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Posts Tagged ‘manufacturer’

Reply to Danny Ghorbani’s, “Sobering Wake Up Call…” – “MHARR Report and Analysis “

August 14th, 2014 2 comments

(Editor's note, the following is in reply to a public message sent from Danny Ghorbani's email at MHARR, linked here, that was critical of Bill Matchneer, JD, and some recent HUD action. Since the factory named had the issue corrected, that plant's name was edited out.  Other views are welcome.)

Plants are certified (licensed to build homes) by HUD based on the strength of their quality control (QC) programs. That’s what the regs say and that’s always been the practice. All I did was make sure plants continued to maintain the level of QC the regs require and let them know that HUD could suspend or revoke the certification if the QC falls below a certain point.

This change in program emphasis was motivated by a series of homes that was shipped from a ——– plant in California with no flue connections. Several families were nearly asphyxiated. The only real complaints came from Danny.

I mostly got compliments and thanks from manufacturers who not only saw real improvements in their products but in employee morale as well.

MHI knows it’s the right way to go, as does Pam Danner, with whom I’ve had several conversations on the subject. ##

Bill-Matchneer-mhpronews-com-75x75Bill Matchneer

(Editor's Note, you can see our latest interview A Second Cup of Coffee withBill Matchneer,” at the link shown.)

Why Retailers and Community Operators should go to Tunica!

March 19th, 2014 No comments

As I read the digital 2014 Tunica Show brochure and business building and profit protecting seminar line up, it became crystal clear why Retailers and Community Owner/Operators ought to be in Tunica next Wednesday morning through Friday at noon (March 26-28)!

Retailers and Communities can get free:

  • Networking with your peers,
  • Compare Manufacturers side by side, over 80 homes will be on display!
  • Compare products and services needed by your business side by side,
  • Get the latest on Manufactured Home Lending available TODAY, from all the major lenders all under one roof.
  • Get expert guidance on Commercial Lending on MH Communities,
  • Get marketing and sales tips in the Dominate Your Local Market 2.0 Seminar, featuring manufactured housing marketing and sales veteran, L. A. “Tony” Kovach.
  • Compare CRM products in a free panel discussion with Scott Stroud and myself, and learn why they are a key to growing your sales in 2014 and beyond.
  • Get success tips on MH Communities (MHCs) from pros with successful firms who know!

Let me give you a quick snapshot of the last bullet point above, which will provide the reasons you need to grab your business cards, and have your photo ID so you can enter the Tunica Show, free!

In the last decade, as the numbers of retailers and shipments declined, manufactured home communities (MHC) have of necessity become on-site-home leasing and selling operations.

Communities have always had to do the types of services and duties that developers and multi-family operations have provided in the conventional housing world.

Tunica has become a magnet in recent years, attracting more communities as well as more retailers than in prior years.

Here is the line up of on the panel for MHC Lessons Learned, to be held Thursday, 10:00 AM – 10:55 AM on March 27th.

Success Tips from Manufactured Home Community Owners & Executives!

For anyone in or thinking about getting into the land-lease community business, this panel discussion is for you! Hear practical tips from community operators that can help you operate your community more professionally and profitably.

jenny-hodge-national-coummunities-council-ncc-industry-voices-manufactured-housing-pro-news

Jenny Hodge, Vice President of the National Communities Council (NCC), will be your panel moderator.

