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Archive for June, 2012

Factories increasing sales in a down market

June 27th, 2012 No comments

We have all heard the old saying about taking and using the best of the old and new.

Professional sporting teams practice the basics daily, the tried and true. But they also watch video on themselves, get scouting reports on competitors and test and use new plays and technologies too. Savvy business professionals do the same. How can manufactured housing professionals profitably apply those principles?

Let's look at a visual example.

First, we know the power of words. But using images to communicate effectively is as old as the drawings done by cave dwellers ages ago. Communication is crucial to all success. Businesses must communicate internally. Manufactured home business and associations also have to communicate externally to their target market and members too.

Cartoons never faded away from style. In fact, they are back stronger than ever.

mhmarketingsalesmanagement cartoons

mhmarketingsalesmanagement cartoons

mhmarketingsalesmanagement cartoons

mhmarketingsalesmanagement cartoons

While these cartoon messages are directed to our readers, think about how this concept could be applied to your target market. Examples of some cartoons pointed toward the MH home owner are found at MHLivingNews.com that target the MH homeowner or shopper.

mhmarketingsalesmanagement cartoons

mhmarketingsalesmanagement cartoons

mhmarketingsalesmanagement cartoons

I've worked with dozens of manufacturers, log homes, pre-cut and panelizers over the years on sales training systems. But I confess that coming on board with MHMarketingSalesManagement.com has been eye opening for me too.

mhmarketingsalesmanagement cartoons

Don't get me wrong, I've had a website for years, and stay up on trends. But there is such a different dynamic when you are working with a team of professionals who make good results happen for their clients.

Plus, Tony and company give back to the Industry daily through MHProNews.com and informational articles, blogs and ideas. Now, they are giving back through MHLivingNews.com – a new, fast growing online resource dedicated to promoting the manufactured home lifestyles value and appeal.

When sales increase, when professionalism increases, amazing things take place for everyone involved.

  • When factories sell more, then more association dues are generated.
  • More revenue for associations means they can do an ever better job Protecting, Promoting and Educating the Industry.
  • Retailers and Communities do better.
  • Lenders, Insurance and vendor/suppliers of all kinds benefit as well.
  • The Image of our Industry improves.
  • Customer satisfaction rises. More referrals.
  • The circle grows…

When you need professional web, marketing, sales, management or other outsourced solutions for your manufactured housing needs, who are you going to call? One email or call starts it all. ##

Posted for
Tim Connor, CSP
Business Development, Ad Manager & MHSpeakerTrainer.org Coordinator
MHMarketingSalesManagement.com = MHMSM.com = MHProNews.com
Factory-Built Housing's #1 Online Trade Publication (biggest and most popular)
ph 704-895-1230 email tim@mhmsm.com

Habit forming

June 21st, 2012 No comments

First you form your habits, then your habits form you.  This maxim is true in our personal life, and it is true in our professional life.  That includes how you approach management, marketing and sales too.  Let's see how this principle plays out in manufactured housing.

In this new economy and more rigorous regulatory environment, you have either:

  • adapted to the new situations,
  • have not,
  • or are seeking to find ways that will drive profits for your business.  
  • If you are stuck in old ways that no longer work, then that old habit is now limiting you.

We strive to practice what we preach here at MHProNews.com/MHMarketingSalesManagement.com.  We test new ideas.  We strive to use old tried and true ideas only when they still apply.

Videos are nothing new.  We have had TV available to the masses for about 60 years now.  There have been motion pictures for about a century.  What is a newer development is the ability for a firm like your to make their own video.

Here is short one we just did as an introduction video.  Take a look.  Then think about how you could do a video project that could help your firm too. The technology today makes this so much easier than even a few years ago.

