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Turning the Page in Manufactured Housing Marketing and Sales

November 14th, 2015 No comments

There may have been 2-3 dozen MHPros in the final session of the NCC’s 2015 Fall Leadership Forum on Friday. So of the some 275 +/- that signed up and came, about 85% missed what Lisa – the final presenter from the multi-family side of housing – had to say about what she learned in contacting and checking out MH Communities.

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Lisa’s message deserved a packed room; she hit many themes the Cutting Edge blog promotes and utilizes.  Of the 275 +/- reportedly at the meeting, only a few dozen where still in attendance for this presentation – Lisa did a fine job.

Ouch!

Paraphrasing, Lisa said:

  • there was no need to discuss social media, because the MH industry needed to do so many other basic things first,
  • she lamented the fact that of all the ‘mystery shopper’ calls for information she made shortly before the posted, scheduled closing of locations (making those calls moving from East to West Coast, so she covered time zones from coast to coast):
  1. no one answered her calls,
  2. no one returned the call the next morning by 11 AM CT,
  • Lisa found websites that had not been refreshed (updated) in 5 to 10 years (she stressed the need to do that every 2 years, period),
  • websites that had no mobile friendly interface, and a host of other, costly errors.

In other, earlier calls Lisa made to MHCs, when she spoke with someone,

  1. they were using outdated jargon like ‘double wides,’ instead of something that had a warmer, more appealing residential sound to it from a consumer viewpoint,
  2. no one tried to book an appointment,
  3. she explained that in the apartment world, 74% of the closed customers came from a booked appointment – so failure to try to make an appointment was a big no-no.

We could drone on about a variety of other things Lisa said are needed in MHVille:

  • using ghost/tracking numbers,
  • a lack of professionalism (which implies a lack of training),
  • websites that lacked appeal,
  • too few or no videos,
  • the need for timely (rapid) professional engagement and follow up and
  • her closing by saying that those there should not shoot the messenger, because you can’t

improve without knowing what’s wrong.

Lisa admitted that multi-family housing had to adjust and make big strides in recent years in professionalism too and that slightly more than half the apartment locations are reportedly still doing things the old, wrong way.

This was all fascinating to me, because what Lisa stresses in multi-family, we’ve been teaching and doing with our MH retail or MH Community clients. We know these things work, because they are field tested for proven results. Having a good process that does the above (and more), and that is customer and user (sales team) friendly is profitable. Investing in training and marketing doesn’t cost, done properly, it pays-off with a high ROI.

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One has to LISTEN in marketing and sales to what the market and consumers are trying to tell you. Image graphic credit: KY Olsen, FlickrCreativeCommons.

The High Cost of Lost Opportunities

I spoke with some communities owners that had purchased properties with as much as 50% vacancy, clearly with the idea of filling them. Others had occupancy in the 80s or even the low 90s percentage range, the later of which is noteworthy.

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Another MHC presenter explained that by investing in marketing and other efforts, what would normally be lost in 10 months site vacancy, they’d fill a site/home in about 90 days vs. a year.

That firm was clearly doing a number of things well; many that we advocate. What was noticeable to me from the facts that firm shared was that their conversion rates from leads and applicants to closed deals was still low (under 10%). That too looks like a sales/customer service/training issue. The good news is that all their efforts clearly were profitable, yielding a fine community, attractive models that appealed and yielded referrals.

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It shouldn’t require a genius to know that problem solving requires a different approach than the one you have, or your problem wouldn’t exist.  Odds are good you’re doing many things well! But its whatever is missing, that’s what is holding you and your profits back. Original image credit, WikiCommons, poster credit, MHProNews.com – © 2015, all rights reserved.

What does your location need?

It is self-evident that we can’t see ourselves. We need mirrors. We need another, objective set of eyes to see what we are doing.

What a 2 or 3 star location needs could be radically different than what a 4 or 5 star property or retail center does. A doctor may get clues from a phone call, but they all say the same thing, and rightly so. Let the doctor see you, it often requires tests, and from a proper medical exam, you can get a proper course of action.

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The view from the 80th floor of the Mid-America Club, atop the Aon Center, downtown Chicago. This was where the 2nd mixer for the 2015 NCC Fall Leadership Forum took place.  MHI and the NCC routinely do a good job of picking elegant or cool locations to hold their meetings and events.

We’re glad to do a conversation by phone to see if your scenario and budgets may be such  that we can successfully serve your location(s).  We’ll ask a few questions, and listen.

For those who go past that initial phone call, the next steps can be identified and laid out in a plan.

What’s interesting, is we offer all that Lisa suggested, and then some!

Let’s save a bit of time.

We routinely see success when management is all in. Change requires…change!

Half-hearted change doesn’t cut it. Don’t start change unless you are willing to see it through. Start and stop is a waste of time and money.

You can start at this location or that one, to prove the model for you. But where ever you decide to implement, make sure that you are all in.  See that launch through to a successful landing, and you’ll be glad you went through the challenging yet rewarding process of positive change.

