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Posts Tagged ‘LinkedIn’

The Lack of Sales Training in the Manufactured Housing Industry

August 20th, 2013 No comments

Tony, in your LinkedIn Discussion, you asked the question, “Are manufactured housing pros today truly 'trained' to sell new MHs?

Unfortunately, the answer is (for the most part), “No.”

When the tidal wave of a slowing economy, a major downturn in housing starts, an skyrocketing number of foreclosures and lower site-built mortgage interest rates hit, we saw the biggest sales collapse that I can remember in over 20 years in and around the industry.

It's sad, but when most companies experience lower sales, the FIRST thing that goes are the things they list as "nice to have" items, like training.

Great companies invest in MORE training during economic downturns, to ensure that they have the best chance of selling to every Client that walks through the door. IBM is a great example of this.

The training that DOES occur is typically in-house training, where companies are most likely to become myopic in their view of the industry. And, when this happens they revert to teaching the things that worked in the past, which they find aren't effective in TODAY's market; which also reinforces the idea that “training doesn’t help.”

This is a HUGE problem, because today’s market is dramatically different than the industry of yesteryear.

Today:

OVER 90% OF ALL HOME-BUYERS (Including Manufactured Housing Clients) DO THE MAJORITY OF THEIR SHOPPING ON THE WEB! 

And virtually 100% of the BEST BUYERS shop via the Web.

Most dealers don't seem to be aware of this – or if they ARE – they don’t know how to use the Internet to attract the attention of the best buyers.

If they don't have a compelling marketing message – if their website and associated social media sites aren't professional and appealing – then potential Clients see that dealership as amateurish, and never "convert" (that is, click through and ask to be contacted by a salesperson), much less visit that sales center.

When a good buyer DOES contact a dealership, the sales professionals have to know how to use multiple modes of communication to engage that Client.

They have to be professional, credible, and competent on the phone; with email; and with social media to create a "three-dimensional" relationship with the customer.

When the Client believes they've found a credible company, sales professional, and the right home, THEN they will come to the sales center to COMPLETE the purchase process. This means that sales and marketing are now a combined effort and that…

THE SALES PROCESS HAS CHANGED IN A MAJOR WAY!

Whether the industry wants to believe it or not, this has become a Web-Driven market, and sales professionals have to be good at using the tools and techniques that work in this new environment.

Training that addresses these and many other changes in our marketplace is virtually non-existent; and most of the training that IS available is dated and out of step with today's market.

In addition, most manufacturers and/or dealers are exceedingly reluctant to invest in training.

The manufacturers that have big backlogs believe that if they build a better, cheaper product, that they will ALWAYS have a big backlog.

Those that DON'T have big backlogs think that PRODUCT is the answer – not training.

They believe the problem is that they haven't found the winning combination of features, benefits, and price point. Therefore their efforts and money are invested in product development, not sales force development.

They don't understand how important it is to invest in Web-based marketing and associated training.

The net result of this is that many existing retailers will suffer and die on the vine, and new ones will come and go. And, when the next big downturn hits the industry, manufacturers and retailers alike will be poorly-prepared to deal with it, because they will not have invested in the single most powerful marketing and sales tools in existence:

  • A strong digital media marketing presence
  • And great sales training to build the skills needed to bring great prospects in off the Web; and then to convert the sale, once they have the Client on-site.

I love this industry! It provides housing for a socio-economic group that will always need affordable, good quality, energy-efficient, attractive housing.

But the industry continues doing the same things it's always done – even though the market has changed in a dramatic way.

There was a good book written by Spencer Johnson in 1998, "Who moved my cheese…" The theme of the book (a shifting marketplace) strikes at the heart of the manufactured housing industry today.

My greatest hope is that a few manufacturers & dealerships will recognize the need for major change, and will invest in both Web-based marketing AND in modern, market-relevant sales training; both of which would help the industry increase its share of the housing market. ##

jim-carpenter-posted-manufactured-home-professional-news-mhpronews-com-75x75-.jpgJim Carpenter,
The Carpenter Consulting Group,
previously with Oakcreek Homes

Liberty

July 17th, 2012 No comments

I read Tony Kovach's recent Masthead blog post with some fascination. Because the upcoming elections are on my mind too. Many of us feel that we are watching something slip away. Many of us want to make sure that we continue what was started in 2010, when the House or Representatives was retaken by 'tea party conservatives'.

Lady-Liberty-mhmsm

I did a post on LinkedIn recently, asking questions about the impact of the Nanny State on manufactured housing professionals. Here are a pair of the statements, quoted below verbatim, with the initials of the person who made the comment:

The industry is, I agree, significantly over-regulated. Often intentionally, exemplified with the number and types of superfluous disclosures to prospective residents our legislature seeks to add, and also as the unintended consequence of legislation targeting others (SAFE Act as to sale of park owned homes, Red Flags, Safeguard Rules, Patriot Act, etc.)” TD

The problem is that sometimes we get what we "wish for" – the HUD Code. Many manufacturers in the industry wanted HUD regulation to avoid regulation by each state. Tony is correct – the largest shipment year was 1974 – the year before the HUD Code, but, there were other factors at work as well.KR

Here are some quotes from historic leaders and masters on this subject of Liberty.

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” Ben Franklin

If we are together nothing is impossible, if we are divided all Will Fail.” Winston Churchill

The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.” Thomas Jefferson

Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person by person.” Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.” George Washington

Only our individual faith in freedom can keep us free.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain.” John F. Kennedy

To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela

The history of freedom is never really written by chance but by choice.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

Lincoln Union Forces MHProNews

We have so many things that can inspire us Americans. One of the countless examples is Abraham Lincoln, who suffered defeat after defeat in his personal career, only to keep coming back through dogged persistence to accomplish his goal.

Lincoln is famous for three reasons one his election in 1860, two his struggle to hold the Union together in the Civil War. But Lincoln is also famous that his life was riddled with failure and he overcame it time and time again. Here is just a small sampling of his failures;

1831 Failed in business

1832 Lost his job

1836 Had a nervous breakdown in bed for 6 months

1843 – Ran for Congress and lost

1848 Ran for re-election to Congress and lost

1858 Ran for US Senate and lost

1860 Ran for President and won.

The question – how many failures can you endure and carry on? The answer that Abraham Lincoln gave with us with his life example is to keep on keeping on until you accomplish that worthwhile goal.

Great things can be accomplished by team work. Pulling together can happen professionally as well as politically. That is why associations and parties exist. One thing is certain, "United, we Stand. Divided, we fall."

There is no need for perfect unity, nor is it possible. America became free of England not because everyone stood together! They became free because enough stood together to make it happen. Some say that perhaps 1/3 of the people were engaged in the effort and supported independence.

So don't think that just because there is opposition that we are thus 'doomed to fail.' YOU be a part of the solution. Gather others of like mind. Share the truth well, and some will accept it. That is how you get 'enough.'

The same can be true for us now as it was for the American Rebels at the time of the Revolution, as we work to reverse a long string of legal and regulatory setbacks to our liberties. We can do it. We are Americans. Amer-I-CAN.

The economic times give manufactured housing professionals an in unprecedented opportunity. Lower incomes means more people than ever before are looking for affordable quality homes in America. But we won't accomplish it unless we get some regulatory and legal hurdles out of the way.

This is the election that we had better work hard to win. If you haven't already seen and shared this political cartoon linked here, please check it out and send it to your mailing list.

http://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/2012-06-25-16-14-30/purely-political/37-the-5-facts-for-voters-to-consider

Doing so can do two amazing things. One, it can get more people thinking and engaged.

Two, it can get more people looking at the manufactured home lifestyle in a positive way.

Those are two things that can help you and your business. Together, Let's do this! Liberty – personal freedom – is worth working for, always. ##

Posted for
Tim Connor

Marketing & Sales,Website,AdvertisingandMHSpeakerTrainer– Manager

MHProNews.com = The MHIndustry's#1 News, Tips and View you can Use© resource.

