Ep. 75 | Interview with MHP Owner Charlie Ansanelli – Using Tech To Scale

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On this episode of The Mobile Home Park Lawyer, Ferd is joined by guest Charlie Ansanelli. Ferd and Charlie discuss the MHP bug, tips on scaling, and treating staff appropriately. Charlie also talks about technology tools that can improve your communication with your teams in different geographic locations.

 

“I didn’t start with a single-family home rental or a duplex. I jumped right into 30 units, so I kind of had to figure it out fast. That forced me to already be in this mindset of multifamily and scale from the start.”

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

0:00 – Intro
1:28 – Charlie discusses his entrepreneurial background and how he got into MHP
3:39 – Charlie speaks about getting the ‘MHP bug’
5:14 – Charlie discusses life as a Californian living in Pittsburgh
8:06 – Ferd asks Charlie to give us some tips on scaling
11:34 – Charlie advises that your onsite manager should be replaceable in order to be sustainable
15:33 – Ferd mentions how the only problem worse than too little business is too much business, and collapsing because you can’t handle it
17:51 – Charlie speaks about treating your staff generously with big bonuses to encourage them to work hard
24:52 – Ferd asks Charlie what tools he uses to communicate with teams in multiple geographic locations
31:22 – Charlie tells us how he looks to see how much he can replace with technology before hiring admin staff
32:40 – Charlie shares some final advice
33:56 – Charlie states that you see the best and the worst types of people when owning MHPs

 

FIND | CHARLIE ANSANELLI:

Website: rockstackcapital.com
Email: charlie@rockstackcapital.com

 

FULL TRANSCRIPTION:

Ferd Neimann: Welcome back mobile home park nation, Ferd Neimann here again today. Another good episode for you. Got a great guest, a friend of mine. This guy’s an entrepreneur. He’s an investor. He’s a mobile home park owner-operator. Excited to have him here today. Please help me welcome Charlie Ansanelli. Charlie, thanks for coming on.

Charlie Ansanelli: Ferd thanks for having me, man. This is fun. It’s really nice to get the opportunity to talk to you and to not you know, get the bill for it. So I’ve got to enjoy this.

Ferd Neimann: You didn’t get the memo? This was actually billable. My rates double when it’s recorded. No, I should pay you for this man. You look like the real podcaster here. For those of you that are listening in the car. You can’t see this. But Charlie’s got this baller microphone, he’s got this some sort of spit guard sneeze guard here, earplugs. I’m just sitting here in a cheap suit in a suburban office and no microphone. And you look like the real deal.

Charlie Ansanelli: Well, we were joking before air right that, it’s like the old I’m a PC, I’m a Mac commercial if you can see this. Although trust me I’d rather be the PC. Ferd has been crushing it. So I’m actually here to interview Ferd. And I’m going to learn a lot about Ferd today.

Ferd Neimann: That’s funny, man. Well, I know a little bit about you, obviously, for our audience that may or may not tell us a little more of your background and how you got into MHP. And we’ll go from there.

Charlie Ansanelli: Sure. So I’ve kind of always been entrepreneurial, you know, sort of started a few businesses, was able to sell a couple, you know, still run one today. And then I was a pretty young guy, I had my first kid. And life all of a sudden became very real for me. It wasn’t kind of like trying things out and having fun anymore. And I started to really put an emphasis on financial security and my risk tolerance went down a little bit. And so anyway, so I had saved up a fair amount of money I was looking for, you know, extra income streams, because I was entrepreneurial. When you’re a business owner, you know, tomorrow’s never really guaranteed, and you got to come to make your own paycheck. So I was looking around to sort of diversify my income. And a lot of people said, Hey, you should probably buy a house and secure your family by buying a house with this money you saved. And that probably would have been a good idea. But instead, I bought a 31 pad, mobile home park in Tucson, Arizona. This was not too long ago, this was back in 2017. But it was still early enough where people thought I was kind of crazy for doing this, for buying, you know, a trailer park instead of the security of a single-family home. And that’s kind of how I got started, you know, my wife and I, we ran that one ourselves from California. And we’ve kind of had a lot of fun with it, she no longer is a part of the business. Simply because I can be tough to work with. I can be a little demanding and a tough personality. But we did very well, we were able to really kind of follow the game plan, increase occupancy, you know, bring rents to market, increase sort of the value of the property by improving the property on its condition and a year and a half. Not only were we you know, cash flowing very generously, but we doubled the overall price of the property. And of course, when you use leverage, and you have a bank loan, I mean, you’re getting a very big return on that. And so I think after that I really got bit by the mobile home park bug. And Ferd, as you know, I think once that happens, you kind of there’s no going back, right? It’s kind of like you see the whole world in mobile home parks, like everything to me is like a mobile home park now. I see them on the freeways, I drive by them constantly, you know, they’re in my dreams and just kind of get bit by the bug. And so now, I packed my bags. Like a lot of people, I left California. I’m now in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is where I have a lot of properties now in western PA throughout West towards Indiana. And looking to always add on more where it makes sense. And so today I own and operate 10 mobile home parks, and it seems like it’s going to be 12 here soon, and just you know, constantly trying to improve the properties. I have grown my team, deal with the challenges of scale at this point now and yeah, it’s kind of that’s the story.

