Henry Ford’s Model T – the first car designed for the masses – went on sale on this day in 1908 at a total price of $825. If there was anyone who would have appreciated the mobile home park, it would have been Henry Ford. His ambition was to produce a product that everyone could afford, and to make it of high quality and durability. Although Ford died in 1947 – just a few years before the first true mobile home parks were built – he would no doubt be a huge supporter of our segment of affordable housing. Ford was a big advocate for mass production (as found in mobile home manufacturing) and in systems to keep prices down (as found in mobile home parks). He also had strong beliefs regarding the duty of business to promote charity and good works, as found in the current mobile home park movement to improve common areas and create greater community spirit. Ford believed in the two bedrocks that all mobile home parks are based on: pride-of-ownership and sense of community. Ford would be proud.
Memo From Frank & Dave
Coming To Grips With The $237 Million Mobile Home Park Sale
The recent purchase by Hometown America of Plaza del Rey in Sunnyvale, California for $237.4 million has created an enormous stir among American media who portray it as an example of either an over-heated market or one more example of "landlords gone wild". However, it's not really an example of either, and similar examples are all around us.
The photo above is of a 1970s Barricuda with a Hemi engine - one of only 14 ever built. This scarcity drove the auction price to nearly $2 million. There is huge value in assets that are rare - which is expressly written in the economic treatise of "supply vs. demand". And there is no real estate use in the U.S. more rare than mobile home parks. They have not been allowed to be built in any significant way since the 1970s, and more have been redeveloped than built during that period, effectively making mobile home parks an endangered species. So one component of the $237 million price is simply the scarcity of this commodity.
The power of volume
Plaza del Ray has 800 lots at $297,000 per pad, as well as roughly 95 acres of land. It is an extremely large property in terms of a mobile home park - easily among the largest in the U.S. The price per pad is not out of line for other California sales in the past, with mobile home parks along the coastline frequently fetching prices in the $200,000 + per lot range. If the property was only 100 lots in size, the $20 million would not even gain notice. But what makes this sale unique is the sheer size of the park itself - it's effectively a free-standing city of roughly 2,000 people. The 95 acres of land it sits on works out to a value of only roughly $3,200,000 per acre, which is completely in line with Silicon Valley land prices. And, again, that's a huge tract of land in one of the tightest real estate markets in the U.S.
Then comes the issue of the price vs. the net income. The lot rents in this property are rumored to be over $2,000 per month range. At $297,000 per lot, that would work out to roughly a 5% cap rate. On an institutional deal of this magnitude - and given lower interest rate financing - that cap rate is completely in-line. Nearly every real estate sector in Silicon Valley trades in this cap rate range or lower.
Part of the purchase, I'm sure, is related to the implied assumption of property appreciation in the future. The 95 acres of land, for example, has a huge number of potential uses and probably developers calling daily wanting to build high-rise apartments to replace single-story mobile homes. California has had the fastest appreciation of property of any state in the U.S., and this is certainly relevant to the valuation.
Future direction of lot rents
Then comes the issue of future rent trajectory. The former owners of this property, Carlyle Group, had been criticized widely for aggressive rent hikes during their roughly five years of ownership. However, the property remains 100% occupied, so the rents are obviously in-line with demand. And they are still insanely cheap for this market. The median home price in Sunnyvale, California is an insane $1,667,300 and the average three-bedroom apartment rent is a staggering $4,075 per month - which makes Plaza del Ray's rents clearly low and with great potential for increases over time.
Sticker and stereotype shock
Perhaps one reason many Americans are shocked at the price tag on Plaza del Ray is simply ignorance of market values. The price per lot of mobile home parks in many markets - on fully stabilized and quality properties ' is more than $100,000 per lot. But people think of "trailer parks" as what's featured on COPs and Myrtle Manor and therefore can't believe what they see on TV could be worth more per lot than their own home. However, that's also because most Americans have no clue on what real mobile home communities look like.
