Mobile Home Park Mastery: Episode 336

The Rites of Spring

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Spring is an important season for mobile home park owners for many reasons. In this Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast we’re going to review how smart park owners position themselves to harness the warming temperatures and more hours of daylight to create a better resident living environment as well as to improve your park’s net income.

Episode 336: The Rites of Spring Transcript

Spring begins this year on March 19th, so in about a week. And that's a great time of the year for park owners. There's a lot of progress that is made as it gets warmer out and it stays lighter later. This is Frank Rolfe, the Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast. We're gonna talk about the key ways you can improve the quality of life in your park, harnessing the energy of the change in the weather, as well as ways to make money from that period of time too. So, let's first start off on how you can improve your residents' quality of life. And of course, spring season follows winter. And we all know that winter is kind of depressing in mobile home parks because all the leaves fall off, the grass turns brown and people just lose all their lustre in life. They don't go outside, it's too cold.

They don't hang out with friends, they basically, just stay themselves in indoors. The only plus of the period probably is the national football league's performance, and there really isn't much else good to talk about when it's really, really cold outside in a mobile home park. And then here comes spring and then suddenly there's a great opportunity for park owners and that's called the spring cleanup event. So, what is a spring cleanup event? Well, this is something that gives you the chance to jumpstart your residents and their pride of ownership and sense of community at a very, very affordable price to you. So, it's a way to really change attitudes, to get your part cleaned up, to help people make networking relationships with other residents. So, here's how you do it: First thing you do is you choose a date and it will be your official spring cleanup event and give people lots of notice, probably, I don't know, at least 30 days notice, maybe even a little more in some parks based on the weather.

And let them know that you're going to hold this event and this event is gonna offer people a chance to not only improve the community, but to create bonds with your fellow neighbors and let people know how it works. Basically, it's a twofold process: Number one, they're going to come together communally to basically clean the park up. And number two, you're gonna provide a free meal. The free meal is not only designed to reward them for their labor, but additionally to help them meet their neighbors. So, now it doesn't just stop there though. You can't just depend on the residents to do a good spring cleanup event because not all of them will participate. So, to try and prime the pump even better to get more progress, what you should do is go to all of the neighboring volunteer groups in your area. Everything from Boys Club, Girls Club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, college fraternities and sororities.

If you have those groups like the Lions Club, the Eagles Club, all these different groups and tell them, "Look, we're doing this cleanup event at the mobile home park, would you wanna participate?" You'll be shocked how many people will jump on because they have to do certain community events. In today's politically charged world, there's not that many events anymore that they feel totally comfortable being involved in. And this is a feel-good one where there really is no downside to it. So, you'll have quite a few volunteers who will show up. And then you've gotta line up a dumpster to be there for people to throw large items as they go lot by lot, furniture, appliances, tree limbs, just general trash, things like that. So, you've gotta set up a dumpster and you also would be better served if you line up and pay for to have a real contractor there, because the key to these events are you cannot create any liability.

You should not let anyone operate a power tool, swing a hammer, anything like that. All they should be allowed to do is to pick up litter and paint. That's pretty much it. It's hard to be injured with a paintbrush. It's hard to be injured picking up a a Dixie cup. So, that needs to be the realm of what they do. Now, your contractors, they can do something different. They can use a power tool, they can nail a board back those kinds of items. So, you want that progress. You want people to see that kind of accomplishment, but you just can't let them do it. Now, on the day of the event, you're gonna provide them with safety equipment, typically goggles and gloves and you're going to again, tell them what we're doing. We're gonna start at lot number one, we're gonna go through the entire park lot by lot and just get things done that we think need a little extra help.

Now, of course, you wanna notify all your residents that you'll be doing this so they are fully aware and you could have an opt-out if no one wants to participate, but they're all gonna wanna participate, who does not want to have free improvements done to their property? And the answer is nobody doesn't want to have that done. And then after the event, when you're all done and you've cleaned up the property lot by lot and you've had the communal meal, then you're gonna go ahead and start your yard of the month program. This is a deal where you put a sign in the yard, it says they are proudly of the yard of the month to help instill in people this desire to keep it going, keep the good work going, let's get lots even more cleaned up, let's make the park even more attractive.