Ferd Neimann: That’s great, man. I’m with you. Yeah, you get the bug. And if you do it right, if you get your hands dirty, you learn the business, it makes so much economic sense. It’s kind of fun, right? You’re running an operation. You’re running, I say it all the time. This is not the real estate business, this is the operations business. That happens to have a real estate component, it’s more like a hotel, it’s a hospitality business than the traditional real estate business. But I’m like you, It’s fun. So yeah, the move from California you’re part of that mass exodus. So how are people in Pittsburgh treating you being a California guy? Or you keep that quiet?

Charlie Ansanelli: You know, probably a little bit better than people in Texas. I hear they’re not too thrilled about us California’s heading out there. But no, it’s super, super friendly people here like, I mean, I think my wife and I are pretty decided that we’re going to raise our kids here for the remainder of the next you know, probably decade or so. But it’s freeing I mean, like, who knows, you know, now that I have you know, I live in mobile home park land. I’m not tied to geography. I mean, of course, it helps that I’m nearby my properties. It helps like I can get to potential deals faster because I was losing right, I think to guys who could like get in the car and go shake the hand and meet somebody who owns that park or whose dad built that park. I was missing out on that. And so being able I think to be here a little faster to the beat is helping. But I mean, I’m not you know, I’m not doing the plumbing myself. I’m not you know, the handyman and stuff. So I visit my parks probably as frequently as I did when I lived in California, which was quarterly. I make sure I get out once a quarter at least all the parks. Other than that, I leverage technology as much as I can. But no, and I think also, about your point to you about, it is a business, it’s an operating business and that’s why I love it so much. I love real estate, I have a passion for real estate and business and it’s a perfect marriage of two.

Ferd Neimann: Good point, Good point. Yeah. So you’ve done a little of both as far as managing local and managing from afar that’s interesting because a lot of people do especially in California, a lot of California guys like I can’t afford to buy a reasonable deal my price, so all my properties are in the southeast or the midwest. You’ve actually done that from afar and now you’re right there in plain sight. I think you’re totally right though on building rapport with sellers and getting to the punch. I almost didn’t end up making this deal, but I almost got it specifically for that reason the seller was in town. He lived in Oregon, but he was in Kansas looking at this park and I got wind that day from the broker, he’s here today for an afternoon. It’s like two and a half hours away from my house. Like I’ll meet him there. And it was the night of the big presidential debate and I had a pretty good feel for what side of the aisle this guy was on. So I was prepped for it with ammo and talk and you know wearing the right color hat and everything like that. I said to the broker,  if I bring my maga hat is that going to get me some career favor? He goes, you got a MAGA hat, man you got to do that. You got the great hat, make mobile home parks great again.

Charlie Ansanelli: Yeah, you can see me out in the podcast where like I just put on this hat that and this is not to get political by any means. Because I’m neither here nor there. But Ferd gave me a great gift. It’s a make mobile home parks great again hat.

Ferd Neimann: They are fun hats, but definitely build raport. It helps. So that’s good as a great tip. But you mentioned scale. I want to talk about that too because we’ve been doing scaling a lot here lately. And there’s definitely growing pains with it and you know, processes, people, those systems, it’s key to growth, key success, what tips can you give us as you’ve gone from 0 to 10? I think there’s a lot of people that kind of, they hit the speed bumps around two and three. And I just got off the phone five months ago with a client that’s like, I had three I went to five, I need to be at three. And he’s selling two of them because he’s like, I just can’t handle that many because he’s doing it himself, he is doing plumbing. So how did you get there and not have too much heartburn to make it successful? And still wanting to grow. You’re still obviously looking for more.

