Ep. 31 | Take Pride In Your Work and MHP – Easy Moves to Transform Your MHP and Culture
On this episode of The Mobile Home Park Lawyer Podcast, Ferd talks about taking pride in your park and gives us a few easy things we can all do to transform the look of our parks to create a better community for all residents. Enjoy!
“Take some pride and ownership in your property, which is good for your community, right? Your residents, they deserve that.”
0:00 – Intro
1:23 – The first thing Ferd does is spruce up the entryway with new signage and flags as well as some roses and fencing
2:15 – Ferd picks up trash any time he sees it
4:13 – Another thing Ferd does is to paint all the houses whether they’re park-owned or private
6:44 – Cutting down dead trees helps, as well as fixing broken fencing and skirting
7:44 – Speed is important but accuracy is imperative when talking about financing
Welcome back mobile home park nation, here again today for another episode. Today we’re going to be talking about, taking pride in your work or taking pride in your community. This seems like it should be common sense, but I was just driving home today with my kids tonight. I saw some retail shopping centers that had just some outdated faded doors and trash laying around and like part of the signage was out and this is like a nice area of town and a nice shopping center just blew me away. I was like, take some pride in your property, Jiminy Christmas.
So, it made me think about what we do in our MHP operations. I should at least share this with everybody because even though it seems like it’s common sense, apparently, it’s not that common. So really quickly, I’m just going to cover a couple things you can do to take some pride, ownership in your property, which is good for your community, right? Your residents. They deserve that.
The first thing I do is when we buy a park, we update and spruce up the entryway. Unless there’s a nice and fine sign upfront already, we put in a new signage where sometimes we change the names, new brand, bright and new painted signs. We put up some of the, for rent for sale flags. Obviously, that’s a marketing thing to bring a business also. But we plant, we plant Rose bushes. I’m like, I like these knockout roses, they are 20 bucks a pop. We put them on pretty much every corner, and you can do a whole park for $500.
And we put white vinyl fencing decorative fencing at the entrance, but also on a lot of the corners by the rose bushes. Those were like $150 a pop, so not too expensive. Generally, we’ll spend like $1500 on that kind of decor for a park and then another $1500 for signage. So, it’s not that much money, but it makes a big difference.
Other things we do is I just try to pick up trash. I mean, we bring in dumpsters at the beginning, roll off dumpsters and have a kind of a spring cleanup day. But if I’m walking the park and I see a piece of trash, I pick it up. Some people walk over it. I don’t get it. And with my manager walking the park, I pick it up or he, or she picks it up and we both do. It’s not just me. I’m the boss, you pick it up. We both do. And residents see that. And it’s kind of like the old broken window theory. You know, if somebody throws a rock into one of the windows of a church or a building and nobody fixes it. Well, then it almost gives other kids or delinquent people, the permission to throw another rock at another window, pretty soon you got 25 windows broken. But if you fix it, it’s not like an attractive thing do is throw rocks at windows.
Same thing with graffiti, somebody sprays graffiti, paint over it. They spray the next day, paint over it. At some point they’re going to get tired. All their beautiful artwork is gone. And they’ll go to somebody else’s property and I would just do it over and over. Not going to let people beat me on that. And they’re not going to trash my property.
Those are just some general things, just picking stuff up. And everybody should do it. And that’s a culture. I mean, if you create this kind of culture, I say, you know, mediocrity, it starts off at infection, but if you don’t cure it, it becomes a disease. And I have hoard mediocrity. And I just preach that and live and breathe that throughout my entire organization. And it seemed to catch on. If it doesn’t, you know, you can Frank Rauf, he’s a friend and he has got a good saying. He said, sometimes it’s easier to change people than to change people. And that’s what you got to do sometimes. You got to get some people off the bus make you get the right people on the bus and the right seats on the bus and adopting and adapting to my company culture is absolutely required.
