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7 Steps to Success

November 10th, 2013 No comments

Want to advance your performance, or that of your team? Then you've come to the right place today!

All success is a matter of systems that are grounded in a set of principles. The proper principles are thus a foundation for any success system you may opt to pursue.

We have a number of secret and less than secret 'weapons' we use in our marketing, sales, management consulting work. There is nothing particularly new about the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People since Stephen Covey first published it, save the fact that it needs to be more broadly understood and applied. This is particularly true for organizations in our industry.

3d_man_with_check_mark-free-digital-photos-net--posted-mhpronews-.jpgLet's take a quick tour, in part courtesy of a summary from Wikipedia  – with some added emphasis of the 7 Habits – and you will see why these principles truly are 7 Steps to Success.

The 7 Habits

The book first introduces the concept of Paradigm Shiftand prepares the reader for a change in mindset. It helps the reader understand that there exists a different perspective, a viewpoint that may be different from his or her own and asserts that two people can see the same thing and yet differ with each other. Once the reader is prepared for this, it introduces the seven habits, in a proper order.

Each chapter is dedicated to one of the habits, which are represented by the following imperatives:brain-success-free-digital-photos-net--posted-mhpronews-.jpg

Independence.

The First Three Habits surround moving from dependence to independence(i.e., self-mastery):

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive

Take initiative in life by realizing that your decisions (and how they align with life's principles) are the primary determining factor for effectiveness in your life. Take responsibility for your choices and the consequences that follow.

  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Self-discover and clarify your deeply important character values and life goals. Envision the ideal characteristics for each of your various roles and relationships in life.

  • Habit 3: Put First Things First

A manager must manage his own person. Personally. And managers should implement activities that aim to reach the second habit. Covey says that rule two is the mental creation; rule three is the physical creation.Business_man_climbing_stairs._3d_rendered_illustration-free-digital-photos-net--posted-mhpronews-.jpg

Interdependence.

The next three have to do with Interdependence (i.e., working with others):

  • Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Genuinely strive for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. Value and respect people by understanding a "win" for all is ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one person in the situation had got his way.

  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

Use empathic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring, and positive problem solving.

  • Habit 6: Synergize

Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork, so as to achieve goals no one person could have done alone.

Continuous Improvement.

The final habit is that of continuous improvement in both the personal and interpersonal spheres of influence.

  • Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. It primarily emphasizes exercise for physical renewal, prayer (meditation, yoga, etc.) and good reading for mental renewal. It also mentions service to society for spiritual renewal.

cash-bag-wikicommons--posted-mhpronews-.jpgCovey explains the "Upward Spiral" model in the sharpening the saw section.

Through our conscience, along with meaningful and consistent progress, the spiral will result in growth, change, and constant improvement. In essence, one is always attempting to integrate and master the principles outlined in The 7 Habits at progressively higher levels at each iteration. Subsequent development on any habit will render a different experience and you will learn the principles with a deeper understanding.

The Upward Spiral model consists of three parts: learn, commit, do. According to Covey, one must be increasingly educating the conscience in order to grow and develop on the upward spiral. The idea of renewal by education will propel one along the path of personal freedom, security, wisdom, and power.

Applications for Manufactured Housing Professionals and Organizations

Let's start with the three parts of the Upward Spiral. Learn. Commit. Do.

In our exclusive interview with Barry Noffsinger from CU Factory Built Lending, Barry said the following, quoting verbatim:

In my view, we have a mainstream product being promoted by an extremely beautiful industry that sometimes suffers from low self-esteem.

With our quality and affordability we should be at the first thought of every stakeholder when it comes to affordable housing options. Instead, sometimes we say yes to the first person to ask us to the prom.

For example, I hear all the time that we need financial institutions to return “to the ‘90’s” and buy deeper. My question is why? Shouldn’t we learn from history?

According to Fair Isaac, 73% of the US population has a credit score over 650. Let’s all be innovative and creative in our own little corner to move our industry from “Boutique” to “Supercenter.””

> Take the first of the 7 Habits. Be pro-active! Take responsibility for whatever your current situation is professionally and as an organization.

> Next, Begin with the End in Mind, and – for example, in the case of financing – we think sustainable lending that benefits borrower, seller and lender then…

> …we are putting First Things First and are Thinking Win-Win. I had top people from three industry lenders at a lunch table at a recent event. The big round table had perhaps 8 others beside myself seated. I asked the lenders for the benefit of all about their losses on repossessions. All agreed that they are at 50% or higher and that this was one of the factors that caused higher rates for a personal property loans. That is not win-win, that is win-lose. It is one of the factors that limits lending in our industry.

