A Consultant’s Lament

Ever plan a party and not have everyone show up? Worse; ever schedule or facilitate a business education and networking event, only to find those ‘who need it most’ absent? Well, if you answered the second query with a ‘Yes’, you’ll understand and appreciate the frustration embodied in the following paragraphs…

This particular annual multi-state association business, education and networking meeting was not my event. However, I’d been asked to deliver the keynote ‘State of the Industry & Asset Class’ address one day, and the same educational session twice the following day. Don’t misunderstand; overall meeting attendance was healthy, with more than 200 businessmen and women present, and 50 eager learners in each of the two like sessions I taught.

But here’s the rub. With HUD Code manufactured housing experiencing an historic nadir of annual new home shipments, and many of the asset class’ largest landlease communities struggling with high turnover and marginal occupancy levels – in large part due to too high rental homesite fees, it’s time to face and resolve perennial image, finance, and customer service issues! But guess what? Some, no – make that several, of the most notorious issue offenders, though invited and encouraged to participate in this timely regional affair, declined to do so!

Why? I doubt we’ll ever know for sure, but I’m confident their reason or reasons are included among the following excuses, as they…

• View themselves as being ‘above the fray’, even while suffering along with their peers; but counting on the business cycle to eventually return them to prosperity

• Know it all! After all, they’ve been in business for decades, if not family generations; so what could they possibly learn from or with their peers?

• Have heard and tried or discarded ‘corrective formulae and solutions’ before, so figure there’s nothing new to learn under the sun.

• Have been enthused, in the past, with ‘one or another or more’ regional and national business improvement initiatives, only to watch them die – for a variety of reasons (e.g. lack of funding, focus dispute, even selfish feuding), before ever getting started.

The unfortunate truth is, with sole exception of the last excuse, they were wrong not to attend and learn, as well as support their state trade presence! A special effort was made by meeting planners – and maybe just inadequately communicated, certain key performance indicators, in some cases mathematical formulae and models, would be shared ‘for the first time’, enabling attendees to evaluate present business holdings against industry and regional norms (e.g. homesite rent level ‘acid test’; an Industry Standard Chart of Accounts with Operating Expense Ratios or OERs); and, how to affordably price new and resale homes marketed on site in LLCommunities, using AGI (annual gross income) or AMI (area median income) as starting points; and, ‘How to Negotiate an Effective Three Party Financial Partnership Among One’s Local Bank or S&L, MHRetailer, and Landlease Community Selling New & Resale Homes On-site!

Frankly, this insider, and previously proprietary, confidential information deserves as broad and timely coverage as possible. Encourage your state MHAssociation executive to plan and host a one or two day Super Symposium & Showcase of New HUD Code Homes during 2010! For meeting planning guidance, contact George Allen, CPM & MHM @ (317) 346-7156 or Jim Keller of IMHA/RVIC in IN. @ (317) 247-6258X12.

End Note.

* lament, as to ‘regret’. Webster

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