Wikipedia defines “excellence” as “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good”. All park owners aspire to excellence, but how do you really achieve it? In this episode of the Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast, we’re going to explore how you can trade-in average performance for something much more profitable. You may be setting your own limitations, and if you put more thought and effort in you can possibly hit stats that you never dreamed possible.
Episode 167: Unlocking Your Performance Potential Transcript
Excellence is defined as the quality of being outstanding or extremely good. So how do we transition from being good to spectacular? This is Frank Rolfe of the Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast. We're going to be talking about how to unlock your performance potential, how to be amazing, how to actually astound yourself with how good you can actually be. Now we've learned that ourselves over the last couple of years. We have really worked hard to perfect the entire system on selling and renting mobile homes. And in 2019 alone, we rented or sold around 1,800 homes. That's a number that we would've never dreamed possible only a year or so prior. So how do you do that? How do you go and break records that you thought were absolutely unachievable? Well, the truth is through a lot of hard work and a lot of strategy.
First thing you have to do is you have to have great people. You have to surround yourself with great people. But yet we don't always get the best people. When we're out looking for staff, you just don't always get it in our industry. So you have to have the right people that focus and have skills in the right area. If you're trying to sell, you need somebody who's got very good sales instinct. If you're trying to improve the management, you need someone who's got great management abilities, good working with people, good watching over the money, good on collecting the money. So you have to select the right people. They don't have to be perfect.
You've all seen the movie, The Dirty Dozen. So in The Dirty Dozen, you have a cast of characters, it was a movie back in the 1960s, and what the army does, they go around to prisons and they recruit the people who are highly skilled in unique areas, but they're all kind of misfits. Then they send them over to Germany on a very dangerous, suicidal raid, and they pull it off because their collective abilities are spectacular. So the movie shows that you can have people who may be a little flawed, but still as long as they've got skills in the areas you need them to work at, fine.
Number two, training. We didn't really have a big focus on training years ago. However, we realized that we could unlock the potential even more if we got the right people and showed them how to do the job even better. Of course, it seems kind of stupid now, historically that we didn't put more effort into training, but I guess we were stuck in this mindset that well, we'll just kind of do the best job we can do. But by building a training department, and if it's just your first mobile home park, just working with your staff and explaining better skills, or even encouraging them to read or go to classes that teach better skills, you're going to get better people and better performance. Also, there's so many classes and things you can do online today. We've all learned that during COVID. There's no reason you can't get your manager into kind of an ongoing training exercise based on whatever skills you want to for them to achieve.
Next, and this is extremely important, is not having a fear of experimentation. There's an old story about Sam Walton. Sam Walton was walking through a Walmart and some guy that worked at the Walmart, walked up to Sam Walton and said, "Hey Sam, why are these stores painted gray on the inside? I think it's a turn off to customers. What if we painted them a different color?" Sam Walton said, "Well, what are you thinking?"
"Well, I don't know. I kind of think yellow, it's kind of happy and they might buy more stuff." Now the handlers walking along with Walton, this is later in his career. He's got one of the most successful retail empires in American history. They're horrified that this guy would come up to Sam Walton of all people and say, hey, I think your color scheme in the store stinks. But instead, Sam Walton said to the guy, "You know what? Maybe you're right. I've never used a color besides gray. Maybe yellow is a better color. Let's do it. Let's go ahead and repaint the story yellow. But here's the deal. If we repaint the store yellow and you're wrong, and our sales don't go up, but remain flat or decline, then you are going to have to personally come in here and repaint this store back to gray and manage that paint job." And they cut the deal. The guy went ahead and painted it yellow, and guess what? It didn't do any good at all. And he put it up back to gray.
But what was important is that Walton even well into his career of building the entire Walmart empire would not be afraid of experimentation. In fact, that's how Walmart was so successful, is that Sam Walton was constantly experimenting, tinkering, trying to get it right, trying different price points, how to arrange the merchandise. He was revolutionary because he didn't have a fear of trying things out. And that's what we found in trying to really improve our ability to sell and rent homes. That part of it was trying new things.
Now at the same time, if you want to try new things, it's important that you track the results. I think in the Walmart story, what was important there is Sam Walton told the guy, okay, do your thing and let's how we do in sales. And if it's wrong, we're going to go back. There's nothing worse than experimentation if it's not followed by tracking what actually happens. When you experiment, sometimes people will just get this kind of urban legend. Oh yeah, no, this is really smart. I think things are better now, but that means nothing if you don't actually apply some science to it. So experimentation is great, but it has to be hand in hand with tracking the results.
Now, if you try new things and they work, then you'll say, wow, that's good. Let's stick with that. But you've got to have the ability to look at it, kind of impartially like a scientist and see what happens. One thing that helped us a lot is we kept trying to improve our ability to fill vacant homes and lots and we decided to record all of our calls. We went to a company called Who's Calling and we ported our number through Who's Calling. We found that improved our results enormously because for the first time ever, we actually had a control mechanism that showed us how many calls we had, it tracked the person's phone number so we could do exit interviews, it tracked how our manager talked on the phone and whether they answered the phone or not. That really gave us an edge in trying to unlock the mystery on each property of which ones needed additional attention, and which ones did not.