MHLivingNews.com = Free resource to enhance MH HomeOwner Satisfaction and MH Image Building

IBIS Report and the Manufactured Housing Retailer’s Future

April 10th, 2011 1 comment

Having spent 40 years in the industry, I have experienced every down cycle the industry has had since they started keeping records in 1961. After a peak nationally of almost 600,000 units in 1973, we suffered a dramatic plunge that was felt the most in the Southeast where I was located at the time. I relocated to Oklahoma in the 1980s and endured a drop in shipments from about 13,000 homes in 1983 to about 350 or so in 1988. Shipments again took a hit in the early 1990s as lending became almost nonexistent. The current down cycle began after a peak of nearly 373,000 shipments nationally in 1998 and has fallen below 50,000, which is lower than when the record keeping began in 1961. 

I certainly do not have the credentials to refute the recent IBIS report that labeled the manufactured housing industry as being on the verge of extinction. I also approach the subject with some trepidation as I majored in Marketing and I am keenly aware that most of the buggy whip manufacturers are no longer in business. In order to accept the results of the report from a market demand stand point, we would have to arrive at the conclusion that the demand for new homes priced below $70-100 a square foot will become no longer significant. We would also have to accept that this disappearance of market demand will occur as down payment requirements are poised to increase to perhaps 20% while terms may be reduced to as low as 15 years. In the face of enormous down payment requirements and shortened terms for repayment, suddenly prospective home buyers are going pass over housing opportunities in the $20 to $40 per square foot category? 

We would also have to accept that demand for homes that can be titled without real estate will disappear. Suddenly no one will want to allow their kids or other family members to place a home on family land without encumbering the real property?

We would finally have to believe that no one living in a manufactured home community would have an interest in upgrading their home, and the communities would have no potential for new residents. 

I read Paul Bradley’s feature article in response to the IBIS report here in MHMSM.com. I share Paul’s optimism that a possible result of increased requirements for site-built housing may shift more buyers to the manufactured housing market.

We have had to endure ongoing discrimination of the allocation of lending resources even when the Duty to Serve language is rewritten to specifically cite manufactured housing. As a retailer, I do not see any shortage of willing buyers for the homes that we build. We do experience a series of problems related to recent acts foisted upon us by the federal government. 

I observed in a LinkedIn comment earlier that our industry trade organization, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) is constricted by the composition of their membership from assuming the role of a being a strong advocate for individual industry divisions. Retailers would have to form an independent organization dedicated to retailers in order to have someone in Washington, DC truly going to bat on all the issues that retailers face. I don’t see the numbers or the money being there for that to happen. In the mean time, we accept MHI with its wrinkles, knowing that the diversity of the membership does not allow for the extreme dedication to our needs that we would like to have. 

The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulation and Reform (MHARR) serves in that capacity for independent manufacturers and manufacturers need that dedicated representation as they have many issues affecting them that are completely unknown to other industry segments. 

Another theory being floated by some industry members is that a conspiracy is in play to undermine the effectiveness that the HUD Code provides and bring about its demise. If that theory is true and if the conspirators have enough influence, market demand will not matter. I am not smart enough to know whether or not a conspiracy exists to destroy our industry. I would say that if it does exist, it is experiencing reasonable success. 

We do face very difficult times as an industry. I have quipped on more than one occasion in the past few years that “absence of stress is death…and I am very much alive.”

As an industry, we have taken a beating for the last twelve years. Some of that has been our own doing and some from lack of fairness by government actions or inactions. If a conspiracy does in fact exist, I am too small a player to have much impact on stopping it. Absent a conspiracy, our company plans to move forward and provide our clients with great values in housing and outstanding customer service. Hopefully our industry can see itself through the balance of any remaining down turn and see an increase in shipments in the years ahead. 

I was privileged to be invited to return to Georgia last summer to speak at the industry’s annual state convention. Given my 40 years in the industry, I was able to reflect back to 20% rates with no less than 10% down and no ability to finance land or improvements. I titled my presentation after Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”

And indeed it is. # #

by Doug Gorman

Doug Gorman owns Home-Mart in Tulsa OK, and is perhaps the most award wining retailer in the U.S. today.  He has served the Industry on the state and national levels, including as Show Chairman for the Great Southwest Home Show in Tulsa.  You can read his Cup of Cocoa with Doug Gorman at this Link. Contact Doug at doug@homemart.us