Mutual Victories will Advance MH Lending

The takeaway for the above true story is that MH Communities and MH Retailers MUST become part of the profitable solution for lenders and consumers to exit successfully without taking a big hit. That exit has to be similar to the effectiveness of Realtors in the real estate market.

Mutual Victories will reward and attract more MH Homeowners

Once we synergize with lenders, we will attract more good credit and cash customers. Rates for chattel lending will be lower and will be more sustainable. That in turn will attract more lenders to our industry.

This is how 'think win-win' and 'beginning with the end in mind' results in huge mutual victory!

This isn't just a pious idea, it is a practical, profitable and proven principle. By Seeking first to Understand, and then to be Understood, along with Synergizing with lenders, we professionally enjoyed some remarkable successes in our industry during difficult times, and the lenders involved where thrilled too. Had that pattern caught fire then, let me flatly assert we would be selling many times more homes as an industry and would do so with more consumer satisfaction and acceptance than we currently have today.

Weaving Principles into Practice

Once a person understand the basic principles of success, it is time to weave those principles into practice. The best ideas that go in-implemented are like that great recipe that never gets used in the kitchen.

dartboard-success-free-digital-photos-net-posted-mhpronews-.jpgDuring my days owning/managing a Top 100 in the U.S. retail center, now as a publisher and industry consultant, applying such principles have been keys to all that we do. No baseball player bats 1000! But if you bat .300, you are already a star, so long as solid win-win principles underscore all that you do.

Get and read the book 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. Learn the principles. Line up the talent and expertise you need, because it is often required to advance.

You may find this weekend's Masthead blog post that shares an incredible success story worth your time too.

The reason for success stories is that real life success stories remind us that if they did it, you can too. And the reason for 7 Steps to Success is to give you one of the tools that will take you from where you are to where you are could be! Think Big! Day by day, by applying proven principles, you can do it. ##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for November 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 

The Thing Needed

September 6th, 2013 No comments

It can be very helpful to go back in time, and compare 'then with now.' The downloadable attachment below has many relevant points, and it was written years before I got into consulting. The points in sharing this are many, and can benefit all with an open mind. One of the points are that the basics – the fundamentals – are among the keys to success, and this article has a number of those fundamentals!

The article attached was first published in the November 1988 issue of what was then call the Mobile/Manufactured Home Merchandiser, later re-named, Manufactured Home Merchandiser magazine. While much has changed in technology, terminology, attitudes and styles, it is surprising how some of the basics then are just as true today as when the attached downloadable article was written.

At the time, yours truly was the proud owner of a manufactured home retail center that was growing rapidly, in spite of the economic collapse that had taken place in oil-boom-to-oil-bust Oklahoma. My personal part of the business was marketing and sales – sound familiar? – while others at our center did a very fine job of other necessary functions like bookkeeping and lender relations, service and delivery coordination.

During a time when 80% of the retailers folded then in Oklahoma (sound familiar to the MHIndustry post 1998? Or the MHIndustry post 2008?), humble S&L Homes (we sold repos for S&L's, new and other pre-loved homes) was growing, growing, growing. We hit the top 1% of all retailers in the U.S. our third year in operation, all during a down market when other dealers that were far better established vanished.

Why? How?

Please read the article, because many of the basics then are the same basics today.

Are there differences? Sure – like change “mailers” for “email” or social networking. Change print for the Web. Change TV and radio for YouTube!

The reality is that we can market better today for less, for those who are willing to learn and do it. We can also sell better then than now, for those who are willing to dig in, learn and do.

My road to business ownership was not easy. There was no rich relative, no SBA loan and most of the 'training' came from reading and a handful of seminars, but also boat loads books and audios personally invested in to advance myself.

A tag line came across a public service announcement the other day that applies to all of us.

Learn to read. Read to learn.

That same issue of the Merchandiser had articles from people like Guy Laird (remember him?) and Bill Carr (still active!) that were among the many that I devoured every month. I would have proverbially killed to have had access to all that we share on MHProNews.com monthly, because reading was the path to learning more and earning more.

In my career run up to opening S&L, yours truly managed at 3 retail centers and assisted at a 4th before jumping into ownership.

If you are an owner, encourage your people to learn more. Yes, someday, they may leave you. But in the mean time, you will be earning more and so will they! The good performance of some tends to lift the performance of others.

