Monday, January 23, 2012


A while back I asked several modular home factory owners and top management people  some important questions that effect their relationships with their new home builders.  Here is the answer to the third question I asked.  I've kept their identities hidden.

I’ve often talked about a love/hate relationship between the builder and the modular home factory. Do you see this love/hate relationship when you talk to existing modular home builders, either yours or another factory's?

New England Factory Owner:

We run into builders with this love hate relationship.......bottom line.....when this exists, it is typically because the manufacturer has one interest and that is to have the builder call when they have an order otherwise they provide no sales support.  Our success and our builders success is in large dependent upon the strong long term relationship we build based on trust and support.  The builders that do not jump ship from these manufacturers are probably doing so because their primary focus is on price and how cheap they can purchase a home instead of support and providing value to their customers. 

Southern Factory Sales Manager:

Aside from the squeezed margin impacts mentioned above, much of the discord I see between builders & factories comes from continued lack of understanding of each other’s business models.  Builders rarely grasp the tremendous costs that saddle a factory operation and often over-estimate earnings.  Factories rarely have people on staff that have been on the front lines in a sales/build situation.  As a result, both sides have over-simplified impressions of what the other one does.  We factory folks think we have some simple answers that – if applied by the builder – would fix them...and vice versa.  I think factories should invite key builders, open up the statements and really show them how they are structured.  Factory folks should spend time with the builders in the field, join them for customer meetings and really see how difficult it is to manage the “human element” that makes up a customer (us factory guys have hundreds of employees who generally march in step with our requirements…sometimes making it hard to envision that not all people are as easy to control…particularly customers who buy our houses).

New England Factory Owner:

The love/hate relationship you mention is wide spread in the modular industry. A great deal of it is caused by the low price/ low quality/ low service cycle that many low end builders and manufacturers play, as I described before. Builders and manufacturers who sell on price alone and produce low quality homes will remain stuck in the love/hate relationship. The focus on low price/ low quality is also what is holding back the industry from gaining share.

There are also conflicts that come from both the builder and the manufacturer trying to control their business without understanding or caring about the needs of the other business in their supply chain. Our company rarely tries to attract existing modular builders because they usually have been trained to sell on price alone and do not approach the manufacturer relationship as the partnership it must be, nor have they developed a reputation for quality. Instead we try to convert quality stick builders to modular and train them on how we can best work together for mutual success from day one. We also try hard to understand what they are facing and keep communication open at the senior management level. Backing that up with strong and responsive service helps to greatly reduce the conflict. That is not to say we operate with out any builder conflict, but when it arises we try to address it head on, find the root cause, and find a resolution. As a result we have very low builder turnover, and a growing network of Builders.

Mid Atlantic Factory Owner:

It is a love /hate. We both want the same things, but seem to have a contest going on to see who gets more of it. You hear all kinds of stories from all different perspectives from builders and there are some common threads.
“My manufacturer does not communicate with me enough”
“They have not given me a lead in 6 months”
“Their website is not doing the job for them, they need to change it”
“They have not developed a support system for their builders that is reflective of the times”
They don’t want to make changes to their product, specifications, marketing etc, etc…..” And the list goes on.

Part 1
Part 2


Marvin said...

Yes, there is definitely a love-hate relationship between the factory and the builder.
The factory loves themselves and as a builder I hate them. Once I was wined and dined to get me to buy from them, they simply dropped into a box with the rest of their builders and left me to fend for myself. This is the third factory to do this and I'm just about ready to start stick building again.
I tried one of the big names in the industry and two smaller factories all with the same results. I don't think they even know how to help a builder.

Fuller Modular Homes and Offices said...

I have bought from many and Mike (570)490-2650 at Haven Homes is the best Representative in our biz. I Any problems have been minimal, expected and dealt with.
Brian/ Fuller Modular