The $237 million price tag for Plaza del Ray is simply a sign of the future for mobile home park values going forward. Our industry is built upon income production and not speculation. The price is not a bubble, nor is it representative of all mobile home park values in the U.S. It's a one-in-a-kind property that yet shares similarities to many other mobile home parks. And it stands as an example of the growth in industry values.
A Happy Story From Our Property In Wisconsin
Phyllis has lived in our community for decades. Her family wants her to live in an assisted living facility, but she does not want to give up her yard and the ability to sit outside on her deck all day and enjoy nature and listening to the birds. But her deck was no longer safe as it was highly deteriorated – if you leaned on the rail it would collapse. So we built a new deck for her with a solid, safe railing and even replaced her front door (it was in pretty bad shape, too) so she could have easy access to her favorite spot to watch the birds. We urge all community owners to do nice things for your residents – it makes complete sense on all levels, from business to building community spirit. And if you see Phyllis out on the deck be sure and wave!
A Note On The Current Banking Environment From M.J. Vukovich
The Federal Reserve has continued to drop short-term interest rates to stimulate the economy and that has created a really good dynamic of low rates and a strong lending environment.
Check out the recent rates we obtained for our clients on loans that recently closed:
- $22,000,000 portfolio at 3.93% on a park in Iowa
- $2,100,000 at 4.29% in Minnesota
- $32,000,000 portfolio at 3.85% in North Dakota
- $2,300,000 at 4.23% in Louisiana
If you have a new financing – or refinancing – on a mobile home park valued at $2 million or more and you want to get the lowest rates and best terms, then contact M.J. at Bellwether at 720-758-9227 to discuss the options, or email him at [email protected] He can give you a free overview of what the options are on your deal. We have been using M.J. for over a decade and are an extremely satisfied customer. Lock on these low rates while they’re still available.
Ideas To Give Your Residents Important Information
Information is an important tool. The Highway Department uses signs and other visual warnings aggressively as they want drivers to stay informed. And smart mobile home park owners realize the power of information and also take steps to provide a continuous stream of content. So how do you do that in a mobile home park?
Banner at the entry
One of the first places to inform residents - and future residents - is simply by hanging a banner at your park's entry. They then see this information every time they drive in (and drive by for those who don't live there yet). Typical information for a banner would be "Home for Sale", "Home for Rent", "RV Lots for Rent" and "Storage Unit for Rent" (if the park has storage units). You can buy inexpensive banners on the internet for $200 and they will last for years if properly maintained.
Bulletin board at mailboxes or rent drop-off point
You can buy a locking all-weather bulletin board on-line for under $300. And you can make this into an information center that all residents will appreciate. Inside this bulletin board would be everything from ads for homes for sale to "let faucets drip due to freeze warning" or "Spring Clean-Up Day is coming up", etc. You can also recognize important people such as the "Yard of the Month" winner or "Congratulations Tom Smith on being named Valedictorian". You can make these information centers attractive with stylish letters available on the internet. And, because these are all-weather, you can place them in your mailbox area or wherever residents would typically gather on a regular basis.
It's a good idea to produce a newsletter for residents, even if it's only distributed quarterly. These type of efforts not only inform residents but also instill a "community spirit" and enhance retention. They are extremely inexpensive, as all they cost is a sheet of paper, and can be stuffed with your invoice, or distributed door-to-door by the manager. Writing and producing one is extremely easy - you can actually hire people on-line to produce standard content and you simply add in the information you think is necessary.
Some owners prepare a robocall option in the event of an emergency. This service calls all the residents at a pre-determined number to give them real-time information that requires urgent delivery, This could include flood risk, fire risk, or utility disruption. While it's certainly not something that most owners do - as it requires compiling the phone numbers and finding a robocall service - but if a park has the potential for sudden events, it may not be a bad idea.
Subtle items like Yard of the Month
You can also inform residents - on a more casual basis - on important community goals by starting programs like "Yard of the Month" which includes a sign in the yard of the winner on a continual basis. This sends a message to the residents on the importance of property condition and pride-of-ownership. It also creates somewhat of a competitive spirit where all residents strive for recognition.
