I recently purchased a 37 lot park that’s about 1 hour from where I live. The park manager does not have a pc of his own or a fax/copier. Any reason why he would need a computer to fulfill his duties? He has his own cell phone. We correspond frequently using phone and text. I am thinking that he would only need a fax/copier to forward rental applications to me, copies of rent receipts, deposit receipts and so on. Anyone see a benefit to him having a computer?
We only use laptops, scanners etc. So our manager can scan applications, notices etc.we can log into the manager computer and print leases, rent invoices, late notices etc…the manager uses our templates to post notices etc…I can not see owning a park across town without a computer on site. If your looking into a fax line- you might as well just have a internet connection- and a magic jack for a park phone… one last thought- our managers are always sharing photos with us as well- so they put them in dropbox and we can see them…
You may also consider having the manager scan/email documents from the UPS store. It’s not terribly expensive and it’s usually a good solution when you need a document quickly without the “manager” error you may get with cell phone pictures. Otherwise, I think cell phone pictures would work for most everything else. I had your same issue with a tenant in a SFH and solved maintenance/paperwork issues with the UPS store. Her story was that she was afraid of using mail.I totally agree with Jim, but at 37 lots, you might be able to get away with not spending the money on a computer.
Our experience has been a 100% failure rate correlation between lack of personal technology and failure as a manager. Anyone who does not already have at least a smart phone and/or iPad will fail as your manager. That said, just because a manager candidate has these items does not mean they will succeed. But if they don’t already have them on their own, they will definitely fail, so don’t even bother hiring anyone without at least a smart phone or iPad.We generally only hire managers that already have a computer. There is a need to upload photos of damage tenants do (email and/or Dropbox), and to scan and upload signed leases. There are a few smart phone apps out there that let you photograph multiple page leases and convert them to a .pdf, but most managers will not have that skill level; or if they do, they’ll already own a computer and a fax/scanner.Make it easy on yourself, and only hire someone who already owns a computer. Anyone with the social/communication need/curiosity to have already purchased their own computer is a very good candidate to be a successful manager for you.My 2 cents worth,-jl-
I would not totally rule out a manager that does not use computers or smart phones. Especially on a smaller park like this. I have a 30 pad park that has been managed by a guy is his 60s/now 70’s for the last 8 years. He has a lot of good qualities. He is very honest. He has lived in the park since 1992 and knows the infrastructure. He sits on his porch all day with his wife and sees everything that goes on. I trust him, if he says something happens or something needs fixed I believe him. I don’t need pics of it. He is handy. He loves to mow and pick up trash. He only calls me when necessary. Managing the park is literally his hobby.But he does not use technology. Its his one downfall so I deal with it. All of his good qualities make it worth his lack of tech knowledge. Jefferson gives good advise. I just want to point out that sometimes someone can be totally perfect except one skill, and in that case it may be worth working around it. On a bigger park I am sure the skill set needs to be better also. Positive thoughts sent your way!
tigerdirect.com - has inexpensive laptops. I just purchased one for a new acquisition for the manager. Her lap top was in storage at the time. (Not anymore - I am getting mine back)Not expensive (under $200) but gets the job done. The manager signs an agreement it is not for personal use. My personal opinion is to help set up a small office for the manager. Why should they use their equipment to do your work?Also, I encourage the manager to use email to communicate instead of calling. Easier and quicker to reply. I also supply a printer/scanner/fax and inexpensive phone with answering machine w/ my own phone number for the park.Many Mom and Pop owners that I have sent letters to, do not have a phone number or contact info for the park and wonder why the park is half empty!
So I differ from Brian in one aspect- we communicate through a forum we have built on the back end of one of our we sites. Each park has its own section- and each type of duty is broken down. General things, homes being rehabed, homes being sold, applications, accounting… anyway- the forum is a very efficient way of tracking operations. So we do not communicate very much info with email- and we have years of operations decisions that are archived and can be accessed through searches.
Jim, thant sounds pretty awesome, do you have it automatically setup so the respective people associated with the property get notification ( how does someone know when to check in when they have a question?) And resources like that because it sounds real unique and I sure would like to learn more about it.
Jim, That sounds like a great system you have setup. Is the forum set up as part of your web domain setup (did it come with your domain setup) or is it something you added on or created yourself? I’d love to hear more about it.
So- in the forum everyone has a log in. When a post is made in the part of the forum the manager is a part of- the forum sends the manager a email. In turn, when anything in the forum is posted, I get an email. The manager’s also know to look at the forum daily, just like they look at email. I have several websites and on the back of one- so there is no ‘link’ to the forum- is my forum. You only need the ‘url’ to get to it. Though it is locked down, so if you saw it you would come to a log in page- not very exciting. The forum is like a web site that is loaded on your server. I purchased the ‘forum’ from a company called vBulletin. I am sort of a forum junkie… and I think it is the very best forum software on the market. I know there is some free stuff- but we paid $400 for the server software and the mobile software. So we have our own android app and I-phone app that connects directly to our forum. here is another application… lets say someone wanted to partner with me, and I operate the asset for a equity stake and a fee. Well, now every aspect of the operations are transparent to the rest of the partners. If someone wants to jump into a conversation- they just post. Every time there is a new manager- they have access to all of the old data. A while back we had to evict someone- and we wanted all of the issues pertaining to that tenant. A quick search and every post pops up. Print the pages and highlight the dates, times and issues. Its pretty solid in court when you have all of this data, that is time stamped and in your hands. Anyway- I clearly think a forum is the best for communicating with managers.
everyone seems to have their own use for technology, the main point being use it. i believe technology can make a park owners life much simpler by developing key indicators for success, and using technology to measure / track these indicators.the MHP business needs management to succeed, why not use all the tools at your disposal to make it workJim … the forum sounds interesting and an excellent tool to help manage the properties
Dean,ON every level it is a better communication system and park operations system than fax, text or email.
While all of our managers have computers, we operated just fine without them in the early days. If this 37 space park is your first one, you can certainly operate without it. You have perfectly good control one-on-one with your manager via phone and fax. We use Rent Manager today, and the managers all participate in it. But if you’re going to be using Quickbooks and Excel (which work fine), and you will be at the helm of the ship an hour a week, there’s no reason to buy that manager a laptop. You might be firing them two days from now, and the laptop will become more of a problem than a help, as you then have to figure out how to get it back.
One of my previous careers was as a Quality Assurance Analyst for Computer Software Companies.Thus, I can see the positives of Technology.However, I can also see the negatives of Technology.A person must know how to use Technology for it to be effective.Also, I agree with Frank that a laptop might become more of a problem. An employee must stay a long time to recoup the price of a laptop (just in case the laptop never makes its way back to you after the employee quits or is fired).In addition I agree with MobileHomePark that I would not rule out a manager which does not have experience with computers. Honesty goes a long way in a manager role.We wish you the very best!
Tigerdirect laptops under $200, my opinion well worth it if you need to send leases, rent roll or violation notices.
Figure the cost to fax long distance and also it’s neater.
I can’t see a manager who owns a home in a park stealing your computer and not expecting any problems with you in the future,
Thank you all for your comments. Very much appreciated!