and lead the way on aesthetics for the community. The bottom line to it all is, a Spring Clean-up Event is a fantastic idea. We've been doing them for years now. It's a great way to not only give back to the community, but also to make your property look as good as it can for the new year.

This is Frank Rolfe, the Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast. Hope you enjoyed this. Talk to you again soon.