Thursday, December 20, 2018

It’s Almost Modular Factory “Poaching Season”

One of the ‘rites of passage’ in the modular housing industry is “Poaching” season. It happens almost every day in our industry but it seems to peak just before the first of the year about a month after that other modular housing national holiday, “Deer Season”.

Because our industry is just a very small niche in the overall housing market in the US at about 3% of all new housing starts we tend to know who are the players, who are the fakers, slackers, mediocre players and who isn’t worth the powder to blow them up.

Competition in the modular housing industry is always fierce, and with the labor shortage we’re all facing, both modular factories and modular home builders might begin to see other companies taking an interest in their employees.

“Employee poaching” is a term often used to describe a situation where talented employees are directly hired from another factory or builder and many companies might see this action as immoral or illegal, but that’s not completely accurate.

Employees aren’t property or mindless pheasants or instinct-driven deer just following the next meal (or paycheck). No—employees are human beings with distinct preferences, interests, skill sets and most importantly, free will. In other words, organizations don’t force employees to jump ship; employees choose to jump ship themselves.

So why on Earth would they want to leave your wonderful factory and go to another?

More often than not, when an employee is poached by other factories, it’s usually because the employee either has been actively seeking new job opportunities with your competitors.

There can be numerous reasons why an employee might be dissatisfied with your company, whether it be a boss that micromanages, an absentee boss, an oppressive company culture or the employee feeling unfulfilled in his/her current position, but regardless of the reasoning behind it, there are a few things you can do as an employer to help keep employees invested in your company and content with what they bring to the table.

Are there signals that might indicate an employee is thinking of moving on?

Most times there is a “trigger event” that will radically change the employee’s outlook on the job and make other companies look better by comparison, whether that’s having a project postponed, being turned down for a promotion or in the case of sales people having their territory reassigned.

One of the ways East Coast modular home factories let sales reps know they should start looking for a new place to work (actually encouraging ‘poaching’) is assigning the rep to the Western PA, western MD and WV markets. LOL!

Keep your ears open for company gossip as well, as it’s more than likely that employees wanting to quit will openly discuss the matter with other employees.

If this gossip is about one of your better employees don’t wait until they hand in their 2 week notice. Ask them as soon as your hear the gossip mill at work and have a frank discussion with the employee. Be upfront with him/her without coming across as harsh, and if you have the power to do so/see the benefits of keeping said employee on staff, offer to fix the situation.

If you find the employee is unhappy at your company don’t make a counteroffer. All you’re doing is keeping an unhappy person on your payroll and they may still jump ship down the road. Another scenario is a person that is bluffing about being poached by a competitor to get a raise or better territory. Let them go immediately as this is deceitful and if works once they will do it again and again over the years.

If you do have a poached employee the natural assumption can be that he/she will try to take other employees with them or in the case of a sales rep they could take their builders with them. This isn’t paranoia and can be a legitimate concern.

Sometimes you may want to encourage an employee to be poached. This reverse poaching happens when the modular factory or modular builder would be better off without the faker, slacker or mediocre employee. These 3 types tend to infect the entire staff with their tales of being treated unfairly or underpaid or under-appreciated.

To get these employees poached simply add a suggestion into the industry's gossip mill and the word will get out to your competitors that one of your 'key' people (Not Really) is looking for a change.

It will take about week to get the smile off your face when they hand in their notice.


The Grinch said...

Coach, you are so right about this. I just lost a sales rep to another factory and I couldn't be happier. Now they have that loser and bragger. Now I have to find someone to replace him and I know just which factory has the fellow I want.

Just call me the The Grinch.

Anonymous said...

I'm a builder in Western Pa. Maybe if the modular companies would do something to promote modular construction in Western Pa then being the sales rep wouldn't be so terrible. I get very few leads from manufacturers and very few salespeople who seem to have time to answer my questions.

Anonymous said...

The modular industry is laced with undesirables and questionable business practices. Hence the skepticism of the modular customer.
As a past modular factory owner I speak from experience. During the sales process I would spend most of the time assuring the customer
that their modular experience would be a satisfying one. Bankruptcies, non deliveries, poor workmanship, sub-par material, improper fit,
warranty failures, administration drama, and the list goes on. Although I know that this isn't all factories, it still gives the industry a black eye. When asked by past customers wether or not to buy a modular home my answer is no. Sad! I have gone back to traditional framing, and
site built homes. The quality and finish product far exceed the modular home process. Signed been there did that.