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Posts Tagged ‘vacancies’

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 

If Word of Mouth Is Still King Are you Maximizing it?

June 8th, 2012 No comments

Let me take you back to the not so distant past before the Internet and when the telephone and other technologies were still on the distant horizon. How did people sell their wares? Word of mouth from satisfied customers. Fast forward some years and businesses used the newspaper, radio, then television and then BAM the Internet took over with its billions of websites. Did these work? Absolutely, because it was the only or best method available to them at the time.

Even though technology seems to have taken the majority of the stage today, do you think word of mouth is a “bygone days” approach to growing your business? If you think 'yes,' think again. Word of mouth from loyal and optimistic customers is still a very effective way to spread the message today of what you offer.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that business to business advertising or business to consumer ads are not a good investment. Of course they are. Why? Because advertising is the only way to reach your market’s full potential of new customers cost effectively, with convenience and repetition. We all know that message repetition is a key to effective media exposure.

What I am saying here is that the best way to improve the overall effectiveness of your advertising investment is by creating “mass word of mouth”.

What is “mass word of mouth?” An example may help.

Let’s say you are a Community owner and you want to fill vacancies at you location. First, if you have significant vacancies or lack sufficient retail sales, you should be engaging MHMSM.com proven Solutions Department. But I digress, so let me return to the point.

Let’s say you have 100 residents that have lived at your location and they are happy to be there and feel like living there has been a wise decision. Let’s also presume you have vacancies you want to fill or unsold homes. Further, one or more of the following may apply:

– You want to sell your location but know that you will get less for it if you have a lot of vacancies.

– You want the location to look successful not just for yourself but for the other residents as well.

– You just want to stop losing all of the potential revenue from vacant sites.

Customer statistics over the years have indicated that for every satisfied customer you have they will tell 3 to 10 other people about their experience. Imagine for a minute if every one of your residents told just 3 people about the great lifestyle they have living in your property. So if you have 100 residents and they each tell 3people – well I’m sure you can do the math – that’s 300 potential ways to fill your vacancies. Vacancy problem solved.

Yes, you need to have a website. Yes, you need to have a well maintained location and satisfied owners or renters, But in the end just having these will not guarantee your vacancies will be filled as you watch thousands of potential dollars fall through the cracks every month.

There are five things you should be doing if you want the tremendous impact of word of mouth exposure.

  • Your residents need to have a good lifestyle and feel happy that they live where they do.
  • You have to encourage word of mouth advertising.
  • You have to reinforce for your residents the wisdom of their housing choice with your company.
  • You need to give your residents ideas on how to help them solve some of their housing issues, needs or problems.
  • Your staff needs to be effectively trained in customer service, sales and management skills to aid this word of mouth process.

For communities or retailers, our free new resource at MHLivingNews.com can help with many of these issues. It will reinforce the lifestyle choice they've made in manufactured housing. It will debunk some of the outdated myths that are tossed at 'mobile homes' by an unwitting media or others. Happier residents or customers, will yield over time more referrals.

We have a wide variety of services available that can help you solve many of your current challenges. We call it simply, Solutions. It says it all. All you have to do is let us know your challenge, and we can tell you the ways that we have helped other companies like yours solve them; profitably.

Then, you can join the 'word of mouth' that we get, like the testimonials found at that link. Want more, just call me.##

 

Posted for
Tim Connor
Business Development
MHProNews.com
MHMSM.com
And the new MHLivingNews.com
704-895-1230

tim@mhmsm.com

The 126 Million Dollar Mistake

June 4th, 2012 No comments

I was emailed a news story recently that really got my attention. I've done this, and I'll bet you have too, so maybe we can both learn from this other professional's 126 million dollar mistake experience.

To protect the, ah, less than innocent, I'll paraphrase this story as follows.

A company had a mid-level manager that took a phone call. In less than 90 seconds, the mid-level manager said, "Sorry, I'm busy, not interested." it was a sales person that was calling. No big deal to the sales pro, they experience that all the time. But it was a big deal to the company whose manager took – or more to the point – failed to take, the time on that call.

You see, the company that mid-level manager was working for was doing well in some ways, but they faced a problem that was keeping them from growing as fast as they otherwise might have. The problem they faced was worth 126 million dollars to that firm.

They eventually found the answer, but it was some years later. As the story goes, that same person who didn't take that sales person's call years before, was the one who had the light bulb go off over his head, years later. Circumstances lead him to connect the two dots. He was mortified, but wiser, for the experience.

What s your company's 126 million-dollar problem – idea – solution?

