Marketing the Better Flip….was there ever really a plan?

MARKETING THE BETTER FLIP…WAS THERE EVER REALLY A PLAN?

Lobbyists for Citizens would like Mark Rantala and Commissioner (Blank) to remember that to the average taxpayer nearly $300,000 is a LOT of money. Let’s put it another way…IT IS OVER A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS. But hey, perhaps in the circles they travel, nearly $300K is “chump change.”

Here is the current state of the “Better Flip” home. We hope that the neighbors have not been inconvenienced too much with the garbage dumpster and general “dumpy” look of the entire area. And looky there…right there on the big old sign the Better Flip logo with a website that does not exist.

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Mr. Rantala, usually, when you advertise a website like www.betterflip.org most people would ensure that it actually exists…just a suggestion. Also, we are curious how much the Port Authority paid for the logo and the domain for a site that isn’t even up yet.

In our article, Flipping and Flopping with Taxpayers’ Money, we told you that Mr. Rantala stated at the January 2019 Port Authority Board Meeting that the project costs will assuredly be more than the Port Authority can realize in its ultimate sale, but the shortfall will be considered “marketing” costs for the project. Remember he had already come back in October 2018 for an additional $60K so the project price tag at that point was already $210K. We gave Markie 1 Pinocchio for that nonsense, since very little marketing has been done at all!

It would appear that every bit of the money up to that point had been spent on the renovation…none left for marketing. Remember now, initially Rantala told us that the expenses of renovation would be totally covered with the sale proceeds, which was to be $150K. Darn, now that’s 1 more Pinocchio or is it 2…the cost of renovation would be covered with the auction proceeds…and the total cost of the project would be $150K. Yep that’s 2.

We gave Rantala 4 Pinocchios in another one of our articles about the Better Flop disaster, Port Authority’s Lack of Candor Moment, based on the Minutes of the 2018 second quarter meeting of the Lake County Land Bank where he made a presentation on the Better Flip Project.

As we know, the initial budget for the Better Flip Project was $150,000. Between March 2018 (when the Port Authority Board approved and funded the project) and October 2018 (when Rantala came back for another $60K that was unanimously passed by the Port Authority board without question), a whopping TWO videos were produced in July and uploaded to the Better Flip YouTube Channel. [LFC Comment: By the way, Mr. Rantala, next time you may want to consider contacting this company for a more modern, high tech approach trying to reach millennials.]

The only other video produced (or at least of which we are aware) on this disaster was filmed on February 13, 2019 by an employee of the Lake County Visitors Bureau and promoted on their Facebook page. As you can see, a LOT of work still needs to be done on the interior as well. So between March 2018 and February 2019, three (3) whole videos. Sorry, but we are not impressed by these amateurish attempts at marketing.

We were told that there would be a special website dedicated to showing flippers how to replicate this process. The entire step-by-step renovation process was to be documented via video and ultimately used as part of the marketing plan for the sale of the house by auction. So why do you suppose no marketing has been done? The house is far from complete at this point as you can see from the above picture and the video produced by the Visitors Bureau.

As we told you in our article Port Authority…it’s not over until we say it’s over, Rantala came back to the Port Authority Board at their meeting on February 27, 2019 for another $89K. We are at nearly $300K for this Port Authority project and little to no marketing has been done. So how much of that additional $89K will be used for marketing? After the work that still needs to be done on the interior and exterior is completed (landscaping and driveway, etc.), will there be anything left?

Does the Port Authority have a marketing plan for The Better Flip Project? We’d like to see it. We’d like to see that too. As we told you in our article, Gird your loins…they are coming back for more, the News Herald reported that Lake County Development Council (LCDC) will be helping to market the Better Flip home. Will they be handling all of the marketing? Are they being paid to help the Port Authority market the flip house?

Maybe the LCDC is just going to have Rantala come and talk to their members and guests about the project during their luncheons. They did have him come to “sell” the project to their members and guests at LCDC luncheons before they even obtained the property. But remember, back then, we were only talking $150K. I wonder how LCDC is going to “sell” the public on the NEW cost of nearly $300K.

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News Flash – UPDATE! LFC has just received a response from Rantala via email sent at 4:52 PM on Monday, March 4, to our request for a detailed accounting of the Better Flip Project made. As we told you previously, this records request was made at the January 2019 Port Authority Board Meeting, on January 23 (40 days later). The financial accounting cover the project costs through February 20 and could use a bit more detail in terms of exactly what type of services the contractors provide. Not to worry though…LFC has requested copies of all invoices, quotes and contracts. Stay tuned for our next article covering this financial accounting that took 40 days to produce, and our request for help from the State.



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  184. We have asked for invoices…stay tuned…we have discovered more interesting information.

  185. This is an absolutely disgusting display of government inefficiency. 300k for a house on it’s best day will only fetch 170k. What exactly did Bristol Services provide for 47k dollars? I hope there is detailed accounting for every dollar spent on this project. Looks to me like someone is seriously lining their pockets. Don’t let up until all are held accountable. Keep up the good work!!

  186. Rantala has stated that any costs over the final selling price will be viewed as “marketing costs”…….hmmmm….can you imagine a business taking that approach to any project?

  187. So, if I understand this correctly, the better flip house was supposed to:
    1. Start having open houses in July or August (of last year),
    2. Go up for auction to cover the expenses (currently somewhere in the neighborhood of $300K),
    3. The house next door was for sale for about $150K last year, and
    4. They will have a list of things to do so that someone else can do the same (i.e. spend $300K in order to get back $150K)

    That should be a very interesting auction…

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