One other thing we do, this is a little more expensive, but we typically do to improve the general ambience with the park, is we paint all the houses and I’m talking like, we paint the tenant-owned houses too. And we call it our painting program. It costs about $500 bucks to paint a house, typically about $300 to $350 in labor and $150 to $200 in paint. It’s like four gallons of paint for the body. And like two gallons for the trim. We give people two color choices per house. We give them 15 different options whatever they want to do or let them pick out the paint themselves. But depending on the park, we either control it to a limited number of colors. Or sometimes we want to go for like a lot of flair. Like we have this one park, it’s almost all Hispanic folks. And they, you know, they tend to like brighter pastels and neon colors than I would prefer at my house, but it actually looks pretty good.
So, we painted, we painted 50 houses in that park this year, and we only owned half of them. Now we own like three, we’ve been selling them off and sold off like 21 or something this year; the park-owned homes. But we painted 50 houses. It transformed. These homes are all by the way in 1960s and 1970s. But it transforms a neighborhood. We do that in all the parks. For the painting program, we try to get the residents to contribute because they have some skin in the game. So, I’ll go around and say hey, here’s the deal. It’s $500 bucks. You go pick out the paint and bring it to me, I’ll provide the labor. Or if you pick up one of my template colors, we’ll pick out the paint too, we’re going to charge you 200 bucks for the paint. And some people can’t afford it. So, I say, tell you what, can you afford $20 a month? Yeah. Okay. I’m going to finance it for 10 months, $200, but I want you to stay. I want you to jump in with the team. And our managers will literally go around door-to-door and bang on people’s doors and say, do you notice that crappy looking trailer across the street ain’t so crappy anymore because they painted it. Yours is now the crappy trailer across the street. Do you want to be the turd in the punchbowl? Or do you want to help make this a better community? And we just pound on people until every single one of them paints it.
Every once in a while, they won’t, or they truly can’t afford it. You know, a little old lady or something that. Sometimes we’ll just eat the cost. We’ll do it ourselves. And we always do our homes first, our park-owned homes first when we buy a park. Cause it’s like an example. Look, we’ve cleaned our stuff up. Now, you guys are the worst looking homes. Why don’t you like to help make this a better community for all of us? So, the painting program is just huge.
Cutting trees is another one cutting down dead trees, lifting the canopy If you will, of trees that hang over the street. That really helps things look good, Fixing broken skirting, cutting down for fixing broken fencing or other signage, or just, it was pretty obvious, you know, walk around, drive around and make a punch list of all the things that need to be done to finish the general ambiance of your park. Obviously, the bigger expenses like road repairs and stuff, you know, you got to really budget those cap ex things. That’s not a $500 deal. So, you can spend anywhere from, you know, $3,000, $4,000 to, you know, $50,000 doing this, but take some pride in your property and take some pride in the company culture.
We do it on everything. I was doing some, I was showing some people Rent Manager the other day and training them on how we doing our profit and loss monthly in our investor narratives and reports to our investors. And I repeated something that my old boss told me. He said, speed is important, but accuracy is imperative when it comes to financial stuff. And he told me, I used to work on these real estate development projects and tax incentive projects that were in the literally the hundreds of millions of dollars. So, I’m talking big numbers and he would tell me a penny off is not close. A penny off is wrong. And that’s part of the culture that we do to take pride in your work. Take pride in your community. Take pride in your books, take pride in your vehicle.
I got a monthly pass. I wash my truck literally every time before or after I go to mobile home park. It’s an auto car. I check emails while I’m in the machine and for six minutes or whatever it takes. And I wash my truck like five times a week. I shine my shoes before meetings. I shave, even I work from home. I shave every morning; I comb my hair. You know, you dress for the job you want, not for the job you got. It’s all the same sort of stuff. Improve your park, improve your person, prove your character, all these things. So, anyway, that’s enough for today, but just wanting to say do better for your residents. And let’s do better as an industry. The next time, God bless.