So the rising tide tends to raise all ships.

If you are an employee or contractor, absolutely make it your business to learn all you can. Read daily (yes, every business day). Go to meetings, attend seminars.

Learn not just from the present, but from the past.

Learn from every mistake. Learn from every success.

Keep a good attitude!

Sure, a smile came when my eyes revealed how much younger I looked in the picture on the last page of the attached article! I wonder what happened to the others in that photo, after the business was profitably sold, we eventually lost track of each other (no email or Facebook then).

What we did as signage then, would not be what I would do as signage today. We'd be talking social networking and lots more online stuff in such an article.

But much of it applies – attire, attitude, training, marketing, sales basics – so much that you may want to read and re-read this, because it covers the fundamentals – the basics of success – quite well. But you can decide that for yourself!

Near the end of the attached article, there is a phrase yours truly typed 25 years ago. Doing what is needed. Doing the things needed is the only pathway to success.

No one will hand it to you. Everyone has to earn it in some form or fashion! Do what is needed, whatever that 'thing' is. It will pave the way to your future. ##

Download the article

Increasing Sales in a Down Market –
Mobile/Manufactured Home Merchandiser, November 1988 – by L. A. Kovach.

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for September 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 815-270-0500 |

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

Food Network: Kitchen Impossible

January 6th, 2013 No comments

For those of you who know the show, the actual title is Restaurant Impossible. Chef "Robert" comes in and takes a losing location and its staff, evaluates, takes charge, bosses people around and in 2 days has a money losing dump turned into a money making gem. Anytime I've walked in and my bride is watching the show, I confess it has drawn me in, because it's fascinating. But in my mind, what I see are not restaurants, but community or retail locations in our industry that need a turn-around.

I watched one man whose restaurant was a disaster call Robert's process, "tough love." $10,000 and two days (I'm guessing travel expenses are on top of that cost) transforms a failing restaurant's decor. "The buzz and excitement" from the customers who are wow'd at the transformation, improved food and service make it all worth while.

"If you own a failing restaurant, call us at…" Restaurant Impossible at Food Network, they proclaim. Some do, and they watch profits for owners and tips for staff shoot up.

Robert (left) photo credit Food Network

MH Community Impossible?

How many know (or have…) an "impossible" MHCommunity (or MH Retail Center)? Sales are flat or down. Vacancies are growing and residents are unhappy. Plus the location looks (bow wow) ruff, ruff?

Restaurant Stakeout?

Food Network's (FN) Restaurant Stakeout with Willie Degel is a similar concept to what Robert does. Degel sets hidden cameras and finds who has been doing (or not doing) what at a restaurant. But you may wonder, can you do similarly in an MH Community or retail center? Yes.

It is no joy to say that in working with some locations, I've found employee theft, fraud and abuse. It can happen anywhere, but seems more common when refurb work is being done. We've found invoices that had ballooned to three times the value of the refurb job. Do you want somebody pocketing your money?

I've also listened to staff say the most outrageous things, even knowing (because they were told up front) they might be recorded for later playback. The bane (and beauty) of habits are that if you have a bad habit, it reveals itself. If you have – or form – a good habit, that reveals itself too as you create the processes for lasting success.

48 hours?

We can't do turn-arounds in an MH location in 48 hours, because MHCs and MHRCs are far more challenging than a quick restaurant makeover. Often, you have to clean house and start over with an MH location's staff if they are unwilling to change (they don't do that in the broadcast TV shows above). But we have seen MHC and MHRC locations start the turn around in 48 hours; and we've seen in 48 days money losing locations start turning or growing profits.

Fear, Rules, Regulations

FN's Willie Degel says you don't run a charity, you run a business. You are giving people a job and opportunities. They have to be trained to follow the rules and regulations. Degel says staff have to 'fear' losing their job, or they will take over and run wild. His under cover cameras prove the points. He uses stop watches to time service. He has stealth customers test the staff. "An untrained and undisciplined staff" can put you out of business. But the reverse is true, a well trained staff usually feels better about themselves and their work, and they will make their owners money!

When MHCs have 250,000 – 500,000 vacancies…

In most MHC cases, there are no good reason for 250,000-500,000 vacancies in U.S., when the quality affordable housing is what Americans need! In a matter of days, you can start a location turnaround and in a matter of weeks, you can be making more money. Sales and satisfaction rises and those vexing vacancies vanish.

Got a failing location?

Have the resources and commitment to make the change? Showcasing actual results from border to border, we have done presentations at state associations that aren't reality TV, but that do show real life turn-around stories. Event attendees are busy making notes at those popular sessions.

