anaging a community without losing your sanity is only possible when you share tips with other community managers across the country. Who is doing what that would make your life easier? How does someone else handle a situation that is currently taking up too much of your time and seems to be going nowhere positive?
With that in mind, this month's column will deal with tidbits of information from my own experience as well as those that various community managers across the United States have shared with me at some classes, workshops, and seminars.
On discriminatory issues - one of the community managers for Truluck Industries attended a recent Accredited Community Manager (ACM) class in North Carolina and shared the idea of a Violations Notebook. The idea is to put a copy of all violations you sent out into a 3-ring binder, divided by type of violation. She has used this notebook when a resident comes in to complain that they are the only ones she is picking on about mowing their grass. She shows them the closed notebook and the thickness of the section for lawn violations. It lets them see at a glance that she is, indeed, sending out other notices. She has also take it to court with her. In some cases, the resident will claim that she is evicting them unfairly; that there are lots of other residents who don't clean up or who store boats on their homesite or whatever the issue is. She can show the judge the other notices she sent, and, since she keeps them in chronological order, it is very evident that she has been notifying residents all along, not just right before the court date. Our hats off to you! What a great idea!
Sue Marks, community manager of Windward Knoll, a Steiner Community in Florida, had another great idea she shared with me. From time to time, it is necessary for a community manager to hire a contractor or sub-contractor to do some work in the community. But, if you don't routinely do that type of work, where do you find a reliable person to call? Or, if you have to get bids for work, how do you get enough people to give the required three bids? Sue solved the problem - - she calls the local Home Depot and asks for the contractor desk. Then, she asks them for a referral to a person who does the type of work she needs! How easy! And, it works! It has also brought her better bids, new people she didn't even know, and great references. Our hats off to you! What a great idea!
From my own experience, I know how hard it can be sometimes to get a contractor to give you a bid for work that you may or may not do right now. Especially when getting bids around budget time, it is tough to get all those people to come out. Make it easy on yourself and them! Use a bid specification sheet. Lay out the details of the work you want done and include the approximate time frame, if you know it. When you call them, ask if you can fax it to them. Ask them to fax their bid back. Let them know you are only looking for a ballpark figure if you are not actually going to do the work within the next 60 days. That makes it easier for them to get it done quickly.
Lynda Davis, community manager of Lamplighter Mobile Home Community, a Heritage Group property in Gainesville, Fl, had a great idea for recognizing the little people in her all-age community. With over 150 children, she sometimes has trouble remembering names and faces. So, she has started the "Lamplighter Family Tree." This is a great way to "show off" your residents! On one wall of the office, there is a huge drawing of a tree with lots of branches. Each branch is for one family. The pictures, along with names, and date of picture, are entered. In a large community, you might want to use larger branches and dedicate an entire branch to one street. Then, the pictures could be grouped by address so you know who lives where. For a sketch of the tree that Lynda uses, get in touch with me, and we'll send it to you. Our hats off to you! What a great idea!
Another issue communities everywhere face is that of speeding. Oh, and don't we all wish we didn't have that problem! One of the issues arises when you try to talk with residents. You tell them you were speeding and they deny it. They want to know how you know and ask you if you had a radar gun. You tell them their guests were speeding, and they call you a liar. Sally Harrington of Commonwealth Real Estate Services in Oregon suggests telling them they are "jeopardizing the safety of other residents with their behavior." This allows you not to get backed into a corner where you have to estimate the speed of their vehicle. Our hats off to you! What a great idea!
Finally, let's look at unique and positive ways to send upbeat messages and improve the image of our industry. Connie & Jeff Dennis, owners of Capstone, a land lease community in Kirklin, Indiana, have put a new face on community life in their neighborhood. In this unabashed picture of their development, they show the good life as it really is. Connie and Jeff wrote about the features of the community, the basic requirements for each homesite, and touted the wide variety of floor plans and features of their model homes. This article, complete with a picture of one of the homes, was run in their local paper. If you want a copy of the article to use as a guide when writing your own press release, just contact me. Our hats off to you! What a great idea!