Residents like to stay informed, and smart owners are happy to oblige. If you are not currently using these systems on your property, you should consider adopting them. They are very effective and very inexpensive and represent a win/win for all involved.
Why Most Smart Park Owner Are Changing Over To Purchasing Platform To Buy Virtually Everything For Their Property
In 2018 we became huge customers of Purchasing Platform – one of their largest. And we suggest any park owner to look at what this new buying service can do in regards to positively impact your community. It’s literally a game-changer.
What is “Purchasing Platform”?
Purchasing Platform is an online GPO (group purchasing organization) and eMarketplace that has been created specifically for the mobile home and mobile home park industries. More than 1,800 MH communities access Purchasing Platform every month to take advantage of their pre-negotiated pricing, single checkout from 40+ vendors, auto expense mapping to their chart of accounts, multi-level workflow approval to provide accountability across their portfolios, etc. They offer 20-30% savings on more than 10 million products and an integrated "Buying Desk" service that acts as a purchasing agent for your community to make sure they always deliver aggregate savings on every order.
How big do you have to be to use Purchasing Platform? Can you use it with only one property?
The answer is yes – there’s no minimum limit of properties or dollars spent. Some of the largest industry portfolios use them but the majority of their clients own and operate between 1 and 30 mobile home parks. This is not a service that is only available to the largest owners – it’s one that every park owner in the U.S. can utilize.
Why use Purchasing Platform?
In addition to the obvious cost savings on products and services, use of Purchasing Platform drastically reduces the number of trips your manager has to make to retail stores (time spent not managing your property), eliminates the need for expense classification and receipt transcription while also providing valuable oversight to the owner with workflow approval. They also allow members to load their own catalogs to make sure that managers only can order what they want them to.
Summary of benefits
Here are the main reasons that we have become huge users of the Purchasing Platform:
- Easy to use interface. Not hard at all for any manager to master.
- Single checkout from more than 40 of the industry’s largest vendors.
- Huge savings on more than 10 million products.
- Price Match Guarantee: if you can find it lower somewhere else, they’ll match it.
- Create your own custom catalog.
- On-Demand Buying Desk feature gets you immediate support for volume quotes.
- Comprehensive Workflow Approval functionality to keep you in control of all buying.
- Maps out all expenses to your Chart of Accounts.
- Integrates everything seamlessly into your property management software.
You can try Purchasing Platform at no risk for 90 days
Purchasing Platform allows all park owners to try their system for three months with no obligation to continue. That’s how we got started – we gave it a try and liked it. So if these advantage look good to you (which they certainly should) we recommend you contact Purchasing Platform today at 312-622-6552 and [email protected] and get set up on a 90 day trial.
We think you’ll find this to be one of the big improvements in your operation for 2019.
Mid-Century Modern And Mobile Home Parks: The Benefits And Problems
Mid-Century Modern is a period of design that dates from the 1950s to the 1960s. It is well known for its simple, classic designs and minimal use of decorative ornament, reflected in the chair shown above and dating to 1956.. It is also geared toward natural materials and colors. And it's extremely hot right now, due to the "green" American movement, as well as simply the tastes of the average American consumer. Virtually all mobile home parks in the U.S. were built during this period, and this brings with it certain traits. So what are the benefits and problems associated with being Mid-Century Modern
Hot design trend right now
Mid-Century Modern has never been more in demand than it is right now (except for the 1950s and 1960s when the style began). You see it pervasively through modern literature and on the covers of stylish magazines such as Architectural Digest, Town & Country and Dwell. This is a great development for our industry as nothing is more Mid-Century Modern than mobile home parks.
Simplicity of design
Mobile home parks are the epitome of simplicity. All they contain are streets, parking pads and homes - coupled with clubhouses and pools in some cases. This makes them easy to understand and renovate. And because this design style is typically spacious in form, it makes lots adaptable to modern mobile homes. You can do a huge amount of upgrades in a mobile home park with simply paint.