Bottom line to it all is, once you jumpstart that you will pay dividends throughout the whole year. It's kind of a perpetual motion machine because once you start getting the property clean, people get a greater pride of ownership and they also want to keep up with the Joneses and then clean up their lot and paint their deck and maybe build their carport and all those good things that you really want them to do. The other big benefit you would find is that people after the communal meal, after getting together, they now have made new friends, and since they have new friends, it makes them have a happier experience. They have a better support network there in the property. It also helps to backstop your manager because your manager is a leader of the event. So, now in the eyes of the residents, they get to know the manager better and they have more admiration for the manager and all the great things that they do.

So, that's how you create the better quality of life. Now, how do you go ahead and use springtime? How do you harness springtime to actually also improve your finances? Well, what goes on there is that most mobile home parks in the United States raise their rent once a year, hopefully in a reasonable amount, typically around $50 at the top end and sometimes much lower, $15-$20 if in fact the park is at market rents. And there's no better time to up that rent than during spring. Now, the worst time of the year to improve the rent increase the rent is during the season, it's a predecessor. Winter is terrible because people have to go through Christmas and the holidays and paying off the credit cards, and then additionally, it's dark out, it's cold out, it's very depressing. But as spring approaches, people are just in a happier frame of mind, who wouldn't be?

It's lighter later. You get home from work and you still have hours of sunshine to do whatever you want. The weather is warmer. Now you can maybe go out to the pool, whatever the case may be. And so generally, when the rent increase notices hit in spring, people are much more happy with them and not as concerned. So, that is the correct time if you're going to raise your rent, Spring is typically the correct time to do it. And also springtime is the best time to line up your mower, which will save you thousands and thousands of dollars potentially. Mowing in mobile home parks has always been a very frustrating experience for all mobile home park owners. Many of our residents simply don't have the desire to maintain their properties nice as we'd like them to. And you can't get there unless you set a perfect example with your own mower who does a really, really good job of your common areas and vacant lots.

So, how do you select the right mower? Well, typically you want to get at least three bids. And this is how you work it. You wanna get one giant company bid. This would be the landscaping service with the fancy trucks and the fancy uniforms that do all the advertising. So, there's one bid, and then you wanna get the small one, just the guy who's basically him and a pickup truck and a trailer and a riding lawnmower and an edger and a leaf blower and get his bid. And then number three, just get the bid from somebody inside the park who currently mows probably most of the vacant lots in there, and that will typically be maybe even a teenager. Now, of course, you can't really compare these apple to apple because the giant company has insurance. They've got professional people, they have a staff that shows up when the first person calls in sick.

So, they're completely different than the teenager. And of course the guy in the middle is also completely different; They don't have any backup support in case of any problem. He has a flat, he can't show up. But you wanna compare these three prices. In some markets, what we find is the price between the big outfit and the teenager is not that much. And of course if it's not that much, then you probably would've liked to go with the larger service obviously, 'cause they're the most professional, most responsible or fully insured and all that kind of stuff. But in some communities, you also find that there's a giant unbelievable price differential between the large company and the teenager. And you may also find that there's not as big a spread between the small one man shop and the teenager as there is between you jumping up the next round of the one small man shop and the big company.

Now, in a perfect world, you'd always use the big company, right? Because it gives you the least grief. But in some cases, mathematically, you're gonna find, when you look at it scientifically, you might opt for the less expensive alternative. But the only way you can do that is if you start planning well in advance. Because as you approach the grass growing, suddenly everyone is booked. You'll find that all your competitors have already made all their arrangements on mowing. So, this is the season You've gotta harness that. If you miss the cycle, if you don't line up your mower, if you don't get the bids, if you don't do all of that correctly, then what is gonna befall you is you're not going to be able to hit the target you had hoped for. And mowing can be very expensive. For most mobile home parks mowing is a very large line item. In northern parks, snowplowing is typically larger. But nevertheless, if you miss that opportunity to get the good pricing, it could cost you in fact thousands of dollars a year. The bottom line to it all is that spring is a great season. I really, really like spring. For some reason, coming out of the dark drudgery of winter into spring lightens everyone's attitude, and that even falls down to every single mobile home park resident in America. The key item though, is to harness the power of spring. This is Frank Rolfe, the Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast. Hope you enjoyed this. Talk to you again soon.