Also, don't be afraid of modifying the plan. Be willing to say, okay, I was wrong. So if you try something out and you test it and it fails, don't be ashamed of that. At least you tried it out. But also don't be afraid to then try again, something new. Go ahead and modify the plan, test it again. See what happens. You may find that on the second or third variation, that things work a whole lot better. We were early embracers, for example, of the 21st Mortgage Cash Program, which has now populated so many mobile home parks in America. But early on it didn't work that good. What was impressive about 21st Mortgage was they kept trying it and trying it again until they got it perfected. And it took a long time. It took years before the program really got good, but at least they kept trying. And we knew that if they kept trying one day, they would succeed because they try it and they tested and they tracked the results. And then they'd modify and repeat the process over and over again.
Another huge item we found over these last couple of years and really spiking our ability to sell or rent homes at a very high level is the old Ronald Reagan motto of trust but verify. Now, what does that mean exactly? Well, you can trust in your manager, you can trust in their decisions, but there has to be a verification process. Now I think Reagan brought up that quote back in the days when we were having an arms race, I believe with Russia or some other country. And the concept was that we would trust the country all right. But we still would have to verify it periodically. And that's the same thing that you do with the manager or your sales staff. You tell them what you want, but at the same time you build a network of ways to check, did they really get it done?
One thing we like to do is we do this thing called The Sales Scope Report and in The Sales Scope Report, which the managers give us periodically, it shows such items as our signs on the entry and our signs in the yards of the home and what the homes are looking like on the inside and the outside and various other items. And the point is just to verify that they're in the game, that they're doing all the right stuff, that they're in the right ready position to get homes out the door. Because the problem is if I don't verify, if I simply trust, that puts my business at a disadvantage and there's no reason for it. You know, we all carry this powerful weapon today, is called a smartphone. That smartphone can do things we would have never dreamed of years ago.
I remember back in the eighties, if you wanted to get a photo of something, you'd go and take a photo. And then you go down to One Hour Photo and then get a print of that photo. And then you mail it somewhere. It took a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of money just to get a simple photograph. Today, I can take a photo with my phone and I can text in a millisecond. Or I can get FaceTime with a manager and I can have them give me a tour of the homes and see exactly what's going on. There's so much verification possible today in our industry and it's so inexpensive. Between your smartphone and an HD camera, like a Polaroid Q or a GoPro. I have so much ability now to see things real time, real life and fully HD. So I want to trust. I want to be a trusting person, but I want to verify.
Most importantly, I think if you really want to unlock your performance potential, you have to set some insanely lofty goal to see if you can hit them. I know for the longest time they said that no one could ever break a four minute mile. That it was absolutely physiologically impossible. I remember this discussion back in the sixties. And I think even in the seventies. People did not believe the way the humans were built, that you could run a mile in under four minutes. Yet, today it's pretty common. Many people have broken the four minute mile, even though it seemed impossible before.
Now, if you set a goal for yourself that's just average, you'll only get average performance. That's the way people work. And if you set up goal, that's a little higher than average, you'll still probably get average because people will miss the goal and say, well, I was kind of close. If you really want to hit high levels of performance, you have to set very, very lofty goals. Goals that appear almost impossible on the front end. But the general theme is this is the goal we want to hit. How can we do it? What can we try that's new? How can we test? How can we verify what we're doing? Because we're going to work backwards here. We're going to set a goal that we think would be phenomenal and let's work as a team to try and hit that phenomenal goal.
And if you take it with that attitude. If you say, well, yeah, this goal is ridiculously, insanely high, but I think we can do it. You'll find people morph around that. Then there'll be like, yeah, I think we can break that. I think we can do that. We would have never dreamed years ago that we could hit or break 1,800 homes in a year. Or this year, potentially even 2,000 homes. It just seems impossible on the surface. However, when you set a lofty goal, people tend to try and make it happen. They tend to get in there and fill the void. If you want to never hit high levels of performance, it's an easy solution. Just set average goals because when people hit the goal, they'll quit. They won't say, wow, I hit the goal. How much farther can I go? But yet that's what you have to do. You may have read the book. There's a great book about breaking the sound barrier written by Chuck Yeager.
And in the book, they were really pressing the envelope here. They weren't sure if they were going to kill the pilot or what would happen if they ever actually broke the sound barrier. But it became something they were all obsessed with. They wanted to see, is it possible? They kept pushing and testing. How do you make an aircraft break the sound barrier? And what's crazy is in the book, which they don't even think is scientifically possible. Today, breaking the sound barrier is incredibly common. Every [inaudible 00:13:27] in the world today at this point can pretty much virtually break the sound barrier. So again, if you want to hit amazing goals, if you want to do amazing things in life, there is a track record. There's a methodology. There's a way to do it. And I'll tell you it's a great feeling when you get it accomplished. It really is. You feel like you have really done something amazing. This is Frank Rolfe with Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast. Hope you enjoyed this. Talk to you again soon.