 

 

Tony like's to quote a saying of G. K. Chesterton, on a theme that Zig Ziglar has touched on in his recent column on our site. The original quote is this:

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”
 
– G. K. Chesterton

This is a paradox, so it needs a bit of commentary, that the Ziglar article linked above does nicely. Let's try to get the meaning down to a phrase. You have something worth doing, but because you are new at it, so at first you do it 'badly.' Later, as you do more of the 'thing' – whatever it is – you get better at it. You also get more comfortable doing the something new over time too. Just as a child learns in stages, so too we adults. We improve by doing!

Putting our own principles to work, here is the Updated (improved) version of the video above.

 


Let me also give you a big tip. Sometimes the slickest pieces are not the ones that connect you to your target market. Many people want GENUINE, not 'slick.'

Is there some area of your operation that you want to improve?

  • As a manufactured home community owner, could you be filling more vacant homes and sites? Do you want more happy residents that pay better as a result?
  • As a manufactured home retailer, would you like to have more sales and more happy customers, who bring you referrals so you sell even more homes?
  • As a factory builder, wouldn't you like to get more market penetration, and offer something unique to your retailers, developers and communities that would drive more sales for them, and thus for you too?
  • As a lender, insurance company or other vendors and suppliers, don't you also want to stand out from the crowd and land more business that sticks?

There is only one honest answer to questions like these: of course, yes. Who honestly wants to sell less or do worse?

So why not try something new in your business today? Why not start a new habit, starting right away?

There are many ways to learn and do something new.

You can talk to someone or read articles and books – like this one – pick up an idea and then experiment with that idea yourself. You can put someone on your payroll that does that new thing for you. Or you can outsource, which means you could learn from someone who knows, and then when you have that new thing well in hand, you can shake hands and move one without the hassles or long term commitment that comes from hiring an employee.

When you are ready for proven ways to grow your business, please take a look at our services menu, attached here. From websites, to training in management, marketing and sales, to Business to Business (B2B) advertising here on MHProNews.com or Business to Consumer (B2C) outreaches to manufactured home owners and MH Shoppers at MHLivingNews.com, come to us, first, last or in between. Give me a confidential call. I'll listen to your situation. We can tell you if we can serve you or if you need to think about someone else instead.

You see, we have a habit. We want to work with companies that we truly believe we can benefit. If you win, then we win too. When everyone in the mix benefits, that is the basis for a solid professional relationship. It is a habit worth forming. Just see what some of our clients have said or take a peek at many more letters, awards and testimonials linked here. ##

Posted for
Tim Connor, CSP
Business Development, Ad Manager & MHSpeakerTrainer.org Coordinator
MHMarketingSalesManagement.com = MHMSM.com = MHProNews.com
Factory-Built Housing's #1 Online Trade Publication (biggest and most popular)
ph 704-895-1230 email tim@mhmsm.com

21st Century Marketing and Sales

June 18th, 2012 No comments

For those or us old enough to remember, sales was often viewed by millions as something you did to someone, rather than doing something for someone. Sales was seen – and taught – as a kind of manipulation. A person or a company wanted to manipulate their way into a sale, they did it via a process. An example that comes to mind might be the time share industry. Let's take a look, because understanding this principle will be key to the much of what follows. You will see the application and power this can have for the manufactured housing industry. Don't be surprised if an "aha!" moment or two comes your way that will make you or an associate of yours some good money.

Let's start by using the time share example. You get someone into an appointment, often through a promise of a discount at a resort or some gift or a chance at a prize. You then put the prospect through a long sales processes that is virtually choreographed. "You say this, when the prospect says that." Much is scripted.

There are values to scripts and memorization. But one problem is what happens when a person goes off script? What happens when the prospect is to some degree "in the know" as to what you are going to do, as in fact began to happen in the time share Industry? Over time, you dry up your target market, because more and people realize what will happen and so they want no part of it. They either don't come, or they simply "just say no" because they don't want to be manipulated. The wrong intention kills it all.

The above example makes a few key points that at first may seem contradictory to some things we have written and said. Let's take a step back, to understand a key relationship, and then return to the point.

