Tuesday, March 15, 2011


You've just put in charge of building sales for your modular home factory.  You've got a very limited budget, owners and management that view you as a necessary evil and get little or no help from anyone in the company.  You got the job because nobody else wanted this wonderful position added to their already full plate.  HELP!

It's not easy turning a ship around when everyone else wants to keep it heading for the edge.  But you've got to do something that shows you've got what it takes to make more sales for the company through good marketing.  Too bad that the owners and managers don't realize that sales and marketing are two separate parts of a coordinated effort.

So there you sit at your desk doing your primary job and trying to decide how to begin a marketing program for your company.  The ideas keep coming as you sit there and just as quickly you know that they will be shot down.

Let's try bringing all the builders together for a one day trade show and round table discussion of what they would like to see the factory do to help them.  Wait a minute, that won't work.  They might talk to each other and find out that one gets a 5% discount, another a 10% discount and another gets nothing.  Or they start talking about our lack of follow through on service requests.  Damn, now that would have been one great day.

How about getting all the department heads together and come up with a program to that helps our builders get designs approved quicker, a better way to contact each department head and a way to air problems when they occur?  Nope...that won't work either.  Department heads think they're perfect and highlighting flaws will be the end of your career.

Then there are the sales reps.  Maybe you could get them together to help design a marketing plan that would not only work for their builders but also help them attract new builders.  Then you realize that most of these people are looking to you for guidance, not the other way around.  Since most of them think they are the best in the company, this would be a waste of time.  Besides, no matter what marketing plan you come up with, they won't like it because they would have to work it and then be responsible for it's success.  Won't happen.

That leaves you right back where you started.  Sitting at your desk trying to decide what to do.  Here are some suggestions that might help get you on the right track.

  • Using all the information available to you through factory data and statistics from various sources, start focusing in on what your company does best.
  • Start looking for niches within niches that all parties, owners, managers, sales reps and builders, will like.
  • Define the goals you feel are within reach and come up with a way to measure the results.  Before these goals are reached, have another goal ready for them.
  • Give everyone involved feedback on a regular basis and start getting tough on the slackers.

Will they buy into it?  That's up to you.  The real question is "Will you buy into it?"  If you do, then you have to just bring in people into it, one at a time, until the majority see that the marketing plan you devised is a good starting point.

Some companies are already doing some sort of marketing plan but very few have a real business plan.  Planning not to go out of business this year is a hope, not a plan.


Anonymous said...

After reading your blog I thought I had just left a sales meeting at the factory...Yikes
You are correct, focus on what can be done and stick to it...be prepared to let someone else take the credit for a good idea and go to work...
You may find a small group of builders willing to work together and with you to develop a local marketing plan...keep the factory out of the process and save yourself some frustration.

Sheri Koones said...

The largest problem the prefab industry has is a lack of education about the subject. There is still the stigma that modulars are double wides.

I have worked really hard to educate the public about the efficiency and beauty of prefab houses through several books I've written on the subject. The industry should support these books and distribute them to potential customers. Every time consumers read my books - there is a good chance they will select prefab for their own projects.

Anonymous said...

I take offense every time I hear someone say prefab in the same breathe as modular. Prefab is the wall portion of the building that is built off site and delivered to the job. A modular home is built is sections and shipped to the site. I know you are an expert in your field but please stop using the terms as if they mean the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Nationwide Homes is a Leading Edge Builder of Modular Homes. We are very focused on both our Builders Needs and their Consumer's Dreams. We are Marketing and Product and Value driven. We spend a lot of time in focus groups with our Builders. We have partnered for the last 6 years with Professional Builder's Show Village at IBS where we feature homes that are not only marketable but beautiful and innovative. This venue has allowed us the privelege to serve as an Ambassador for our Industry. As Vice President of Interior Design for Nationwide it is my passion to create fresh ideas..encourage vendors to think outside the box.and to stay positve
Margie Wright

Heywood said...

I have to agree with Anonymous 11:16. We really need to all speak the same language. Prefab is a terrible word to use. I don't even like modular. I prefer Industrialized.
Regardless of what word we use, maybe it is time for a major campaign to get us all on the same page...Coach???

Anonymous said...

As a generic term, I use "Factory Built Housing". This lets us include all the industrialized sectors; mods, panelized, log, SIP and even HUD. I've tried to avoid anything with the abreviation MH to avoid confision with the Manufactured Housing sector.

Anonymous said...


Duplicating successful marketing and sales strategies, wow that is a noble and new idea.

Bobbi said...

I agree with the first comment. This has been my experience at both factories where I have worked. Everyone says they are doing things to help the builder but they really aren't.
Builders have a natural distrust of factories because they always seem to get screwed in the end. I am still with my modular factory but I can't see how we will ever improve our relationships with builders. We just seem to be natural enemies.

Anonymous said...

seems to me like modular homes are becoming more mainstream without much of a problem. both nationwide homes and excel homes have been featured on extreme home makeover. with modular homes looking more and more like traditional homes everyday, lower costs, less time spent on the build, green building.. i think it will catch on. you could say it speaks for itself. http://www.excelhomes.com/baltimoreextreme/

Coach said...

You would like to think that modular was catching on but you're wrong. Most factories have been forced by the downturn to look at building commercial and multifamily projects and the Extreme Makeover show is a joke.

They hardly mentioned Nationwide's name during their segment and Excel's segment was really confusing.

You actually have to go the factory websites to see how much they really did for the show.

Anonymous said...

Wow that series of comments went from a discussion of sales and marketing (the two are different and separate)to the nomen we choose for our product? The BSC has touted the term "systems built" as a capture all term for all segments of the industry including modular. Non-descript in part, but also non-intrusive or non-offensive as I see it.
I have been involved in marketing planning for over 30 years, and ultimately the question is asked, "Who is our customer? Who are we marketing to?" Both questions need to be answered in the initial stages of any sales and/or marketing effort. To many the answer(s) is obvious, but I think not.
I would be interested in knowing your take (coach) on the answers to those questions? Would also like to know others opinions on same.

henry said...

hi i just got an appiontment for the post of marketing executive (Team leader) with a prefab company and am new in this area. can you help me with ways that i can be successful on the job as a sales person. you can leave me a mail which will be more preferable.

David said...

Why doesn't the Modular home industry help out their dealers by starting a nationwide marketing campaign (TV, Radio, Newspaper, Internet)to educate the public on their product. When you use the term Modular home, the public goes right back to their perception (which is entirely wrong) of them in the 70s.