There is only one who can claim to have every answer to every question and problem. That one has a three letter name, God. Ipso facto, that means the rest of us have to struggle along as best as we can with limited knowledge and limited answers. That's okay. Time, trial and error, learning from others who have already learned are among the paths open to any issue or challenge in need of solutions.
We go to experts for solutions on problems with our vehicles. We go to an attorney or accountant when we need one. Ditto doctors, who may send us to specialists if the issue is over the general practitioners head.
Perhaps the only surprise to me in the factory built housing industry is that there aren't more consultants and contract experts that companies turn to for solutions.
There are installation and set up experts, such as George Porter.
There are loss mitigation and insurance pros such as Kurt Kelly.
There are fair housing attorneys, such as Nadeen Green.
If you wanted to do a new land lease community or upgrade an existing one, you'd call Don Westphal.
But where are the pros who specialize:
in retail or land lease community location turn-arounds, or
dealing with vacancy issues in communities, or
I'll give you the answer in a few moments.
But first, let's acknowledge that there are individuals – some with considerable experience – that carry the label (sometimes self-described, sometimes valid) as “experts.” I ran across an article recently on a consultant's blog, not a blog here at MHProNews.com. The gent is an award winning expert and consultant. Here is what he wrote, in his own words (including his typos; the bold alone is added for emphasis):
“Like some – to – many of you reading this blog posting, I’m dealing with declining occupancy in a landlease community I own, located a four hour drive from my office. Success there, is improving – to – max physical and economic occupancy. My present distraction? When arriving in town for a property visit, I too often find myself dealing with peripheral matters (e.g. minor repairs, interpersonal networking), rather than concentrating on what it’ll take to reverse course, and get the property back on course to improved occupancy.”
This is refreshing. Here is a community expert that publicly admits, I'm not getting it done on my own property. We knew this to be true from other reports, but to hear it straight from the owner/expert himself is noteworthy indeed.
The expert above goes on in the same column to outline the plan that he teaches, but has not 'fully' implemented himself. Part of what caught my eye here was that his on-site manager is 'trained,' but that apparently hasn't (yet) yielded the desired results of increasing occupancy. FYI and IMHO, the man's ten point list is a pretty good one.
We could talk about another 'expert' that is out there teaching his method for filling vacant home sites, one apparently created over a decade ago. That expert isn't as self-revealing as the one above. This second gent allegedly watched a partnership he was in blow up in a spectacular bankruptcy. Having disappeared from the communities scene for many years after that failure, he re-appeared about 2 years ago, complete with his training materials, website, self-promotion in online posting sites, etc.
By the way, failure can be a fine way to learn, I don't knock it at all. One can learn from success, and we can learn from failure too.
Now, let me compare and contrast the above with the following:
The above is an excerpt from a longer letter signed by the president of a well known land-lease portfolio operator. That president asked that we share the letter in full only upon request, so we've blacked out from the above 'clues' as to who the company is. We also have third party references on this same project that confirmed the dramatic turn-around results described in the letter above.
Tony and his associates created and implemented proven, successful systems. Actions speak louder than words.
While the letter above is from a community operator, these systems work in retail – street dealer – manufactured housing sales as well as in land-lease community operations.
My friend Tony had the notable achievement of hitting the top 1% of all manufactured home retailers in the U.S., from a single location in a small town in a depressed market, where he achieved triple digit deliveries a year. During that same time frame, 80% of the others in the business vanished, closed their doors, many forever. Tony achieved those results with (or because of?) good customer satisfaction. Kovach had no BBB complaints, no lawsuits, no letters from a single attorney representing even one retailer customer. Referrals, as the letter above also shows, were the #2 source for all of his new business.
Do you see how this ties in nicely with my theme about the value of word-of-mouth from last week's blog post?
In the Internet era, word of mouth:
Can be testimonial letters.
Recommendation on LinkedIn.
Being 'liked' on Facebook, especially with positive comments being posted.
It can be positive PR in an article, newspaper or magazine.
Or it can be one person telling another.
All of these and more can be part of 'word of mouth.'
When I came on board here, Tony graciously provided me with a page to 'introduce Tim Connor' as part of the team. Tony has told me many times that he owns a number of my books and CDs, including Soft Sell which he bought some years ago. Having sat in on some of his live training that Tony delivers online, it is obvious that he has taken lessons from here, there and his personal experience and woven it together into a system that works well for new and pre-owned manufactured housing sales to retail customers.
Selling More Homes at Retail and Filling More Vacant Homesites
Sometimes the truth of a matter is looking right at us, and we fail to see it. Think about how rapidly Tony turned this trade media website – MHProNews.com – into the success that it has become today. If you want to sell more homes and fill more sites, who are you going to call?
Would an extra $500,000 hurt you?
I was chatting with a community owner the other day. They have 3 properties and hundreds of home sites, with about 88% physical occupancy, and 82% economic occupancy. Let's say their average site rents for $300 a month. For discussions sake, let's further say he had 100 vacant sites. That's:
$30,000 monthly in lost revenue.
$360,000 a year in lost income.
Increased costs for mowing and other maintenance on the vacant home site
Plus the lost income from the sales of the homes the could be selling. That's a cool half a million dollars, in round numbers, for the example above.
A relatively modest investment in marketing and sales consulting – from a proven performer like Tony and his team – could yield a handsome Return on Investment. Full capacity would be far more lucrative – and much more predictable! – than almost any stock you could name could yield in the same x months it would take to bring those sites to physical and economic occupancy.
On the LATonyKovach.com website I saw an item about an RV retailer that Tony increased his sales from 50 some odd units a year to over 175 annually; that's a 321% increase, that took 8 months to do. RV's aren't
Tony's specialty, manufactured housing is. Perhaps that makes the point.
Times change. Circumstances change. Challenges change. But the ability to study a set of circumstances, see the best way forward, create a plan, adapt it as needed (all plans need tweaking after they are launched) can make all the difference. You go to a doctor for certain needs, who is your Manufactured Housing Marketing and Sales MD? Are you getting your regular business check up?
Tony has brought together a team:
that have proven ability to deliver bottom line results. But let me tell you what really struck me. Tony has turned down working with some companies, often after free initial consultations. His philosophy is win-win. If everyone in the mix benefits, then and only then is it a good deal and one worth pursuing.
The same gent I used in the first example above said to a crowded room filled with Industry professionals, as he introduced Tony and a team member to speak, “These guys are the Future of Manufactured Housing!”
Let us make history together. You very graciously bring us to your laptop, smart phone or PC web-browser today and likely other times too. You know we bring you the most Industry News, Tips and Views You Can Use ©.
We can also bring you:
more customers to your sales center or leasing office. Tony will be presenting on that topic at the TMHA's annual convention in August, click here for details.
The most cost effective websites or website updates. Not from some who does it on the side, or who make know nothing about factory built housing, but from pros who knows the business inside out.
Business to Business or Business to Consumer marketing plans.
Want to grow your results? Who are you going to call? ##