Marketing should set up sales with a prospect, that sums up the goal of marketing. Marketing doesn't sell, it delivers a prospect, and hopefully a steady stream of them. Once you get the prospect, sales takes over. In the modern era of CRM (Customer Relationship Management), prospects may move fluidly in and out of sales and follow up marketing, as with an email campaign to prospects and clients.

But obviously the job of sales professionals is to the MAKE a sale. Many of them!

Some MH Retailers – for example – in their haste to be "unsales-like" and not turn off a prospect, use no sales process. They let the customer wander around open, model homes, hoping they bump into the house they want and magically fall to the floor, open a checkbook and say, "sell me this one!" It can happen, but not often enough. I recall a successful retailer who went from 5 locations to 4, then 3, 2 and 1 doing this. Finally – of course – the last location closed. No system, insufficient sales, overhead far outpaced the sales which took place. They were done.

They had gone from a system, to no system. From success to failure.

But on the other end of the spectrum are those retailers who had a highly scripted process. It was much like a time share sales system in that sense. I am thinking of another example, in another market from the one above. The retailer had good product, somewhat high pricing, did a lot of marketing, had overall good locations (meaning, high traffic spots off major highways in good towns). But as the highly scripted systems became better known, guess what happened? The company I am thinking about in a good state, in better economic times than these are, went from 5 locations, to 4, to 3, then to 1 and done. Their lack of a customer-friendly process made them fail.

As in much of life, the answer is simple. The Solutions are always there if you look for it! Another example or analogy will make the point.

Imagine a professional football team that didn't practice. They had no play book. They had no process for success. How long would a team like that last? Not long! Even great players need a plan! Great players need coaching and play calling. So training is fundamental and a having a process are both critical. The same is true in selling.

Great sales talents realizes their potential precisely through training that is ongoing and routine, just as great teams keep training season after season.

Let's circle back to the top.

The sales process MUST begin with the right intention! If you are trying to manipulate someone, the intention is wrong. Over time then, the sales process that seeks to manipulate will self-destruct.

What works is having a process that is user-friendly for the sales person, and user friendly for the customer.

Now we get to a profound key! Don't sleep, don't snooze, or you will miss it!

Coach Lou Holtz said the following, in his three rules of life:

  • 1) Do what's right
  • 2) Do your best.
  • 3) Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Three questions people ask you (either openly, subconsciously, or often to themselves):

  • 1) Can I trust you?
  • 2) Are you committed?
  • 3) Do you care about me?

When companies, politicians, sales professionals and others get these 6 points down, look out! Good to Great Results wills follow! And so long as such principles are put into place and set in motion for the long run, long term success will follow!

But notice how all 6 points go back to the intention. If you intend to serve, if you want to serve well, you are setting up the other 6 rules. Coach Holtz started simply with, Do What's Right. The Right Intention, the Right Training will yield the Right Results for the customer AND for the company alike!

The 21st century has more ways to communicate than we never would have dreamed about at the dawn of the 20th century. We had person to person, signs, books, newspapers and magazines 100 years ago. So telephones, radio and TV were all on the horizon a century ago. Those innovations were followed by cable, cells, satellite and finally in the 90s we saw the rise of the Internet. Today we see branches of online, with tablets, text and smartphone use, social networking and more.

We have an amazing ways to reach out and touch someone. But how we do what we do is the difference between long term sales success and eventual failure. And in the end, for a big ticket product like a modular or manufactured home, it still comes down to one on one with people.

Factory built housing is an amazing product. Imagine what would happen if you had two cars, both had the same features, but one was 25% less in price than the other. Which would sell more? All things being equal, the less expensive one, right? With the HUD Code you have entry level VOG homes, and you have more 'residential' tape and textured/finished drywall styles of construction. So you can hit a variety of price points and target markets!

Then why doesn't that make a huge difference in manufactured housing sales? Aha! Therein lies a different subject for a different time. Don't worry, we will continue this periodic series.

A closing message.

MHProNews.com is being branded as the publishing arm of what we do here at Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management (MHMSM.com). All 3 of our web address will bring you to the same site.

That said, there is a complementarity but also a distinction between the two.