Charlie Ansanelli: I am and I’m still, yeah, I still want to punish myself. Because it’s not easy when you get to a certain point. And I’m learning and I’m making mistakes, I think what helped is I did a lot of the things kind of, you know, backward like I mean, I didn’t start with a single-family home rental or a duplex. I mean, I jumped right into 30 units. So I kind of had to figure that out fast. And so that kind of forced me to already be sort of in this kind of like mindset of like multifamily and scale from the start. And then being in California and having properties remotely, that forced me already to have to sort of think about, okay, how can I treat this as a business and not like a hobby. Now, that said, there’s a big difference when you go from one, two and three parks to four or five, six and above because, as I’ve learned, what you develop, you know, at a certain size does not sort of, you can’t do that at a larger scale. And I mean, a great example is I you know leaned on my, personally for me, I leaned on my onsite managers too much and I’ve learned recently that I really need to control much more of this in-house and I need to hire really full time highly skilled people and pay them what I can pay them and you can’t do this when you only have one, two or three parks and you know, still today, I probably can barely do it, but I’m doing it because you got to kind of hit higher a little ahead of where you want to go, it’s kind of, you know, I’ve been picking the brains of a lot of people and Ryan Smith, you know, elevation capital, you know, he’s much bigger than I am. And he runs really a lot of self-storage and mobile parks across America. And he gave me the tip that it’s kind of like an accordion, you know, you got to kind of, you know, it’s never going to be a perfect time, but you got to kind of hire a little bit ahead of where you’re at. And so, you know, so I think one of things I’ve been doing is really sort of thinking about all the different components of the business part, the sales, the leasing, the managing the real estate, the contractors, the bids, the accounts payable, what can I bring in house? Because I want to control the quality of all the work as much as possible, I said, bring in house, I’m not doing it myself, but I want to make sure that I have a core team that’s doing that. And then I want the onsite people to boots on the ground, to be nothing more than really ambassadors and representatives of the community. And I only want them to do literally the physical work that nobody else can do. And that’s like, taking videos, you know, we’re now implementing quarterly lock checks, right. And I’m actually building like an app for this and so that we can like do quarterly lock checks. And there’s a checklist and, you know, they’re taking the pictures we tell them to take kind of like the car rental does, right? And so I want the onsite manager to literally be replaceable. Because, you know, I used to go there, I would retrain them, I would invest in them. And then, you know, I’d have like, you know, eight of them, and then one of them quit and I have to go back to Indiana, or I have to go back somewhere and retrain this one person. And I realized, okay, this is not sustainable, this is not going to work out. So that’s kind of what I come towards lately. Ferd, I’m curious how you’re handling scale. But there’s no blueprint, there’s a lot of great blueprints out there, you know, to have one or two parks. And I think a lot of us who are younger in this space are figuring out you know, how to do this at scale. And I think that’s part of the fun and the challenge, quite honestly, and sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it causes me stress and sleep, you know, or lack of sleep. But you know if you are an entrepreneur, you like the challenge, I think.

Ferd Neimann: Great points and yeah, I mean, how we’re trying to tackle I think that advice you got from Ryan is pretty good. I’ve got similar advice and really kind of just taking some of those same leaps as far as you know, making that first hire, I don’t really know if I can make that first hire, I got splurged, okay, then the second hire, a third hire, and then pretty soon you start okay, now I got assistance, you know, amazing administrative, I got a bookkeeper. Then I was like, well, I need more than just park gereeter, the basic partner, I need like a construction manager, a project manager, that’s going to be a higher skill set. That’s not a $15 an hour job. Well, crap. That’s a bigger chunk. I go spend $50,000 on it, $60,000 on it. And then as you get a little bit bigger, you’re like well, now I got a lot more financial reporting, I got more bank requirements. I got more bookkeeping, I may have investors who are doing syndications, I got and now I need somebody to help with the financial stuff. I’ve got a finance background. So I was doing my own, you know, investor reports and monthly P&Ls, I am like, that’s not the highest and best use of my time, not that it’s a low dollar skill, but I can hire it for less than my hourly rate as a lawyer, for example. So do it competently for less than my hourly rates were, makes sense. Well, then I get more legal work on the legal business. Well, I should hire more lawyers. Some of whom do not do as much as depth as me, especially in MHP specific but they can handle title objections, contracts, leases, you know, zoning research, I’ve got the zoning pedigree, so maybe they should bring me the research, I can analyze it. So it goes back to analysis of, I think, how much work do I have now? How many hours I am  working now? How much work do I know I’m going to have next week? And how much might I have 2, 3, 10 weeks from now? And, you know, I told this example. I used to do retail and in construction for churches they say, you know I am Christian, your Easter and Christmas are the two big days. You don’t build a church for Easter. Because it’s going to be 60% empty the rest of the year. You got too big a church, too expensive, unnecessary. You just accept that Church is going to be super full on Easter and his deal with it. The people in the lobby, people in the parking lot. In retail, you build your parking lot for Black Friday. We owned a Kohl’s wholesale, Kohl’s department store. Kohl’s had 424 parking spaces they used about 100, except between Black Friday in New Year’s Day they used every one of them and they made half of their year’s revenue in a month. So it was important for them to have every spot. Because if the stall was taken, people go to the next door, they go to JCPenney or something. So they had to, they were built for Easter, so to speak, but for Black Friday. I feel like as an accompany, I need to think more like Kohl’s and less like the church builder like I’m going to build for the future, I’m going to build for the big day. And because I know I’m going to get there, because I’m a hustler, because I’m a fire eater, and I want to make sure I get it done. And if I don’t do that, the only problem worse than not enough business is too much business and it collapses because you can’t handle it.