Beyond profits, another real reward is that a good turn-around story often draws positive local media that is itself can be worth more that the turn-around investment.

Unlike some reality shows, we are not about embarrassing you on TV, but by working together – team work – you can go to the next level, see MHC-MD.com. ##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for January and see the

other new stories at MHLivingNews.com too.

l-a--tony-kovachL. A. "Tony" Kovach

MHLivingNews.com=Re-Discovering and Spotlighting the MHLifeStyle

MHProNews.comMHMSM.com = Industry News, Tips and Views Pros can Use

Services:B2BandB2CAds, Proven MH Marketing & Sales Systems, Websites other Industry Solutions.

Office –815-270-0500

latonyk@gmail.com or tony@mhmsm.com

www.MHC-MD.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach= connect with me on Linkedin.

http://pinterest.com/latonyk/manufactured-home-lifestyle/

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Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right. – Henry Ford

Recruiting

November 14th, 2012 No comments

At the recent Iowa Manufactured Housing Association 65th annual event, business management guru Chad Carr made a number of great points. Among them was the fact that the wise business owner who has more than just himself in his company must 'always be recruiting.' Let's look at that 'always be recruiting' concept for your sales force, management and other team member consideration.

What is recruiting?

Dictionary.com defines recruting as:

  • a newly enlisted or drafted member of the armed forces.
  • a new member of a group, organization, or the like.
  • a fresh supply of something.

In this case, we are focused on the second definition. The BusinessDictionary defines it this way:

The process of identifying and hiring the best-qualified candidate (from within or outside of an organization) for a job vacancy, in a most timely and cost effective manner.

Now the point that Chad made was more forward thinking. Let me bring it to life with a real world example. Recruit even when you don't have an immediate need!

An example in Always be Recruiting

Some years ago, I was doing a marketing and sales management consulting project for an RV retailer. They were already a good company, our goal was to imake them better at marketing, sales and thus increase profits. In less than 6 months. they went from the top 20 in their busy state to the top 10 out of 500 'similar' companies.

How was that accomplished?

In part through good recruiting.

We did not have any vacancy in sales. But it was obvious to me that a new spark could be helpful for a sales team that was already good, but needed to go to the next level. Against that backdrop, here is the story.

I was shopping for a new mattress, which took me to a specialty retailer. I was greeted by a gent who was obviously a true professional.

  • He did a fine meet and greet.
  • He qualified me.
  • He knew how to demonstrate his product based on the inputs and observations being made.
  • He knew how to ask for the order.

I could say more, but you get the picture. The man was terrific at what he did.

After making the purchase – a much nicer mattress than I originally had in mind – I segued into the recuriting question. Are you open to new opportunities? Short answer, “yes.” I asked him to provide a resume (always do that), set up a time for an interview (always do that too). Then following that, I gave him an overview into the exciting world of the RV business.

Please note that he had no experience in 'big ticket sales' at a level beyond what he had been doing with this mattress company for many years.

In time, he was offered a job. I trained him. He rapidly became a star at towable RV sales too.

Lesson 1:
Always be looking for Talent.

Lesson 2:
They don't have to be from your industry.

Sometimes, it is easier to teach someone new to your industry than to find someone 'experienced' and get them to learn a new system. Does it take longer? Sometimes, yes. Is it worth it? Sure can be!

I could have used many examples of recruiting into MH, but wanted to share this example for a specific reason. You see, this man was African-American.

At that point in time, in a huge metropolitan market we were doing business, I knew of no other blacks in sales. About 2 or 3 months after I started him, and well into the point where he was often at or near the top of that retail center in sales, he came up to me and said,

Tony, I've learned that I'm the only black in (name of city) selling RVs. Why didn't you say something about that on the front end?”

I smiled and we talked about it. Would it have scared him off if he knew? Wasn't what mattered that he had the skill, made the commitment to give it his best and that the combination of factors assured his success? He smiled back and agreed. Would I do that every time in a similar circumstance? Nope; that sort of thing is case by case. If I had the slightest doubt, I would have handled it differently.

Lesson 3:
People Skills and Systems

That gent – and he truly fit the term gentleman – was disc pined, friendly without being over the top, professional and used a sales process before he was taught the one I developed for that retail center. There are certain things you look for in recruiting. He had all the keys to success.

Lesson 4:
Burn the Boats!

