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Archive for November, 2012

Learning the new ways to work

November 25th, 2012 No comments

On a number of occasions last summer, I took off with my family to local or area getaways.  The iPhone and iPad where with me.  Social networks and the web were a click away. Relaxation, fun and biz were all woven seamlessly.

Before we published the Manufactured Housing Revolution, I sat by the fountains at Old Orchard near Chicago, watched my son playing and did part of the book outdoors.  It took less than 96 hours to pull the book together on the writing and editing sides.  It took about a week to have it printed, 'perfect bound' and ready.

This blog post was drafted while on my exercise bike! The point is that what we can do today was not possible 10 or 20 years ago.

The ways to do Business have mushroomed along with technology.  The ability for even a 'small player' to look,  market and sell like a much bigger operation have grown too. The axiom “Big enough to serve you, small enough to care” ought to mean more today than ever before.

Some of you already embrace all that this post is talking about. Good for you! Pass this article onto those who need it, please.

Some are embarrassed about getting into the new digital age.

Others are intimidated by it, even if they personally surf the web or use all these tech-tools and resources.

Just do it.

If you want or have to swim, then at some point, you get into the water!  If you are in the water, but aren't getting where you want to go, hire someone, take classes or get a coach.

Don't give yourself any excuses.  Done right, the profit potential from the new digital age is extraordinary. Done wrong or not at all, well, you get left behind along with Kodak and those long gone buggy whip makers.

If you market and sell the same old way, you will get those same old results.  By the way, this is not to say that some things from the past are bad. Not at all! You take the best of the past and fuse it with the best of the present.

But if you have a marketing, sales, management system or a website that you think looks old or outdated, you are likely correct.

Always look at things from your prospects or customers point of view.  When you do that, it keeps you fresh and on your toes. When you are in on the same page and in tune, you will close more business.

Trusting you and yours have enjoyed a good Thanksgiving. Be glad you are alive at this amazing time in history. Thanks for stopping in. See you again soon.##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for November and see the

other new stories and 'Purely Political' cartoons at MHLivingNews.com too.

l-a--tony-kovachL. A. "Tony" Kovach

MHLivingNews.com=Re-Discovering and Spotlighting the MHLifeStyle

MHProNews.comMHMSM.com = Industry News, Tips and Views Pros can Use

Services:B2BandB2CAds, Proven MH Marketing & Sales Systems, Websites other Industry Solutions.

Office –815-270-0500

latonyk@gmail.com or tony@mhmsm.com

www.MHC-MD.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach= connect with me on Linkedin.

http://pinterest.com/latonyk/manufactured-home-lifestyle/

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Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right. – Henry Ford

Foreigners!

November 18th, 2012 No comments

Those who come from a 'foreign' land speak and sound differently than we do. When they learn English, it is their second language. It takes some time to learn how to communicate effectively, so that natives and foreigners understand each other.

The same principle often holds true in business.

We learn a way – "our way" – of doing business. We express or communicate that a certain way. When we hear a new way, it may sound strange, almost like a 'foreign language.'

That experience of something being foreign or different doesn't make what is new right or wrong. It means one must first seek to understand or learn the new idea, lingo and terminology. Once learned, the once foreign concept may make good sense, if properly applied.

One key to such new ideas is to approach them with an open mind. This is often easier said than done. We are used to doing something 'our way' ('my way,' etc.). But if we are unwilling to consider or try what is new, then we are limiting ourselves – perhaps robbing valuable solutions from our business – in the process.

Competition

While held in disdain by some, competition truly is a good thing. A person or a company decides to strive for excellence. Over time, they perform at a level that makes a comparable person or operation "look bad."

The fact that some in a market, arena or field do better than others is proof that other can too. As a successful man share with me, the principle of 'prove one' applies. As soon as you can accomplish a result, you've proven it can be done. Once proven, it can be refined and improved.

Trapped by old ideas

posted on mhmsmThe most common thing that holds owners, managers and professionals back is a lack of willingness to try what is new or different. So there tends to be four broad groups.

