I was captivated by Shawna Neuner’s neighborhood revitalization story and I think you will be too.
Capitalized on a Crisis
I met Shawna at the Mr. Landlord Convention in Nashville, TN. She and her husband own rentals in Columbia, MO. The neighborhood is 60% renter-occupied, so it’s susceptible to going downhill quickly.
Similar to my own revitalization story, the Neuners found a way to evict the biggest problem on the block when they bought their rental.
The neighbors responded with an outpouring of gratitude and willingness to help out in any way.
This was a clear sign of bottled up energy that could be converted into equity. And, as I’ve said many times, you have to exercise leadership if you want to convert goodwill into equity. And that’s what they did.
Converting Inspiration into Equity
In 2013, inspiration hit Shawna while she attended a 4-H Club fundraiser. Her $65 bid won two hours of labor from 15 club members.
Necessity inspired Shawna to have the teens paint some mailbox posts and do some light landscaping at her properties.
To make things extra fun, Shawna threw a BBQ for the workers and invited the neighbors as well. Click HERE to see the invitation she used.
As a result, they birthed an annual event that builds community muscle and crime proofs their block.
Tapping the Potential
This year, Shawna offered the 4-H Club a $150 minimum for four hours of labor knowing the other residents and landlords would make donations as well.
She reached out to neighboring landlords for permission to work on their properties and for financial, material, and food donations Click HERE to check out the letter she used to ask for specific items.
Note: She got her best response for other landlords when she hand wrote a note saying “Please contact me. I’d love to meet you.” Click HERE to see the letter she sent to neighboring landlords.
But Shawna didn’t stop there; she went on to invite her vendors to contribute.
* The City donated trash dumpsters, wheelbarrows and rakes (remember this event is a clean up as well as a fundraiser) and covered printing costs,
* The local tool rental store donated a BBQ grill,
* Other vendors donated paint and small shrubs,
* A local auto dealer donated a truck to pull the trailers of mulch,
* Their landscaper to donate the mulch,
* Their insurance agent promoted “renter’s insurance”; and
* Supportive landlords donated cash to offset food and party supplies.
Here are the letters she sent asking for specific items and cash donations.
Measuring the Impact
* The 4-H club ended up grossing $400,
* $1,500 of in kind donations where used,
* The neighborhood received positive local news coverage
* Shawna estimates they had something to do with helping property values climbing $30K in the past two years; and
* The Neuners have a small waiting list and good referral traction for their rentals.
The Neuners’ story is remarkable. It illustrates many best practices and I’ve placed a few in the list below.
However, I don’t want you to scan through this and think it’s not applicable to you,because it is.
* Grow your wealth be exercising the initiative required to focus your community’s resources onto the areas where you hold property.
* Ask your City to participate by providing dumpsters and other useful cleanup services.
* Ask your vendors to participate by donating their services as a raffle item or to purchase food, paper goods, etc.
* Many nonprofits have a labor pool and need money. Many residents need labor but are happy to make donations. Connect the two groups and help your property values.
* Annual block parties give residents a reason to work together and do wonders for crime-proofing a community (helping you raise rents).
* The Neuners protected their cash outlay by asking others to get involved. This is a cornerstone principle for Catalytic Landlords. Guard against burnout.
On behalf of the Leading Landlord community, I’d like to thank Shawna for graciously sharing her promotional materials. Now you just need to springboard off her work and unlock the neighborhood potential that’s waiting for your leadership.