What MHAssociations LACK, & Time for YOU to Decide!
‘Why I Belong’, but am frustrated with most MHAssociations!
Own/operate LLCommunities? Time to Decide What You Need!
2011 promises to be a year of survival for some & end of the road for others.
Know this; your fate is in, good but not complete measure, your hands – so make the very most of every opportunity and challenge that comes you way!
A Decade ago I penned an article titled ‘Why I belong!’, for a now defunct MHIndustry print trade publication. It was reprinted many times over, and frequently distributed by state manufactured housing trade associations (‘MHAssociations) as an aid to help recruit new dues – paying members! It’s still inventoried at PMN Publishing, but is rarely requested these days, underscoring the tripartite theme of the following paragraphs.
Our firm is a 20+ year member of two Midwest MHAssociations, and a direct, dues – paying charter member of the Manufactured Housing Institute’s (‘MHI’) National Communities Council (‘NCC’) division. Until recently, we were a full (charter) member of the Urban Land Institute’s (‘ULI’) Manufactured Housing Communities Council (‘MHCC’) – but that’s another story for another time. The Point? As a former elected board member of those Midwest MHAssociations, and present board member of the NCC, I’ve observed ‘the workings’ of these bodies, up close and repeatedly over the years, and believe They Are All Lacking At This Time!
Yes, ‘lacking dues revenue’ for sure, but also ‘lacking forward focus’ and ‘lacking leadership’. Let’s take these three shortfalls, in need of obviation, one at a time.
Lack of forward focus. I’ll be the first to admit, ‘Generalizations are as generally wrong as they are generally right’. But with that said, ask yourself: ‘How many of the state or provincial MHAssociations, or even just the one association – you or your firm belong to, is/are indeed focused – let’s say, on planning and effecting aggressive, positive measures ensuring ongoing survival as a viable trade association and advocacy body? Are you satisfied with the answer? If not, maybe YOU need to get involved and become part of a focused solution, rather than continue as part of the ongoing problem(s). With that said,
Lack of dues revenue. Admittedly, there’re far fewer HUD Code home manufacturers and MHRetailers to solicit as dues – paying members of state and provincial MHAssociations. But guess what? There’re just as many, if not a few more, landlease (nee manufactured home) communities TODAY than there were a DECADE AGO! And yes, consolidation of this type income – producing property type, into one or another of 500+/- LLCommunity portfolios (averaging 22 properties apiece, per the 22nd annual ALLEN REPORT) existent across the U.S. and Canada, has cannibalized this membership category in almost every state and province. BUT, what has your MHAssociation done to 1) aggressively recruit these portfolio owners/operators as dues – paying members, and 2) go ‘on the road’ to visit and recruit heretofore ignored sole proprietor (i.e. Mom & Pop) owners/operators? My guess is, little to no effort whatsoever. How do I know? A year ago, I volunteered to 1) ID all portfolio owners/operators active in a particular state, 2) form a small team of LLCommunity owner/operator members of said association, to 3) visit each of the portfolio ‘player’ headquarters, to recruit (‘pressure’) them, one – on – one to ‘join’! My offer was ignored, and the association continues to lose members and dues in this minimally tapped category. To this end, it’s my contention, every association executive, in the company of at least one board member, should spend one day each week ‘on the road’ aggressively recruiting the small – to – midsized LLCommunity owners/operators, as well as suppliers, service firms, lenders, and the like.
Lest you think our national trade and advocacy bodies are immune from constructive criticism in this ‘lack of dues revenue’ effort, you’re wrong. Similar trends and circumstances apply on the national level as on the state level. But when a suggestion was made recently, that the new NCC executive, as part of their compensation package, be formally challenged to match their salary with ‘new dues revenue’ within 12 months after being hired, the incentivization idea was dismissed as being inappropriate for association executives. Really? Why? Furthermore; I don’t know ‘bout you, but I tire of hearing one national advocacy body constantly cry ‘poor boy’, as they continue to restrict membership to just HUD Code manufacturers.
Lack of leadership. This category riles me above the other two. Perhaps there’re a few MHAssociations, somewhere in the U.S. and Canada, with strict and enforced term limits for elected board members. If so, they’re few and far between. Sure, respond to this blog and let me know! No response? Then I’ll assume, sad to say, I’ve got it right.
For the moment however, assume most elected boards have done a credible job recruiting, hiring and compensating their present MHAssociation exec, the preceding lack of focus and lack of dues revenue comments notwithstanding – since both are functions of board member ‘direction’, and dare I say it, ‘leadership’. Moving right along; few things are more frustrating to business stakeholder members, than to see MHAssociation board seats perennially occupied by protective ‘friends’ of the association exec (Beware the Golden Parachute when an exec leaves, for cause or otherwise…We’ve seen that travesty firsthand.); individuals (usually salaried employees) who consider board meetings personal ‘percs’ away from their day job; and, some old ‘warhorses’ who’ve convinced everyone the association will wither and die without their hallowed presence, year after year after year. And I simply don’t buy the excuse, ‘No one else will step forward and serve.’ That’s just an excuse for not really trying to recruit, and symptomatic of the very environment just described.
