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Archive for October, 2013

What Avis, Hertz, Budget and National Rental Car Companies can teach Manufactured Housing

October 26th, 2013 No comments

A recent client-connected trip took me to Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport, so my travels also took me to what looked like their new rental car center. All of the major rental brands were there – Avis, Budget, Hertz, National – plus some that you seldom see or were new to me, such as Fox, Payless and Sikt.

What they all had in common was they were sharing this new, centralized, clean and appealing facility. But doesn't that happen in many airports from coast to coast? Don't we see rental car companies – competitors! – gathered near a location, all side by side?

Why would competitors do that?

Good question, let's look at a few reasons.

  • Easier for customers to find the location
  • Shared (read lower cost, more effective) marketing
  • Shared (lower cost) overhead for this kind of quality facility, which provides a…
  • Better customer experience.

Lessons for MH?

Something similar happens at trade shows, such as the approaching 2014 LouisvilleManufacturedHousingShow.com.

But most trade shows are only a 2½ day event. Where is their a similar cooperative effort the other 362½ days of the year?

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) and Google study, downloadable from the link below, showcases that some 90% of home shoppers are doing some or all of their shopping online. Some research puts that number at 94%, but either way it's high!

http://www.MHProNews.com/home/industry-news/industry-in-focus/6318-why-should-you-target-home-shoppers-online

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Manufactured Home Retailers, Communities, Lenders, Builders, Associations and Suppliers/Vendors of all kinds can each benefit from the obvious concept of having an image/educational web portal that can mimic in cyber-space at a very low cost what the rental car companies do.

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The new ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com has started what time will reveal to be an important step forward for our industry. Attend the free seminar at the 2014 LouisvilleShow.com, to see how YOU can benefit – free or at a low cost – from this ever more popular resource.

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The lessons for manufactured housing from the rental car example are clear. We could sum it up with this acronym, T.E.A.M. = Together Everyone Achieves More. ##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for October and see the other new stories at MHLivingNews.com too.

L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach
ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com | MHProNews.com |
Business and Public Marketing & Ads: B2B | B2C
Websites, Contract Marketing & Sales Training, Consulting, Speaking:

MHC-MD.com | LATonyKovach.com | Office 863-213-4090 

Connect on LinkedIN:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach 

Sparks Wrap up the Discussion of the Future of the Land Lease Business Model, National Communities Council 2013 Fall Leadership Forum

October 20th, 2013 No comments

Each of the panels and presenters at the 2013 National Communities Council (NCC) inaugural 2013 Fall Leadership Forum offered multiple take-aways which properly applied could have been worth more than the price of admission.

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Randy Rowe (l), Gary McDaniel, Joe Stegmayer, Stephen Braun (r)

For this column, we will focus on a very focused segment of the final panel discussion – The Future of the Land Lease Business Model – which featured Randy Rowe, Green Courte Partners (GCP), Gary McDaniel of Yes! Communities, Joe Stegmayer, Cavco Industries and Stephen Braun of Hometown America.

Don Westphal commented during the discussion that manufactured housing is “….the only industry that succeeded in spite of itself.”

Joe Stegmayer commented on the importance of sales training and product knowledge.

Since marketing, image and branding where among the topics at the NCC Fall Forum, certainly Don's and Joe's comments could have easily been applied to what is often the lack of a proper implementation of marketing and sales training in our industry. Does this cost our industry and land lease communities business?

A number of Industry Voices guest blog posts last month answered that question with a strong “yes.”

The subject of national MH Industry image campaign came up near the end of the panel discussion. Cavco Chairman and CEO Joe Stegmayer stated that “We would be willing to support” such a campaign.

Randy Rowe is a long time proponent of an image building and other professionalism enhancing efforts, as is showcased in this exclusive interview, linked here.

Green Courte's Chairman underscored that ½ of a percent or somewhat more of industry new home shipment revenues could fund a campaign that would rival the size of the highly successful GoRVing campaign, which is about $18 million a year.

Gary McDaniel said he disagreed.

Such a campaign, he argued, “Won't do much for us.”

McDaniel's offered up a common argument made by those who oppose such an effort, by saying that local, community level marketing and good business practices would do more for our industry than an image building effort would do.

Yes! Communities McDaniel's went on to say that if someone wants to call our homes a “mobile home,” then “God bless them.”

“A clean, affordable and safe place to live,” said McDaniel, “rather than respectability,” is what our industry's traditional home buyers seek.

To this comment Randy Rowe dove in with the comment, that while respecting McDaniel's, “I strongly disagree.”

