When you buy a mobile home park, and if you currently own a mobile home park, it's a pretty safe bet that you need to change the name. Because most mobile home parks have terrible names that, sadly, could be used as a marketing tool if only they were different. Just like Johnny Cash's “A Boy Named Sue”, many mobile home parks have names which are extremely inappropriate and downright embarrassing for their residents to live under. And a wonderful marketing opportunity is missed every day that they are not changed.
Most mobile home parks were built in the 1970's or earlier, at a time when mobile home park residents dreamed of having their own private jukebox and pink flamingos in the yard. They were the very essence of tacky. And the park names matched the customer. Some were clever take-offs on the mobile home concept, like “Roll-A-Home”. Many were rustic sounding like “Wagon Wheel”. But rarely were they created with any marketing strategy involved. Some are so bad that you have to wonder if the owner was trying to make fun of his tenants or the whole concept of trailer living. Some parks don't even have a name, just a 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood with a phone number or “Mobile Park” crudely painted on it. Just like the grave of the unknown soldier, they are nameless plots of dirt where tenants live and die and don't even know how to identify themselves.
The Early Creators
Many of Moms and Pops that still own parks in America don't know diddle about naming a property. They might be good with a carbine in WWII, or great with laying their own sewer line (until it flows backwards the first time around), or building parking pads with asphalt out of the back of their pick-up truck. But when it came to marketing, they were at the bottom of the class. Just look at the marketing materials from these folks even today. A professional quality flyer is a Xeroxed sheet written by hand with a marks-a-lot (both capitals and lower case letters interchanged). These folks ruled over cheap pieces of farmland with new infrastructure and some trailers, and were not serious real estate investors. They never dreamed their parks would be worth anything some day. The bottom line is that while they may have attractive mobile home parks, they have no idea how to name a property properly. Is it appropriate to have a lousy name on an expensive park?
Naming a mobile home park is very easy. Virtually any name you choose will be better than the current one – you are probably 1,000% more marketing savvy than the person you bought the park from. You certainly have more at stake than they did. But there is a strategy to derive the ultimate name if you put a little work into it. Here's the process:
- What is the number one sales point for someone moving to or living in the park?
- Reduce this sales point to one or two essential words.
- Add the name “Estates?” at the start or end of these words.
For example, if your park has huge pine trees on it that everybody loves, then the appropriate name would be “Pine Tree Estates”. Or if it's the frontage on Lake Forest, then it should be “The Estates of Lake Forest”, or “Lake Forest Estates”. It's that simple.
Why a classy name? Because people in mobile home parks don't want to be reminded of the fact with a lousy name that they have to use among the rest of the world who does not live in a trailer park. What kid at school wants to tell his friends, “I live in Roll-A-Home”? Nobody. Everybody wants to feel important and equal. Give them that opportunity!
Enacting the New Name
Once you have settled on a name, it's equally easy to put it into practice. First, notify the city of what you are doing, and make sure it is legal to change before you begin. I have never seen a city that had a problem with changing the name. Then, it's time for a new sign for the park. This time around, get a decent quality one from a professional company, at a cost of about $2,000. Then send a letter to all the tenants about the name change. And you'll have to change the marketing materials at all of the dealers. The final change is your yellow page ad – so keep watching for that renewal notice.
That's all there it to it. That's not too hard now, is it?
A new, classy name will have multiple benefits to your property:
- The name alone delivers your sales message to potential customers (remember to put the key sales point in the name).
- The residents will have more pride of ownership when they can take pride in the name of where they live.
- A new name erases the park's past ills
- A new name is a turn-on to lenders who look at financing it (remember that the name will be throughout your loan application documents).
- A classy name will help you get a higher sales price when you go to sell the park someday.
The benefits of changing the name of your mobile home park are priceless. The cost is nominal. There is no excuse not to do it. So start immediately. You will be very happy you did. And so will your tenants!