When business is good, like it is this time every year, modular factory management is busy planning production, quoting homes, signing paperwork with their builders, scheduling deliveries and servicing homes. What none of them are doing right now is preparing a plan to bring in new builders and train them.
Some factory owners have told me they will not go after new builders. Instead they want to build relationships with their existing builder base and help them improve sales. A question comes to mind. Looking over your builder list, how many of them are under 50 years old? I’d bet very few if any.
So here is my challenge for every factory Sales Manager. You can do this without anyone knowing it.
Go through your authorized builder list (single family builders only) and mark approximately they have been with your company and their age. Then mark any builders that bought their first house within the last 2 years that are still with you. Now go over the prospect lists that your sales reps should be turning in of new builders they are prospecting. Finally, how many of these prospects are completely new to building modular homes?
Without even knowing your company I can probably tell you the answers to some of these questions with great accuracy.
- How long have they been with you? This is a tough one because of the recent IBS problems, so this one I cannot answer.
- Age of your builder? At least 80% of them are over 50 with some of them over 60.
- Number of retained builders after 2 years? 20 - 25%
- Number of prospective new builders? 1 or 2 per sales rep per year.
- Prospects new to modular housing? 0 or at the most 1.
If this isn’t eye-opening for you, you and your sales staff have become order processors instead of sales professionals.
Yes, orders need to be processed and your sales rep is the one best suited for the job but that doesn’t excuse them from prospecting for new builders. This is something most sales reps loathe and will do everything in their power to avoid.
But let’s suppose you do have one or two sales reps that actually do prospect and find not only experienced modular builders but site builders that want to make the move to modular. Do you, as the Sales Manager, have any kind of structured training and retention programs in place?
Here is another thing I hear a lot when I talk with factory management. “Why should I train someone to be a good modular home builder and then watch as they jump ship and go to another factory?” Damn, that’s a good question but like all challenges, there are ways to do it.
Over the past year I have held a Factory Owner Round Table and a Builder Round Table and they proved successful in many ways that have benefited both parties.
Now I’m planning to put together a Sales Manager Round Table where you can meet, discuss what the industry as a whole can start doing to train builders and join together to make it work.
There also needs to be a few builders involved in this Round Table.
Watch for news about this Round Table but in the meantime, take the Sales Manager Challenge and see for yourself why I say there is a need for new successful builders in our industry and a program to train them.