Mobile Home Park Mastery: Episode 303

The Growing Trend of Organic Home Moves

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Contrary to what woke media outlets may claim, mobile homes are very much mobile, and they are changing locales at a much faster rate these days. When a mobile home moves from one park to another it’s called an “organic” move – and it’s a great thing when you are the property they are moving to. So why are the number of “organic” moves increasing and how can you do more to attract these customers?

Episode 303: The Growing Trend of Organic Home Moves Transcript

Wikipedia says the definition of organic is related to not using or employing chemically formulated fertilizers or growth stimulants. Now, I guess we call the movement of one mobile home park to another in our industry organic, in as much is typically when we fill vacant lots, we're doing so by artificially buying homes either new or used and placing them on the lot and preparing them so that the tenant can buy that home already in place, but in the world of organics, these are customers who are moving from one mobile home part to another.

This is Frank Rolfe, Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast. We're gonna be talking about organic moves, why they are increasing right now in frequency and how you can get them.

Because when you look at all the different ways to fill your vacant lot, there's probably no better way than having a customer bring their home into your park. That home may be already paid for, may still have a mortgage remaining on it, but you're not involved when this occurs in the actual process of having to find, negotiate, buy, bring in, renegotiate and rehab that home in order to sell it, so it saves you an enormous amount of time and cost in doing those steps.

So what it does is it gets a customer who already is a stakeholder in your business, they already have a home, and it gets them in your lot, and it's just a great way for you to fill vacant spaces.

And with current market lot rents throughout America, you can typically get the money you pay to move that home into your park, because yes, the park under typically reimburses the tenant for the cost of the move, normally around $5000, you can make that back typically in about one to two years, so it's a great return on investment in every possible direction.

Not to mention the fact that it's always an ego booster when people are basically saying to you, "Hey, I like your mobile home park so much better than the one I currently live in, that I wanna go ahead and move my home over."

So it's just a win-win for everyone involved. The key question is how do you obtain these organics and why are the numbers growing? Well, one reason I think you're seeing the number of organic moves in America picking up pace right now is number one, rents are going up, and it's all gonna be tied to value as far as mobile home parks.

So if your rents go up and you still look like a good value to the customer, they'll stay. But if at some point your rent goes up significantly and you don't put anything back, don't try and improve the aesthetics or build in the amenities, the customers may say, "You know what? I don't wanna live here anymore. I think this is a bad value for the dollar. I think it's a better value for the dollar at that park over there," and they may then wanna move. So that's one reason I think we're seeing that.

And the other reason I think we're seeing that is that there's a lot of mobile home parks that are being shut down. If you read that weekly thing that I do where I talk about all of the news articles on the industry each week and then give my little snarky comments on my opinions on them, you'll see that a very large quantity of the articles today are all about one topic, and that's mobile home parks which are being torn down to make way for different uses, typically apartments.

So you're just seeing a lot more people being cut loose. If a park is being shut down to rebuild a Home Depot store, you're gonna have 100 people, 100 organic moves that are unleashed at that given moment.

So I think we're starting to see more and more people that are being left into or forced into an organic mode simply because a land they were sitting on is now being put into something different.

So how do you attract these people? It's so good for the park owner to get them, so profitable for the park owner to get them, how can we all do a better job of getting those organic moves?

Well, the first one is simply to put a banner on the fence in front of your mobile home park there on the street that says, "Move your home here for free." Just that. People driving down the road and they look over at your mobile home park every day. Maybe twice a day going to work and on the way back.

And they may say, "You know what? That looks way nicer than my mobile home park. Hmm, move here for free. That's interesting, I wonder how much it costs." They may pull into the office and start a conversation with your manager and they may say, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe it, this is so much nicer than where I'm at, and a reasonable price. I wanna move over here." So the first is you just gotta let people know by getting your banner out there on the fence.

And the other is having very high social media reviews, because as we all know in America today in almost every good and service people always look through the social media commentaries and reviews to see how you rank. And many mobile home parks, even the nice ones, if you look at those right now, they get one star. Now why is that?

Well, it's because the owner was kind of lazy regarding social media or maybe not even interested in it. And who puts comments on there and ratings? Well, it's your unhappy tenants, the ones that you evict. As they're leaving, they put on there, "It's a terrible place. I'm glad to be gone." One star or no star.

So to battle back, you've gotta go to your happy residents and say, "Hey, could you give us a review?" And you know it'll be good. If you go out to your happy residents who enjoy living there, pay every month, nice homes, nice yards, they'll all be given you probably four and five star ratings.

So as a result, you'll dilute down that one star. You'll start off with one, suddenly you're at two, three, four. Many mobile home parks, if they just work at it, can get up there to a four or five star rating, and it's very important you do if you wanna get organic moves.

Also, you have to have a nice first impression from the street. That's how the organic process typically begins. Someone's just driving by, sees the mobile home park on a repetitive basis and says, "Wow. That looks like the kind of place I wanna live."

I don't care how nice your park is, if your entry is bad, you're not gonna go anywhere. No one's ever gonna wanna move in there because they never even think to go in 'cause, "Oh gosh, that property doesn't look very nice." And don't forget that everyone's keeping up with the Joneses, they wanna live in a nice place that all their friends and neighbors say, "Ooh, that looks great."

So you have to have a nice first impression, you have to have a nice entry. Our favorite entry is three rail white vinyl fence with a nice matching sign and feather flags. But whatever you're gonna do, do something nice from the street.

Also obviously, since the whole point of organics is often based on value, have to provide good value for the lot rent. So look at all your comps, look at the competition, see what they're charging, what they offer.

If you're not in the game, get in the game. It's not hard today to pick up your level of play significantly, and it's not always that expensive. Improve your amenities, put in a pavilion, put in picnic tables, outdoor grills, go ahead and paint the common area building. Improve the entry. All these things you can do which give you better value for the money.

Also, you'll need a strong manager with good people skills, because if someone calls and they're thinking of moving their home over, it's very important that whoever answers the phone has decent sales ability, the ability to make them feel comfortable in this choice to make them wanna go ahead and do that. It's all made or broken on that very first call. If your manager has no sales ability, no people skills, all is lost.

Also, don't let your phones go unanswered, because if you don't answer they're gonna call the next mobile home park that was their number two choice, and if they answer they're gonna go there.

When people decided that they wanna move, they don't just hang it out and think about it and call people back repeatedly. Gotta make sure your phone is answered, if you don't know if your phone is answered or not, you can only run it through a service like Who's Calling, it will track every call coming in whether it was answered or not, and even record what was said.

You can also do that through rent measure, through a service called VoIP. But however you do it, you have to make sure that your phone is always answered. If it's not answered, well, you're already out of the game.

Also, you've gotta be very easy to work with. Everyone wants the organic move resident. So if you have a screening process, which you probably do, make it sound super simple. Get them in the door to get it filled out, don't throw up any road blocks, don't charge a deposit. It won't matter if you do a deposit or not, it just has given them one more hurdle to jump over to make them go with a different property. So you have to be super easy to work with.

Now, once they move in, once those people do move in, you know, it doesn't all just stop there. We've had many people who've moved their trailer on a organic move and then they brought in other friends and family. So it's really even a bigger thing than I'm describing. Getting that one trailer in, well that might resolve in another. Or three or four.

So it's very, very important if you own a mobile home park and you have any vacant lots whatsoever, that you be very focused on organic moves. I would rather have an organic move than any other way to fill a vacant lot. It's that smart for you to do. So you've gotta put in the effort.

And also don't forget, you don't wanna be the person who the person is leaving from. There's two sides to every organic move, the park that's getting the customer, and the one that's not getting the customer.

Don't let you be the one that's not getting the customer, in fact is losing the customer. Make sure you always maintain good value for the dollar. Make sure your manager always has pleasant people skills. Make sure that the resident understands that you appreciate them and you like them living there, and you want to make sure that you have a very successful relationship together.

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