You can learn more about Jenny in this month's MHProNews exclusive interview A Cup of Coffee with…Jenny Hodge.

tammy-fonk-8-2013-cbre-posted-mhpronews-industryvoices

Among those on the three person MHC panel is Tammy Fonk, an Associate with the CBRE MH/RV National Group. Tammy was born and raised in the MH industry with two family owned communities. She operated the family owned company's sales and marketing business as well as having an active role in day to day community operations and resident relations. As a member of the MHRV Team, Tammy now works closely with public and private investors on building business relations and opportunities to enhance the Manufactured Housing Industry as well as the RV Resort and Marina properties in North America. Tammy works with owners and buyers of small, medium and larger communities in addition to representing large portfolio owners.

maria-horton-newport-pacific-capital-posted-industry-voices-manufactured-housing-pro-news-com

Maria Horton is a regional manager with West Coast powerhouse, Newport Pacific. Maria's bio is linked here, but having met her, let me tell you what her resume doesn't say. This is a warm, delightful engaging professional! You will love to hear here insights and experiences on this panel discussion.

rick-rand-great-value-homes-l-sam-zell-equity-lifestyle-properties-els-chair ... layton-clayton-bank-chairman-industry-voices-manufactured-home-pro-news

Rick Rand (l), Sam Zell (c), Jim Clayton (r)

Last and not least, is Rick Rand, who made quite a stir recently with this guest column. Rick was the subject of another MHProNews.com interview, A Cup of Coffee with…Rick Rand.

If online registration for the Tunica Show is closed by the time you read this, don't worry! You can bring your business card and a photo ID, retailers, communities, builder-developers, realtors and installers will be able to sign up at the door, free with those credentials!

Let me close with a tip of the hat to L. A. Tony Kovach. Dennis Hill recently gave Tony quite the well deserved public shout-out, for his key role in the come back of the Louisville Manufactured Housing Show.

Community Operations executive Ted Gross, with Continental Communities praised his session as being the best marketing presentation he had seen since coming into the MHC business.

We've worked with Tony about 90 days now, and let me tell you from first hand experience his deep passion for the MH Industry.

Tony cares about the success of people, operations and loves to see happy consumers enjoying our product.

I don't personally know of anyone who gives more time away for the benefit of the industry.

Tony's consulting and banner ads have helped our company's growth and presence in MH significantly! On MHProNews, he brings out the articles, experts and tackles the topics others shy away from, and is a friendly, peace loving professional and family man.

When you think about it, Tony's efforts to inspire our industry to do more and grow at shows like Louisville and Tunica are part of the rising tide of sales in our industry. You may or may not know it yet, but he makes you money just by being here and spreading the good word about our industry on sites like ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com and here on MHProNews.com.

These are among the reasons why I'll be voting for him as MHI Supplier of the Year, and I hope others that read this will consider doing the same.

We will be at booth 13H in Harrah's Convention Hall. Change your plans! Make your travel arrangements! Fly, drive or hitch a ride, but we hope to see you in Tunica for the 2014 Tunica Manufactured Housing Show! ##

brad-nelms-coo-manufactured-homes-com-posted-mhpronews-comBrad Nelms
COO
ManufacturedHomes.com

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

Location, Location, Location . . . version 2013

August 9th, 2013 No comments

During my years with Mr. (Dick) Moore, we have had numerous discussions concerning the ‘ingredients’ for a successful sales center. Throughout those many talks, a factor repeatedly mentioned is, as they say in the retail game, “Location, Location, Location.” The value of an attractive sales center with good-looking homes to tour cannot be understated. It is as important today as 25+ years ago, possibly even more so.

“Location” in the world of 2013 can have an entirely different meaning than in the 80’s and 90’s.

Our two sales centers in the Memphis/Mid-South region feature road frontage on major thoroughfares, with high traffic counts every day. But our most important ‘road frontage’ in this day’s operations has to be our display/sales center on the Information Superhighway!

We have all heard about the increasing importance of the Internet in selling our homes. Just how important that digital presence might be can be under-estimated by someone not familiar with today’s online shoppers.

Please allow me to share a tale of two houses “A Tale of Two Houses” with you. As you may know, Tunica MS is very near Memphis. At this year’s show, we bought one of the display houses (with all the Tunica Show décor) from one of our manufacturers. The house is beautiful! We brought it to our Millington sales center and set it up, dressed to the nines with the show décor.

