Tuesday, January 17, 2012


A while back I asked several modular home factory owners and top management people  some important questions that effect their relationships with their new home builders.  Here is the answer to the second question I asked.  I've kept their identities hidden.

What value are modular home manufacturers willing to bring to the relationship to hold the loyalty of the builder?  Marketing support?  Sales support?  Leads?

Southern Factory Sales Manager:
We strongly believe that our function as a sales/marketing department is to sell “through” the builder rather than “to” the builder.  I don’t believe that’s a concept many of our competitors grasp or aspire to.  We live & breathe it here.  It was a tough transition as we shifted funds from steak dinners to website improvements, but we rolled the dice believing that if we could provide our builders with leads and powerful tools to close those leads, they’d ultimately be more loyal because the lifeline of their business depended on our marketing assets.  It has paid off considerably as we had tremendous retention rates during a difficult bankruptcy and now enjoy a backlog that is out through the end of the year despite building 40% more production per week than we did this time last year.  Frankly, I’m always amazed that in an industry that only builds 2-3% of all residential construction in the country we often find ourselves so focused on the pie we’re all sharing that we often ignore the other 98% of all construction that makes up our “opportunity” for expansion for both our industry and our individual companies.  Like rats fighting over crumbs when there’s a table full of food right within our grasp if we simply looked outside the boundaries of our little skirmishes.

New England Factory Owner:

If a builder is willing to make a 100% commitment to our company we will provide them with all the leads from the territory that we mutually agree upon.  In addition, unlike many other modular companies, we participate in putting together advertising campaigns with the builder......in many cases, we develop the ads (radio, TV, Print, billboards, Internet, etc..) and we participate financially in the media campaign.......hell, we place the ads and accept billing in some cases depending on the quality of the builder. Quite frankly, we would not make this commitment to a builder who was purchasing from multiple companies since the lines get blurred and I can not advertise and provide extreme sales support such as Chief Architect training, sales training among many other things.

New England Factory Owner:

There seems to be a wide range in the level of support provided by different manufacturers. Our company has very low builder turnover and we provide far more support than most builders are willing to take advantage of. We provide all of the items you mention and more. However, most builders do not invest much time or money in marketing, so the sales and marketing support is under utilized, but still important, assuming some of it gets used. Sales and marketing support gets taken for granted and does not generate loyalty, other than if it generates a volume of "quality leads." Quality leads are those who end up buying. So loyalty comes, in part, from giving builders easy to close sales.

I think the most important factors for loyalty are mutual trust and service, at least when dealing with quality oriented builders. There are many builders in the industry who compete purely on price. They jump from factory to factory to save 25 cents per sq ft, only to be frustrated by the lower quality that allowed the lower price that attracted them in the first place.

Mid Atlantic Factory Owner:

Every one of us has developed programs that’s we believe are there to support our builders and their efforts. Some are very, very, sophisticated some much less complex, but all have customers that’s use them to the extent of their abilities. The Internet has been the single largest advertising and promotional tool that has come along since I have been in the business. Sending leads to our builders generated by our internet presence has done much to gain customer loyalty as it pertains the lead(s) that’s a factory sends them. But honestly, can a builder that is suffering accept a lead from another manufacturer, when offered and remain loyal? There are some that do and will and then there are those that don’t.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having read the comments, I have only this to say regarding the " help" from the factories. First, they should have available printed matter to give the builder showing the line of houses and their floor plans. To constantly tell the builder to " go to the web" or " have your buyer go to the web" and print out the picture is really not the sign of a first class company. The biggest problem I see with some of the companies is when it comes to decorating the home for the buyer. Instead of sending the builder a kit containing all of the items , i.e. carpting, tile, countertop selection, etc. we find some companies telling the builder that the color selections are on the web and the buyer can pick them out on the web page. Ever tell a buyer of a home that he cannot touch or feel the items he is selecting but instead, must go to the web page to pick out the colors? Nine out of ten times the color on the web page does not compare with the actual item. Of course,I can understand showing light fixtures, appliances, etc on the web page but when the buyer complains that they cannot or will not pick colors off of a web page for their dream home, most of the time we hear the factory honcho state " thats the way it is!". Talk about building customer relations? I have had to go to the stores and actually buy samples for my buyers to pick from because the factory will not send out a color selection kit or else tries to charge me $500.00 for the kit.
Wonder what the factory sales gurus will give as an excuse for the above.