Do you or any of your park managers organize/offer activities for tenants to make it more of a community? Things such as pumpkin painting for the kids, Christmas (holiday) decoration contest, Summer picnic, etc.?
We personally don’t. But regardless of what you decide, I’m pretty sure that any activity that involves kids is going to be an insurance nightmare, as you will probably be sued for everything from kids claiming they were assaulted (both physically and verbally) to various liability claims from getting cut with scissors, etc. Ask Kurt Kelley (or your agent) before embarking on the “pumpkin painting” or similar concepts.
We have our managers do an Easter party and a Halloween party or something like that (2-3 events a year) for the kids. The tenants seem to appreciate it. In the past we’ve rented bounce castles, which I’m sure our insurance company would not like, but we’re taking our chances. We put in some money to pay for food, rentals, etc. It’s not a lot of money and we feel it helps the community feel more like a “community.” I think there is some real value in having neighbors meeting and talking to each other and seeing each other’s kids; it’s completely subjective and intangible, but I can’t help feeling that it lowers the internal (resident-on-resident) problems.Just my personal opinion. Brandon@Sandell
CCon:At our apartments, I’ve always run activities (annual and regularly scheduled). It’s an extension of your marketing program and markets both externally and to your residents. It gives the managers a reason to see residents outside of solving a problem or asking for rent, we believe that it does help tamp down internal problems, and in apartments, there’s a real value in reducing turnover.In my experience, providing these types of benefits are an advantage. It won’t fill an empty apartment building (it did help me rent 100+ units in Indy, however) but it makes residents feel better about the community and their neighbors, and I think it helps keep rent at the top of their monthly priority list rather than the bottom. Residents of MHP are at the bottom rung economically and not far from making choices I hope to never face. However, doing things for their kids (events, after school, etc.) provides an intense motivation to pay on time, follow the rules, and work a few extra hours after a rent increase. Seriously, “do it for the kids” is a tremendous motivator for good behavior.Decide what you’d like to do, see if you can get outside vendors to provide the services/pizza (landscapers, snow removal, local vets if you allow pets) and set a budget. Start small and tweak the outreach constantly. Tie it to other goals that you have – a “Best Garden” contest can end with a big “End of School” bash. Tracking down unreported pets can be accomplished with a “Pet Health and Parade” event. Link “Home Winterization (and no frozen pipes!)” with a Winter Party. Take 15 minutes to think about what you’d like residents to do at your park and see if an event can be used to nudge them along. At a park I ran in Grand Rapids, we got an outside non-profit to offer ESOL for our Hispanic residents 2x a week. Sold 12 homes within 8 weeks based on those referrals alone and improved the manager’s ability to communicate. No cost to us, all we did was provide the space. Will
English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
Another win/win is Alcoholics anonymous meetings in your party room.
BWK:I have never considered AA, but I like the idea. I’ve done a lot of work with churches and this would be a good pairing. I’ve also found that when institutions are invested in the success or at least peaceable living of a member, they’ll help when rent is late.We had a high-turnover property in rural Arkansas (the product didn’t match the market), running about 70% per year which is beyond unsustainable. The adjacent church came in and started offering couples counseling, household budgeting, and other “home economics”-type classes and hosted afternoon activities for the kids on church property. Turnover dropped to a slightly more reasonable 45% (still too high for tax credit) and the kids were too tired in the evening to throw rocks at my street lights. In St. Louis I worked with a church to provide breakfasts for the kids during summer. Again, find people to partner with, push what you can to their insurance policy, and agree on the goals and the respective contributions.I don’t want to oversell this as a panacea or the only way to run a community. Frank and Dave have some great looking communities that got that way because of a thousand little things they and their managers do. Doing these outreach activities makes me feel good of course, but I view these initiatives as solving problems and heading off trouble. Decide on your goals and stick to your budget.Will
Our park group activities are initialed by our residents and than as park owners check the timing and will sent out flyers as to time and what to bring. We Do Not have children in our parks so our activities are less open to children legal issues. We have a swimming beach but ARE Not libel for accidents or deaths in the lake. 40% of our NEW residents are friends or relatives of our present residents and thus socials are very important and clean-up is done by our residents beautifully. Again, we knew what we were buying and it is a joy to OWN great properties with excellent residents. Please do not buy TROUBLES–LIFE IS TO SHORT. One time with my experience I thought I thought I could change a troubled park–did not happen!!!
Thanks, Everyone! We don’t have a clubhouse/party room so anything we do would have to happen outside. I’m still brainstorming about ideas that we can do.