The company that handles our web-site activity for us came and took pictures and video of the home. On April 29, while we were in Davenport, IA attending a meeting, we posted the house “live” with full streaming video to our website.

We have implemented a policy of full pricing on the site for our homes. There are a lot of opinions about that concept, and I’m not going to get into that discussion here. BUT, if I may continue with my Tale….

At approximately 10.30 am on Monday, April 29, the Tunica Show house went live on our site. Wednesday morning, May 1, as we were driving back toward Memphis, I got a call from my sales center manager Michelle Chessor, who began the call with “Bob, remember how you say it’s easier to ask forgiveness than get permission?” With bated breath, I said, “Yes, Why?”

Michelle proceeded to tell me about the previous 24 hours of texts and emails concerning the Tunica Show house! Seems that a couple were looking at that posting on our site on Monday, the 29th, and the wife called Michelle on Tuesday to say “I’ll take it at the price you have shown.” Wow!

Tuesday, April 30, was full of texts and emails between our prospect and Michelle, until around 8.30 pm that evening. Michelle left the e-conversation with the prospect confirming that she would send her daughter over to our center (about 45 miles away) on Wednesday morning with a check to take the house off the market. At that point, Michelle told me she still thought that it was a ‘maybe.’

So why was the forgiveness needed? Wednesday morning, May 1, the daughter didn’t show up – the entire family came in to look at the home! During the in-person tour, the husband decided that the living room in the Tunica Show house wasn’t as big as he wanted.

But what’s the forgiveness for? Michelle switched the prospect from the new house to another (older) lot model that the husband really liked, and also spec’d out a RSO unit to the same people! One house advertised on the web, two houses sold off it within 48 hours!

We are pleased to see that the results of the web-site advertising seem to be sustaining. Since May 1, 10 of the 13 new-house deals closed have originated from the web! And here’s the kicker: The invoice of every one of these houses has been more than the average sales price of the previous 12 months!

We have experienced 10-minute cash sales from the web, customers coming in with their first question “Where is the house that I saw on your website?” and even a contact from Virginia Beach inquiring about a buy-for house for the parents, who live in north Mississippi. That one hasn’t gelled yet, but we do have an email reply stating intent for the daughter and her brother to fly down in the near future to meet with our sales center manager.

BTW, all of our web-site efforts are an out-growth of the seminar that Tony Kovach and his associate Bob put on in Louisville in 2011.  Our web advertising firm was just getting up and running on our gig about then, and I invited them to come to Louisville to hear that presentation.

Does this mean that we will continue like this? Who knows? But we’re going to do every thing we can to keep our ‘road frontage’ as pretty and shiny as possible! I would recommend that all retailers seriously consider doing the same. ##

Submitted by:
R.E. Crawford, President
Dick Moore, Inc.,
Millington TN

A Decades Old Quest!

December 5th, 2012 No comments

(Editor's note: a message with a ten year old editorial column came in with an attachment. I asked the sender to write a new introduction, which is the first paragraph below. The rest is a decade old, but could have been written yesterday! Let's not let another 10 years go by and say, “what if?”)

It is not news to any of us in the Manufactured Housing arena that there are serious challenges facing our business from all sides. In survival mode during hard times, it’s easy to forget some of the important  image issues that have constantly plagued us.  How we present ourselves personally; neat and tidy, with a smile on our face, ought to be applied to the way our industry presents itself to the public.  Consider the following:

There has always been a lot of talk within the manufactured housing industry about our image. As a Landscape Architect and planner of manufactured housing communities for more than thirty-five years, image has been an important consideration in the design of communities and the focus of my activities in the industry. It is the source of great frustration to me, that both new and older communities are being designed or presented to the public like the trailer parks of the past.

Row on row of new homes spread out like dominoes on the land, with little apparent thought given to the final appearance of the community and the image it will portray for generations to come. Why is it so? Do developers, engineers, designers and planners feel that our customers don’t deserve better? Is there an assumption that creative planning is too costly? Is enough energy being expended by the national and state industry organizations to promote good design as an important part of our image building strategy? Are we doing enough to educate the planners who review our projects to recognize, encourage and approve projects that are attractive and desirable living environments? I fear that all of the above are true.