The remedy? A healthy mix of ‘fresh blood’ coming onto MHAssociation boards every year, along side capable, experienced, motivated board members who, hopefully, are businessmen and women with bona fide ‘skin in the game’ of manufactured housing and LLCommunity ownership/operations. And be careful about how many years an exec is permitted to stay in place. Is their present salary now double what it’d cost the association to hire a new and anxious – to – please and learn executive? I know one New England association that was on its’ deathbed a couple years ago, but is now growing by leaps and bounds, thanks to a new, ‘willing to travel and recruit new members’ executive. When was the last time your state’s exec was out ‘on the road’ doing likewise? Ask.
Think I exaggerate? Not at all. Ending this first blog segment with two recent accounts; the first a response to an earlier post on this blog site; the second, published last month in the Chattel Finance Newsletter:
“I find is exacerbating the very organizations (i.e. ‘trade associations’) we tout as our representatives – state or national – do NOTHING to change our desperate straights. They are like five fingers moving without concert, to try and make a fist. We have no chance of surviving as an industry, without us getting together!” N
“I don’t belong and likely never will. From what I have seen, over the years, most seem to be a big ego trip for the board members and a big paycheck for the guys who run them. Once in a while, they get worried about some new law somebody wants, because of what one of the members did to somebody else; but other than that, they mostly meet and talk. In my state, there has only been one guy running the association that didn’t think he was smarter and better than all the park owners. I don’t know much about the national association, but all they seem to do is to meet in expensive places, to have a party, and pretend they are actually doing something worth doing.” Anonymous
The time has come for YOU to Decide What You Need. Talking mostly to landlease (nee manufactured home) community owners/operators here, portfolio folk and otherwise. No big introduction, since most reading this weekly blog, are aware of the Request for Proposals we published in the November 2010 issue of the Allen Letter professional journal, to acquire work products long associated with GFA Management, Inc., dba PMN Publishing. To date, there’s one formal Offer to Purchase in place; and, face – to – face negotiations with one party begin this week; and with another, the following week. All that’s being asked here, is for YOU to read down through the list of 28 work products; then ask yourself – ‘Which items – if any, are helpful, even critical, resources relative to my ownership and operation of one or more LLCommunities?’ At the end of this blog segment, I’ll suggest what you can do to (maybe) ensure continuation of the resources you need…
Annual ALLEN REPORT or ‘AR’, a.k.a. ‘Who’s Who Among Portfolio Owners/operators of Landlease Communities Throughout North America!’ The 50+ page, 22nd annual AR released in early January 2011. Asset class’ statistical compendium
Exclusive & CONFIDENTIAL, 25 year computerized data base, comprised of names & addresses of 500+/- LLCommunity portfolio owners/operators in U.S. & Canada. Regular direct mail access by those acquiring/marketing such properties; new products/services
The Allen Letter professional journal; a 21 year, monthly print, subscriber – supported periodical penned for the LLCommunity owner/operator audience! Vehicle for a dozen Signature Series Resource Documents (‘SSRD’), identified later in this work product list.
International Networking Roundtable or ‘INR’. The 20th INR is scheduled for 14 – 16 September 2011. It’s the LLCommunity asset class’ premier educational, interpersonal networking, and deal – making event. Platform for most initiatives during past 20 years!
the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter. Subscriber – supported, monthly print publication communicating sensitive, strategic, advance information to MHIndustry & LLCommunity executives alike, 30 – 60 days before be published elsewhere, if then!
Manufactured Housing Manager or ‘MHM’ professional property management training and certification program for on – site, regional & executive property managers, and owners of LLCommunities. Nearly 1,000 MHMs to date! Classroom or correspondence.
community-investor.com website…’How you got here today!’ Superb online resource for books, reprints, PM forms, educational programs, newsletters & more (e.g. Mystery Shopping & MAP planning/execution). Also site of industry& asset class’ weekly blog
Weekly blog posting! The primary B2B (business – to – business) MHIndustry & LLCommunity online news and op/ed source for hundreds of corporate executives and LLCommunity owners/operators, responsible for profitability of business enterprises.
FOCUS Group meetings of LLCommunity owners/operators are convened as interest and needs require. Confidential small group interaction opportunities oft hosted on – site in LLCommunities. GFA/PMN compensated as meeting planner, facilitator and reporter.