Now, I guarantee you that there are some multi-million dollar issues that factory-built housing companies face today. Because HUD Code factories, for example, pay 'label fees' to associations, more sales benefits associations too. The ripple effect of 'not listening' to an idea – even if it comes from 'just a salesman' – can't be understated. Let's look at some examples.

Vacancies in Manufactured Home Land Lease Communities. With an estimated 250,000 +/- vacant home sites across the U.S., this problem is sizable – and costly! – indeed. I've heard time and again that owner/operators are leasing homes, refurbishing homes, selling new homes at cost, doing leased homes at cost, all in an effort to get the rent meter running again on vacancies.

  • Stop and think! One sale a month with a $5000 profit – that otherwise might have been a 'give away sale' at no-profit – would be $60,000 a year. Plus the added site rental fee. We have worked with companies that have learned to do just that, so imagine what 'not listening' to any idea like that might mean to you.
  • Do the math! That's 1.25 Billion with a capital B dollars lost in this one profit area alone. If the average site fee was $300 monthly, that is 900 million dollars in lost site fees nationally!
  • Would it be worth someone's time to learn about a program that could get your company your share of that lost revenue?

Here is another actual factory-built housing example, for manufactured home retailers (and the manufacturers and others who supply them).

  • Tony and First Guarantee will be presenting on a very under-used financing program at the Texas Manufactured Housing Association (TMHA) annual meeting in August. The financing program is available right now, today, no waiting, no Dodd-Frank related hassles. It has the potential for tripling the total number of sales currently being made by the entire industry.
  • Doing the Math for Factories and Retailers. Imagine, at an average price of $68,000 per HUD Code home, if another 150,000 homes were sold in the next 12 months. That's 10.2 Billion with a capital B dollars currently lost! Can struggling – or even busy! – retailers afford to lose that kind of money? Can struggling – or even busy! – factories afford to pass on those lost sales?

I will guarantee that – whoever you are reading this article – that right now you have a business challenge that you wish were over or solved. Am I right?

It doesn't matter if your firm is offering insurance, financing, homes, sites, supplies, products or services. I guarantee you that you have millions of dollars – perhaps billions – laying on the table. Could you use the bonus check or enhanced profits that might come to you and your firm by tapping a new way to solve a current problem?

I have been selling my entire life; insurance, advertising, machine tools, sales and management training – including some 200 firms in the factory, log and lumber industries – and I have to tell you that I can’t count the number of times I tried to share ideas with prospects that would have made them money or solved a key problem who simply said, "I’m not interested." Pardon me? Not interested in more profits? Not interested in more sales? Can anyone say, “Guilty?”

The story we began this column with had a happy ending, but it took years for that happy ending to occur. The happy ending was after the 126 million dollars lost to that company, before that happy ending took place. What they didn't say in the news story, was what was the compound lost opportunity cost? Meaning, what more could they have earned if they had they claimed that 126 million when the sales person first called that mid-level manager?

Right now – whatever your current challenge – there is a viable solution out there waiting for you to embrace. But first you have to be willing to be open to possible solutions, ideas or creative approaches.

We at MHMSM.com (MHProNews.com) happen to be in the factory-built housing solution business. Don't take my word for it, look at the testimonials posted here. But let's take this beyond us. Let's take it to a principle that can help you anytime with anyone.

3) This only takes a few minutes to find out. Or it takes a moment to say, "Look, you've caught me at a bad time, but send me an email with your company's services, and I will give it a look or pass it off to the right person."

We happen to serve both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) markets successfully in the factory built housing industry. We have a simple rule. If we can't benefit you, we don't want your money. It has to be a win-win, because win-lose eventually costs everyone in the mix. Not everything turns peaches and cream overnight, but with the right attitudes and efforts, positive changes can and do happen.

Success is always the result of proven processes, properly applied. Success is never a solo thing. It is always, always a case of team work. Every Helen Keller has her Anne Sullivan in the background. Every Warren Buffett or Sam Zell have their key team members too.

Do you think any builder, any community operator, any retailers that are successful are doing it without trusted suppliers, contractors and vendors? Of course not.

A Parachute and the Mind work best when they are open.

Be open minded. Ask questions. Be willing to listen and learn. If the timing is wrong, don't miss the chance, ask for some basic info by email and leave the door open for a possible follow up.

Who knows? The next 126 million dollar solution may be one that could land on your desktop via a phone call or email. ##

 

Posted for
Tim Connor
Business Development
MHProNews.com
MHMSM.com
And the new MHLivingNews.com
704-895-1230

tim@mhmsm.com