Friday, February 24, 2017

Modcoach Earns Major Endorsement

For over ten years I’ve been writing this blog about the modular home industry, not only in the US but worldwide. Over the past several years I have been holding numerous events featuring industry experts and builders.

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Gary Fleisher, the Modcoach
Yesterday something happened that was truly humbling when I was being endorsed by the Building Systems Council of the NAHB.

Being recognized by such an important and influential organization for my efforts in promoting, motivating and sometimes being very critical of the modular housing industry was never a goal. Heck, it was never even on my radar.

I am honored to receive their endorsement and I will sincerely strive to continue earning it every single day.



Thank you to all the people at the BSC that thought enough of my efforts to honor me with their endorsement.

Modular Home Builder Not Shy About Building Within Philly City Limits

Vaughan Buckley came here from his home in Australia and settled in Philadelphia, PA. Now Vaughan Buckley Construction is the city’s go to builder for large modular residential housing within the city limits.

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Vaughan Buckley, modular builder
I talked to him about his latest project, a 6 box, 6,000 sq ft built by Professional Building Systems in Middleburg, PA. As you can imagine, there is a lot of pre-planning that needs to happen before these modules can enter the city limits.

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Check out downtown Philly in the background.

Once there, he uses a 350 ton crane to lift the boxes from a narrow city street and over all the wires. Vaughan and his crew were planning to do the set with hard cover (the orange boots) on the overhead wires, but they were stolen by a random guy in a bucket truck (apparently there is a serious black market for silicon hard covers).

The crane needed had a 16 story reach at its peak height. I wonder if Vaughan is looking at even bigger projects closer to downtown.
The project is located very close to Temple Hospital and is a pioneering project for one of their developer clients, who is a Philadelphia detective in his spare time, in an area with currently very little new construction.

He has built several of these multi-residential buildings as well as 33 and 36 box projects in Philly with another factory. Vaughan told me he has built enough of these projects that the lead time from design to set is now very minimal.

There is a moral to this story. “Don’t shy away from marketing your company and modular multi-family to inner city developers.”

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Why Modular Home Factories Need Sales Training Programs

If you are the Sales Manager, a member of senior management or the owner of a modular home factory, you already know how important it is to send professional sales rep into the field to work with your existing builders and prospect for new ones.


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You also know that they have to be trained in the art of selling to builders as well as being the builder’s direct communication conduit to every department in the factory. You also know that in-house training for new sales reps is almost non-existent in our industry.


When a factory needs a new sales rep they begin the search by looking at the current sales rep base that is already working for other factories. Since most sales reps know their contemporaries at the competing companies, having your sales rep approach the other rep with an inquiry is the time tested way of hiring someone that you don’t have to train.


I’ve worked at several factories where the training included being introduced to the head of Engineering, the Sales Manager, The GM and a couple of others that would prove to be invaluable to me. The only training I received from any of them was how to fill out a quote. That’s not entirely true, I was shown where the literature and sample rooms were so I could learn the standard product, the optional items and the plan books.


All that happened within the first few days and after that I was “on my own”, given a map, thermos of coffee and a list of my builders. "Go get ‘em"


Not having a true training program in place for ALL your sales reps has 4 main risks that can hurt your business in many ways.


Risk 1: New employees learning from your bad apples.

Can one bad apple really spoil the whole bunch? Without a solid learning strategy, you have no control over how your employees learn. Bad habits are hard to fix and without providing the proper learning support to help sales reps reach their potential, you risk them learning all the wrong things from all the wrong people.

Risk 2: Higher chance of turnover.

An unorganized, incomplete and lacklustre learning strategy is often the leading cause for sales reps to rethink their decision to stay with a factory.
Disengagement from inadequate support leaves sales reps feeling resentful and lacking confidence in their role. It’s time to realize that a strong learning strategy is the number one reason top talent comes to work for and stay with you.

Risk 3: Poor customer service and damage to brand reputation.

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and as cliche as that is, a negative first impression can have long lasting repercussions. Putting untrained or under educated sales reps in front of builders tarnishes their experience and your company’s brand.

Risk 4: Slowed ramp time.

Without effective learning support, sales reps can suffer long learning curves with drawn out time to productivity rates. This drives up costs for idle time and increases the risks associated with trial and error learning. It takes an average of 6-8 months for a sales rep to go from first contact with a builder to having the house go to the production line at the factory.


Within little or no training, the sales rep could have made a lot of mistakes during that time that might cost your factory a sale simply because they appeared uninformed about things.

If you think continuous training is expensive, I wonder how much more you will lose by not teaching them how to be better sales reps.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

This is Why the Modular Industry Needs to Begin Nationwide Marketing Campaign

With all the ways on the Internet to find information, many people in every part of the country still think that modular homes are really nothing more than mobile homes designed for low income or first time buyers.


I have absolutely nothing against HUD code manufactured homes other than the confusion between them and IRC code modular homes. Both are built in factories in accordance with their respective building codes. There is a market for both with the HUD home market being the larger. For now.


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The following article from a LA newspaper is just another example of people protesting something where a simple Google search could have revealed the facts.


Enjoy the article:


During a meeting Tuesday night, Independence, Louisiana Mayor Angelo Mannino asked the board of aldermen to consider removing modular homes from the current town ordinances prohibit modular homes and mobile homes outside of a designated trailer park.


The board of this town of less than 2,000 people decided to research a clearer definition of modular homes vs mobile homes before taking any action.

Mannino believes a modular home is much different from mobile homes.

"I don't think it's a trailer. I think a modular home is more of a home environment than a trailer could ever be," he said. "They're built more structurally than a mobile home. We have a lot of people who can't afford to build homes, and a modular home would help them to get into a home."

Alderman Larry Cardaronella said he has no problem with modular homes and has always been in favor of them for the young families who are just starting off.

"Today's modular homes are no comparisons to trailers," he said.

Cardaronella said his only stipulation would be that the home was put on a permanent slab.

Alderman Jimmy Gregory also had some stipulations to contribute.

"The only way I would be on board with this is if we set a minimum square footage restriction.... It has to be something comparable to the average-sized home," he said.

CLICK HERE to read the entire Daily Star article

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

27 Reasons to Attend the New Jersey Builder Boot Camp

Over the past two years each Boot Camp has been different presenting speakers covering a wide range of topics useful by everyone in the home construction business. The Boot Camps this year will focus on real training, not just speakers introducing topics.


The March 15th Boot Camp in Toms River, NJ will be about energy covering current and upcoming codes, preparing your home for a better HERS rating, learning what works and what doesn't work in creating a High Performance home and then we tie it all together with to market your new HP, near Net Zero homes.

Here are 27 reasons you need to be there:
  1. New opportunities in High Performance building
  2. A different perspective on selling new homes
  3. A more effective way to start sales conversations
  4. Become bulletproof to competitors
  5. Beat larger competitors
  6. Make price less important
  7. Marketing your advantage
  8. Increase website traffic
  9. Take advantage of missed opportunities in the energy and High Performance market
  10. Become the energy expert
  11. Become the “go to” resource in your market
  12. Best insulation techniques
  13. Cost is not prohibitive
  14. Keep up with changing national energy codes
  15. Setting the house for better HERS rating
  16. How to overcome buyers objections to High Performance
  17. Net Zero is coming
  18. Show your customers how to save on energy
  19. Make customers love you
  20. Learn some simple energy saving techniques
  21. Increase profits
  22. Close more sales
  23. Stop speaking over your customers’ heads
  24. Why would someone want to pay more
  25. Find out why you should grow a pair—confidence sells
  26. How to work with architects
  27. Harness the power of visuals to improve your marketing
If having a real plan to attract new homebuyers to sign a contract with your company, then you need to stop, listen and learn what today’s customers are really looking for in a new home.

Harris Woodward, owner of Finish Werks in Savage, MD and a leading proponent of High Performance housing will take you through every step of building and selling an HP home. Your buyers are asking for it and Harris is the one person that can help get you ahead of your competition.

He will explain what does and what doesn’t work. How to price HP and go over the rebate process for you and your customer. His session alone could add tens of thousands to your bottom line every year.

Rick Terry, well know HERS Rater will be going over the new mandated energy regulations and holding a training session on how to prepare your new homes to meet the new standards.  

Rick is no stranger to modular construction having been responsible for training many builders in the fundamentals of construction at Penn College in Williamsport, PA. His extensive knowledge of what happens on the modular production lines in factories all over the Eastern US will give you an insight as to what our factories are doing right now to get ready.

This is not a “Why should you get ready” but rather a real hands on/question answering session to prepare you for the future.

Ken Semler, owner of Express Modular, will explain in detail the dynamics of attracting people to your website along with how to improve the working relationship between your factory and you. His company works with over 20 factories across the US and has seen just about anything you can imagine when it comes to working with factories.


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This is not a Boot Camp to miss.

The Builder Boot Camp will be held on March 15th at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Toms River, NJ from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM. There will be a Continental Breakfast Meet N Greet from 8:00 to 8:30 AM followed by the speakers. A huge hot buffet lunch will be served at noon.

Cost is $139.00 per person.  CLICK HERE to register. Seating is limited to 3 people per company.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Becoming a Great Factory Rep

2017 looks like it will be a good year for modular housing. Factories are revving up for more houses and commercial work. Builders seem in a better mood than ever with their sending more quotes and deposits flowing to you.

Are your personal sales growing faster than last year or are you simply counting on the rise in construction activity to grow your sales?

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Or maybe you have hit a barrier to your sales growth and you’re not benefiting from the growing demand for new homes?

If you’re not satisfied and know your sales could be better you need to take a fresh look at your builders and change the rules you have followed.  

Your builders are changing faster than you realize and the role you play in their business is very different than it was five years ago. Even the reasons they prefer one factory over another have changed.

They are demanding more from you the way they want to be reached and sold has turned upside down. In order to grow your sales, it helps to stop and take a good, hard look at your approach to your personal sales and marketing.

You will identify many things that shouldn’t be changed. You shouldn’t change the parts that not only got you to where you are, but are still working.  And you shouldn’t change the parts that represent who you are as sales rep.

But the most important result will be identifying the parts of your business and sales strategy that are no longer serving you and need to be changed.  

When was the last time you took time to think and ask yourself:

⇒  Why am I doing what I do?

⇒  Is my approach still effective or is it just comfortable like an old shoe?

⇒  When was the last time you took a fresh look at the needs of your builders as they change?

⇒  What builders do I have that are ready to retire?

⇒  How can I separate myself from the other factory’s sales reps and get customers to prefer me?

Brutal questions for sure. Let’s expand on each of them.

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⇒  Why am I doing what I do?
The real easy answer is that you are making a good living from being a modular home factory sales rep. But let’s be very honest here. If a better job outside the industry was offered to you, would you be tempted?

For many the answer would be a quick ‘yes’. For a select few, the offer would be turned down. Why? Because you are good at your profession. You love the challenge, working with your builders to help make sales for them and even solving their problems with the factory. Almost every factory has at least one or two that feel this way.

But what about the people that said ‘yes’ to my question about changing jobs. Why are you doing what you do? Selling modular homes sounded great in the beginning and it was. Then reality began to set in. You found that you had to meet sales goals, handle problems and look for new builders without much help from the Sales Manager.

Frustration and stress set in. Nobody really cares. Not the Sales Manager, not the factory owner and certainly not your builders.

Brutal question: Why am I doing what I do?

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⇒  Is my approach still effective or is it just comfortable like an old shoe?
Here are some sales techniques you need to stop using right now.

Cold Calling
If your factory’s main way to make sales is through cold calling, then you might not be able to just quit using this technique—your sales manager won’t let you stop calling up leads. But if you have free reign to use the selling techniques that work for you, then this is definitely one that you should ditch. Cold calling is interruptive and it’s also a waste of time. Calling up leads when you really don’t know anything about them except their names just isn’t an effective way to sell. These leads aren’t qualified so you don’t know if they’re able or willing to buy what you’re selling. Plus, it starts your relationship off on a bad start because you’re interrupting that person’s day with your unwanted call.

Pitching    
Newbies and old school sales reps still think the pitch is everything in sales. They think if they have a great product pitch, they can close deals left, right, and center. However, pitching is no longer in line with today’s sales process. You have to realize that your prospects don’t care so much about your home’s features, your factory’s awards, and your factory’s reputation. What they really care about is their own needs, wants, desires, and pain points, which is what you should be focusing on. So stop pitching during a sales presentation and start having real conversations with your prospects to discuss their wants and pain points in order to better meet their needs. The sales call should be about them, not you.

Never Answering Questions that Weren’t Asked
It’s probably been drilled into you not to answer questions that your customers didn’t ask. But this sales technique is built around the concept that you should get the sale at all cost and not care what happens afterwards. Today, your role is to help the customers reach successful buying decisions—ones they won’t regret. So if there’s information that’s relevant to your customers’ needs, then feel free to speak up. If you know a product really won’t work to solve their problems, say so. Otherwise, the customers won’t trust you and they’ll feel used; they certainly won’t be loyal to you in the future.

If you are still using any of these, please stop now.

Brutal Question: Is it time for a new pair of shoes?

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⇒  When was the last time you took a fresh look at the needs of your builders as they change?

Your builders are looking for a different buying experience in 2017. It's time to get out in front of these changes and adapt to their changing needs, wants, and perceptions.

Whether you've noticed or not, your builders' preferences, needs, and perceptions are changing. Even if the building contractors you've been selling to for the last 10 years are purchasing the same types of homes and relying on you for the same technical support and expertise, something is inherently different about they way they transacted with you in 2006 versus how they do it now. The changes are taking place across the board—from how they do their initial research, to how they communicate with you, to how they expect issues like service and warranties to be handled. Just how you react and adapt to these changing needs and perceptions is up to you, but one thing is certain:  Burying your head in the sand and hoping it will go away isn't the answer.

You need to ask your builders these questions:
  • What are you looking for now that you didn't want or need five years ago?
  • What's different for you today?
  • Why are you buying this way today compared to five years ago?
  • What do you need now going forward from us that we're not providing you?

"The answers that you get may be eye opening,

Brutal Question: Are you avoiding learning what your builder really needs?

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⇒  How can I separate myself from the other factory’s sales reps and get customers to prefer me?

The best salespeople are always looking to improve their game, never satisfied in their progression as a sales rep.

Great sales professionals are purpose-driven; they focus on the success and happiness of their prospective clients. This means they want, and are able, to see the world through the eyes of the other party.

Knowing the unique characteristics, goals, aspirations, challenges and current affairs of your builders helps you determine how your solution can address existing needs and priorities.

No two builders are the same, so you must personalize each sale. Find out what makes the builder successful, what keeps the builder busy and what makes the builder tick. By trying to find answers to these questions, you’ll uncover what really matters to your builder.

Blaming others is an easy way to make yourself feel better when things aren’t going your way; however, it’s not a productive method for improving your results. If you’re really serious about boosting your numbers, don’t focus on who or what is holding you back – think about what you can do to alter the dynamics of the current situation. Rather than blaming a builder for being overly concerned with price; work on addressing those concerns. A skilled sales representative will find a way to convince that person of a your factory’s value. Regardless of who is ultimately responsible for a decision or action that will benefit you, look for ways that you can influence the outcome.

To reach your true potential as a sales representative, you need to be fully aware of your strengths and weaknesses. To that end, it’s crucial to review every builder interaction you have to identify what you did well and what you could have done better. Going easy on yourself won’t do you any favors; you have to carefully dissect your performance to find areas of opportunity.

One thing that distinguishes the highest-performing sales representatives from the rest is a commitment to continuous learning. It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve read or sales techniques you’ve mastered; as the modular housing continues to grow and evolve, there will always be new tools and best practices that you can apply to take your career even further. You may be intimately familiar with how to sell products in your industry; but are there insights you can glean from expert sales representatives in other disciplines?

Now is the time to learn about High Performance, HERS Ratings, new state codes, Inclusive homes, ADU’s and other subjects that can and will be needed by your builders.

Brutal question: Am I doing everything I can to be the leader of the sales pack?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Styrofoam Modular Homes About to Hit the Tiny House Market

If the Japanese company Japan Dome House Co. Ltd has a say about the next big thing in the Tiny House market it could prove quite revolutionary.


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These homes are not true modular homes. Instead they are interlocking styrofoam panels that can be used for housing, shopping and recreation.


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The most outstanding feature is the low cost which starts at under $30,000. However, the dome house has a long list of other benefits. It is very light – weighing only 80 kg. The 7 inch thick walls provides thermal insulation. The walls are coated with fire retardant making the houses fireproof. Being what it is, the dome house will not rust, rot and is definitely not termite food. It is also earthquake and gale resistant – the latter due to the dome’s low wind resistance profile.


Both the exterior and the interior can be customized. The company also offers “long domes” and dome styles which can be linked together. These domes are very versatile. They can be made into guest houses, meeting rooms, hotel rooms, steam rooms, bars, restaurants, freezer rooms and even karaoke bars!


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Can you imagine what an entire village of these homes could do for affordable housing!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Single Family Housing Shows Solid Start for 2017

The housing starts report released this morning showed starts were down in January compared to December 2016, however starts in December (and November) were revised up sharply.  Starts in January were actually somewhat above consensus at 1,246 million annually adjusted and above the preliminary release for December.

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Note that multi-family is frequently volatile month-to-month, and has seen especially wild swings over the last five months.  Single family starts were solid in January.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

MHBA Burgers & Beer in Massachusetts

Join MHBA Executive Director Tom Hardiman at 2:00 on Monday March 6th at the Hill Tavern, 228 Cambridge St in Boston. Tom will discuss the recent changes to the Massachusetts Manufactured Building Program including the new approval process for modular homes.




Also on the agenda will be a conversation about the proposed code changes for the 9th Edition of the Massachusetts Building Code scheduled for public hearing the following day.

There is no fee to attend (other than your burger and beer!) but please RSVP so we can let the restaurant know how many are attending. RSVP to Tom@modularhousing.com

4 Ways to Increase Profits and Reduce Stress

Things are finally getting back to almost normal in your home building business. Sales contracts are being signed and houses built. It hasn’t been easy.

Since things have settled down since the housing recession to business as usual, it’s time to take a look at how to increase your bottom line.

Here are 4 ways to make it even more fun to build homes.


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1. Put up prices by 3% or more.

This creates more profit (per sale). Now if you sell exactly the same number of houses as before, both your turnover and your profits have increased. For example, if your average house contract is $200.000 with a Net Profit of 5% after taxes and all expenses, you only made $10.000. Selling 8 homes a year is $80,000 net income.

Now add 3% to the selling price without increasing your costs and another $6,000 drops to the bottom line. $16,000 per times 10 homes a year is $160,000 net profit. Double what you normally have after all the flying monkeys take their share of your gross profit.

2. Decrease direct costs by 3% or more.

Go to all your suppliers and factories and ask them for a better price… ask “Is that the best you can do?” and say nothing till they come up with a better price. There is a technique used by the asking party in this situation called the pregnant pause.

“The first to speak...loses” It could be the longest 3-5 seconds you’ve ever experienced but I guarantee that the person being asked for a better price will think it is more unnerving than you. Don’t ask for a specific amount or percentage discount as the longer YOU remain silent, the higher the discount or better the terms you will get.

Even if you only get a $2,000 discount combined from everyone ask, that drops another $20,000 in your pocket. Now your are up to $180,000.

3. Sack underperforming suppliers, prospective customers and staff as appropriate.

This gets rid of the suppliers, customers and employees who make the working day more stressful. This will create a better working environment for your team and remove any potential new home buyers who are losing you money.

You really don’t need anyone to consult with you on this one. Every day when you walk into your offices or showroom you know instinctively who pulling the wagon and who is sitting in the back just along for the ride.

Walking onto the job site brings you face to face with workers and subcontractors that aren’t working on your behalf. Shoddy work, poor attitudes, back stabbing and theft on the job site doesn’t have to be par for the course. You wouldn’t allow yourself to do these things so why tolerate it in others, especially since you are paying them and they are robbing from your bottom line profit.

How many builders have sat across from potential buyers and only after a few minutes thought to yourself “I hope they go to another builder”? Your experienced builder gut is screaming “GET OUT!” You’ve had these types before in your career. They push back at every opportunity, argue over something they read on Google, posted crap about you on social media, had selected hearing and tried to hold back the final payment. Do you really need the added stress of another bad customer?

Fire them all! You can do better. And your bottom line will thank you too.

4. Rethink the way you present your homes, your business and yourself.

Start talking to your customers about what they get as a result of buying from you – what’s left after the purchase. Focus on the benefits that they gain from buying a home from you. This will improve your sales performance.

What makes you different from the rest? Why should people buy from you rather than the competition? Be able to articulate the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of your business in a way that is truly effective.

You should be able to do it in ten words or less.

Yes, I said ten words or less. It may take you a lot of trial and error to come up with it. Write down a few and go over them with your business partner and/or your spouse. You should have something nailed down in a couple of hours.

Then practice saying it everyone that asks what you do for a living. Soon all that practice will pay off handsomely.

Four easy ways to increase your bottom line and relieve some of your stress. It’s a great feeling, isn’t it!