Thursday, September 3, 2015

Voting Now Open for MHBA's Home of the Year!

Since its inception in 2014, MHBA's Home of the Month program has recognized many excellent examples of modular homes by our builders and manufacturers. We hope to recognize many more as our membership grows.

Using the Home of the Month winners from the past year, voters select the project that best represents the pinnacle of the modular home industry for the year.  The Home of the Year winner will be announced at MHBA’s annual conference on October 7th in Philadelphia.

Anyone can vote once, so share with your family, friends, and supporters. Vote here (one vote per person):

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Palm Harbor Earns the First IBHS "Fortified Home" Certification

We are in the middle of hurricane season, and if you live in a modular home or site built home in a hurricane-prone area, you may be a bit nervous until November rolls around. PalmHarbor Homes has always built homes that can weather the storm, but they are working on something new and exciting. Their Plant City, Florida, location is the first modular builder to earn the prestigious FORTIFIED HOME™ – Hurricane Modular Home Plant Certification.

Palm Harbor Homes, Plant City, Florida

After Hurricane Andrew destroyed many Florida manufactured homes in 1992, standards and codes of manufactured and modular structures were strengthened, particularly in hurricane prone areas of the country. 

In 2010, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s FORTIFIED home provided engineering and building standards to anyone seeking a stronger structure, able to withstand hurricane-force winds. Palm Harbor modular homes with the FORTIFIED Bronze certification are hurricane-wind resistant and will not require any additional modifications or strengthening against severe storms.

What Are the Benefits of Owning a FORTIFIED Certified Home?

Owning a FORTIFIED certified modular home comes with many benefits. Below are just a few of the benefits you will receive once these FORTIFIED-hurricane homes are available:
  • Reduced property damage from severe weather
  • Protect your irreplaceable personal property inside
  • Improved resell value that protects your investment
  • Smaller environmental footprint by reducing destroyed building materials

Tips for Sales Managers

Modular factory Sales Managers come in all shapes and sizes, all personality types and all kinds of temperaments. The one thing they all have in common is a sales staff.

The sales rep is the heart of any business and the modular home industry is no exception. Sales Managers have to answer to upper management and lead the sales staff. Not an easy job on the best of days.

These 33 things below do not happen in every factory (if they do, the factory owner needs a new Sales Manager) but I'm sure both Managers and Sales Reps will recognize some of them happening right now at work.
  1. Your sales reps have too many sales reports and many of those reports never get read.  What is in these reports is usually just enough to keep the Sales Manager from having to scream at the rep.
  2. You are not doing enough sales training.  Want Proof?  Find out how many sales reps can describe the steps in the sales process to recruit a “new to modular” home builder.
  3. Your order process is too long and complex.
  4. You recognize the wrong sales reps and for the wrong reasons.  Only three things matter;  YTD Commissions, YTD Percent of Close to Quote ratios and Number of New Builders with an order. That’s the only way to improve the bottom line.
  5. Email trails grow longer because the focus is no longer on selling; the focus is on “CYA”.
  6. The sales reps’ funnel is filled with unqualified prospects that will never buying anything.  Sales activities for the sake of activity will not generate one penny in sales.
  7. Management spends too much time forecasting sales and not enough time helping sales reps close sales.
  8. Product training explains the features and benefits of a product but the Sales Manager can’t tell the sales reps how to sell it.  Product training IS NOT sales training.  Get your entire sales organization focused on sales skills and you’ll improve performance.
  9. Your sales brochures come off a printer in your office.  Second rate quality is obvious to your builders.  It is better to have one high quality brochure than several second rate ones.
  10. Not a single sales rep knows your company’s Mission Statement.  Do you even have one?
  11. You don’t take the time to learn why your sales rep lost an order.  Also, you don’t take time to learn something when you win an order.  Knowledge is power.
  12. Sales meetings should be 1/3 review, 1/3 sales training and 1/3 preparation.  Meetings to review what might have been are counterproductive.
  13. Your in-house sales staff is given a heads up on everything while your remote or field staff has to hear about it through the grapevine.  It is not the field reps fault they can’t walk into the Sales Managers office and ask questions at the drop of a hat.
  14. You don’t circulate the best practices of your top sales reps.  Why the secret?  Fix this and fix it quickly.
  15. When was the last time you reviewed and discussed a previous sales promotion?  Never!  Yeah, that’s about right.
  16. Your sales team is never supplied with sharp answers to the most common sales objections they face every week.  Do you even know what they are?
  17. You never hired an outside sales trainer and your Sales Manager ran out of “new” material years ago.  Since there isn’t any new material, he now only trains “new reps.”
  18. Do you listen to your sales reps?
  19. It’s been years since a sales rep asked for a referral from another builder.  Why?  Are they afraid that the builder would not recommend the factory?
  20. Management never goes into the field to see what today’s builder is doing.
  21. Sales reps spend hours entering data into a prospecting database like Goldmine that no one ever uses.  Sales reps should be out in the field where they can increase sales.
  22. Your casual dress code has gotten just damn relaxed.
  23. There are too many emails and texts and not enough phone calls.
  24. There are too many arguments about territories and account ownership and each argument is resolved using different standards and guidelines.  Disappointed sales reps will do little to help corporate sales performance.
  25. You have too many sales rep turnovers and the builders are concerned about getting a new rep every year.
  26. You run a sales contest and the prize is only $100 or dinner for two at Red Lobster.  Forget it!  You’ll only get the full attention of your sales reps if you offer something of greater importance like a cruise or a complete entertainment home theater. 
  27. You never follow up to see if any of the appointments your sales reps make turn into new builders or sales.
  28. Your sales department doesn’t have a list of builders they can use as references.  Most factories are afraid of what the builder will tell the prospect!
  29. You spend too much time on low producers and not enough recognizing your top producers.  Only your top producers can increase your sales performance.
  30. Your sales force can’t answer this simple question, “How is your average builder benefiting from using our homes”?  Now that’s sad!
  31. It takes too long to get newly hired sales reps productive and you quickly lose faith in them.  It takes at least 6 months for a new rep to get their first sale and about a year before they bring in their first new builder with an order.  Get serious about training and this timeline will be cut by months.
  32. No one can remember the last time they had fun at work.  Damn.
  33. Having the best house at the best price will never happen.  Even if it did, it will never guarantee sales success.  
Success always goes to the team with the best sales skills.  Do something to get those skills.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Swedes Are Coming - The Swedes Are Coming.......Maybe