First are the leaders. By following a new path that they have tried, tested and works, these may build up an edge so wide that other competitors may never match them. Think McDonald's, Facebook or Amazon as examples.

Then there are those who watch their competitors. They see some new approach tested, they follow suit. If they work hard, they demonstrate that they can do it too.

There is a third group, often larger than the other two. This third group will in time buy into the new idea. But they do it later in the curve. As a result, they often may not benefit as much as the first two groups.

Then there is the fourth group. These are like the buggy whip manufacturer. They don't change at all or not in time. They may fail and go out of business as a result.

Manufactured housing

It is self evident that manufactured housing has gone through a cathartic experience in the last 14 years. This is a wake up call for those who remain. Some have learned to adapt and thrive. Others, may only survive.

That there are thrivers proves that the open mind to success – by embracing what at first seems foreign – you or others can advance and thrive too.

Marketing. Sales. Management. Training. Are you doing things the same old way? Are you hoping for the cavalry coming to the rescue? A different, better result without making any changes? Isn't that just wishful thinking?

Positive changes comes through an open-minded willingness to learn and do what is new. What is foreign shouldn't scare you off! This is true in online marketing. It is true in all marketing, sales and management systems.

So long as the new is ethical and positive, it ought to be embraced. History proves that sooner is better later than later!  

Speaking of foreigners

pilgrim-indian-thanksgiving-flickrcc-credit-enokson-posted-mhpronews-com-cutting-edge-blog…our ancestors or us were all foreigners here in America at one point in time.

Safe travels and enjoy Thanksgiving with those whom you hold dear. ##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for November and see the

other new stories and 'Purely Political' cartoons at MHLivingNews.com too.

l-a--tony-kovachL. A. "Tony" Kovach

MHLivingNews.com=Re-Discovering and Spotlighting the MHLifeStyle

MHProNews.comMHMSM.com = Industry News, Tips and Views Pros can Use

Services:B2BandB2CAds, Proven MH Marketing & Sales Systems, Websites other Industry Solutions.

Office –815-270-0500

latonyk@gmail.com or tony@mhmsm.com

www.MHC-MD.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach= connect with me on Linkedin.

http://pinterest.com/latonyk/manufactured-home-lifestyle/

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Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right. – Henry Ford

Recruiting

November 14th, 2012 No comments

At the recent Iowa Manufactured Housing Association 65th annual event, business management guru Chad Carr made a number of great points. Among them was the fact that the wise business owner who has more than just himself in his company must 'always be recruiting.' Let's look at that 'always be recruiting' concept for your sales force, management and other team member consideration.

What is recruiting?

Dictionary.com defines recruting as:

  • a newly enlisted or drafted member of the armed forces.
  • a new member of a group, organization, or the like.
  • a fresh supply of something.

In this case, we are focused on the second definition. The BusinessDictionary defines it this way:

The process of identifying and hiring the best-qualified candidate (from within or outside of an organization) for a job vacancy, in a most timely and cost effective manner.

Now the point that Chad made was more forward thinking. Let me bring it to life with a real world example. Recruit even when you don't have an immediate need!

An example in Always be Recruiting

Some years ago, I was doing a marketing and sales management consulting project for an RV retailer. They were already a good company, our goal was to imake them better at marketing, sales and thus increase profits. In less than 6 months. they went from the top 20 in their busy state to the top 10 out of 500 'similar' companies.

How was that accomplished?

In part through good recruiting.

We did not have any vacancy in sales. But it was obvious to me that a new spark could be helpful for a sales team that was already good, but needed to go to the next level. Against that backdrop, here is the story.

I was shopping for a new mattress, which took me to a specialty retailer. I was greeted by a gent who was obviously a true professional.

  • He did a fine meet and greet.
  • He qualified me.
  • He knew how to demonstrate his product based on the inputs and observations being made.
  • He knew how to ask for the order.

