Running a mobile home park is no easy task. There is no shame in realizing that either you need some help or that it’s in the best interest of your investment to hire full-time and professional mobile home park management staff.
As the size of a park grows, so does its need for multiple watchful eyes, specialized skills, and more pairs of hands. In this article, we will help you build an outstanding management team for your mobile home park.
What employees do I need for my mobile home park?
Just like any business, the type and number of employees you need depend on the size of the undertaking as well as its functions. Mobile home parks can vary widely. In general, in the number of lots they have, amenities they offer, and services they provide. The biggest differentiator, however, is the size of the park.
The following guide should give you a good rule of thumb to consider whether you need additional personnel:
1 – Less than 30 lots
For this size park, you probably only need to worry about a full-time onsite park manager. To clarify, if you are the full-time manager, you probably don’t need other staff. Unless you want to relieve some of the work burdens. In that case, you can think about hiring an assistant manager to take over on weekends or a few days of the week. It’s best to outsource gardening or landscaping services at this size.
2 – More than 30-50 lots
At this size, it’s definitely recommended to get an assistant manager to help keep everything in order. Moreover, if the manager gets injured or sick. It should still be cheaper to outsource maintenance and gardening depending on the needs of your specific park. The financial side of things can be overwhelming. Not to mention staying on top of the daily operations. Ultimately, employing some kind of accounting staff becomes recommended.
3 – 50-100 lots
Now it’s time to start looking into specific managerial positions to fit each role. On top of your manager and assistant manager, you should look into a maintenance manager and landscape manager as well. They will keep their individual areas functioning properly. Additionally, they will report to the park manager. For parks like these, “manager couple” teams are quite popular. Essentially, you could do with two full-time managers.
4 – 100+ lot parks
At this size, it might be worth it to supplement your managerial staff with other full-time team members. These parks need to be run very tightly to remain in good condition and prevent them from slowly slipping downward. At this stage, it becomes recommended to invest in an off-site manager to make sure your on-site management are meeting performance requirements, do random inspections, and keep track of your finances.
Multiple mobile home parks
At this stage, well-organized off-site staff becomes critical. It will become very hard for you alone to manage multiple park management teams alone. It’s inevitable that standards will slip with time if there is no accountability and a certain level of control from the top.
Hiring mobile home park management
We would recommend anyone new to the mobile home park business to seriously assess their need for a property manager in any capacity. If you have never done something similar before, it can be very deceptive to try and establish how well the role will suit you beforehand. There are just so many skills and tasks to juggle. It’s almost impossible to know if you are suited to it.
You need to be someone that can handle residents (handling complaints, collecting rent, etc.) using both the carrot and the stick as needed, keeping track of a million little things. Furthermore, you won’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get physically involved with the running of your park. Having a working knowledge of home maintenance, park utilities, and housing laws also help.
That’s already quite the to-do list, right? Now, imagine how much the number of work scales for every lot, mobile home, or tenant, added to the park. Even a relatively small park of around 50 units can easily approach something like a full-time job.
In fact, that’s the very reason why you’ll see “couple mobile home park managers” are so highly sought after. It’s common practice to have a manager live in the park in a unit. When it’s a dynamic duo husband-wife partnership, you have double the workforce in the same setup. Certainly cost-effective with two pairs of hands and eyes to manage the park.
Hiring a mobile home park maintenance manager/supervisor
For a very small mobile home park, you might be able to get away with a hands-on manager who is capable when it comes to mobile home repair and maintenance. This manager could also regularly inspect units. Bigger jobs can be taken care of by a licensed contractor in the vicinity.
Once a park grows bigger, it will soon become impossible for one person to discharge their regular duties. Maintenance will also be challenging for the same person to be in charge.Relying on the same contractor for every single small call out becomes too expensive and troublesome. Your best bet will be to hire someone who is put solely in charge of this type of work.
For medium-sized parks, a single manager should be sufficient. He can report directly to the park manager, take care of most chores himself, and also call out contractors for bigger tasks when necessary. The same person should also be able to take care of the park’s landscaping and utilities.
When we get closer to a 100-unit park, the need for these types of services become almost unending. While you are busy caulking cracks in one home, another might develop a roof leak. A third gets a broken window. Once again, you will need to tackle the scaling problem with a larger workforce. In this case, a small team of gardeners/maintenance crew becomes necessary.
It may also become worth your time to split the services into gardening/landscaping and home maintenance/utilities. Of course, you could always require residents to maintain their own homes. However, this could soon lead to hatched DIY jobs that lower the value of homes in the park. Furthermore, it could result in injury or death for more dangerous jobs. Even if this is the case with your park, we recommend you still hire a supervisor in charge of overseeing this aspect of the park.
Hiring a mobile home park landscaper
The final member of your mobile home park management team is a landscaper. Depending on your needs, the skills of the managers at your disposal, and who is available, you can divide the responsibilities between the maintenance manager and the landscaper in a number of ways.
