Archive

Archive for March, 2014

How to Sell More Manufactured Homes

March 12th, 2014 No comments

The Cutting Edge of Marketing and Sales blog is not about industry politics, as interesting or important as some find that issue. Rather, as the name implies, it is about selling more homes. That happens when you get and stay focused on Marketing and Sales, without ignoring the political or other matters that impact your business.

arrow-up-man-free-digital-photos-net-.jpg

Mid-to-Large Organization Structures

In a number of mid-to-large organizations, you'll find under various titles, marketing and sales management roles.

A common problem in manufactured housing industry retail and community operations is that there is so much reporting and paperwork, that the core functions that produce more sales are often overlooked.

Don't get me wrong, it isn't that paper work, budgeting, pipeline reports etc. aren't needed. They are. But if much of the reporting can't be delegated to an assistant to assemble and collate, then is it a surprise when sales potentials are not being met?

Outside contract experts and consultants can often fill a core needs that compliments that of the salaried staff.

Outside consultants also have the benefit of 'new eyes.' It is common for staff people to simply accept what is, while an outside consultant can come in, ask questions, and reveal missed opportunities, lower costs and also drive more business.

businessmen-with-briefcase-image-provided-by-mod-coach-posted-mhpronews.com

What many find surprising, is that the consultant may be less costly than hiring an additional salaried staffer and return a solid ROI that can:

  • reduce interest costs on inventory that otherwise ages
  • improve marketing results
  • increase sales
  • improve customer satisfaction
  • advance staff training

and much more.

Even when a consultant is called in for a 'look us over, and give us your thoughts,' that too clearly has value. It can be helpful to get an independent viewpoint on procedures, inventory, CRM and much more.

Separation of Responsibilities

In a large enough organization, in the volume automotive model, you separate duties into specialized areas. At a volume auto retailer, the sales professional is not expected to put the financing together on the deal. That's the F&I person's job. Sometimes even 'closing' the initial deal – before it is written up and goes to F&I – is a tag-team between the sales manager and the sales professional.

While I don't want to push the analogy too much (because there are so many things our manufactured housing industry must do differently than auto dealers do), other aspects of the car dealer model also needs to be considered for these reason.

The:

  • auto-detailing,
  • make-ready,
  • advertising
  • and other aspects of running a volume car center is not the responsibility of the sales pro.

A volume auto dealer may also:

  • have used and new car specialists – and in some auto sales structures – if a client is with a use sales person and ought to be with a new car guy (or vice-versa), you hand that customer off to another specialist, you don't cross those lines yourself.
  • Outside sales trainers are routinely brought in to shake things up, and it routinely yields more sales and thus more income.

failure-success-1-free-digital-photos-net-.jpg

The outside trainer is no 'threat' to the sales manager. If both are true pros, they collaborate!

From time to time, I like to refer to a comment shared by Jay Hamilton, currently the Executive Director of the GMHA, but previously a manager with Fleetwood Homes. Please see his commentary, Investing in the Future of Manufactured Housing.

There are those who say investing in sales training is a waste of time, due to turn over. But some studies indicate that the more trained a person is, they last longer, produce more and tend to be more loyal to the company who trained them.

Let me finish with a question that Tim Connor likes to ask. What do your lost sales opportunities cost you? If you are an MHC operation, what do your vacancies cost you?

When you do the math, good marketing and sales doesn't cost, its an investment that pays.

6 FREE Business Building Seminars LIVE!

http://www.mhpronews.com/component/banners/click/134

For details, please click the link above. ##

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 

Hard Truths and Dominating Your Local Market

March 8th, 2014 No comments

If a business routinely treats their customers like dirt, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that sooner or later, that business will suffer and likely be forced to sell out to someone more savvy or close.

If a business owner treats its staff with disrespect, it is self evident that even in a tough economy and job market, the staffers will sooner or later find their way to a better place. In the mean time, can the disrespected staffers be expected to perform their best for the owner who maligns them?

