Monday, October 17, 2011


Choosing a manufacturer simply because they have a nice looking catalog and inexpensive pricing is not enough to justify going with one manufacturer over another.

You need to consider the following things when selecting a company that's truly a good partner for your business:

Where are you located? When looking a a manufacturer you should consider the company's geographical area. Are you located at one of the farthest points from the factory? Is the freight charge going to put you at a disadvantage against stick builders and other modular builders in your marketing area?
  Ask for a freight quote to your area and don't forget to ask if they have a return freight charge.  Some sales reps "forget" to tell the builders about this cost.

What kind of homes can they build? Find out if they are limited design, semi custom or custom manufacturers. Most manufactured housing companies (double wides, etc) have very limited styles of modular homes; simple ranches, capes and very simple 2 story homes. The semi-custom market is the biggest segment of the modular industry. You can modify most of their homes to the point that you may not recognize the original design anymore. The custom guys can build just about anything for for. Sometimes this may require 10 - 20 modules and 15 trucks to bring it to you. This is a tough market to break into and your house starts will be limited by the number of upscale buyers in your market.
Are the homes in tune with what is expected of new homes today featuring green building techniques and energy conservation?  Are their standard floor plans old and out of touch with today's new home buyers?

Do they offer protected territories? Having a builder in the same town selling from the same manufacturer can spell trouble and usually brings on a price war. Nobody wins, except the manufacturer. Be careful that your modular company isn't operating under several different names and opening up builders all around you with the same product using different manufacturing names. If you agree to work a certain area for a company and then don't put forth much effort or sell any of their homes, be prepared that after giving you notice, they will look for someone else. Your fault, not theirs!

Do they offer marketing support? 
A modular company will always have catalogs for you to hand out but is that the extent of their marketing? They should have a corporate website and help develop one for you with links back and forth. Table top displays, trade show booths and salespeople eager and willing to help you staff them should be available. Does the company even have a marketing department? Do they have product displays and materials? All these things are necessary in order to compete against "the other guys".

Is training offered? There are always new things to learn about our industry. If the only way you learn about your modular company's new products and processes are though your sales rep, you may be a at another disadvantage. Sales reps usually have about 15 - 20 builders to work with and hoping they get you the training you need is not very high on their priorities.

A builder should not focus solely on how much a company can save them on price per square foot. The other issues are just, if not more important than that!


Anonymous said...

Every factory has their pros and cons. Some have great sales professionals, some have great pricing and some will build just about anything your customer can design. The problem I have encountered over the years is that most factories have more cons than pros which means that trying to be loyal to only one factory can really cut into my sales.

William said...

Who tries the hardest to make the relationship work - the builder or the manufacturer?

Melody Honey said...

I am a disabled person in West Virginia attempting to decide between stick built and modular. I have been researching for months but with an impact fee of ten thousand just to start, I have to watch my pennies. It is hard to find local factories and don't know what to watch out for. Any help from honest souls would be appreciated. Thanks