Friday, March 15, 2013

What Modular Home Builders Want from their Factory

I had the pleasure of meeting with a group of modular home builders this week where I learned how the post-housing recession is effecting the way they do business. It was a little bit of an eye opener.

First we have to go back to those wonderful days before 2008 when everything was coming up sunshine and roses for most home builders and modular factories. The factory had sales rep but they were essentially 'order takers' that couldn't keep up with the demand of quotes and orders being given them by their builders. I remember one week in particular I had to quote 40 homes and took orders for 7 others. Good times! The leads were rolling in, mostly phone back then. Builders couldn't keep up with them.

The factory I worked at in 2005 was so swamped with leads that we had to hire someone just to answer the phone, mail out literature and work with the builders. We were averaging 1,600 leads a month by September.

Builders really didn't need us to help them market their product. They just sat back and waited for leads from the factory or phone calls from their yellow page ads.

All that went away from 2008 through late 2012. Today brings a totally different scenario. Builders are awash in nothingness. Leads from the factory are usually 2 weeks old before they get them and the buyers aren't looking to build for a least a year. Sales reps are ill equipped to help them with finding financing for their home buyers or marketing to attract new ones.

Many modular home factories that had never dreamed of doing large projects before 2008 are now fighting with the commercial modular companies for that business leaving little time for working with existing builders or looking for new ones.

So naturally the modular home builder has had to adapt to this changing environment. Their websites are getting more elaborate and appealing replacing the need to advertise in the yellow pages or wait for the dwindling supply of useless leads from the factory. Many have taken to actually learning about what the customer wants by reading the latest green and energy reports. No longer can they sit back and wait for things to happen. Today, any builder that is not proactive in this business is looking at financial death.

No longer is there the type of loyalty the factory or the builder had for each other. Things are moving too fast today to wait 2 weeks for a quote, a drawing or a reply to a buyer's question. No longer do builders find working exclusively with one factory a benefit. Yes, there are a few modular factories that have worked hard to maintain a loyal builder base and not surprisingly, they are some of the more successful ones but they are few and far between.

Today's modular home builder really just wants a factory to be responsive to their needs, treat them fairly and be honest. They want the factory to deliver a home on time and without problems. Give them a good and responsive factory service department and a rep that actually returns calls and emails and the builders will beat a path to your door.  Give them these simple and easy items and 'factory shopping' will begin to go away.

The builders have learned a lot during the dark years including how to market themselves. They really don't want the factory to do that for them any longer.

They also want the modular factories to begin working together to market the advantages of modular to anyone looking to build a new home but we'll save that for another article.


Kenneth Bigler said...

I thought I was alone in how things had changed my business since the crash but its nice to hear that others have been doing the same things I have done. I wish I could have been there when you talked to those builders as I would have loved to contribute my thoughts.
I was one of those builders that kept looking for my salesman to supply leads and when he didn't it was hard to learn how to do it for myself but I did and I'm stronger for it. I became one of those factory shoppers you mentioned and today I have several factories that want my business. That is quite different than a decade ago.
Keep up the good work Coach.

Anonymous said...


This is the best article you have written in all the years I have been reading your blog. You have hit the nail on the head.

Legendary Homes said...

Things have sure changed since the "good ole days". It is sure is important to market ourselves as the "expert". No longer can we rely on the factory

Modular homes is the best way to build these days with the biggest cost savings and energy efficiency.

We at Legendary Homes have experienced the same things things as mentioned in this article.

Things were pretty good until about 2008 and have gone through 2012. We are looking forward to 2013 and expect a big turn around in the housing market from the last few years.