Ease of repair and maintenance
And the simplicity extends to the mobile homes themselves. You can seal a roof for $250. You can paint the entire home for $500. You can easily access plumbing and wiring. This is why the average renovation cost of a mobile home stands at roughly $4,000 -- $2,000 in parts and $2,000 in labor. This allows park owners to easily bring old homes back to life, and residents to follow suit.
One of the biggest disadvantages to Mid-Century Modern is the prevalence of small rooms. These were part of the times, 50 years before the advent of McMansions and the desire for bathrooms that allow for a softball game. Of greatest concern are the living room and bedroom components. The difficulty is that you can"t typically fit a king-size bed (or even a queen-size in most cases) in the master bedroom, as well as fitting modern over-stuffed sofas in the living room. There's really nothing you can do to change this fact, and this reduces the potential pool of residents who simply want more space that 1950s and 1960s mobile homes allow.
Use of outdated building materials
The Mid-Century Modern era offered some successful building materials, such as clay-tile sewer lines (which, while not as good as modern PVC, have proven to be remarkably hardy) and brick building walls. However, not all the materials of the 1950s and 1960s proved to be winners. Early form PVC sewer lines collapse easily, and the "fake" paneling used on most home and building interiors is dark and hard to paint.
We have always liked Mid-Century Modern as a design style, and are pleased that it has become extremely popular again with American tastes. We believe the benefits far outweigh the negatives, and this is great news as the majority of all mobile home parks in the U.S. were built during this period.
A $2 Million Mobile Home?
It seems in keeping with the earlier article on the $237 million mobile home park that we should include the recent announcement of a $2 million mobile home for sale inside a park in California. The home in question is owned by designer Betsy Johnson and is located in Paradise Cove mobile home park in Malibu. She is selling to move to another mobile home down the street.
The CASH Program From 21st Mortgage: One of the Big News Stories of 2019
One of the biggest things going in the mobile home park industry is the CASH program from 21st Mortgage. If you own a mobile home park, the power of this program is astounding. You can fill vacant lots with zero out-of-pocket cost. You can get customers approved to buy homes with amazing speed and a “can-do” attitude. You don’t have to get in the middle of financing or the SAFE Act. And you can tap hundreds of thousands – or millions – of dollars sitting there in vacant lots. The demand for affordable housing in the U.S. is enormous, and the only thing holding most parks back from 100% occupancy are new and used homes that your customers can qualify for. With the CASH program, those obstacles can be overcome and your occupancy can soar. We are the largest users of this program in the U.S., and we know how great it is.
The Serious Business Of Providing The American Dream - And The Key Drivers To Making That Happen
Every day, millions of mobile home park residents wake up and get ready for work. And the only reason they have the luxury of living close to work and school at an affordable price is because of the owner keeping that property from re-development. And the only reason that the water and lights turn on is the fact that the property owner maintains these services to be available. And the only reason that their car can drive down the road is the park owner keeping those arteries safe for use. At the same time, without residents the properties would have no revenue and would therefore fail. You see, the affordable housing business is a very serious affair, with limitations for both owners and residents alike.
Understanding the affordability problem
What is "affordable housing"? Well, let's start with what's clearly not affordable. And that's virtually every other housing options out there. The median home price in the U.S. is $200,000 and the average apartment rent in the U.S. is over $1,200 per month. So the mobile home park has no real competitors. It can set its own prices (as allowed by law) and the phone still rings off the hook. But that does not mean that park owners can be so flippant as to assume they can truly charge anything they want. Smart owners know that there is a ceiling to pricing to some degree, and that ceiling is the "affordability index" which means simply how high you can go before nobody will or can pay the lot rent. In every market that number is different. In Los Angeles it's over $1,000 per month. In Denver roughly $750. And in Dallas it's roughly $600. In other states it probably would currently represent $500 per month. One way to approximate the "affordability index" is to simply take the median income straight from www.BestPlaces.net and calculate what 33% of that would be (the U.S. standard for housing allocation) and then halve that again (to represent the fact that you are dealing with typically the bottom half of income levels). For example, in Dallas the median income is $43,359 so 33% of that is $1,192 per month, which when halved again is $600 per month - exactly correct. This is an extremely rough guideline, but an interesting statistic.
Getting to know your residents' financial needs
There are many factors involved in affordable housing other than simply the monthly rent. There are also the factors of demand, credit score, and cash available for down-payment or deposit. While these items have no bearing on probably 80% of all residents (since they have no mortgage on their mobile home) it's a very important issue for those who are new entrants to the property and are considering buying or renting a mobile home there.
Matching the homes you offer to your residents' requirements
While many transactions inside a mobile home park - when it comes to the sale and leasing of mobile homes - are simply consumer to consumer via an ad in the newspaper or Craigslist, mobile home park owners frequently engage in bringing in homes themselves to sell or rent to fill vacant lots. This puts the park owner in the position of trying to match home pricing and terms to the overall affordable housing threshold. It's a very tricky concept, and one that often requires experimentation to find the "sweet spot" of demand.
Taking lot rents to - and maintaining them at -- the affordable price-point
While it's important to be mindful of the affordable housing price-point, that does not mean that it's right to keep rents at levels that are substandard to the market. Without healthy rents it's impossible to maintain necessary capital expenditures and maintenance, as well as to pay going salaries for satisfactory management staff. And - perhaps equally important - it's imperative that you keep rents at a level that make the land worth more as a mobile home park than many other uses, particularly new apartments. Throughout this process (caused by decades of failure by mom and pop owners to increase rents annually in-line with inflation) it's also important to be mindful of keeping increases in amounts that are affordable and not a shock to your customers' personal budgets.
Not listening to negative forces
One of the saddest states of our industry at this point is the negative outside influence by multiple parties that do nothing but harm to the serious business of affordable housing, One of these forces are groups such as MHAction that fail to accept the fact that mobile home parks are businesses and tied to fundamentals of economics, and push the narrative that all rent increases (or perhaps even the concept of business in general) are evil. The key problem is that, in the absence of higher rents, they are virtually guaranteeing redevelopment and poor property condition for residents (effectively mandating either a poor quality of life or homelessness) and in no way remotely represent the actual desires of those that live there. Although vocal, the membership of such groups in the U.S. is incredibly small (maybe a couple hundred). The other constant negative force is, of course, the U.S. media, which somehow believes that driving a wedge between landowner and homeowner with inaccurate portrayals is acceptable as long as it fills airtime and sells products on their commercials.
Most all mobile home park owners appreciate the serious nature of the job they do in providing affordable housing to millions of Americans (roughly 8% of U.S. residents live in mobile homes). Yet most people don't understand the extent to which community owners strive to excel at their job, or the market forces at play. And that's a shame.
Why Mobile Insurance Is The Best Protection At Affordable Prices
Whether you are simply in need of an insurance quote or you have the unfortunate, yet common task, of filing a claim, Mobile Insurance is ready and waiting to take your call. We’ve used Mobile Insurance for over a decade, and their superior service is known throughout the industry. Kurt, the owner of Mobile Insurance, is a top resource for any park insurance question, and they provide free quotes on parks that you are acquiring. That’s why around 2,000 park owners in the U.S. are Mobile Insurance customers.
Mobile Insurance can help you engineer the policy you need to cover all your concerns, and their prices are unbelievably low. Being able to contact them when you need them is just as important. We recommend that every park buyer call them first, as we know of no other group that has the same expertise, quality of service, and low prices. Call them at 800-458-4320 or email [email protected]
Don't Believe Some Seller's Fairy Tales
TThere are no unicorns, Tooth Fairies, and bean stalks that grow above the clouds. Yet some of the items told by some sellers are just as false. And, like all fairy tales, the goal is to give you a warm fuzzy feeling. Yet, unlike a fairy tale, some of these statements will not lead to a happy ending in the real world, as they may act as a subterfuge to legitimate issues with the mobile home park.
