Friday, January 7, 2011

ACTUALLY CALLING THE CUSTOMER - OMG!

Imagine for a moment a world where modular factories actually called the home owners that recently bought a house from them and asked their opinion of their new home.  Imagine board rooms across the modular industry going silent for a moment while they contemplate this idea.  Now imagine the huge sigh of relief when they decide not to do it.

I'm not talking about the modular factories that sell directly to the home owner.  They already know what the home owners think because they work every day to make the buyers happy and glad they bought one of their homes. 

I'm not talking about the factories that sell single family homes directly to authorized builders. These modular factories build good solid homes and ship them with full confidence that their product is as good or better than anything the home owner could have built through a site builder. 

But there is a dark shadow of doubt hanging over the factory when it comes to actually picking up the phone and talking with the end consumer.  That shadow is the modular home builder.  Did they finish the house properly?  Did they use materials to finish it that were of the same quality as the factory?  Are they in the midst of a potential lawsuit?

The bottom line is that for decades the factories have legally distanced themselves from the final customer using every legal contract at their disposal to hold themselves harmless just in case the builder screws up.  Who can blame them?  But there is a wind of change blowing and some factories are now considering talking to the home owner.

Why the change?  There are two main reasons. 

The first is that the factories realize that builders that are still in business and buying homes from them must be doing something right.  These builders generate no major problems for either the factory or the home owner.  Their business ethics match the factory's and they work hard to complete the home to the new owners' satisfaction.  It's time for factory management to tap into this network and learn what both the builder and the home buyer like and what they would change.

The second reason is that having a communication with the home buyer will strengthen their image and possibly get referrals for both the builder and the factory.  Modular home management needs to change the misconception of the general public about modular housing and what better way than to talk to the people that bought one and would recommend one to a friend or relative.  The factory folks also realize that most builders don't have the staff to follow up and work to improve the homeowner/builder-factory relationship.

If the modular industry is to continue to build single family homes instead of moving into commercial work, someone has to get the ball rolling.  I'm not sure what the legal aspects of the factory talking directly to the new homeowners are but I do know that it would be a great business and marketing decision.

5 comments:

factory owner said...

coach, this is a very good idea but it is a minefield waiting for the modular factory to step on. All it takes is for the factory person to call the homeowner and either promise to fix something or speak for the builder. Both of these are bullet points with real bullets.
Don't look for much to happen in this area. The factories that are already doing it will continue to do it and those that aren't will probably not pick the phones.
It really does say a lot about our industry. As a factory owner, I am always thinking of ways to improve my product but I really hesitate to call the home owner. I guess I'm afraid of what I will hear. I know I have to do this and I'm close to getting it started. If there is a factory out there that would like to offer some suggestions, jump in please.
Keep up the great work. Our industry needs someone too keep us sharp and that, my friend, is you.

Anonymous said...

This is the same idea as a follow up survey. The survey can be designed to give feedback to plant about the factory build or feedback about the builder (or both).

Christine said...

I am new to modular construction and have spent many hours researching different factories. This is a new guys opinion of the players too date: Factory 1: Pyramid marketing scheme, buy Chief Architect from us and we'll make you a millionaire! Factory 2: too many hands in the cookie jar: "who else gets a piece of this deal before the home arrives?" Factory 3: out of business before receiving quote. Factory 4: asked about pricing on a custom two story home, sent pricing and floor plans on a stock Cape......then no follow-up. Factory 5: Excellent first impression, excellent communication, very involved in the process and with the customer. Factory 6: still waiting, still waiting, still waiting!"

Coach: thank you for this Blog. It has been very informative and helpful.

Anonymous said...

I call BS on factory owners! In major industries, think auto, electronics etc, factories/manufacturers endlessly contact the real customer for feedback. Factory reps go to shows where the real customer shows up just to hear what is going on. Mods have a great story and attraction, but the industry really looks like its run by people who grab the cash and run! Tell us which factory talks to end customers!!!

Heywood said...

If factory owner is concered that he will insert his foot in his mouth, then how about a conference call with the homeowner, builder and factory?
Just think of the possibilites!