I could say more, but you get the picture. The man was terrific at what he did.

After making the purchase – a much nicer mattress than I originally had in mind – I segued into the recuriting question. Are you open to new opportunities? Short answer, “yes.” I asked him to provide a resume (always do that), set up a time for an interview (always do that too). Then following that, I gave him an overview into the exciting world of the RV business.

Please note that he had no experience in 'big ticket sales' at a level beyond what he had been doing with this mattress company for many years.

In time, he was offered a job. I trained him. He rapidly became a star at towable RV sales too.

Lesson 1:
Always be looking for Talent.

Lesson 2:
They don't have to be from your industry.

Sometimes, it is easier to teach someone new to your industry than to find someone 'experienced' and get them to learn a new system. Does it take longer? Sometimes, yes. Is it worth it? Sure can be!

I could have used many examples of recruiting into MH, but wanted to share this example for a specific reason. You see, this man was African-American.

At that point in time, in a huge metropolitan market we were doing business, I knew of no other blacks in sales. About 2 or 3 months after I started him, and well into the point where he was often at or near the top of that retail center in sales, he came up to me and said,

Tony, I've learned that I'm the only black in (name of city) selling RVs. Why didn't you say something about that on the front end?”

I smiled and we talked about it. Would it have scared him off if he knew? Wasn't what mattered that he had the skill, made the commitment to give it his best and that the combination of factors assured his success? He smiled back and agreed. Would I do that every time in a similar circumstance? Nope; that sort of thing is case by case. If I had the slightest doubt, I would have handled it differently.

Lesson 3:
People Skills and Systems

That gent – and he truly fit the term gentleman – was disc pined, friendly without being over the top, professional and used a sales process before he was taught the one I developed for that retail center. There are certain things you look for in recruiting. He had all the keys to success.

Lesson 4:
Burn the Boats!

Something else that this man had. He understood – because we discussed it during the interview – that if he left the company he had been with for many years, there was no turning back. He had to 'burn the boats,' as William the Conqueror did when the Normans invaded England in 1066. It was victory or death for William and the Normans!

In the case of my recruit, he was a family man with bills to pay. Failure was not an option!

He knew he could make more money with us selling RVs, if, if, IF he did what was necessary. He wanted to better himself. He made the leap.

He listened, learned, did what he had to do and sold up a storm. He did his phone follow ups. He became one of the best.

Another benefit for that client of mine was this. As this new man proved that the system I was training worked, it was that much easier for the rest of the team to continue to buy into the system too!

To be candid, I've seen it backfire. But that is another story, maybe another featured article or post for another time.

The moral of the story is, always be recruiting. But always do it with a keen eye to the skills that are needed.

Lesson 5:

The Value of Real Training.

There is one more key lesson here and it was implied at the Iowa meeting by both Chad and me. It is that good training pays off. What if someone had recruited that same gent from the mattress world, and not trained him?

Last I heard, if you go to work for Best Buy, you spend two weeks in training for your product before you talk to customers, which in some departments may sell for under $20, $50, or $100 dollars.

Similarly, when you go to work for Holiday Inn, you spend 2 weeks in training before you talk to the first customer or take your first live call at the front desk. That room may start for under $100 a night, but they invest two weeks before turning a new person loose with a customer!

Personally, I do training differently than they do (not knocking them, just stating the fact. We blend training with live customer experiences).

But the point is that you have to have a formal training process. All success is predicated on a system that can be duplicated. Once you invent the light bulb – or anything else – you have to turn that knowledge into a readily repeatable system.

Always be recruiting. Always be training your new and existing team. Great athletes train every week, right along side the rookies! We need to do that too. When you do that, you will see the payoff for them and for your business unit, location and company.