If you are an association leader and don't get along well with people who have a differing view point than you do – alienating some, losing some members and creating avoidable adversaries along the way – would it be a surprise if the results of such an association leader would be slim at best?

There are a number of hard truths that every professional person must face. The above are so obvious, that they are shared to make a point. The hard truth is that 4 years into our industry's recovery from the bottom hit in 2009, we are faced with yet another wave of challenges.

But as John F. Kennedy wisely said, “When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”

written-chinese-crisis-composed-two-characters-one-represents-danger-the-ot ... -opportunity-john-f-kennedy-copyright-2013-lifestyle-factory-homes.jpg

Brutal Winter and CFPB Regulations

The combination of a brutal winter up north and new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulations represents a genuine crisis for some in our industry. Don't get me wrong, some will come through this profiting more than they did before. Some are doing well in the very areas that others are struggling. But others will fail or will have to hand over the keys to their business to someone else, likely at a distressed price.

marty-lavin-jd-manufactured-home-community-owner-on-board-spy-sea-.jpg

One of the more successful professionals in our industry – Marty Lavin, JD – who has been:

  • in retail with an operation that sold 5,000 homes a year
  • operated a manufactured housing finance firm that originated more loans than some of the chattel lenders we have today
  • survived a big downturn in the land-lease communities business, and still successfully owns and operates to this day
  • is an industry attorney who dealt with some of the biggest names in our industry and the likes of mortgage giants, Fannie and Freddie

said to me in his 6 million dollar list price 72' boat, “Tony, the problem is not the product!” (more from Marty Lavin, linked here).

We have a great home, at an incredible value. We have not done the sales training and marketing needed to grow the business. Who says? The likes of former Fleetwood manager and current state association executive Jay Hamilton:

We are an industry that for years has desired the best for our industry representatives, our customers and our distribution system but for all these years have been hesitant to:

  • invest financially in training our people,
  • marketing our product's image,
  • updating our technology,
  • improving our delivery system, etc..

Manufacturers and Retailers have made some bold attempts at the previously listed task but always fail to follow through because they don’t see immediate profits from marketing or training programs. 

We are an industry that has the need for all of our profits to be immediate. Future growth and maturation always loses out to the need for immediate results and immediate profits. 

jay-hamiltong-executive-director-georgia-manufactured-housing-association-gmha-posted-mhpronews-com(1).jpgUntil we are willing to train our people well, invest in technology, invest in customer service, invest $ in creating a brand image with the understanding that is will cost a percentage of our industry profits and will not necessarily produce immediate results we are doomed to keep repeating our same mistakes over and over.

Thank You,
C. Jay Hamilton
Executive Director
Georgia Manufactured Housing Association

At the Tunica Manufactured Housing Show, I'll be presenting on the topic of Dominating Your Local Market, version 2.0. A variation on this topic drew praise and a standing room only attendance at the Louisville Show.

You'll also have the opportunity to get the latest in

  • Manufactured Home financing, including information from lenders not present at Louisville
  • Commercial Land Lease Community Financing, both moderated by Dick Ernst of FinmarkUSA.com
  • Manufactured Home Community Lessons Learned Panel Discussion, moderated by Jenny Hodge
  • The Importance of CRM for your Retail or Community sales operation, a panel discussion

and more!

standing-room-only-2014-louisville-manufactured-housing-show-seminar-room-masthead-blog-mhpronews-com-.png

If you're marketing fails to attract enough of the good credit customers who are third party financeable or cash buyers in significant numbers, in the Dodd-Frank/CFPB era, you may not make it.

Learn more about what you need to do differently in today's market, at the free panel discussions and seminars linked above at the rapidly approaching Tunica Show.

You won't find these same topics all in one place at one event anywhere else in the U.S. at this time, so don't miss this opportunity. More information on the free business building seminars at the 2014 Tunica Manufactured Housing Show is linked here. ##

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