Our counterparts in the site built housing business are keenly aware of the benefits of creative planning. The traditional neighborhood development movement, open space conservation planning, planned unit developments, cluster designs, and curvilinear concepts are stock in trade for the better developers. The appearance of their developments from the street, curb appeal and sizzle of their homes is as important a part of their merchandising effort as their floor plans, interior decorating and furnishings. Models are creatively furnished inside and attractively landscaped outside to excite and stimulate the customer. Builder’s displays at development model centers are creatively done with renderings illustrating the final and complete appearance of the home package.

Contrast this to the way the majority of manufactured homes and developments are merchandised. For the most part our homes are pictured by the manufacturers as “plain Jane” boxes devoid of the elements that if added would ultimately make the house an attractive home. These same units are shown to the public at sales centers without any of these important added elements. Is it any wonder our customers feel that their home is complete once it is blocked up on their lot? Community and subdivision developers also miss an opportunity when houses are permitted in developments without the simplest of requirements that would assure curb appeal for the home and the development. Even simple appearance requirements would help to assure growth in the value of the home and the development.

The majority of manufactured homes are designed and built with image emphasis on the long side of the home, this is all well and good when the home is placed long side to the street on wide subdivision and land lease lots. Unfortunately these wide lots result in a significant increase in development cost and a reduction in density. So much for affordability! A few manufacturers are placing emphasis on “developer Series” homes, homes that look good on larger lots and in scattered site settings. A “community series” of homes with emphasis on the appearance of the narrow end of the home would be a great improvement. After all, aren’t most of the homes in communities and subdivisions placed on affordably planned narrow lots resulting in end rather than side views of the home from the street?

Perhaps if our industry were to place more emphasis on the final product, the completed home, we could more rapidly move toward public acceptance of manufactured homes. Many years ago, the Urban Demonstration Project sponsored by MHI proved that with sensitivity to detail and proper presentation, our homes could be a welcomed addition to most neighborhoods. Will we ever profit and learn from these experiences, or continue to “succeed in spite of ourselves” because we provide the least costly available housing. I am certain that the continued growth in of our share of housing in America is dependent on whether we view each new home sold and each new development as an opportunity to improve the image of manufactured housing. I am also certain that continuing to design and develop new “trailer Parks” and sell incomplete homes will perpetuate the industry stereotypes that have helped to keep us from reaching our full potential….What do you think? ##

Don Westphal
Donald C. Westphal, Associates
71 North Livernois Ave.
Rochester Hills, MI 48307
PH: 248-651-5518
Fax: 248-651-0450

An MH Industry Turn Around Plan, Part II

November 16th, 2011 No comments

An MH Industry Turn Around Plan, Part II

 
In my previous article, I explored the potential benefits of an alliance that included not only industry players, but the involvement of the end user – the homeowner. Regardless of the geographical location and cultural differences in this country, affordable housing is a necessity. Whether a consumer is interested in purchasing a manufactured home on land or renting a site (and/or home) in a manufactured home land-lease community, the end result is the same; occupancy of a manufactured home.
 
Like an uncoordinated kid who accepts being chosen last for a sports team, the manufactured housing industry has all too often settled for being considered the less than optimal choice for consumers. At some point, that uncoordinated kid is going to learn the rules, receive instruction from coaches, gain support from teammates, and develops the skills and passion for success at the game. This hypothetical player is going to seek any available resources – from physical fitness and honing skills to setting personal goals and overcoming obstacles – in order to improve positioning. Obviously, the kid is not on this journey alone – coaches, teammates, parents, and fans play an integral role in turning the “last choice” into the first round pick.
 