MHProNews is Industry News, Tips and Views You can Use. (c)

At MHMarketingSalesManagement.com (= MHMSM.com) we are doing the contract (think consulting or short, medium or long term outsourced) professional work for companies like yours. MHMSM is Innovation – Information – Inspiration for Industry Professionals. (c)

Think about it. You have to have news and information in order to stay current and be successful in the long run.

You also need professional development for your organization.m this might be done via associations. It can be done via the web, or live for mid-to large sized companies.

Both are essential to long term success!

Here is our link to our current services menu here.

See a copy of our business building, twice weekly emailed news updates sign up for your free emailed newsletter at this link here: MHProNews.com/newsletter

Sign up for that free email here: MHProNews.com/subscribe

And when you're ready to join the ranks of those who make more money by working smarter, not harder, gives us a call or email us. My contact info is below. Years of success in factory-built housing follow in our wake, as testimonials, statistics and letters of reference at LATonyKovach.com prove. The initial consultations are free. The results, priceless. And we mutually commit to confidentially, our process is proprietary.

When you are ready for 21st century results in marketing, sales and management, call, click or connect.##

(Editor's note: see more of Tim's columns in the Words of Wisdom and in our Feature Articles section of MHProNews.com. See our news by scrolling the center and left side columns on our home page, and keeping up with Tony Kovach's The Masthead blog.)

 

Posted for
Tim Connor
Business Development
MHProNews.com
MHMSM.com
And the new MHLivingNews.com
704-895-1230

tim@mhmsm.com

Filling MHC Vacancies and Retailing More Manufactured Homes

June 13th, 2012 No comments

There is only one who can claim to have every answer to every question and problem. That one has a three letter name, God. Ipso facto, that means the rest of us have to struggle along as best as we can with limited knowledge and limited answers. That's okay. Time, trial and error, learning from others who have already learned are among the paths open to any issue or challenge in need of solutions.

We go to experts for solutions on problems with our vehicles. We go to an attorney or accountant when we need one. Ditto doctors, who may send us to specialists if the issue is over the general practitioners head.

Perhaps the only surprise to me in the factory built housing industry is that there aren't more consultants and contract experts that companies turn to for solutions.

But where are the pros who specialize:

I'll give you the answer in a few moments.

But first, let's acknowledge that there are individuals – some with considerable experience – that carry the label (sometimes self-described, sometimes valid) as “experts.” I ran across an article recently on a consultant's blog, not a blog here at MHProNews.com. The gent is an award winning expert and consultant. Here is what he wrote, in his own words (including his typos; the bold alone is added for emphasis):

Like some – to – many of you reading this blog posting, I’m dealing with declining occupancy in a landlease community I own, located a four hour drive from my office. Success there, is improving – to – max physical and economic occupancy. My present distraction? When arriving in town for a property visit, I too often find myself dealing with peripheral matters (e.g. minor repairs, interpersonal networking), rather than concentrating on what it’ll take to reverse course, and get the property back on course to improved occupancy.”

This is refreshing. Here is a community expert that publicly admits, I'm not getting it done on my own property. We knew this to be true from other reports, but to hear it straight from the owner/expert himself is noteworthy indeed.

The expert above goes on in the same column to outline the plan that he teaches, but has not 'fully' implemented himself. Part of what caught my eye here was that his on-site manager is 'trained,' but that apparently hasn't (yet) yielded the desired results of increasing occupancy. FYI and IMHO, the man's ten point list is a pretty good one.

We could talk about another 'expert' that is out there teaching his method for filling vacant home sites, one apparently created over a decade ago. That expert isn't as self-revealing as the one above. This second gent allegedly watched a partnership he was in blow up in a spectacular bankruptcy. Having disappeared from the communities scene for many years after that failure, he re-appeared about 2 years ago, complete with his training materials, website, self-promotion in online posting sites, etc.

By the way, failure can be a fine way to learn, I don't knock it at all. One can learn from success, and we can learn from failure too.