Rowe pointed out that just getting around the “trailer moniker is huge.” “These are great homes,” Rowe said, built in a “temperature controlled environment.”

GCP's Chairman Rowe clearly expressed his conviction that we as an industry would attract more customers including those who are financially more affluent customers by improving our industry's image.

Beyond the NCC Fall Forum thinking

MHProNews has long supported the need for enhanced professionalism, including image building. This includes sales training which GMHA's Jay Hamilton said in this guest column was crucial, combined with image building.

Drew Chairman Leigh Abrams took a position very much akin to that of Randy Rowe in his interview, linked on his name above.

While we would whole heatedly agree with Randy Rowe's position – that a full fledged image campaign has strong merit and value to build the future of land lease communities and the industry at large – the nuance noted above has an echo in Gary McDaniel's call for sound professional performance at the local level.

We'd also take the editorial view that manufactured housing doesn't have to invest 10 million or more to get some benefit from image building. Image can be improved subtly but surely and at a low cost via online efforts, which other presenters at the NCC forum pointed out.

It is precisely with that thought which motivated the launch last summer of ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com. We are already generating leads for pros via that platform that attract customers who may not have considered the manufactured housing option otherwise.

The Industry In Focus Report on the study by NAR and Google on Why You Should Target Home Shoppers Online clearly underscores the value of doing such online image building efforts.

Sam Landy of UMH Properties fame stated in his interview linked on his name that he sees how the industry could rise to 300,000 to 400,000 shipments again. Image building is part of the key!

UMH and CU Factory Built Lending are among those early supporters for this online image building effort.

Until the industry is willing to invest millions, a small fraction of that and the 3 easy steps found on the download linked at the end of the article here would turn ManufacturedHomeLivingNews into a significant force fueling more sales, could improve our political clout and improve the image for communities and our industry at large.

It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. Those interested in “lighting candles” are encouraged to sound off or contact us at the number or email below. We are better off when we advance our image and professionalism together. ##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for October and see the other new stories at MHLivingNews.com too.

L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach
ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com | MHProNews.com |
Business and Public Marketing & Ads: B2B | B2C
Websites, Contract Marketing & Sales Training, Consulting, Speaking:

MHC-MD.com | LATonyKovach.com | Office 863-213-4090 

Connect on LinkedIN:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach 

Amway and Autos – Lessons in Branding, UnBranding and ReBranding for Manufactured Housing

October 13th, 2013 No comments

Perhaps the best time to write a column on branding, unbranding and rebranding is prior to the Fall Leadership forum of the National Community Council (NCC) at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). Their workshop on that topic will be one of the items yours truly plans to take in with keen interest, as it is something we deal with routinely in our marketing, sales training, website building and consulting.

The Business Dictionary defines branding like this:

“The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers' mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.”

Let's begin with a fundamental principle to rapidly drive home the point for today's topic.

The value of branding a product or service is dependent in part on the perception and demand of the product or service in question.

For example, autos are in demand. Branding your car company or dealership makes sense, because Ask reports that in 2011, 12,778,885 cars, trucks, SUV and other automotive types were sold in the U.S. alone. Branding your product and/or service to grow your piece of the automotive pie in such a huge market makes perfect sense.

The Free Dictionary defines rebrand as follows:

rebrand [riːˈbrænd] – (Business / Marketing) (tr) to change or update the image of (an organization or product).

As an example, if your company's brand in automotive is suffering, you'd want to consider rebranding.

Let's imagine for a moment that an import auto company like Yugo wanted to change their image, rebranding combined with improved quality controls, marketing, service and sales training could have made the kind of sense that could have saved that automaker from 'crashing and burning' in the U.S. car market.

Almost no one in our industry (besides us and some of our select clients) grasp and use the powerful concept of parallel paths and unbranding, along with when it makes sense to use this principle.

Macmillan defines unbranding as:

Unbranded goods are not marked with a name of the company that makes them.

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What if your dealership, community – or the industry at large – has an image issue? Does rebranding make the most sense? Or would a possible combination of unbranding and/or rebranding make more sense?

Before you answer, consider this fact. Manufactured housing has tumbled from having 21% of the new home starts in the last 20 years to some 8-12% in more recent years.

So rebranding in a shrinking market is like deciding to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. Wouldn't you rather go after the large housing marketing place, by whatever strategies are necessary to get you there profitably?

Lessons from Amway and Unbranding

As an example to drive home the point, think about Amway. How many people do you know that have run out to sign up to sell or buy vitamins, home cleaning products etc. from a multi-level marketing (MLM) distributor or company?