For those who do embrace what’s new and works, good ROI and a system that is proven to deliver is the result.

Lisa from the apartment world isn’t the only one who preaches the need for change in MH, we have lived it for years and some of our clients are too.

Progress requires turning the page on the past for whatever doesn’t work.  Keep the good, lose what’s outdated or no longer works.  Measure for results.  Hold people accountable. Profitable Progress will follow! ##

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Photos from NY Housing Association annual meeting. Tony and team will be at the 2016 Tunica MH Show, among other upcoming events.

By L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.

Getting Reality-Based MH Results!

November 6th, 2015 No comments

Statistics and facts don’t mean much without a solid context. If you’re told that someone is getting a 40% result, in some fields, that would be terrible; in others, terrific. The surgeon who does a routine procedure that’s successful only 40% of the time would not create much confidence.  By contrast, the baseball slugger – that bats .400 – or the sales professional that closes 40% of the first time-visitor-at-the-sales-center or community – they are rock stars.

So numbers – measurable results – matter.  Reality matters.

MHImage, Education and Results

I speak frequently with pros about marketing, sales, image, education and related.  The image issue comes up routinely. How do we get past that image, Tony?”

Success is always about a process. There is a process for this, and it works.  That process is executable on the local market level. Does it work every time?  No, what does in sales or marketing?

But when the process we or some others use is applied correctly, it yields a routinely healthy, profitable outcome.  We routinely do non-disclosures with clients, so we need to share a national example, vs. a specific local one. Let’s tee that example up with the following…

…facts!

1 of the 6 Pillars of Successful Marketing and Sales

It will be useful for you to read the 6 Pillars of Successful MH Marketing and Sales. If you’ve not read that yet, or haven’t read it lately, please go read that again now. The article is titled, What does each Vacant Site or Missed MH Sale Cost You?

When it comes to the MH Image issue, this isn’t going to be a sexy solution, but it works so it’s valuable.  Moreover, its absolutely important for the results-oriented marketer looking to attract better qualified customers to get their arms around this approach.

Concerns or Fears are Keeping Good Prospects from Buying

In round numbers, 95% of the U.S. population doesn’t seriously consider manufactured housing (MH) when they are getting ready to rent or buy their next residence.  That’s a true opportunity in disguise.

That doesn’t mean the masses don’t think about MH at all.  What it means is among those who do know about ‘mobile homes’ or ‘trailers’ (their words), they dismiss a serious consideration of MH. Why?

In a phrase, there are outdated concerns and/or fears Americans have.  Until those concerns or fears are routinely addressed, the numbers who are truly shopping for MH will stay very low.

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The first half of the article below is about a specific story we ‘released’ for the media.  Both mainstream and social media have picked it up  See the first part of this article, linked below, on results for:

“Keeping the Home Fires from Burning: Fire Safety and the Modern Manufactured Home”

http://www.MHProNews.com/home/featured-articles/november-2015/138-general-manufactured-housing-industry-topics/10516-how-to-share-the-story-of-todays-manufactured-housing-

Once you’ve read that, the facts from the same search result below will make sense.  In fact, you should be impressed.

Let’s recap, so you’ll be crystal clear.

  1. We publish a story on com on manufactured homes and fire safety. Keep in mind, that in almost any city or town in America, x times a year, the local news reports some ‘mobile home’ that ‘burns down.’ So needless to say, when we publish a fact-based-report on how MH is as safe or safer than conventional housing, that’s good for all in the industry. So the above is link you and your team need to save and share.  Because you will over time encounter those buyers who like what you have, but their fear point may be fire, MH and windstorms, or something else.  The facts are on our side!  Learn, use and share the positive facts!
  2. The article linked above automatically goes out via RSS feeds to other sites. There are dozens we know of that are using RSS to pick our stories up. (FYI – get with your webmaster, and you can get your own RSS feed by using this link below.  Our content is copyrighted, but RSS is free for anyone to use.

RSS feed = http://manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/feed/ )

3. We then put out a media (press) release, plus we also do a release via our own social media network. In less than a day, using the search below and using the quotation marks that force an exact search result, we were up to 463 hits on the search:

“Keeping the Home Fires from Burning: Fire Safety and the Modern Manufactured Home”

  • Within 96 hours, we were up to 4,130 exact Google Search results on that same story, using that exact same search string.
  • On 11.4.2015, at about 1:15 ET, about 7 days after we published that article, we were now up to over 6000 hits! Specifically, see the screen capture below.
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Lorraine Carli, VP, NFPA.

 

As we were preparing this post, Lorraine Carli with the NFPA reached out, asking to provide their take on the topic of fire sprinklers and MH. It was a thoughtful read, so sure, we published it – linked here, with our own commentary to follow. That was published around 3 PM ET.  We may revisit that result later too.

 

 

Drip, Drip, Drip of Negative…or Positive, News…

Now realistically, our one article isn’t going to send droves of customers to sales centers.  What it does do is give newspaper and media editors/producers a story to consider that reflects the MH realities.  Perhaps before this, maybe the only thing they heard before was negative.

