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Good Guidelines Leave A Positive Impression
by Chrissy Jackson, ACM, PHC

ost of us as Community Owners and Managers are committed to the longevity of our community as well as the industry. We try to do everything just the right way, treat everyone just the right way, say the right things, and pay attention to curb appeal, aesthetics, resident relations, and marketing. Sometimes, we try so hard to do everything just right, that we don't realize constraints which may be actually holding us back rather than allowing us to move ahead!

In this instance, I'm thinking specifically of the Guidelines for Living (formerly known as rules and regulations) which govern the working relationship between you and your residents. Almost all communities have Guidelines of some sort. Sometimes they are few; sometimes they are many. Some of them are quite detailed, and others have very large loopholes. Certain communities review their Guidelines on a regular basis, and adjust them as needed to reflect the lifestyle actually present in their community.

Unfortunately, there are other communities that have had the same Guidelines in effect for so many years, no one even remembers who wrote them! Some of them are not even enforced any more, simply because they don't make sense to the residents or to management. "The way it is" may at times be very, very different than the Guidelines would make it appear to be.

Those who do review their Guidelines usually don't realize that time is marching on - and that the words "Rules and Regulations" belong back in the days of "tenants". Just as today we have "residents", we also should have "Guidelines". Since this document reflects the rights and responsibilities of both management and resident, it is a more title.

When you do make the change - to begin calling your document "Guidelines", be sure to change all other form letters, notification forms, and pre-printed matter to reflect the new name. Don't forget leases (as well as the prospectus in Florida) and door hangers.

Then change yourself and your employees. Not only must you "talk the talk", you must "walk the walk". Begin to call them Guidelines in conversation. Talk among yourselves until it becomes a natural thing to say and you feel comfortable with it.

Updating your Guidelines, forms, staff, and other paperwork as far as verbiage is only the beginning. At least once a year, you should review and update the content of the Guidelines. Look at it from several angles: 1) the current resident; 2) the prospective resident; 3) the judge who may hear you try to use non-compliance with it as a reason for eviction; and 4) the enforcer.

The current resident usually has a pretty fixed idea of the lifestyle he or she likes. Major changes to Guidelines are sometimes not easily accepted. Ask yourself if you would have trouble abiding by a proposed change or new Guideline if you were a resident rather than a manager.

Prospective residents are shopping the market and comparing you to your competition in terms of lifestyle as well as amenities, price, location, etc. If a Guideline were enacted or changed, how would it affect your ability to market your community? How does what you are proposing fit in with other communities in your area?

Obviously, as we all know, sooner or later, we will end up in court with a resident who "forgot" about a Guideline, or who simply refuses to abide by it. How will you feel defending any of your Guidelines (current or proposed) in front of a judge as a reason for someone to move their home? Don't forget, one of the things looked at many times is widespread refusal among all the residents to abide by a particular Guideline.

And, finally, as the "enforcer" of the Guidelines, how easy is it going to be for you to gain compliance with it? How easy will it be for you to "defend" the reasonableness of your Guideline - either to a resident or to the judge or to a prospective resident?

As with all other areas of property management, it is important to be consistent and fair in writing and implementing Guidelines. How to do that? There's a new publication out that can help. For $18, you can receive a copy of my latest handbook entitled "Guidelines for Living".

It will look at over 50 areas where you may need some sort of control in terms of Guidelines. The methodology of researching, writing, justifying, and understanding Guidelines is explained in user-friendly terms. Order a copy today for each of your properties by sending a check or money order to Chrissy Jackson Seminars, 3003 Honeoye Trail, Lakeland, FL 33810-0638.

Bring the best to your team or organization! Chrissy Jackson, ACM, is an internationally known author and seminar presenter who is now available to you! You can book her for your next state association educational conference or annual convention. If your company needs training for your managers on a national, regional, or individual basis - you can set a seminar date with Chrissy.

With her own unique sense of humor and style, you will learn the ins and outs of being successful in the manufactured housing industry. She makes it easy with plenty of visuals, hand-outs, and plain English. There's always time for questions, too.

With twenty years experience in community management, supervision, sales, maintenance, and pool operations, Chrissy can draw on her own personal knowledge to relate to your issues. Review the suggested topics for seminars and training on this page. Then, create your own day or days of learning for your team!

Individual companies can also benefit from private classes for their employees only in the popular accreditation courses from MHEI that Chrissy teaches on a regular basis. These include the Accredited Community Manager Course (ACM), the Professional Housing Consultant Course (PHC), and the all new Crisis Communications Course.

Pick a date - select the topics - then hold on to your seat for a fun-filled learning experience!

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