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.
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):
- no one answered her calls,
- 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,
- they were using outdated jargon like ‘double wides,’ instead of something that had a warmer, more appealing residential sound to it from a consumer viewpoint,
- no one tried to book an appointment,
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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! ##