Thursday, May 15, 2014

Modcoach’s Suggestions for the Modular Home Industry

Talking with builders and sales reps over the last 20 years has given me some idea of what they think is needed for our industry to break out of its 4% market share and start being a major player in new housing.


Here are the 6 suggestions they have for modular factories:

1. Join together to market our industry. There has never been a successful unified effort by our industry leaders to promote modular housing on a national basis. We then to leave it up to postings on Facebook and Pinterest but that is not telling people the advantages of a modular home over site building. That is just promoting your own brand. The Building Systems Council of the NAHB is totally out of touch with today’s new home buyer. The Modular Home Builders Association (MHBA) is trying but is still in its infancy. The only two companies I see on Facebook trying to promote an industry are Modular Home Erectors with pictures of modular houses they have set and Blu Homes who is on every possible social media site in existence. My suggestion would be to join forces through the MHBA and push to begin a marketing program about modular homes. Why didn’t someone think of this before…..Duh!

2. Train the Sales Reps. I am always surprised; maybe I should know better by now; that the turnover in sales reps is so high. They jump from one factory to another and get frustrated by the lack of real attention given their needs. One modular factory sent all their sales reps to a seminar about selling new homes and the reps found themselves listening for 2 days about how to generate sales for a mobile home dealer lots. Sales reps are eager to learn about new ways to prospect, close sales, new products and procedures. It's time to can those awful "weekly sales meetings" and go for quarterly all day training sessions. The rewards would far out weigh the expense.

3. Make it easier to communicate with the factory. Builders have a three tier approach to communicating with the factory. First they talk to their sales rep who then talks to the person at the factory that can actually handle the request or problem but the last tier is the one that frustrates builders. It always falls into the lap of of Ida Know. She holds it in her" in" basket until the builder starts getting upset and begins calling anyone and everyone at the factory. Soon the builder is red flagged as a trouble maker and nobody wants to talk with them. A Customer Service rep at the factory would make life a lot easier for everyone. Builders would have someone to talk with and the Customer Service rep could be the hub of centralized communications. This would not be a job for the new hire or someone without knowledge of the entire process.

4. Builders want training programs. Just like the sales reps, builders are desperately looking for new ways to market their homes, get ideas about new products and even just sitting down with other builders in discussion groups to brainstorm. Builders are like sponges and will absorb a ton of information if it is presented in an informative way. One factory I know of holds quarterly meetings with all their builders and the rewards have been tremendous.

5. Builders want territories. Giving a builder a specific area in which to sell homes has always been a tricky thing. One factory decided to give each of their builders a number of counties and if the factory got a lead in any of those counties it was given to that builder. If another authorized factory builder got a lead in another builder's area, they could either build the house there and pay the other builder a $3,000 fee or turn the lead over to the authorized builder and collect $3,000 after the house is built. All the factory builders had gotten together and decided that this was a fair arrangement.

6. A factory rep at every house set. Most builders would like to have someone from the factory at the set. If the house has problems caused by the factory or has parts missing, this would be the time for acknowledgments, not days or months later. Factories could have a sales rep do this or assign someone from the factory to be at the set. It would be interesting if someone from management would visit one or two sets a year to see how the product looks upon arrival. I guarantee that eyes would be opened.

These are just some of the changes I've heard over the years. If you've got any others, just add them to the comments. A lot of factory owners and management read this blog daily.


2 comments:

Gary L. Eagleton said...

I agree this has so much payback in so many ways.
A factory rep at every house set. Most builders would like to have someone from the factory at the set. If the house has problems caused by the factory or has parts missing, this would be the time for acknowledgments, not days or months later. Factories could have a sales rep do this or assign someone from the factory to be at the set. It would be interesting if someone from management would visit one or two sets a year to see how the product looks upon arrival. I guarantee that eyes would be opened.

Anonymous said...

1.)Join together to market our industry. How many times have you said this? Never happened because this industry cannibalizes itself and hangs builders out to dry. The MHBA collects dues like any other association period. You want a real organization? Offer contracts for all 50 states for use by builders. Band together and offer health insurance. HBAs have stopped this and quite frankly it was the only reason to belong. I don't really want to get together and drink beer with my competitors.

2. Train the Sales Reps. Yes train the sales also pay the sales reps. Too many reps are incentivized to get new business so they tell stick builders what they want to hear and the builder gets destroyed. Pay higher commissions for repeat business.

3. Make it easier to communicate with the factory. The rep wants to hold on to the customer relationship. The inside sales/ support is trying to make a name for themselves or their husband who works on the line. Run the business like a business. Too often the customer is always wrong.

4. Builders want training programs. Good factories have these. Bad ones don't. More importantly connect your builders. If I can pick up the phone and talk to another builder in a different market thats much better than spending a weekend at your factory being lied to.

5. Builders want territories. Bullshit. Pella doesn't give territories. Kraftmaid doesn't. Don't let some yokel piss on every bush within a 50 mile radius. This is America. Earn your exclusivity by being the best.

6. A factory rep at every house set. With knowledge and authority to act. Don't send a green sales rep who has no idea what's going on.


I bled modular for 7 years and continue to read and here the same BS on this blog. Today a buyer walked in with a set of plans that would be perfect for modular and I never even mentioned it. Why? Because I don't want the headaches. I now read this blog once a month or so for shits and giggles.