Friday, October 4, 2019

Express Modular Launches Franchise Program

An Interview with Ken Semler, Founder and President of Express Modular I met Ken Semler long before I held my very first Builder Breakfast in Frederick, MD in 2012. Since then I have watched his business grow from a regional modular home builder to having biggest presence on the Internet selling modular homes in 42 states and using more than a dozen modular factories to supply homes to his customers.
Ken Semler, Express Modular Franchise

He has spoken at numerous International Builders Shows, is the Chairperson for the Building Systems Council of the NAHB and is a board member of the Modular Home Builder Association. He is also a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist and has spoken at many of my Builder Breakfasts and Boot Camps.

Express Modular has home building consultants serving every region of the US, showrooms in PA and WV with more opening and now he is tackling a first for the modular housing industry. Franchising! The Express Modular franchising program had a soft opening a couple weeks ago but Ken has begun shouting about it from the rooftops and things are looking great for Express Modular Franchising. I spent some time talking with Ken about why he has taken the plunge into franchising and what he sees as the future for the modular housing industry. Modcoach (Gary Fleisher): What prompted you to add franchising to one of the most successful Internet marketing companies the modular home industry has ever seen? Ken Semler: There are actually several reasons that we identified franchising as a great way to grow the off-site residential modular industry and to be Express Modular’s growth vehicle. First, it is the current environment. When I talk with factories they are frustrated because they aren’t getting new builders into the industry and more specifically, to become customers of their factory. Their new builder-buyers are typically obtained by taking business from another factory. That source of builders is only so big and that reservoir of prospects is quickly getting pumped dry. That is leading factory sales reps to recruit and try to convince site builders or others new to the industry to give modular a “try”. But almost every factory I talk with gives me the same statistics without fail; for every 10 new builders they recruit - 6 never order a 2nd home, 3 of the new modular builders get them entangled in a customer dispute or put them in a bailout situation costing them money and then the factory won’t sell them a 2nd home. That leaves 1 builder out of the 10 that actually orders a second home. These are horrible statistics. The off-site modular construction industry is in the news everywhere. Labor issues are causing every builder to rethink their way of building. They just know modular is their way forward. But we have an industry that has no formal training, no way of getting training, and is constantly dealing with marketing and sales issues because of the confusion between modular and manufactured housing. Gary: Training for “new to modular” builders is something that is totally lacking in the modular housing industry. Do your franchisees receive special training in how to build with modular construction? Ken: I think one of the misconceptions or misunderstandings for those new to this industry is that they think factories are builders and can help them get their business started and then support them with leads from the factory website. That isn’t how it works and it leads to failed modular builders and frustrated factories. Factories have turned construction into a manufacturing process. Factories are manufacturers, not builders. They don’t understand field construction and their reps don’t understand marketing and sales to consumers. We designed Express Modular Franchising to create new custom modular home builders. We offer marketing and sales systems and training, business process software and training, and modular home builder field training and support. All of this from a nationwide custom modular home builder with decades of experience. We like to say that the Express Modular Franchising system is essentially a “Builder in a Box”. Gary: Will franchisees benefit from Express Modular’s nationwide presence? Ken: Yes, in several ways. But one of the key ones is that leads created by www.ExpressModular.com will be provided to franchisees for their marketing territory. I like to call it taking the Express Modular Challenge. Go to Google and type in modular homes city state. For example modular homes Narragansett RI, modular homes Troy NY, or modular homes Newark NJ. What you will typically see is that we are in the top half of search results for almost every city and state in the country. As a new builder it would take years to create a website and establish search engine results like this. And one of the key points is that we provide the marketing and sales systems to process that lead. It would cost more than most local builders could afford in their budget to develop this. We provide this marketing and sales machine to franchisees on day one when they join Express Modular Franchising.
Gary: Is a franchise opportunity only available to experienced builders? Ken: We developed Express Modular Franchising to grow the modular industry. This means that our training, support, and systems are designed to create a successful modular home builder out of people from all walks of life. Real Estate Agents, entrepreneurs, existing sub-contractors, retired/second career professionals, etc. As the labor crunch continues to worsen we are looking to find new ways to get new people into the modular construction field. One area that we are especially focused on is how to support women that want to enter the construction industry. Women make up only 3% of the construction workforce. We believe modular construction, with the right training and support, is the perfect on ramp to successfully bring women into the construction field. Gary: How does a prospective franchisee find out if there is a franchise open in their area? Ken: By going to our franchising website: www.ExpressModularFranchising.com and clicking on Available Territories. We are starting in the northeast, mid-Atlantic, upper south, and Midwest. We are working to quickly expand into the south and the northwest next. Gary: Training for “new to modular” builders, as I mentioned earlier, is something that is totally lacking in the modular housing industry. Do your franchises receive special training in how to build with modular construction?
Ken: Yes, training is the key to success for this industry. But something else is missing. New to modular builders don’t have access to a support structure, a mentoring type program where they have access to someone to get questions answered as they try to run their business. Especially during the startup phase were critical costly mistakes could mean the end of the business. We have taken a three pronged approach to making new modular home builders successful. Express Modular Franchisees get training, coaching/mentoring, and field support. We have created a combination of classroom and online training for franchisees. We all know that video is an important aspect of how-to training. Our training software allows us to deliver how-to videos in the field. You can use your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. We are currently expanding our video content to cover every aspect of field construction, not just modular specific training modules. Adding coaching/mentoring and field support means that we are hiring the “gray hair” in the industry. We are hiring experienced builders and set crew leads that aren’t quite ready to retire. We have created a structured way in which the knowledge from years of experience can be shared with new to modular builders to support their success. Education and in-the-field knowledge coupled with our proven systems is what we believe makes Express Modular Franchising the best way to become a successful custom modular home builder today. Gary: How has the response been to the idea of owning a franchise and when do you think the first one will be opened? Ken: We have just recently launched the Express Modular Franchising website. This month we have started actively marketing the franchise and will do a full launch of Express Modular Franchising at the International Builder Show(IBS) in Las Vegas in January. We will have a booth in the nextBUILD section of IBS. The NAHB created nextBUILD to provide a showcase for builders to see the technology to build a more efficient and profitable business, while also promoting the knowledge to manage customer’s needs and wants in their high-tech homes. Ken, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I found your responses quite interesting and can’t wait to write about your success in boosting modular housing’s presence in new home building. Learn more about the Express Modular franchise opportunity: www.ExpressModularFranchising.com

6 comments:

Daniel said...

It's about time somebody thought of doing this. Happy to see it's Ken.

Tifanee Mccall said...

Congratulations Ken!

Unknown said...

Continued Success and Ever EXPANDING Results to you and your team Ken.

Unknown said...

Continued Success and Ever EXPANDING Results to you and your team Ken.

Anonymous said...


I can see many things wrong with this approach.

Possible franchisee said...

There are thousands of franchises to choose from and many are in construction. This one seems to be a good one from what I read on their website. Don't throw roadblocks in its way with offhand remarks.