Park Street Partners’ MH Pro Jefferson Lilly Counsels Community Owners to Stay Ahead of the Curve with MHP 2.0 Talk
The manufactured housing market abounds with seminars, tutorials, books and boot camps on how to acquire properties. Community owner Jefferson Lilly offered SECO17 attendees an overview of the next steps with MHP 2.0.
“Many of us have attended or been through a self-taught boot camp,” Lilly, of Park Street Partners, said. “We’ve bought a park or two, and we’ve read books that tell us why this is a good business.
“I don’t know anyone who’s really teaching how to grow an organization for this business,” he said.
Lilly started in the manufactured housing community business in November 2005, and founded Park Street Partners with Brad Johnson in 2014. Business has been good, but 2017 has proven to be the year of organizational growth.
Park Street Partners has more than a dozen properties and 2,000 home sites, including a pair of new communities in Kansas that recently closed.
“I found myself really buried in paperwork,” Lilly said. “We were fundraising, handling asset management, answering calls from managers and some tenants.”
The People for Mobile Home Park 2.0
“We didn’t start hiring people until this year, and frankly, we should have done it earlier,” Lilly said. “I urge everyone to hire ahead of the curve.”
This year, Park Street Partners has hired a chief financial officer, an asset management
professional, an accounts payable clerk, an acquisitions associate and currently is hiring an inside sales manager.
The CFO is a $100,000 per year salaried position, and so are the asset and acquisitions managers, the latter two positions based on varying degrees of performance-based income.
“Our asset manager has deep experience managing managers, and deciding how much we’re going to be investing back into the parks. As we get ramp up buying houses, she’s going to do some of that too,” Lilly said. “The acquisitions associate is any Ivy League graduate who came to us from the military and having served overseas.
“He’s responsible for outreach to brokers and mobile home park owners,” Lilly added. “That’s also a six-figure compensation position, but more of a 30-percent base and 70-percent variable on performance. I think he’ll make more than I do this year, hopefully.”
The inside sales manager position pays in the $30,000-plus range and will round out Park Street Partner’s hiring for the short term.
“Dawn from MHVillage has talked about how important it is to return a call in five minutes or less, and I can say we have not done that,” Lilly said in regard to the inside sales person’s responsibilities. “What we’d like to do is answer the call on the first or second ring.”
Project Management for MHP 2.0
Lilly warns that a cell phone is not a system, and neither is an email account. As a business grows, these common components become unwieldy and “can be a disaster”, he said. Park
Street Partners works in cloud-based Asana, a widely used project management platform.
“Every park is a project with tasks associated,” Lilly said. “We have a Monday call and we talk about all of these assigned tasks and where we are with them, and what needs to be done for the most direct path to profitability.”
The group also uses Slack for communication Q&A and knowledge sharing across their properties.
MHP 2.0 Accounting
Rent Manager is solution for a wide variety of accounting tasks, more than many owners may realize.
“How many vacant pads do we have, who’s paid what, are the late fees in? This is not just for rent accounting, it’s for everything including paying the plumber,” Lilly said. “Everything but our appreciation tables are in Rent Manager.”
A check scanner function allows Park Street Partners to deposit, report and track rent checks, and updates associated accounts.
“I also understand utility readings can be brought in, and that’s the goal and where we’re going,” Lilly said.
Property Management for MHP 2.0
Each park has a Dropbox account and invitation for managers who need access, uploading leasing agreements and sharing photos and videos.
“We can see pretty accurately the condition of our parks without having to get on a plane,” Lilly said. “You can see what the park looked like a year ago and what it looks like now, and hopefully you’re making progress.”
Lilly said the platforms they use are cloud based, typically are free or very low cost. They built a website with Square Space for $100, use Grasshopper for a centralized phone network, and are getting property details loaded to Google, Bing and MHVillage.
Park Street Partners also has a BYOD policy – Bring your own device. They do not have an IT department.
“The vision is that we build Park Street Partners to be a very responsive organization. Part of that is the organization remains flat. We don’t want to have too many meetings. We’re driven by results,” he said. “It is so important that you have the data to measure results. You need to be able to see what the occupancy rate is and know that it’s right.”