The "I have a waiting list of customers for those vacant homes" fairy tale
One of the classic claims by some park sellers is that they somehow have a giant list of potential buyers for their park-owned homes but somehow have not acted on any of those leads. It makes no sense. If they had such a list of customers, wouldn't they have already sold to them and moved them in? When you ask the seller for the actual list, it typically has somehow disappeared or they can't remember any of their contact information. But the damage has already been done. You have the first impression that the demand is high when there is no scientific evidence to back that up. Completely disregard such claims unless they are supported by an actual list and by calling and vetting those customers.
The "I have a bunch of people about to move their trailer in" fairy tale
It's the same claim as the one above, only in this version the fairy tale relates to people wanting to bring in their own home rather than rent or buy existing ones. The seller's goal is once again to give you the wrong first impression regarding demand. "Organic" moves (where the customers brings in their own home) are relatively rare, so unless the seller can give you the name and phone number of the customer - and you call them and they give you all the details - you should not let this fairy tale flavor your thinking.
The "you can add spaces into that land at the back" fairy tale
In this plot twist, the seller tries to convince you that any piece of raw land on their survey can be used to add additional mobile home spaces. They say they just haven't done it yet themselves. That sounds good and everything, except when you ask the city they tell you that you would have to get that land re-zoned and then a variance to build some additional lots - and that the likelihood of that happening is somewhere between 0% and 0%. In all our years of buying and operating mobile home parks, we have successfully only added lots in less than ten properties - that's how hard it is to do. So you can pretty much disregard such comments from the get go.
The "my lagoon is golden" fairy tale
It could be any type of private sewer system or floodplain, or any obvious property defect. The fairy tale is that the seller has never had a problem and he had it recently checked and everyone says it's "golden". Of course, the truth is that it has never been checked since 1977 and it just broke two days ago, and they are holding it together with duct tape and bailing wire. Never let a seller get into your head and make you feel any less than 100% concerned such issues. The "golden" lagoon will quickly become the "golden" news story on the local TV station when the EPA shows up.
Kids love fairy tales. Adults love reading them to kids. Even the movie adaptations can be entertaining. But don't believe the ones dispensed by some sellers.
Is Your Attorney a “Deal Killer” or a “Deal Maker”?
How many deals have you seen go down the drain because your attorney stacked up a million roadblocks to even the simplest problems, and then failed to offer any path to solve them? This is called “deal killing” and some attorneys do this so that they take no risk – if the deal never happens, they can never be criticized for missing a deal point, or for not spotting a flaw in the contract. The problem with this, however, is that you can’t get anywhere. At the other end of the spectrum are the “deal maker” attorneys that recognize real problems from trivial ones, and strive to solve these roadblocks using common sense and legal experience. And the best of those type of attorneys is Dave DiMarco from Woods Oviatt Gilman. We once had a deal go south in a big way – the very driveway into the property was determined to be on somebody else’s property. Any other attorney would have said “well, that’s it, the deal’s dead” but Dave DiMarco sprung into action. We located the owner, negotiated a purchase, personally handled the details, and the deal went forward. And all that over a weekend, no less. And that’s why we love Dave DiMarco and you should, too. If you need service like that, then consider using Dave DiMarco on your next transaction. You can reach him at (585) 987-2833.
My Quest To Have A Complete Understanding Of The History Of The Industry - And Why I Think It's Important
If you try to buy anything that's historic and related to the mobile home park industry on eBay or Etsy you will have great difficulty, because I'm probably going to outbid you. For several years I have been assembling America's largest personal collection of important documentation of the industry. These include books, photos and postcards from the early days of the mobile home park sector - roughly 1920 to 1970. Why do I waste my time and money on such a strange hobby?
It's a very interesting story
I've always had a fascination with the period of 1920 to 1970 in American History as it contained the Great Depression, the advent of air travel, World War II, the growth of the automobile, and the invention and adoption of a huge number of products and industries - including the mobile home park. But equally interesting is the whole story of an industry that started as a high-end product and then ended up as affordable housing.
Nobody ever documented it
Learning the history of our industry is an adventure, as nobody ever bothered to record it. There are few books on the subject, and those that do exist are short and incomplete. It always seems crazy to me that you could have an industry as large as ours - 8% of all Americans live in mobile homes - and it never occurred to anyone that it might be worthwhile to document it. In some ways I hope that piecing this narrative together will help people better understand the mobile home park sector.
