The Ten Worst Mistakes to Avoid in Community Management

Want access to MHCO content?

For complete access to forms, conference presentations, community updates and MHCO columns, log in to your account or register.

October 13, 2014
Chuck Carpenter

A well management community is essential to making life easier and more pleasant for management and residents.  Here are 10 mistakes to avoid in the management of your community.  Remember - a well managed community - good property management - results in happier residents, pride in the community, encourages resident referrals and discourages the need or desire for additional landlord-tenant legislation.

So - here are ten mistakes to avoid:

 

  1. Inadequate response time to a resident’s questions.

In an era when customer relations is the new icon of successful marketing it only makes sense to get back to a resident’s question or action-item in a timely manner.  What is timely?  Within 48 hours, at least tell the customer that you are checking on the matter and will have an answer soon.  That’s better than taking a week with no answer, or worse, forgetting about it.

  1. Poor resident relations & communications.

Like timely responses, overall customer communications is important.  That includes such basic things as listening.  Periodically walk the park just to talk with residents and see how they are doing.  Does anyone need special help?  Keep a note pad and pen in your pocket.  Seek input.  Better yet, issue report cards at least twice per year to see how they grade you.  Help them coordinate social activities.  Host spontaneous events like an ice cream social at the clubhouse.  Ice cream is an inexpensive alternative to customers grumbling about invisible management and owners.  But it all boils down to something quite simple: treat them like you want to be treated.

  1. Lax rules & regulations enforcement.

Irregular enforcement of rules and regulations or poorly written rules can only lead to confusion and trouble.  Make sure maintenance violations are quickly handled with the proper notice.  But be fair, friendly and firm.  If your rules seem to prompt lots of confusion and questions, get someone outside the park to read the rules with an eye to clarity and possible changes.

  1. Poor park maintenance.

The visual appeal of your park is essential to both residents and non-residents who drive by your park.  Always maintain its “curb appeal.”  Regularly check for light outages, broken fencing, faded paint and common-area cleanliness.  Neglected streets are especially annoying to residents.  Of special importance is your entrance.  It should look sharp, upscale

and inviting.  Invest in flowering plants to add seasonal color.  A well-kept park makes necessary rent adjustments easier to accept.

  1. Inadequate training of on-site managers.

If your park manager is not familiar with mobile home park residency laws, unintentional violations could result.  Staff should be updated on the latest changes.  Don’t assume they know.  Training for on-site managers is mandatory.  Bring them up-to-date with the latest aspects of insurance, OSHA and health safety issues, worker’s compensation laws, Fair Housing and especially Mobilehome Park Landlord/Tenant Laws.

  1. Poor marketing.

Like any business, you have to keep an eye on your local competition while you’re keeping your park filled.  But marketing is more than park fill and advertising.  Marketing includes everything from market surveys to community and government relations, from promotions and incentives to get new residents, to good relations with current residents.  Good marketing means keeping a close eye on the target audience you want and how you will sell and service them.

7.  Mishandling delinquent rents.

Delinquent rents need quick action.  Monitor them closely.  Mishandling a notice can lead to delays/problems. Listen to a problem to decide if it’s permanent/temporary.  If it’s permanent, act decisively.  If temporary, you may want to set up a written payment plan if possible.

8. Getting the wrong insurance package.

Keeping costs down is important in any business, but so is risk management.  That means insurance.  The key is to look beyond the basic, generic policy and to seek property and general liability insurance with umbrella coverage.  You want to insure your park for its actual insurable replacement value.  Check the rating of the insurance carriers you are considering.  Shop and compare rates/ratings.

  1. Inadequate safety & accident prevention programs.

Insurance is not enough.  Prevention is just as important.  It’s all about having a park safe for residents, their visitors and the park staff who serve them.  Potholes in roads are unsafe.  A child’s cheerful bike ride could suddenly be ended by an unseen driver because bushes were not trimmed.  Walkways must be well-lighted and free of cracks.  Pools must be free of bacterial growth.  Workers need equipment and training to avoid body movements that can injure them.  Money spent on repairs, signage, equipment, and training is cheap compared to thousands in legal bills, insurance rate increases and time wasted. 

  1. Insufficient awareness of economic changes.

Like any business you have to cover costs and make a profit.  In order to maximize your investment, keep abreast of changing local conditions around your park.  An ill-informed decision could make your park unattractive to potential homeowners.  For example, if a local plant closes or unemployment suddenly jumps, that’s not a good time to raise rents.  Even in healthy times, periodic small rent adjustments make more sense than one big increase that finds residents unprepared and prone to action.  Subscribe to local newspapers.  It’s all about staying in touch and informed to make good decisions.

Note:  This article orignially was published in MHCO's Community Update