Something else that this man had. He understood – because we discussed it during the interview – that if he left the company he had been with for many years, there was no turning back. He had to 'burn the boats,' as William the Conqueror did when the Normans invaded England in 1066. It was victory or death for William and the Normans!

In the case of my recruit, he was a family man with bills to pay. Failure was not an option!

He knew he could make more money with us selling RVs, if, if, IF he did what was necessary. He wanted to better himself. He made the leap.

He listened, learned, did what he had to do and sold up a storm. He did his phone follow ups. He became one of the best.

Another benefit for that client of mine was this. As this new man proved that the system I was training worked, it was that much easier for the rest of the team to continue to buy into the system too!

To be candid, I've seen it backfire. But that is another story, maybe another featured article or post for another time.

The moral of the story is, always be recruiting. But always do it with a keen eye to the skills that are needed.

Lesson 5:

The Value of Real Training.

There is one more key lesson here and it was implied at the Iowa meeting by both Chad and me. It is that good training pays off. What if someone had recruited that same gent from the mattress world, and not trained him?

Last I heard, if you go to work for Best Buy, you spend two weeks in training for your product before you talk to customers, which in some departments may sell for under $20, $50, or $100 dollars.

Similarly, when you go to work for Holiday Inn, you spend 2 weeks in training before you talk to the first customer or take your first live call at the front desk. That room may start for under $100 a night, but they invest two weeks before turning a new person loose with a customer!

Personally, I do training differently than they do (not knocking them, just stating the fact. We blend training with live customer experiences).

But the point is that you have to have a formal training process. All success is predicated on a system that can be duplicated. Once you invent the light bulb – or anything else – you have to turn that knowledge into a readily repeatable system.

Always be recruiting. Always be training your new and existing team. Great athletes train every week, right along side the rookies! We need to do that too. When you do that, you will see the payoff for them and for your business unit, location and company.

Need a user friendly and customer friendly marketing, sales or training program that works when applied in today's world? Send me a message or give me a call. Check out this link for many testimonials in our MH Industry of success achieved through smarter marketing, sales, training and management systems. ##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for November and see the

other new stories and 'Purely Political' cartoons at MHLivingNews.com too.

l-a--tony-kovachL. A. "Tony" Kovach

MHLivingNews.com=Re-Discovering and Spotlighting the MHLifeStyle

MHProNews.comMHMSM.com = Industry News, Tips and Views Pros can Use

Services:B2BandB2CAds, Proven MH Marketing & Sales Systems, Websites other Industry Solutions.

Office –815-270-0500

latonyk@gmail.com or tony@mhmsm.com

www.MHC-MD.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach= connect with me on Linkedin.

http://pinterest.com/latonyk/manufactured-home-lifestyle/

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Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right. – Henry Ford

Quitting Time

October 10th, 2012 No comments

If you are involved in retail sales to the public in the factory built housing industry, what time do you 'call it quits' at the end of the day?

honorable-discharge-wikimedia-commons-credit-posted-cutting-edge-blog-mhpronewsThere are a surprising number of retailers and communities that I've visited and worked with that call it quits at 5 PM on weekdays. Some stay 'as late as' 6 PM. Just think, unless your focus is the seniors market and retirees, how many potential singles, couples, households and families do you miss using a 9 AM to 5 PM business hours approach?

During the years when I operated my own retail center, we had hours from 9 AM to 9 PM weekdays, year round. We had power and lights to our homes. Weekday evenings were a busy time for us, because no one else in our market did the same thing. We made the top 1% of the nation's retailers in sales, from a small town an hour's drive from the capital. Part of how we did this was by having 'normal business hours' that mirrored what other retailers in business did!

An outside audit of your business marketing and sales practices can often produce an amazing array of information that can boost business 25%-50%-75%-100% or more in short order. If you don't have a professional you can count on to do this for you, please give us a call or send me an email at the address below. ##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for October and see the

other new stories and 'Purely Political' cartoons at MHLivingNews.com too.

l-a--tony-kovachL. A. "Tony" Kovach

MHLivingNews.com=Re-Discovering and Spotlighting the MHLifeStyle

MHProNews.comMHMSM.com = Industry News, Tips and Views Pros can Use

Services:B2BandB2CAds, Proven MH Marketing & Sales Systems, Websites other Industry Solutions.

Office –815-270-0500

latonyk@gmail.com or tony@mhmsm.com

LATonyKovach.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach= connect with me on Linkedin.

http://pinterest.com/latonyk/manufactured-home-lifestyle/

+++

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right. – Henry Ford