Charlie Ansanelli: And I would say, you know, that’s a great analogy. And the moment you stop thinking big and you start thinking small, is the moment that you know, it’s going to fall apart. I mean, I feel like, you know, when you’re an entrepreneur, there’s only up or down. And I know, it’s like, you know, it’s kind of like, I’m just going to kind of keep building this until, I don’t know, until I’m ready to sort of just sort of say, Okay, I’m done, I guess, and then sort of kind of divest of some of this, but to like, sort of stay the same or sort of maintain, it’s just not even in my DNA. And that’s a fascinating thing, by the way, about the retail. I never knew that. And I always wondered why these parking lots were so huge. And now I’m going to notice that every single time and it totally makes sense.

Ferd Neimann: Well, think of your DNA, I think that’s your entrepreneurial spirit, for sure. Because I can relate where I think, I’m sure of the analogy of burn the boats. And, you know, he was Cortez and he got to shore and said, we’re fighting those guys. And the guy here, he said, we’re burning our own boats. If you’re ever going to go home and see your families, you’re doing it on their boats. But you know, you better fight a little harder, right? And you do that a little bit every time you hire somebody new, I feel like I’ve brought on north of half a million dollars in payroll in the last 60 days. That’s burning a lot of boats, right? It’s a lot of overhead. So Well, I got some deals covered. And I got some more deals in the pipeline covering it. And I normally have more deals in the next pipeline covering it. In fact, I better, right. And then if you hire the right people, and you start hiring people, you know, not in theory, but in reality, they should be paid for themselves and then some.

Charlie Ansanelli: Yeah. And one of the things I think I’ve seen you do, I think I saw a post you posted about this one time was, I think you gave someone a truck. Is that right?

Ferd Neimann: Yeah, I bought two, I bought $65,000 trucks last year, and a $15,000 apartment.

Charlie Ansanelli: Yeah, I got to start,  I got to start working for you. But that’s kind of the thing, though, is that’s what I try and do too, is I want ownership mentality on my team, I want people who are like, I understand, like, Look, I mean, I’ve been an employee in the past. And, you know, if you haven’t, like, you’re never going to work as hard as the owner, and I don’t expect them to, it’s not what they’re hired for. But I do want them to have sort of like a good juicy steak in front of them that they think you know, is like, that’s their stake that they can get on their own. And the harder they work, like, you know, that, like, the bigger the reward is, and I don’t want to cap it. So like I try and do that with a lot of things, I try and use sort of, you know, put big bonuses out there and not get cheap on them on sort of, you know, whether it’s like leasing goals, or different sales goals or things like that. I want to bring everyone together and sort of like, you know, make this culture of like, hey, let’s make a bigger pie. And that’s kind of my goal. And I’m probably not perfect at it. But that’s what I try to do.

Ferd Neimann: No, I agree completely. And the way that I do, it is a good point on compensation. I’m with you. Gary Vee had an interesting post today that I shared, it was like, don’t expect your employees to work as hard as you and want as hard as you because they’re not the owner. They’re not supposed to. But you can tweak the mentality and you can motivate them. You know, people are motivated by different things. But we’re all motivated by money, I think to some degree, some less than others. So reward them with financially, reward them with training, more responsibility, reward them with other accolades. I have a merit badge system that I created, where if once you learn how to do accounting, you get a merit badge, $1000, you’re good at sales, $1000, personnel management, project management, you start going through all that risk management and you find a deal $5000, and I give out merit badge and I can give these little goofy certificate. You know, it’s for fun, like, you know, accounting wizard and it’s like you did in grade school and you put it on your mom’s fridge. But just trying to do something like that. And Richard Branson, I love his quote, you know, train people well enough, so they can leave, but treat them well enough so that they don’t. I have really just taken that to heart.

Charlie Ansanelli: That’s a great quote. And I heard one once before too, it was very similar that it was like, someone said, like, you know, it was about investing in employees and training them and someone said, Well, what if we spend all those money and train them and then they leave? And the person said, well, what if we don’t and then they stay.

Ferd Neimann: You know what’s hilarious? I love that. I used to have about a 75 person team when I was in Jackson County. I had two quotes on the whiteboard. That was both of them you just said. So we think alike for sure, Charlie. One thing that I’ll give a tip here on this and then give it back to you on the compensation is, in my ideal world, all of my employees would make zero salary. And they make upside because of their production, they can make twice as much money. But I realized that that’s not practical for a lot of people because of, you know, family structure or mindset. I’ve got one guy, he’s financially secure already. But his mindsets different, it is just temperaments. Okay, we don’t set them up quite like that. But what I do is I try to give people a base, and I give them a target. Let’s say your base is 30,000, your target 60,000. Here’s how you get to your target. You sell this many homes, you do this many tasks, you work this many hours, we collectively do this much on a deal. And then you get your target. And then I say here’s the beauty of the target. It’s not a ceiling. If you, I hope you make 80 instead of 30 or 60. And, but if they do everything that they’re supposed to do, and something on my end doesn’t work out, I veto a deal or something, we only work, he only makes 45, but he deserved 60 because he did everything he should have. And then I know I got to kind of cut a cheque for the Delta, I’m not going to give 61 but if they did, you know the employees did what they’re supposed to, then I can use that target as a, you know, target can be vehicle, can be bonus, cash, can be equity, some of my team has equity in deals. And then we just estimate the target based on the projected profitability or projected hold period and divide by number of years and that’s your income off of that asset in any given year. And that’s worked out really well at getting some higher skilled people willing to take some, you know, take some risk.

Charlie Ansanelli: Yeah, 100% I’m all about the base plus big upside, let’s share on the upside together, let’s make that let’s create it together. And then also the like, I think the autonomy part too like, you know, like treat them like they’re an adult, I mean, I don’t want to handhold anybody, you know, if you’re kind of on like my executive team, I’m not going to handhold you, you’re either an achiever, you’re going to go out and do it. We’re going to get on the same page where the goals are, I’m here to help you, I’m here to provide the resources. But if you have, you know, kids soccer game, if you have church, if you have, somebody else has to go to the hospital, it is not like I don’t care, you know, but I don’t need to know about it. I trust you, I trust you that you’re going to get it done, because we’re working towards these goals together. Yeah, I think that goes a long way too. You know, it’s like you said, there’s a lot of things that motivate people, I think, you know, money is one of the things. Also I think sharing the money is like, also, like you’re respecting their work too, I think it is just hand in hand. I also think like, yeah, respecting the person as a teammate, maybe more so than like, an employee. That’s what I try to do. Yeah, at least, again not perfect. But working on it constantly.

Ferd Neimann: No, I think that’s good. The team concept. And you know team meeting, team retreat you know, it’s not just the verbiage though. You know, Cerner corporation is a big company in Kansas City. And there was a famous email that Neil Patterson sent out to the CEO, Tommy was a billionaire, and he sent an email out, he meant to send it to the executive team. And it went the reply all it said like, I’m here till nine o’clock at night, I’m here on Saturday, I’m here on Sunday, why is the parking lot empty? I want to see all these damn employees or something in their seats, you know, and it got horrible press. It was like, how to not be a boss, it was in MBA school and stuff. And they were like the first company to change the name of employees to associates after that.

Charlie Ansanelli: Now everybody is an associate and VP, I’ve noticed. Everyone’s a VP and an associate everywhere. It’s also funny. Like, that’s probably I mean, the old reply all, that was like a problem for like, you know, the better part of like, you know, first 10 years of email. I think people finally have learned how to do that now.

Ferd Neimann: I’ve actually figured out how to not forget to put the attachment on there. What? See attachment, I am like, no attachment, probably had to send that once a week, I am like send the attachment. Ferd, attach first then type my name.

Charlie Ansanelli: I know, Gmail is pretty good about reminding you on that. But every once in a while, sure, it still slips through.

Ferd Neimann: That’s funny. Charlie, I want to hear a little bit about your use of technology, and how you’re using that for your team, because that’s something that I feel like is lacking in the industry. I think people are using the rent managers and the technology as far as bookkeeping and property management software. But what else do you use to communicate with teams in numerous geographic locations?

Charlie Ansanelli: Yeah, it’s a great question. I actually started you know, kind of writing this down Actually, it’s right behind here. Let’s take a little peek as well. Yeah, so I use a combination of things. So, you know, like, I’m just looking at my board right now, because we’re just also like, I’m constantly kind of like, I’m a tech enthusiast. And so I love technology. But I have to be careful that I’m not overloading too many subscriptions because it can get pricey. And also, I mean, my managers, my onsite managers, and even like my core team, a lot of them are sort of, as you know, tech friendly, or tech savvy. So I have to make sure that I’m just using sort of what is going to make our life easier and not more cumbersome. And I think that’s one of the challenges of all these great software subscriptions out there. But yeah, I mean, obviously, we use, you know, sort of like a property management software system. In the beginning it was first like a few parts, you don’t need to do that. You can use, you know, like, the Google G Suite, it is perfect enough for your first few parks, in my opinion. You start getting to over 100 pads, maybe 200 start, you know, looking to invest in something you’re going to scale into. I started with right manager. Yeah, they’re great. I have nothing bad to say about them, great support, I ended up moving to AppFolio, which was a real pain in the rear. I mean, you know, how much you invest like your data and all of everything into.

Ferd Neimann: They made it on purpose.

Charlie Ansanelli: It’s so real. I know you’re such a sticky customer, you talk about like mobile home park hands are sticky. I mean, jeez, you get into one of these like property software subscription services. I mean, if you’re at scale, I mean you’re like the stickiest customer ever. But so I hit this inflection, I was like, I don’t think I want to build my business on rent manager. And that was a personal decision just because like they weren’t cloud based. And I needed something that was cloud based, something a little slicker on the UX UI department, I just felt like it was really tough to train my managers with rent manager and it was like a such a huge process. And it was like a very clunky thing for me to use and navigate as far as UX goes, and I know they have a lot of robust features. But anyway, so I switched to AppFolio. And they have a lot of really slick things that are coming out, that they’ve come out with, like they’ve automated the accounts payable process, and it’s really kind of cool, smart technology. And I’ve really enjoyed that feature. And some others. When it comes to communication, we, you know, obviously, we use email, but we’ve moved on to slack, because you kind of have to have sort of those, like, hey, let me get ahold of people very fast, kind of just quick dialogues, you know, we have a channel for each property. And so that’s nice. It’s kind of like, you know, our working group text, but you are not stuck in this like, you know, annoying group text, because you can kind of turn it off and on, it’s like a work thing, it’s great. Outside of you know, that, you know, water and sewer is one of the largest categories in operating over home park, as anybody who’s new to space will figure out very fast. So we use metron to track that, that’s great, I do pay the extra fee for the smart data, you know, live feed information. And you know, what I really like about that is I can get ahead of the water leaks. I have a, this is a really boring conversation, it was not in the mobile home parks, you know, water meters. But if you’re into mobile home parks, it’s like one of the most important things. And so I have all my parts now have a smart meter on the master. And then, you know, we have smart meters in all of the sub meters. And so I can get real time comparisons in the chart on what the delta is between the smart meter and all the aggregate of the sub meter. So I know if I have a leak in my system immediately, and then not only do I have someone who sort of keeps tabs on that, but they also keep tabs on who is one of my, our tenants that has, you know, looks like they have a leak, or they’re using excessive water. Because yes, we’re going to charge them back for that. But at the end of the day, it’s still going to land on us one way or another. Because, you know, if they got to pay that water bill that takes out sort of their purchasing power and their sort of, you know, ability to afford things, ultimately that may, you know, end up, they can’t pay their rent, I don’t want to get into that problem with them, we try and be proactive and help them out with that. So in addition to that, we use grasshopper for our phone system. We use Asana for task management for managing our projects. Yeah, that’s pretty key. And then let’s see what else we use. I’m looking at my things here. We just started integrating show Mojo, show Mojo, you know, is a pretty sleek sort of software for marketing and leasing. So that you know, you’re not sort of, you know, gets rid of a lot of the back and forth on the setting the appointments and sort of makes the marketing easier. Other things you know, one of my favorites that I think is not talked about is anytime mail. Of course, you can use Earth class mail. There’s other options out there, but this is great, especially someone who like me, you know, I might move around, and I don’t really want a PO box that’s like stationary. I don’t want things like business coming to my house. So it’s a virtual mailbox where all of your mail goes there. And then they will, you know, take a picture, you can tell if you want them to scan it for you, and then you can see what’s on the inside and they can recycle it, they can shred it, or you can download it and you can forward it. So that’s anytime mail. There’s others out there.

Ferd Neimann: I’ve never heard that. So you don’t actually get the physical mail in that instance. Somebody else opens it. It’s like just a lot of mail, like all your bills and invoices or just like…

Charlie Ansanelli: Everything. Yeah, everything goes there. It’s fantastic. One login one, you know, all my mail goes there. Yeah, I live virtually I’m actually inside the computer right now Ferd.

Ferd Neimann: You were saying UX and I actually, I think I know what those things are.

Charlie Ansanelli: Like user interface and design.

Ferd Neimann: You’re definitely more tech savvy than me. But anytime mail, I’ll check that out. I’ve got PO boxes. I mean, I’ve never actually been there. But that’s somebody goes every day and goes to get the mail. So there’s definitely a staff cost to do that and the PO box.

Charlie Ansanelli: That’s right. It’s kind of one of those things like, you know, you’ve talked a lot about hiring admins. And so I look to like, hey, how much can I replace first with technology, then, if there’s gaps, and I try to get admins to kind of coordinate a lot of that most gaps.

Ferd Neimann: That’s great. Yeah, I think it’s pretty success within person admin. We tried the virtual systems couple times. And I’ve had more challenges with that. So I’m really going to, obviously get stuck with, you know, the overhead of additional people at admins, but I like to say I can holler at somebody and they can help and do a number of things really valuable, actually, but anytime mail, I’m going to check that out.

Charlie Ansanelli: Yeah, that’s my pro tip for the day. That’s a good one.

Ferd Neimann: Yeah. Before we before we jump, any more tips or stories you want to share based on your experience?

Charlie Ansanelli: Stories.

Ferd Neimann: Biggest horror story or biggest mistake in the business if you want to share that.

Charlie Ansanelli: I mean, I’m trying to think about like, you know, who’s listening and like, what’s appropriate on this. Because you’re in the mobile home park, there’s some there’s some stories, there’s some horror stories. But yeah, I probably won’t go into all of them. I don’t know. I mean, just if you’re new getting into this business, you’re going to learn that anything can happen. And anything will happen. And there’s a wide range of people out there that live you know, in a wide variety of ways.

Ferd Neimann: That’s a nice way of saying there’s some people who cannot socially adjust to society and they will end up in your trailer park.

Charlie Ansanelli: I mean, you’ve been in those homes, right Ferd? Where you walk into home, you’re like, Oh, I got to get out of here. You know, it’s like, you get in the house. And it’s like, oh, that’s a smell that’s got to be stuck with me for the next week.

Ferd Neimann: I got a pretty strong stomach when one time they were, we were walked into this house and it smelled horrible, they had like, I want to say 16 kids living there, it was sad man. And they were just, they had no beds, no furniture and clothing, in one room was just clothing they got from goodwill and they wear it till it stinks so bad, they throw in that rooms and then they go get more free clothing. They slept on the floor all these people moms and dads everybody on the mattress. There weren’t enough mattresses for all of them, so that the teenagers would  sleep in the corner room, they had a towel, bath towel was their sheets, no pillow sitting in the corner, just like unbelievable. These people live like this.

Charlie Ansanelli: That’s kind of like the about mobile home parks, I told some of the people too, who are kind of curious about is like, you see the best and the worst of humanity in my opinion. I mean, you see the people who are working really hard to sort of like be that generational steppingstone and to provide you know sort of better for their kids and get their kids into the good school district you know, live in a manufactured home, work really hard. You know, kids have a better opportunity in life and then you will see the opposite where it’s like just a cycle of abuse and poverty and then you walk into it and you go oh my gosh, these kids, I can’t believe they are living here like this and so you see the darkest parts of humanity and you see the brightest spots and so it’s a very interesting duality.

Ferd Neimann: That’s a great way to put it. Yeah, this guy in particularly I got right in his face, you don’t deserve to have these children and I’m going to do what I can to get them taken from you. My coworker threw up because of the smell was so bad and they had, the kids would get up and cockroaches would run out underneath them. They are sleeping on beds of cockroaches and just like, holy cow. But that was one of those like, man, yeah, you’re right. You smell you’ve never seen and people, homeless people that are living in a house, you walk in there, and they’re in the house, like crazy stories like that. And then you get the nice little lady who brings you cookies every time you see her and stuff like that. This is great.

Charlie Ansanelli: And they could be next door neighbors. Yeah, but no, I think one of the coolest things on mobile home park so is there is a strong sense of community that you don’t get in another multifamily and this is from my experience, like apartments and stuff are just themselves a lot.

Ferd Neimann: I don’t think you get in a neighborhood.

Charlie Ansanelli: no, none of the neighborhood.

Ferd Neimann: No, I’ve got a nice neighborhood. We got community pool and, I know some of my neighbors, in the mobile home park, everybody’s friends. I know them. They wave at me. They’re friendly. Kids are dating each other and going to school hanging out. And like, man, this is, probably because like all have the same as outlook on hey, we’re staying here because it’s a better community than the apartment like, residential lot of guys, I go there because it’s the bigger house or better neighborhood. I don’t go for the community, I go for the structure or the location. These people go because it’s a better price point, but it’s a better community atmosphere in a similar price point than the multifamily. And I might as well be here enjoy it.

Charlie Ansanelli: Yeah, yeah, that’s one of the really cool things. And I think that, you know, I always try to tell them, Well, hey, look, I’m not doing this because I’m like, Mother Teresa. I’m definitely a capitalist first. But I do think that money and morals and ethics can go hand in hand. And I think one of the coolest things is when you do turn on a community, yes, it’s going to benefit your pockets. But if you turn on a community, it’s also going to like benefit the people that live there. I mean, you’re going to be making it nicer, you’re going to take care of the roads, you’re going to be making sure that you’re vetting who’s coming in. You’re going to be making sure people are painting their homes and what happens is like, people, a community turns around and you start to see it become like a live, it’s like a like a living, breathing thing sometimes. And I think that’s  probably one of the coolest things. How do you feel?

Ferd Neimann: Oh, I agree. We just bought a park here in Kansas City, two, three months ago, and there’s one guy that had not paid rent in 10 years. And we told him, and he had so much junk he filled, we put 2, 40 yard dumpsters in front of his house and you know what he did? He filled it him himself, he filled it himself, he had a broken window boarded up in the front. He replaced the front of his house and the window, I’m going to do my part around here and paid rent first day, it’s like he saw we were putting money in the community and make it better. He goes I’m not going to be the outlier here bringing this community down anymore. And he’s like, a new lease on life, you know what I did? Starting yesterday, he’s on the payroll as a groundskeeper. Okay, I’m not even joking. Like I came in, you want to work? We’ve got to clean the hillside up, brush, trim trees, hall trash. He’s like, I’m in, the guy had no job. One stolen radio to the next or however he got by previously, but not paying rent helped. But I mean, culture shock for him, what does that do for his life. He’s got five children.  We are going to make a grown man out of him. And he’s going to make the community better. And yeah, it’s just a shock. And we’re rolling out a paint program on Tuesday, this park where we paint every home in the park, including the tenant owned homes, and it just changes the atmosphere. And it helps me honestly when I get the next 10 rolling in that I can sell them across my newly painted house instead of a 1972 buddy with the original paint job right? So it’s not completely altruistic you know, as your mother Teresa example, but it really is a high tide lifts all boats. And it’s one of the best things about the business to watch.

Charlie Ansanelli: Now we might be getting into the weeds here Ferd on who’s listening. But when you do that, do you give them a choice of colors, or?

Ferd Neimann: That’s funny you asked that, because in the parks that I or my dad run some of the parks, I run some of the parks and the ones I run, I give them eight sets of colors, two tone, we do body and trim. And 16 color options and let you move around a little bit and they’re pretty vanilla. Pretty like my jackets, a little gray, little chip black, you know there’s no pink, there no yellow, and it’s cost about $500 bucks labor materials. And I say let’s split it. And I try to split it if somebody can’t afford it. They don’t often say that. But I’ll just say hey, tell you what? Can you do $10 a month? I’m sure you can afford the 10 bucks a month for till we get there. Okay, and then they go for it  and I get some buy in. I want some skin in the game, ownership. But my dad likes all these eclectic colors. So he encourages both, one park that’s largely Hispanic, a lot of Puerto Rican people, and some of them already had bold colors. So they looked, to put a bunch of beiges and grays look a little odd. He’s like, let’s just embrace it and I kid you not, we got 52 different colored houses in that park and it looks like a taco bell with all the different colors and stuff.

Charlie Ansanelli: I love when it’s like you see the pinks and the purples and the turquoise. I mean, honestly, I’ve done a community like that and there’s something about that I’m like, Well, you know, probably won’t have a drug dealer here. Yeah, looks like a pack of Skittles. It is not art.

Ferd Neimann: I am actually coming around to it to be honest. Cause it looks really good in the other parks we’ve done it at. But I just, it took me a while to get to get there. All right, Charlie, hey, before we jump, where can people find you? How can they reach you after this?

Charlie Ansanelli: Yeah, sure. So I’m not incredibly hard to get hold of, they can go on my website, www.rockstackcapital.com. And they can email me Charlie@Rockstackcapital.com and happy to answer questions on mobile home park operating, investing, technology around it. I’ve kind of looked at it all and happy to have dialogue and be helpful where I can.

Ferd Neimann: Alright, thanks, Charlie. I appreciate it.

Charlie Ansanelli: Right on. Thanks Ferd, good talking to you.

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