In a similar manner, the MH Alliance is taking a holistic approach to providing solutions to the manufactured housing industry. One of the biggest hurdles is gaining support from all industry players. The MH Industry is highly segmented – manufacturing, retail, communities, suppliers, finance and insurance, government entities, etc – all hold separate paradigms. More time may be spent by some blaming the other segments for the industry downturn than is spent pulling together and taking action to reverse the trend. The concept of working together to identify and implement sustainable solutions may thus be overshadowed by the reluctance to change and move beyond one's comfort zone.
 
Sports teams recognize that the weakest link can be transformed into the strongest point through the right drills and effort. Therefore, the team takes a holistic approach by identifying specific problem areas and identifying solutions to increase the level of strength by improving the weakest link. The team members recognize each individual’s contribution and the value that it adds to the team’s performance. The MH Alliance is a collective venue that gives balanced value to every player on the team. The strategy is based on breaking down the walls of segmentation to form a team with a unified approach to problem solving. The only “favored children” ought to be the consumers – the manufactured home owners! – of the Industry's products and services.
 
Using a systematic approach, problems are identified and a collaborative effort is used to develop strategies and solutions. The MH Alliance can benefit manufacturers by distinguishing them as a valid and credible source of a much needed product. Quality control issues have been hammered in the media and public opinion. Industry professionals are well aware that manufacturers are held accountable for quality standards. However, the general public – POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS – are not privy to the same information. Consumer awareness and education is a necessary component for image change, yet the current individualized strategies are all too often ineffective. A more unified effort therefor is a must.
 
Information about manufactured homes are usually gleaned from internet searches or a visit to a retail sales center. Manufacturer participation would be linked to current homeowners through the MH Alliance. Not only would the linkage provide access to potential consumers, it would also improve accountability and provide transparency.
 
Manufactured home land-lease communities, MH Retailers and others would also benefit from the Alliance. Let's look at a quick example.
 
Unemployment, foreclosure, and divorce rates are at all time highs in this country. The commonality between the three is that the actions produce a greater need for affordable homes and rental units. Part of the consumer’s resistance to MH Communities (MHC) is the negative stigmatization that is derived from a lack of consistency among owners or managers. One MHC may require yard maintenance requirements and a neat home site with enforced rules while the other allows a goat to eat the grass or you can see barking dog chained to the steps or a tree. The carrot of access to marketing dollars can be a tool for the MH Alliance to involve community owners and encouraging a set of standards will move the choice far beyond the “trailer park” and “mobile home” mentality. Furthermore, by targeting and driving 1-2 star customers to 1-2 star locations, and driving 4-5 star prospects to 4-5 star locations, consumers will find the 'right lifestyle choice' for their needs, wants and budgets.
 
The same can be done with “street retailers” sales centers. We have all seen the state of the art sales centers with HUD Code and modular homes that look like or are ground set, with great landscaping, furnishings, etc. Such 4-5 star retailers should be the ones to see the 4-5 star customers. Those retailers who have 1-2 star locations will have the 1-2 star clientele driven to their sales centers.
In marketing, one goal is always to match the right product and service with the right buyer. One of the good points that the MH Alliance plan offers is that it will avoid marketing disconnects. This will result in more closed business.
 
A key point to remember is the MH Alliance is more than just marketing or image building. So while this article has focused on that aspect, it is important to remember that issues such as better exit strategies for lenders and home owners, improved financing and much more are a part of the mix. Perhaps we can look at those aspects in a future column. # #
 
Links to comments from Industry Professionals who have participated in an MH Alliance/Phoenix Project GoToMeeting small group webinar.
 
 
(Editor’s Note: All links in this article and some edits were provided by MHProNews.com for context to Ms. Tyler’s article. It is good to recall that Ms. Tyler's perspective includes years of MH Retailing and MH home ownership.)
Lisa Tyler, MBA
Marketing Instructor
Walden University
Planning a doctoral dissertation on manufactured home marketing and image.