Need a user friendly and customer friendly marketing, sales or training program that works when applied in today's world? Send me a message or give me a call. Check out this link for many testimonials in our MH Industry of success achieved through smarter marketing, sales, training and management systems. ##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for November and see the

other new stories and 'Purely Political' cartoons at MHLivingNews.com too.

l-a--tony-kovachL. A. "Tony" Kovach

MHLivingNews.com=Re-Discovering and Spotlighting the MHLifeStyle

MHProNews.comMHMSM.com = Industry News, Tips and Views Pros can Use

Services:B2BandB2CAds, Proven MH Marketing & Sales Systems, Websites other Industry Solutions.

Office –815-270-0500

latonyk@gmail.com or tony@mhmsm.com

www.MHC-MD.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach= connect with me on Linkedin.

http://pinterest.com/latonyk/manufactured-home-lifestyle/

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Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right. – Henry Ford

Messaging: Crafting and Delivery

November 7th, 2012 2 comments

The election is behind us and it holds many lessons for marketers. The results of the election are amazingly like what we started with. A Republican House. A Democratic Senate. Barack Obama staying at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Republicans picked up one or more governorships. What happened? Why? What does it teach us about marketing and messaging?

There will be punditry aplenty among the talking heads in the weeks and months to come. Here, we will take a unique look, blending factory built housing as part of our lens, but also using some political and marketing prisms to yield an insights to help us understand and that could help us professionally.

If you aren't into politics or are just worn out after 6 billion dollars of campaign spending, please hang with me, because there are interesting lessons to be learned. In fact, let me start with the executive summary, so that you will know you want to move 'forward,' pardon the pun.

Executive Summary:

1) Once you sell someone, if you keep giving them reasons to buy in – even if they are less that thrilled as a customer – they may continue to support you. But you must, must keep engaged, keep 'selling' and telling or you will lose them. This lesson held true for both Obama and for Romney. Both sides lined up behind their man, even though millions began as less than thrilled.

2) The Importance of the Messenger. What if Marco Rubio had been Romney's pick for Veep? In manufactured housing, we know that in a heavily Hispanic market, you might want to have some Spanish speaking housing professionals. It helps if they are Hispanics themselves. In an electorate that is increasingly minority, with a strong dose of Latinos, Rubio would arguably have made the difference in FL, CO, NV, VA and other states too. Besides, Rubio is a powerful, compelling speaker! He had that Scott Walker quality of saying and meaning what he said. Romney – Rubio would have kept the last R intact on the ticket, and would have likely made a difference in drawing Hispanics, other minorities – plus other groups – more to the R table.

Again, our take away for factory built home sellers is, mirror your market as much as possible. The messenger and his delivery are important.

Now, let's mix some marketing and political analysis, for fun and for possible profitable learning! Because all of this will impact the factory built housing industry, not to mention, our nation.

Not necessarily in order of importance; and certainly not being politically correct…