That’s significant, because the media editors and producers are the gate keepers to what they public sees and hears.

Imagine MH locally (in a market like yours), regionally or nationally forging an educational campaign that provide one, two or more ‘good news about manufactured home’ reports weekly.  Over time, ou’d see a growing number of more qualified customers.  This isn’t theory, it’s reality.

This plan works.

Stop and Think

There have been some market based efforts, but nationally for some 40 years, MH has failed to do a meaningful image/education campaign.  We launched MHLivingNews.com as a key element supporting the image/education of manufactured housing.  We’re doing something unique, unlike anything else out there before.  In the first year alone, we blew past 250,000 then 500,000 then topped 1 million visitors on the website.  That’s reality.

There are lots of nice websites out there!  Many have FAQs, etc.

But our sister site is a third party MH Living/Lifestyle/People/News site, and that hits a nice chord with the public.

We don’t – nor should your team – fear the facts about MH, because the more you know, the more you fall in love with just how amazing a value the MH product is.

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Graphic credit – Peek a Boo.

Sharing Reality, Will Make You More Sales Over Time

Some are forwarding these posts via Facebook or other social media. Some are putting up RSS feeds (see above, our content is copyrighted, but the RSS feed is free).

In A Perfect World…

The more others share or directly support our efforts and/or use our services – (websites, video, marketing, sales recruiting, training, coaching, consulting, etc.) – the more fuel we can add to this public education and information outreach.

Will that sell more homes?

It is already closing sales, when pros like you learn how to use the information on this site to your customer’s advantage.

When we TEAM up, T.E.A.M. = Together, Everyone Achieves More.  A steady stream of positive media stories on MH will over time yield a more positive image for our product.

That in turn will result in more sales, because let’s be honest.  Our value is real!  What we need are more customers who see the real value!

And customers learning about that value through mainstream media, the more who come to our MHLivingNews.com website through RSS, or back links, or social media, the more MH sales will take place.

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Timing news releases to certain seasons or events can get good news about MH tucked in among all those other headlines. MH needs to create both a market based and a national image/educational effort. Failure to do so, costs you money.

Beyond Google alerts picking up our news release, below is a partial list of the media sites that picked up Jan Hollingsworth’s story on MH and fire safety, all in under a day.

  • WAFB
  • com
  • NewsChannel6Now
  • 14News
  • MSNewsNow
  • HometownStations
  • NewsChannel10
  • Fox14TV
  • CBS8
  • K5TheHomeTeam
  • KFVS12
  • HawaiiNewsNow
  • KIIITV
  • ToledoNewsNow
  • KLNTV
  • KLTV
  • KMPH
  • KNDU
  • TucsonNewsNow
  • 19ActionNews
  • TulsaCW
  • ABC40
  • KSLA
  • KSWO
  • KTEN
  • KTVN
  • KUAM
  • KUSI
  • Fox5Vegas
  • NewsWest9
  • KXNET
  • CW15KXVO
  • KXXV
  • CBS19TV
  • NebraskaTV
  • WAFF
  • WALB
  • WANDTV
  • WAVE3
  • WMActionNews5
  • WBOC
  • WDRB
  • MyFoxChattanooga
  • WECT
  • 14WFIE
  • WFLX
  • WFMJ
  • WFSB
  • CBSAtlanta
  • MyGTNTV
  • CWRichmondTV
  • FoxCaronlina
  • ErieTVNews
  • WISTV
  • WLBT
  • WLTZ
  • WMBFNews
  • WMCTV
  • WOIO
  • MyFoxNepa
  • WOWKTV
  • WRCBTV
  • WSFA
  • WSFX
  • CBS3Springfield
  • WSMV
  • WTHR
  • MyFoxTallahassee
  • WTOCTV
  • WTOL
  • WTVM
  • Fox8Live
  • Fox19
  • WXTX
  • CBS46
  • NBC12
  • KCENTV
  • KEYC

Remember.  As – or more – important as the public reading this, is the fact that a news editor, news desk, or producer looked at the release, and decided to publish it.  That’s important.  The more that happens, the more often that happens, the more we can influence the influencers.

Educating

  1. the media,
  2. policy makers,
  3. informing MH industry pros,
  4. MH home owners and
  5. educating the public at large….

…these 5 legs of the stool all make a difference over time.  A one legged stool is hard to balance.  3 legs, better.  5 good legs can be amazingly stable.

While it took decades of neglecting informing the public about the MH image, a few years of good efforts would yield an ever larger pool of ready, willing and able MH buyers.

Fire, wood image

Take away people’s fears and concerns about MH, and you’ll see more cash and good credit customers over time.  Its about win-win, no game playing needed.

That’s just part of the reality-based plan. This works for those who do it properly.

We’re sticking to it.

How about you?  Ready to do some part of this?  Ready to reap the rewards of changing the image so you get more and better qualified buyers in your market(s)? ##

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By L. A. “Tony” Kovach.

 

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