Cash Flow With Joe

Ripley’s lessons in land lording… believe it or not.

Ashley and I recently took our toddlers to the Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg, Tenn., for the first time. Boy did we have a time.


Notice the omission of the word “good” in that last sentence. The time we had was stressful and not fun.


My three-year-old decided he wanted nothing to do with the exhibits. Instead, he wanted to plow up and down the halls pushing the “stroller of death” into whomever and whatever crossed his path.


It was terrible. When corrected, he pitched a very loud fit that was infuriating and embarrassing. I eventually had to leave our group to find a place where he could run without disturbing the other patrons.


This isn’t normal for him. My boy, although a toddler, responds well to commands and correction. Plus, he loves animals. So what happened?


It turned out Pawpaw and Nana fed him sugary cereal for breakfast. He has never had that stuff before. After seeing what it did to him, he will never have it again!


What does this have to do with land lording? Everything! When you put new baby tenants in your property, you need to feed them a diet that tells them exactly what you expect out of them. Don’t sugar coat it. This training has to start before, during and after you sign them up. Otherwise they could end up running up and down your halls acting crazy.


I tell my perspectives from hello that we are hiring them for four jobs if they come to live in one of our properties. These four jobs are:


  1. Maintain and improve the property.
  2. Pay on time.
  3. Be a good neighbor.
  4. Be good to work with.


I tell them if they do these four jobs we will have a great relationship. If they fail to do one of these tasks, we will have to terminate the relationship. No sugar there.


These four jobs really and truly make up the entire lease. So let’s see what they really mean.


Job 1. Maintain and improve the property. We expect people to do more than just live there. They are to take care of and improve the property when possible. Improvement could simply mean planting flowers, or something big like when one family decided to put up a privacy fence and blow in an extra foot of insulation in the attic. Because they went above and beyond, we rewarded them with a nice performance bonus when they left us.


Job 2. Pay on time. This is a big deal. To avoid late payments, we offer our residents a rent discount for enrolling in our ACH Program. Rents are deducted from their bank accounts on the first of each month. This insures they are never late.


Job 3. Be a good neighbor. People just tend to do this anyway, but our tenants realize they do not need to be repairing cars, revving engines and running an impact drill late into the evening.


Job 4. Be good to work with. Being a landlord, you get to choose who you do business with. Make sure your tenants know you will take care of them but that you expect them to be good to work with.


So back to the aquarium-ripley's


As we’re leaving, I noticed an entire kindergarten class sitting quietly eating their sack lunches. Two teachers had accomplished this feat. After what I just went through with my toddler, I marveled at them and thought “How the heck did they do that?”


Then it came to me… they trained them!


I guess if you train up a child, and a tenant, in the way they should go, they will not depart from it. That is unless you feed them a bunch of sugar.


Joe and Ashley English investor in Northwest Georgia. For more info, or to ask a question visit

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