  • Campaign Strategy. The Obama campaign was better at it overall than Romney's team, the proof is self-evident. The Obama machine knew they couldn't run on a record of higher unemployment than the day he took office, a sluggish to poor economy and 16 trillion in debt. So they did what they thought they needed to in order to win, which was scare enough people into thinking that Romney would be more for the rich, a trigger happy cowboy with the military, who would take away 'binders filled with women's' contraceptives and would leave seniors without Medicare. Unfair? That's another subject, but it worked enough. That said, give Romney credit, he way outperformed John McCain. His campaign overall gets a B (was it a B-? Let's not argue that right now…). Romney shined in the first debate, and that may have carried him to a closer or even winning finish, if not for the following.
  • Optics1. Chris Christie's fawning over the president's speeches post-Sandy clearly helped Obama, exit polling shows as much. *
  • Optics2. Never mind that in hindsight, Sandy will end up looking more and more like FEMA and the Fed's cold Katrina, as opposed to some brilliant handling that the early speeches would have let us think. Why didn't the heavily negative optics of Sandy land on team Obama? See the next bullet. Note: Sandy could prove to be helpful for factory builders, which is an important subtext for our industry.
  • Optics3. When we talk about how something looks – Optics – what are we really saying? How the scenario looks through lens of the media. In a 6 billion dollar campaign, much of which lined the pockets of campaign (read, political marketing) professionals and the media itself, the bulk of the TV media was in the tank for the president. That reality meant that…
  • Optics4. Issues that ought to have been bigger issues, never crossed the threshold of – hey, what's up with that anyway? – that could have harmed and defeated the Obama campaign. Besides Sandy/Christie, these included, but were not limited to, the following:
    • Benghazi, which was carefully put on the back burner for 'investigation,' even though bits of information came leaking out that all looked bad for the President.
    • Unemployment. It is higher today than 4 years ago. Those 5 million 'new jobs?' What was never hit hard by journalists was the fact that we needed 6 million new jobs just to keep pace with population growth. No one since FDR won with unemployment so high, which tells us that Obama's campaign won the message war, even though the facts didn't support them. Take away: you can push a rock up hill!
    • Poverty and Food stamps explosions. 47 million on Food stamps and 15% of the population in poverty, unemployment among blacks at record levels in modern times, all of these and more are amazing facts that somehow didn't get covered enough to cause Obama supporters to switch.
    • The Fiscal Cliff and Sequestration. One of many possible time bombs the media elected to gloss over in favor of comparatively more trivial topics.
    • Energy. There is a war on coal, just ask the miners and their owners. There has been a war on coal-fired electricity, which will drive electric costs higher. We have seen fewer permits on federal lands, in spite of prominent denials. See Executive Summary point 1.
    • The self-inflicted lunacy of conservatives in debates being moderated by liberals. Enough said.

    We could go on, but you get the point. Suffice it to say, that sans the mainstream media's significant tilt toward the D's, we'd be talking about president-elect Romney now rather than 4 more years of President Obama.

    The lesson for manufactured housing? We need to craft and cultivate our media relationships too. For those who have not attended an Attracting More Customers with Cash or Good Credit presentation, if you are near Iowa, please attend and see how valuable good PR can be for our industry.

    Romney and his campaign will get beat up and parsed to death, but let's be balanced and fair. They way outperformed the John McCain 2008 campaign. They deserves a campaign B. They happened to be up against shrewd campaigners in Team Obama, it's their specialty. Romney was right to say that records matter, and that his was one of delivering to his investors at Bain, on the Olympics and for Massachusetts as governor.

    But those potentially powerful Romney messages certainly weren't picked up by the media at large.

    Isn't this a little analogous to manufactured housing? Don't we have a solid, good product? Yes, we do! What's the problem? We as an industry don't message it as we ought to either! It will NOT fall into our laps!

    We have to make it happen. We either define ourselves, or others will define us. In Romney's case, team Obama defined him early and often. We too often get defined by a less than loving media. But the fingers point back towards us industry pros.

    Just as Romney missed opportunities to clarify early and often on the auto bail out (read the actual Romney NYTimes OpEd, it wasn't much like Obama or Biden painted it) or other issues that could have won him MI and Ohio, so too manufactured housing has missed early and often the chance to tell our message well.

    Romney needed to connect more with his base and the public at large. Isn't that true for manufactured housing too? Please see this linked article, if you doubt it.

    Problems are Opportunities in Disguise

    Jack Kennedy cited the Chinese maxim that their character for crisis also meant opportunity. That is true for us today professionally (and politically). We have 20,000,000 homes that need to be built between now and 2030. Factory building ought to be at the forefront of that effort. Having the right messenger and the right marketing does make a difference.

    Let me close with the footnote that Madison Avenue, the 'professionals,' don't always have the best results. With 6 billion dollars spent this season on elections, there has been surprisingly little political shift. Crafting the right message, having the right messenger and delivery are critical in any promotional effort, business or politics. ##

    * That is suggested by Chris Matthews of MSNBC "I'm so glad we had that storm last week," Matthews said. Somebody off-screen was saying "oooh" at that remark, but Matthews explained.  "No, politically I should say — not in terms of hurting people. The storm brought in possibilities for good politics.” (Fox).

    PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for October and see the

    other new stories and 'Purely Political' cartoons at MHLivingNews.com too.

    l-a--tony-kovachL. A. "Tony" Kovach

    MHLivingNews.com=Re-Discovering and Spotlighting the MHLifeStyle

    MHProNews.comMHMSM.com = Industry News, Tips and Views Pros can Use

    Services:B2BandB2CAds, Proven MH Marketing & Sales Systems, Websites other Industry Solutions.

    Office –815-270-0500

    latonyk@gmail.com or tony@mhmsm.com

    www.MHC-MD.com

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach= connect with me on Linkedin.

    http://pinterest.com/latonyk/manufactured-home-lifestyle/

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    Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right. – Henry Ford

Buying Time

November 3rd, 2012 No comments

Whenever a business person hires or contracts out a job, they are buying timing. They may not look at it quite that way, but that is the reality. If you own or manage a business which has other people, you know what this means or will feel the light bulb going off over head as you read.

Buying time wisely is one of the keys to success in factory-built housing.

Buying Time Wisely

I've seen even successful companies do some rather odd things when it comes to buying time wisely. For example, what about those operations that hire one or more full time person(s) to do what ought to be a temporary job?

It is often less expensive and more cost effective to contract certain work out. For example, a mom and pop operation that retails homes likely contracts out the move, foundation, installation and utility hookups. That is a wise purchase of contracted time. Until you hit a certain volume of deliveries and installations consistently, it makes no sense to have your own crew.

  • But what about certain management or specialized functions?
  • What about marketing, advertising, web, social media?
  • Can a modest sized operation afford to have a sales trainer on staff?

These and other functions may be best suited for contracted services.

When it comes to leveraging time, think Social Media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus, etc – and your Website as some of the key ways to maximize time leveraging.

Once you've built the right website for your needs, that becomes your 24/7/365 spokesperson! It delivers the same message with precision! Investing in the right social media and Internet marketing pays off in multiple ways. You invest up front, but it pays off for years to come.

Spending Time Wisely

Finally, for yourself and your team, you want them to invest time wisely. A common example of wasted time is sadly in sales. You would not be alone if you have a sales professional who spends only 10-15% of her or his time actually selling. They may spend as much time surfing the web or playing solitaire on the computer than they do trying to make you another sale.

So how do you get the most from your time and that of your team?

Good industry trade media – think MHProNews.com – is a priceless resource to many companies large and small, because we provide relevant content for rank and file team members as well as management. Get your associates reading 15 minutes minimum daily!

Professionals and athletes practice and drill in every field. Ours should be no different.

Because we archive stories, you won't run out of worthwhile reading. Anyone can go back for years and read timeless articles on marketing, sales or management, communities, retail, legal, finance, inspirational or other industry relevant topics. Just use the top menu on the home page to explore and navigate all the information you can access freely.

Where to start?

If you want to contract out certain work, but don't know where to start, send us a message or give us a call. Before you waste any more time or money, think of us when you need web, social media, training or other professional needs. Our services are confidential, unless we mutually agree otherwise. If we don't do the type of work you need, we always try to point you in a worthwhile direction to find what fits.

One call or email can start it all. Remember, its about time. Buying time wisely is like buying more money. Yes, you can. ##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for October and see the

other new stories and 'Purely Political' cartoons at MHLivingNews.com too.

l-a--tony-kovachL. A. "Tony" Kovach

MHLivingNews.com=Re-Discovering and Spotlighting the MHLifeStyle

MHProNews.comMHMSM.com = Industry News, Tips and Views Pros can Use

Services:B2BandB2CAds, Proven MH Marketing & Sales Systems, Websites other Industry Solutions.

Office –815-270-0500

latonyk@gmail.com or tony@mhmsm.com

LATonyKovach.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach= connect with me on Linkedin.

http://pinterest.com/latonyk/manufactured-home-lifestyle/

+++

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right. – Henry Ford