National State of the Asset Class (‘NSAC’) caucuses for MHIndustry executives and LLCommunity owners/operators. Two to date: 2/27/08 identified Five Action Areas of LLCommunity concern; 2/27/09, dialogue per new home design for on – site marketing
Periodic ALLEN SURVEYS (VI to date); prepared with assistance from Laurence Allen, MAI. Researched & published results regarding LLCommunity Operating Expense Ratios (‘OER’s), & income capitalization rates (‘cap rates’) per ABClassification System
Stock Inventory of at least 26 copyrighted standard forms tailored to the LLCommunity asset class, e.g. Market Survey, Standard Shopping Report, Income & Expense Cash Flow Analysis Worksheet, ‘Ah Ha! & Uh Oh!’ housing price point worksheet, and more!
MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764. Primary point of initial inquiry for matters pertaining to LLCommunity operations nationwide, including Canada! E.g. access to HUD Code Business Development Managers & Community Series Homes…
Stock inventory of books includes: Development, Marketing & Operation of Manufactured Home Communities; How to Find, Buy, Manage & Sell a Manufactured Home Community; Landlease Community Management, Manufactured Housing $ Primer
Stock inventory of reprints, both hard copy and PDFs, via community-investor.com. Dozens of copyrighted articles cover virtually every aspect of manufactured housing, and LLCommunity ownership and property management. More than 50 titles.
Chronological History of the LLCommunity Real Estate Asset Class, dating back to the 1980s. Includes accounts of many of the resources on this list. ‘History’ is updated upon revision and publication of each edition of Landlease Community Management.
Library of manufactured housing and LLCommunity asset class related texts, notebooks, binders, etc. Acquisition interest expressed by RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s library, and U.S. Library of Congress. The ‘best location’ for this body of knowledge & history?
SSRD: annual ‘Official State of the MHIndustry & LLCommunity Asset Class’, published in February, includes a comprehensive list of owners/operators’ issues identified during ALLEN REPORT research previous Fall. Only ‘combined’ summary!
SSRD: annual ;National Registry of Real Estate Lenders & Brokers’ specializing in LLCommunity acquisition and refinance real estate – secured mortgages. Narrative identifies prevailing trends, plus list of at least a dozen lenders/brokers with contacts.
SSRD: annual ‘Who Ya Gonna Call in 2011?’ comprehensive list of MHIndustry & LLCommunity freelance consultants. 12th edition to be published in April 2011. Only such ‘specialty skill’ list available anywhere throughout the MHIndustry.
SSRD: annual ‘Directory of MHIndustry & LLCommunity Print & Online Trade Media Resources’. Given the greatly reduced number of print and online trade publications serving the MHIndustry, this is a key working resource facilitating press releases, etc..
SSRD: annual ‘Official Lexicon or Glossary of MHIndustry & LLCommunity Terminology’. Years in the making, this landmark research and resource first published in the Manufactured Housing $ Primer and the 22nd annual ALLEN REPORT.
SSRD: annual ‘Professional Property Management Training & Certification Program Survey’ describes and codifies professional property management in the LLCommunity real estate asset class by dint of the CPM®, ACM® & MHM certification programs.
SSRD: annual, repeatedly updated, ‘Industry Briefing Sheet’. This four page document summarizes HUD Code MHIndustry & LLCommunity benchmark statistics, lists key advocacy and media contacts, including Canadian CSA Z240 & CSA A277-90 info.
SSRD: annual ‘Trade Body Advocacy Directory’ features background and contact information re: MHI/NCC, ULI/MHCC, MHARR, IREM, FBOA, NSAC caucuses, etc..
SSRD: annual ‘Summary of International Networking Roundtable’ proceedings serves as an historical record of this annual event, featuring contact information on all presenters!
SSRD: annual updates to the ‘MHIndustry Paradigm Shifts Timeline’, preserves the essence of HUD Code manufactured housing history & the LLCommunity asset class!
SSRD: annual ‘National State of the Asset Class caucus progress report’ preserves accomplishments of the first two NSAC caucuses, and measures progress relative to the Five Action Areas, Business Development Managers, & Community Series Homes.
So, there you have it, 28 proprietary resources presently in place, and in service to the MHIndustry and LLCommunity asset class! How many, if any, of these specialized resources are important to YOU, and the success with which you manage your business interests? If you’re a direct, dues paying member of any of the national trade and advocacy bodies, you already know ‘who to contact’ relative to your desire to see some or all these work products continue intact – or not. If not presently within that Inner Circle, but wish to make your views and needs better known, contact me via the aforementioned MHIndustry HOTLINE or (317) 346-7156 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bottom line? Ideally, ‘all the above’ will wind up being administered and continued by one, two, maybe three, national not for profit trade and or academic bodies, maybe even a ‘for profit’ entity, all committed to HUD Code manufactured housing and the landlease community real estate asst class. Or maybe not. Frankly, much of the future of our unique, income – producing property type and asset class, more so than ever before, is in your hands. If these 28 resources continue, it’ll be in large part, due to your support; if not, well, it’s been an interesting, challenging, rewarding, thirty years of service….
George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®Emeritus, MHM Box # 47024
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry & Indpls, IN. 46247