The image of MLM in general isn't that hot and hasn't been for many years! So what does a savvy MLM distributor or company do? Answer: they teach their marketing minded distributors to avoid the company name and the marketing method in their initial contact.

In no small measure due to their dual campaign of unbranding and branding, Amway became a multi-billion dollar empire for its founders and made millions for key 'direct distributors.'

At MHC-MD.com and in part via our LATonyKovach.com – websites, marketing, training and coaching platforms – we have garnered dozens of recommendations and hundreds of endorsements by using a proper combination of branding, unbranding and rebranding, along with other proven strategies.

Which of these – branding, unbranding and re-branding – does your operation need? The answer to that question can be worth millions to you and billions to our industry. ##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for October and see the other new stories at MHLivingNews.com too.

L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach
ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com | MHProNews.com |
Business and Public Marketing & Ads: B2B | B2C
Websites, Contract Marketing & Sales Training, Consulting, Speaking:

MHC-MD.com | LATonyKovach.com | Office 863-213-4090 

Connect on LinkedIN:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach 

Manufactured Housing Institute – Suppliers Division – Product Placement Project

October 6th, 2013 No comments

At the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) annual meeting, the Suppliers Division voted in favor of doing a creative MH industry image building project that would use Product Placement in videos.

Video is hot online. The number two search engine right behind Google is YouTube! You can find YouTube videos on seemingly countless subjects. The MHI Suppliers Division vote was a strong endorsement for using a spin-off of an idea Eddie Hicks suggested here on MHProNews some years ago.

Here are the basics of the concept:

A volunteer committee – including newly elected Suppliers Division board member L. A. 'Tony' Kovach as a point man, with support from MHI's Lois Starkey and Cheryl Beard – will reach out to state associations with the idea of identifying the following:

  • A school of performing arts (likely a college or trade school, but might be a specialized high school) for volunteers who would like experiencemanufactured-home-community-by-lake-credit-wikicommons-posted-on-mhpronews-com.jpg at doing video projects that would involve acting, filming and editing.
  • Short stories would be scripted ("story boarded") that would favorably use manufactured homes as an important element in each video.
  • Drama, humor, "reality," "news," "documentary" or other forms of story telling could all be used. The common element would be to showcase the appeal of manufactured home living in a favorable light.
  • For example, it might include a story or report set in a development or at a manufactured home land lease community, inside a real home in an appealing neighborhood.
  • Even one star communities could be showcased favorably compared to other older, low cost housing options (example, older apartments) by taking a positive spin on story telling and product placement.
  • Sponsors would be identified who would support the modest costs of the project.
  • Besides placing the videos on YouTube or a site like Vimeo, the videos would be embedded and showcased on the ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com website for distribution and promotion.
  • A YouTube Channel would be created for this project.
  • Additional industry volunteers who would like to serve on the Product Placement Video Project committee to advance this effort would be welcome.
  • As the project advances, other MHI divisions or factory built housing industry corporate involvement would be welcome.

It should be noted that this is the start of a work in progress, and the ideas above can easily be adapted at this early stage. So NOW is the time to get involved!

By creating mutual victories for all involved, quality engaging videos could be created that would showcase our industry favorably while providing practical, real world experience for the performing artists who would volunteer. Once produced, those videos can be used for many years to come.

Should we identify more than one school, contests might be held that would award some recognition to those who did the best in some category, a manufactured housing video version of the Emmy Awards.

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Who knows? Perhaps we could through a project like this fuel the career of video producers, actors or actresses!

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The videos may be useful with public officials, as well as marketing and educational efforts that can sell more homes and thus the products and services that would go along with more manufactured home sales.

As noted, the concepts are in their infancy, so your input and that of others in the factory built home industry input is encouraged and welcome.

By showing people how you cook, clean, eat, live and love the same in a manufactured home as in other housing options and how you can do so with –

  • lower costs,
  • lower energy use and
  • less maintenance costs than standard housing

– we can break down some of the barriers that are currently holding our industry back.

Please feel free to contact us with your interest and support! Working together, we can make this and other good efforts happen. Thank you. ##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for October and see the other new stories at MHLivingNews.com too.

L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach
ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com | MHProNews.com |
Business and Public Marketing & Ads: B2B | B2C
Websites, Contract Marketing & Sales Training, Consulting, Speaking:

MHC-MD.com | LATonyKovach.com | Office 863-213-4090 

Connect on LinkedIN:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach