Sunday, February 10, 2013

Long Range Planning and the Modular Home Factory

There is an old joke that asks, “What is the difference between a modular home factory and a group of Boy Scouts lost in the woods?”

Answer: The Boy Scouts have adult supervision.

While that cynical humor is untrue, at least in the opinion of modular home factory management, there is one element of the comparison than many would admit is valid: the Boy Scouts have a map and a compass. They know where they are, where they need to go, and what direction to take. In contrast, today, at least with regards to residential modular housing, many factories do not.

To compete in business, you need a solid long range strategy. Employee performance, as well as your own, will become more effective when goals and business desires are stated with the steps needed to achieve them. If you do not say where you want the business to go, it will likely never get there. In other words, you can’t get lost if you’re not going anywhere.

Here are some tips to make long range strategy planning work for you and your business.

Define Business Goals
To strategically plan for the long term, you must define what you want the business to be like in one, five and 10 years from now. Do you plan on owning the business long term? Will you expand or are you happy with the business's current size? There are no right or wrong answers, but knowing what you want from your business is critical when planning. A lot of modular factories are privately owned. Do you have a succession plan?

Involve Your Staff
Whether your modular factory has five employees or 150, involve everyone when making a long-term strategic plan. For growth to occur, changes may be needed in the way the business operates. Your employees will be more likely to embrace these changes if they are part of the team that creates the new process. Dust off the old suggestion box. Look into growth areas, new territories, new products, etc.

Sales and Marketing Plan
For your business goals to be realized, you will need to adjust your sales and marketing plan and if you don’t have these, start working on them today. A solid long-term plan will take into account changes that are likely to occur in the market place. Do you expect more or less competition? How will your target market change over the next five years? Sales and marketing efforts need to stay cutting-edge. Part of your long-term plan should include regular reviews of sales and marketing results.
Too many factory management teams think short term strategy is waking up and hoping for new home orders from their reps when they get to the office and have never really given too much thought about what they’re business will look like in 2020.

Training and Learning
There are two types of training that fall under the umbrella of “sales training.” The first is teaching the mechanics of sales: how to go about selling in the general sense, with an emphasis perhaps on the sales techniques that work best for the modular housing industry. The second is company-specific training: details about your products and services, the sales process that your team is expected to use, tools and resources, etc.
Every salesperson, no matter how experienced, can benefit from both types of sales training. Learning how to sell is an ongoing process. There are always new strategies and new technologies that your team must learn in order to sell effectively.

Don’t let your vision of long range planning be the act of deciding what next month’s sales goals have to be to keep the doors open. That is important but if it is your only goal, you will never see your factory grow. It’s up to you, do you want to be remembered as one of the leaders of our industry or as that guy that lost his factory because he was always looking his feet instead of the horizon?


Anonymous said...

Involve your staff? I almost spit out my coffee when I read that. Nope, because I have an MBA I know better than those in the trenches for years and years.

Anonymous said...

Haha, you are a funny guy. So who is the MBA in the Ivory Tower - let us all know so we don't buy from this person who knows all and sees all and is a legend in his own mind ...