At the very least, the mobile home park landscaper should be in charge of the gardening and maintenance of individual lots. Additionally, any public areas (like parks) and beddings throughout the park. The manager’s job description could also include taking care of utilities or garbage disposal.
Being in charge of the landscaping of the mobile home park means that the grounds should be prepared correctly. This includes prep for each season, kept in neat and healthy condition, and pests eliminated. The job scope will also depend on whether tenants are responsible for the lawn care of their own lots.
It’s not really necessary for the landscaping manager to live in the park. The types of issues they deal with are usually not of very time-sensitive. Most of their time will be spent organizing the grounds staff. One thing that should be established is who is ultimately in charge of staff. Include how much say the manager has in the hiring and firing of employees.
What hiring criteria to look for
The following criteria apply broadly to all types of mobile home park managers.
- Going rate: A fairly common practice is to pay property managers a share of the rent collected and provide them accommodation for free in the park. You and the manager can come to different agreements. However, professional managers often have a standard rate or set of demands. Make sure you are clear about little things. For example, whether utilities are included in their accommodation and whether they get paid according to the maximum possible rent or rent that’s actually collected. The latter could be a good motivator.
- Experience: Of course, the more relevant experience the applicant has, the better. However, it’s not the only thing that matters. The most important abilities of a good landlord (or any other manager) is relatively the same across property types. How well do they manage tenants? Do you get along with them? Have they managed properties with a similar size/number of units/number of tenants? How familiar are they with the nuances of mobile homes? All of these answers can be much more illuminating. A manager that has worked on mobile home parks before might have better insight into the needs of the homes and the unique challenges these parks face.
- References: This is one of the industries where references can make or break an applicant. The terms on which they left any previous parks they managed, as well as the state, can tell you a lot about what you can expect. You will also be able to hash out how willing the manager is to go the extra mile when it comes to keeping up occupancy rates, collecting rent, etc.
- Willingness/job scope: As we just said, a mobile home park manager needs to be hands-on and be able to help out in many aspects of a park. Are they willing to help fill up the park (e.g. advertise, show buyers around, etc.)? Get involved with maintenance issues? How often will they inspect units/amenities? Can they handle some of the financial aspects?
Where to look for candidates
In the park
As we have mentioned, it’s a practiced and mutually beneficial agreement to provide accommodation within the park for its management staff. For the owner, it assures that the park manager is almost always on-site and have a personal stake in the wellbeing of the park. For the manager, it means housing security and is conveniently located at their place of work already.
The added on benefits are that they are already familiar with the park and its residents and a part of the community. Therefore, it pays to start looking for able (and willing) hands within your park.
You can find just about anything online, including mobile home park managers. Job searching sites like Indeed, Simply Hired, and Working Couples are great sites to start. You can even look on much more general listing sites like Craigslist.
Headhunt other parks
This may seem like a ruthless option. However, many mobile home park managers are underpaid. Some may suffer other kinds of discomfort that make them easy to lure away. You can easily find mobile home parks in your vicinity, but it’s a bit harder to establish which ones are well-run and whose managers are worth poaching.
Extra tips for assembling a management team:
- Contracts: Always sign a contract! At worst, it can leave you with hands tied behind your back at a labor trial. Conversely, at best can leave you in awkward situations when disputes occur. Various mobile home park associations can provide you with legally valid and well-drafted templates or samples of what these contracts should look like. Make sure they are signed and in place before going any further.
- Payroll and benefits: Make sure your salaries include payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, etc. Without these, you could land in hot water with the Labor Board. The same goes for workers’ compensation. If something happens to an employee on the job, and it’s not in place, you are vulnerable to be sued.
- Keep things above board: You will most likely find yourself under pressure (or temptation) to cut a few corners. Especially if you want to squeeze every bit of profit out of your park. This could lead you to neglect the due legal proceedings. However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for employers to get away with the “Independent contractor” spiel and other ways to exploit workers. Should you get caught out, the damage would be far worse than whatever you save taking the risk. That’s the truth.
- Run a tight ship with clear hierarchy and supervision: As you know by now, running a mobile home is no easy task. Slipping up in one area can trip over the whole operation. Managers have a tough job. It’s just as easy and tempting for them to fall into bad habits or cut corners. Clear supervision strategies, hierarchies of people to report to, and keeping things tight from the top will delay matters degrading.
- Use a good accounting/operating system: On the same note, making use of the available software will greatly help you run the park and the management team. There are software packages out there specifically for managing these types of properties and businesses. At the very least, you should invest in an accounting system. This will also help you maintain accountability and achieve clearer oversight of the business.
Start building your park management team!
That’s it from us! You should be able to draft a world-class mobile home park management team to steer your mobile home park investment in the right direction, based on the information we’ve provided for you. If you are looking for more advice when it comes to investing in mobile home parks, check out our top recommended podcasts. If you are struggling to keep your mobile home park profitable, we also have you covered with 6 ways to turn around a mobile home park.