I had the pleasure of meeting Stefan Lindbäck a few months ago when we toured the Excel Modular Home factory in Liverpool, PA. Since then I have been watching what his company is doing in Sweden and Europe and I have to say, it’s very impressive. 

Today I saw this article and now I’m wondering not if but when he will bring the Swedish method of housing to this country.

Enjoy the article:

Everything Just Fits Together Naturally

By Aaron J. Brown in Minnesota Brown website

Stefan Lindbäck’s family has operated a lumber business near Piteå, Sweden,  a port municipality of about 40,000 people, since 1924. Lindbäcks Bygg, now in its fourth generation, has become far more than the sawmill Stefan’s great-grandfather Frans started between world wars. Twenty years ago, during a recession in Sweden, Lindbäcks fell from 100 employees to 25.

The lumber and construction trusses they made weren’t selling. They encountered the same problem our wood product and mining industries now face here in Minnesota: lower demand and lower prices.

A worker at the Lindbäcks plant in Piteå, Sweden, where sophisticated modular apartment buildings are built from local lumber and sold in the nation’s largest city of Stockholm and other European cities.PHOTO: Maria Fäldt for Lindbäcks.
At the same time, however, Sweden’s entry into the European Union loosened construction regulations in the Nordic nation, allowing taller wooden structures. Sweden, like some European nations, had for many decades banned wooden construction taller than two stories because of the risk of fires in densely populated cities.

Left to Right: Stefan Lindback, Gary Fleisher (Modcoach), Lars Stehn touring the Excel factory

And while his company is focused on its meteoric growth in Sweden and Europe, Lindbäck hopes that the environmentally and cost-conscious ideas his company is developing spreads to our corner of the world.

“I would love it, though I can’t promise it, if in a year or two Minnesota will see things we do done by companies in your area,” said Lindbäck. “We have decided to do technology transfer to show other companies to build in our manner. So, maybe, Swedish houses in a couple years.”

CLICK HERE to read the entire article. It's worth it.

Hurry, Register Today! Only 13 Days to Modular Boot Camp

Over the years many home builders and factory owners and management have grumbled that the industry doesn't do anything to promote modular housing. We've seen our share of the new home market remain stagnant at 3% for years. 

To help us change our industry and grab market share requires everyone to come together and talk about the problems and solutions we face. This one event could kick start this new movement toward increasing our market share...the first ever Modular Boot Camp.

If you haven't made your reservation for this event, now is the time. Stop sitting on the sidelines looking to others to make a difference. Join industry leaders in what will be the best place ever to sit down and talk shop your peers.

The date is Wednesday, September 16, 2015 at the CountryCupboard in LewisburgPA. The Boot Camp runs from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM.  Cost is only $99 per person.  
CLICK HERE to Register.

Schedule of Events:

8:30 AM - 8:50 AM    Continental Breakfast
8:50 - 9:00                   Welcome by Gary Fleisher, the Modcoach
9:00 - 10:30                 Steve Snyder, Attorney to the Modular Industry
​10:30 - 11:00               Break
11:00 - 12:00 PM        Tifanee McCall, RWC expert for Modular Industry
12:00 - 1:00                 Unlimited Buffet Lunch and Networking
1:00 - 2:00                   Tom Hardiman, Executive Dir of MHBA
2:00 - 3:30 PM            Scott Stroud, Builder Radio

The Boot Camp is open to all modular home builders and modular factory owners, management and sales staff. Seating however is limited to the first 50 people, so make your reservations today.