There are huge gaps in the history that nobody has plugged
Despite buying every type of postcard, book and photograph of the industry's history, even I cannot document the transition from high-demographics to affordable housing that occurred at some point in the 1960s and 1970s. When you buy industry "artifacts" they are either on one side of the fence or the other - with nothing demonstrating that transition. It's kind of like the mystery of the dinosaurs and the lost city of Atlantis, with nothing to prove what happened.
History repeats itself - what is there to learn?
One reason I like history is that I feel that, since history repeats itself, there are business advantages to having that advance notice (kind of like having the record of all sports scores in Back to the Future). So what can be gleaned from the history of the mobile home park industry? There are several themes:
- Assuming that consumer tastes run in cycles, the desire to live in smaller spaces and more untraditional housing types is returning and marks the best sales and leasing environment for the product in a half-century.
- The greatest danger to the industry is "mass prosperity" and that seems unlikely at any point in the near future but is what brought about the seismic shift in the industry between the 1960s and 1970s.
- The industry began as a "young person" business with new household formation and, although there is a huge senior component to the industry today, over the next 20 years there will be a significant shift and it will be essential to be "Millennial friendly" now and in the future.
- There is some additional risk in senior communities as, although Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are a dominant part of the U.S. population today, the biological clock is ticking and already the Millennials outnumber them - the youngest part of the U.S. population. The big question is what will be the demand for senior living in mobile home parks in the years ahead from Generation X (the group born after the Boomers).
How can we better promote our history?
I am perpetually disappointed by our industry's failure to better promote itself. A quick trip to the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum will demonstrate this fact. The RV industry has done such a terrific job in advancing their narrative as a great product (with their national Go RVing campaign and the positive stigma with Americans of all ages, as well as greater sales annually of new RVs) while we languish amid the old debate of what we should even call ourselves (mobile home vs. manufactured home in an era in which search engine utilization has proven that "mobile" is the clear winner with 95% of Americans). We have such an interesting history - and national tastes that favor Mid-Century Modern - that it drives me nuts that we can't seem to forge some type of marketing effort to better improve our industry's image with the average consumer. How about some of these ideas:
- What if the industry bought an old classic mobile home from the 1950s and pulled it across America behind a classic 1950s convertible while calling and lining up media mentions and segments on all local U.S. newspapers, television and radio as it stops in each town from coast to coast (kind of like a revival of "The Long, Long Trailer" from 1954)?
- What if we held a national contest among college students to design a new mobile home prototype and then shared the results with the media?
- What if we put together a television show that interviewed residents in communities across the U.S. and demonstrated what a varied industry we are and how nice our residents are? Most viewers would be amazed that we do not fit any of their stereotypes.
- What if we, as an industry, advanced the same excellent ad series that Clayton has pioneered with the theme "Have It Made" instead of making them carry all the weight?
- What if the industry actively wrote articles and press releases to counter negative stories and articles in the mainstream media? By not responding, I worry that it portrays our agreement.
Our industry is fascinating. I will continue to document it as best I can. But we need, as an industry, to better document what we do going forward to and to work together to increase a positive narrative.
Here’s An Email We Just Received About Mike Renz, Environmental Engineer
I wanted to tell you about a situation I encountered with Mike Renz. I needed a Phase 1 done on a property in Ohio. Mike and I had already agreed to a price, and after I told him the name of the property he immediately told me that he had done a Phase 1 on it several months ago and it failed. Mike could of performed another Phase 1 and financially benefited from it, but instead he told me the whole story. Mike's ethics are of the highest standard and I thank Frank and Dave for recommending him and helping me avoid a potential catastrophe.
This is a common theme when you talk to people who have used Mike Renz to do their Phase I environmental report – they are blown away by his integrity, timeliness and quality of his work. That’s why we’ve been using him for over a decade.
If you need a Phase I environmental report, and want it to be of outstanding quality, then give Mike Renz a call at (614) 538-0451.
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