Now, let me compare and contrast the above with the following:

JAR-letter-excerp

The above is an excerpt from a longer letter signed by the president of a well known land-lease portfolio operator. That president asked that we share the letter in full only upon request, so we've blacked out from the above 'clues' as to who the company is. We also have third party references on this same project that confirmed the dramatic turn-around results described in the letter above.

Tony and his associates created and implemented proven, successful systems. Actions speak louder than words.

While the letter above is from a community operator, these systems work in retail – street dealer – manufactured housing sales as well as in land-lease community operations.

My friend Tony had the notable achievement of hitting the top 1% of all manufactured home retailers in the U.S., from a single location in a small town in a depressed market, where he achieved triple digit deliveries a year. During that same time frame, 80% of the others in the business vanished, closed their doors, many forever. Tony achieved those results with (or because of?) good customer satisfaction. Kovach had no BBB complaints, no lawsuits, no letters from a single attorney representing even one retailer customer. Referrals, as the letter above also shows, were the #2 source for all of his new business.

Do you see how this ties in nicely with my theme about the value of word-of-mouth from last week's blog post?

In the Internet era, word of mouth:

  • Can be testimonial letters.
  • Recommendation on LinkedIn.
  • Being 'liked' on Facebook, especially with positive comments being posted.
  • It can be positive PR in an article, newspaper or magazine.
  • Or it can be one person telling another.

All of these and more can be part of 'word of mouth.'

When I came on board here, Tony graciously provided me with a page to 'introduce Tim Connor' as part of the team. Tony has told me many times that he owns a number of my books and CDs, including Soft Sell which he bought some years ago. Having sat in on some of his live training that Tony delivers online, it is obvious that he has taken lessons from here, there and his personal experience and woven it together into a system that works well for new and pre-owned manufactured housing sales to retail customers.

Selling More Homes at Retail and Filling More Vacant Homesites

Sometimes the truth of a matter is looking right at us, and we fail to see it. Think about how rapidly Tony turned this trade media website – MHProNews.com – into the success that it has become today. If you want to sell more homes and fill more sites, who are you going to call?

Would an extra $500,000 hurt you?

I was chatting with a community owner the other day. They have 3 properties and hundreds of home sites, with about 88% physical occupancy, and 82% economic occupancy. Let's say their average site rents for $300 a month. For discussions sake, let's further say he had 100 vacant sites. That's:

  • $30,000 monthly in lost revenue.
  • $360,000 a year in lost income.
  • Increased costs for mowing and other maintenance on the vacant home site

Plus the lost income from the sales of the homes the could be selling. That's a cool half a million dollars, in round numbers, for the example above.

A relatively modest investment in marketing and sales consulting – from a proven performer like Tony and his team – could yield a handsome Return on Investment. Full capacity would be far more lucrative – and much more predictable! – than almost any stock you could name could yield in the same x months it would take to bring those sites to physical and economic occupancy.

On the LATonyKovach.com website I saw an item about an RV retailer that Tony increased his sales from 50 some odd units a year to over 175 annually; that's a 321% increase, that took 8 months to do. RV's aren't

Tony's specialty, manufactured housing is. Perhaps that makes the point.

Times change. Circumstances change. Challenges change. But the ability to study a set of circumstances, see the best way forward, create a plan, adapt it as needed (all plans need tweaking after they are launched) can make all the difference. You go to a doctor for certain needs, who is your Manufactured Housing Marketing and Sales MD? Are you getting your regular business check up?

Tony has brought together a team:

  • Webtech
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • PR
  • Management

that have proven ability to deliver bottom line results. But let me tell you what really struck me. Tony has turned down working with some companies, often after free initial consultations. His philosophy is win-win. If everyone in the mix benefits, then and only then is it a good deal and one worth pursuing.

The same gent I used in the first example above said to a crowded room filled with Industry professionals, as he introduced Tony and a team member to speak, “These guys are the Future of Manufactured Housing!”