Your Boot Camp Leaders:

Steve Snyder, Attorney at Law

“A Hard Look at Modular Home Builder Contracts, the Do’s and Don’ts”

Steve Snyder is licensed to Practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and available Pro Hac Vice (for individual cases) in other states. He has been in private practice since 2003, after graduating from Widener University School of Law.

Commercial and Residential Construction – A considerable portion of Steve’s current law practice concentrates on complex civil matters in the residential and commercial construction and land development industry, including land use, zoning and subdivision, commercial and residential construction, environmental law, administrative law, state and federal regulatory compliance, state and federal tax law (with an emphasis on modular construction sales and use taxes).

“Expressed Written Warranties and the Benefits, Limits of Liability 
and Cost/Time Savings for Service”

Tifanee McCall is an Account Executive for RWC. RWC provides a written, third party insured warranty program for builders and manufacturers of new homes. We also have warranty programs for that are approved for government backed loans (FHA, Rural Dev., VA, USDA). In conjunction to the warranty program, I am able to provide training for the homebuilder to enhance or establish a cost effective and time efficient plan.

“The Future of Modular Housing and Your Role in It”

Tom Hardiman has been the involved with the modular construction industry since 2004 as the Executive Director for the Modular Building Institute, the trade association serving the non-residential modular industry in North America.  In this capacity, Hardiman manages the day to day operations, is Director of Government Affairs, and serves as a registered lobbyist with the United States Congress.  In 2012, Hardiman formed his own non-profit management company with his partner Steven Williams.  In addition to managing MBI, Hardiman-Williams began managing the activities of the Modular Home Builders Association (MHBA). The MHBA works closely with modular home builders and factories in understanding the laws effecting the industry. Under Tom's time with the MHBA membership has grown rapidly.

“Modular Marketing - Why Marketing Matters 
and How to Ensure Measurable Results”

Scott Stroud has been immersed in factory-built housing for over 30 years.  He is Business Development Manager for Power Marketing & Advertising, a premier marketing firm specializing in new home marketing, and co-founder and host of BuilderRadio’s Selling More Homes Podcast - the #1 ranked podcast for new home sales professionals.  Scott is an Infusionsoft Certified Partner and helps builders and manufacturers get more qualified leads from their marketing investment.

Seating is limited to the first 50 people, so act today. CLICK HERE to make your reservations. Special Hotel Rates for anyone needing to stay overnight.

A block of rooms is available at the Best Western Hotel on the campus of Country Cupboard for only $99.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Modular Ship Building Now the Norm

I find it interesting that Maersk Line, the huge international shipping company now builds all their ships using modular construction but huge tract home builders continue to build homes the same way they did 100 years ago.

Just asking........

Multi-generational Homes Becoming Popular Again

It’s becoming more and more popular for two and three generations of families to living together under one roof.

There is a resurgence of multi-generational living with people in a few different situations keeping more than one generation in the same household. In certain ethnicities, some which are growing, it is common for three to four generations to live together.

Modular home builders and their factories should be looking at this new ‘normal’ for added new home sales.

Many adults are opening their homes to their elderly parents rather than having them live alone or sending them to an assisted living facility. Some families are purposely inviting grandparents to live with them for convenient in-home child care.

Also, children who have grown and moved out of their parents home are often returning, sometimes with partners and children. In some cases, this is because of college debt accrued in their time out on their own.

The result of these varying scenarios is that an antiquated, once necessary, housing option is redefined by a forward-thinking conscious choice to share lives. One major upside to multi-generational living is sharing expenses.

These multi-generational homes are living spaces that provide an atmosphere for parents, grandparents and children to grow older together by incorporating a custom, private suite design for extra family to visit or stay.

Less expensive than a more traditional duplex home, these multigenerational homes are split into two levels.

This living together trend isn’t so much a new one, but a resurging concept in housing and homeownership.

Families living under one roof was once the norm in America. Then, after World War II the U.S. economy fully transitioned from agrarian to industrial manufacturing. Returning service men and women moved to the cities to take advantage of education provided by the G.I. Bill and jobs created by the manufacturing economy.

Pent up demand for consumer goods after the Great Depression and the war along with greater prosperity made owning single-family homes possible.

Also, life expectancy then was not what it is today. Today, people live longer and stay healthier decades longer than their ancestors.

Additionally, the economic reality is that the dollar does not go nearly as far as it once did. In these times, two and three generations living together sharing lives and expenses under one roof is practical and affordable.

Separate entrances, lounging areas and kitchens allow both parties an independent lifestyle, even while residing under the same roof.

Check your market area and if you are seeing more multigenerational households, maybe it’s time to add a couple of floorplans and designs targeting this market before the site builders catch on.