Let us make history together. You very graciously bring us to your laptop, smart phone or PC web-browser today and likely other times too. You know we bring you the most Industry News, Tips and Views You Can Use ©.

We can also bring you:

  • The most cost effective websites or website updates. Not from some who does it on the side, or who make know nothing about factory built housing, but from pros who knows the business inside out.
  • Business to Business or Business to Consumer marketing plans.

Want to grow your results? Who are you going to call? ##

Tim Connor
Business Development
MHProNews.com
MHMSM.com
And the new MHLivingNews.com
704-895-1230
tim@mhmsm.com

If Word of Mouth Is Still King Are you Maximizing it?

June 8th, 2012 No comments

Let me take you back to the not so distant past before the Internet and when the telephone and other technologies were still on the distant horizon. How did people sell their wares? Word of mouth from satisfied customers. Fast forward some years and businesses used the newspaper, radio, then television and then BAM the Internet took over with its billions of websites. Did these work? Absolutely, because it was the only or best method available to them at the time.

Even though technology seems to have taken the majority of the stage today, do you think word of mouth is a “bygone days” approach to growing your business? If you think 'yes,' think again. Word of mouth from loyal and optimistic customers is still a very effective way to spread the message today of what you offer.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that business to business advertising or business to consumer ads are not a good investment. Of course they are. Why? Because advertising is the only way to reach your market’s full potential of new customers cost effectively, with convenience and repetition. We all know that message repetition is a key to effective media exposure.

What I am saying here is that the best way to improve the overall effectiveness of your advertising investment is by creating “mass word of mouth”.

What is “mass word of mouth?” An example may help.

Let’s say you are a Community owner and you want to fill vacancies at you location. First, if you have significant vacancies or lack sufficient retail sales, you should be engaging MHMSM.com proven Solutions Department. But I digress, so let me return to the point.

Let’s say you have 100 residents that have lived at your location and they are happy to be there and feel like living there has been a wise decision. Let’s also presume you have vacancies you want to fill or unsold homes. Further, one or more of the following may apply:

– You want to sell your location but know that you will get less for it if you have a lot of vacancies.

– You want the location to look successful not just for yourself but for the other residents as well.

– You just want to stop losing all of the potential revenue from vacant sites.

Customer statistics over the years have indicated that for every satisfied customer you have they will tell 3 to 10 other people about their experience. Imagine for a minute if every one of your residents told just 3 people about the great lifestyle they have living in your property. So if you have 100 residents and they each tell 3people – well I’m sure you can do the math – that’s 300 potential ways to fill your vacancies. Vacancy problem solved.

Yes, you need to have a website. Yes, you need to have a well maintained location and satisfied owners or renters, But in the end just having these will not guarantee your vacancies will be filled as you watch thousands of potential dollars fall through the cracks every month.

There are five things you should be doing if you want the tremendous impact of word of mouth exposure.

  • Your residents need to have a good lifestyle and feel happy that they live where they do.
  • You have to encourage word of mouth advertising.
  • You have to reinforce for your residents the wisdom of their housing choice with your company.
  • You need to give your residents ideas on how to help them solve some of their housing issues, needs or problems.
  • Your staff needs to be effectively trained in customer service, sales and management skills to aid this word of mouth process.

For communities or retailers, our free new resource at MHLivingNews.com can help with many of these issues. It will reinforce the lifestyle choice they've made in manufactured housing. It will debunk some of the outdated myths that are tossed at 'mobile homes' by an unwitting media or others. Happier residents or customers, will yield over time more referrals.

We have a wide variety of services available that can help you solve many of your current challenges. We call it simply, Solutions. It says it all. All you have to do is let us know your challenge, and we can tell you the ways that we have helped other companies like yours solve them; profitably.

Then, you can join the 'word of mouth' that we get, like the testimonials found at that link. Want more, just call me.##

 

Posted for
Tim Connor
Business Development
MHProNews.com
MHMSM.com
And the new MHLivingNews.com
704-895-1230

tim@mhmsm.com