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by Chad Carr

Chad Carr photoThere's been a lot written lately about the decline of our Industry. Many experts have pointed out that the ongoing reduction in new home shipments, the shrinking number of Independent Retailers and the lack of support from the banking sector are all signs that our road will be difficult to travel for some time to come. Some have even predicted we are on a road to oblivion.

While these opinions are certainly based on reliable facts, and the experience and knowledge of these opinion makers are beyond question, I have not yet been convinced that retailers and community owners of our industry are in a hopeless or, frankly, even a desperate situation.

I believe it is still possible to sell and finance homes at a profit. I believe owners can continue to build long-term wealth and stability in this market. I believe this industry still presents a great opportunity for Independent Retailers and Community Owners alike.

I believe these things are possible because I see them actually happening in this industry every day!

At Rainmaker, we call on retailers and community owners of every shape and size in every region of the country – every day. And while it's true that the majority of those we talk with are tired, beat-up, frustrated, hopeless and "Retired-In-Place," we also talk to people every day that are doing very well.

I know retailers who are making record profits. I know community owners with 99% occupancy rates. I know people with private portfolios of MH Loans that are performing very well and have been for a long time.

That's not to say that everyone is or even can be successful. But I am absolutely convinced that a much greater percentage of Retailers and Community Owners could be doing much better than they are.

I have written on this site before about the Best Practices that people need to employ during these times in order to be successful. A quick search of the Archives should produce several pieces on these Best Practices, but let me list 10 that we actively teach and promote:

Strategy #1 – Reduce your Overhead
Strategy #2 – Convert Fixed Expenses to Variable Expenses
Strategy #3 - Turn your P&L into a profit generating check-list
Strategy #4 – Learn and Implement Variable Gross Profit Strategies
Strategy #5 – Get Aggressive in Used, Repo's and Consignments
Strategy #6 – Develop Retail Finance Alternatives
Strategy #7 – Increase your Variable Sales Penetration
Strategy #8 – Move your Marketing and Prospecting Efforts to the Internet
Strategy #9 – Capture Market Share with aggressive Marketing and Follow-up
Strategy #10 – Upgrade your Sales Process and Retrain your Sales Team

We know many people who have used these strategies to not only survive, but to thrive in this current market.

Unfortunately, despite our efforts to help teach dealers these strategies, and the efforts of others like the staff of MHSMH.com to help spread the word about opportunities for dealers to improve their business, I am amazed at how few people actually want to do the work it takes to make something positive happen.

Don't get me wrong; I know owners are busy working. In fact, they are probably busier than they have been at any other point in the last 20 years. But they are busy working harder at the same things they have always done. They are busy because they have let their staffs go, not because their activities are making things better.

Every month, our company offers at least six free education seminars through the Internet focusing on how Retailers and Community Owners can implement the various strategies listed above to improve their sales and bottom line. We are lucky if we get four or five people from this industry to attend these webinars.

For those who do attend, when I follow-up to ask what changes they are considering to help improve their business, most tell me none. Just to be sure I'll ask if business is already good for them and almost always they tell me no.

Why is it that we can have so many smart, hard working people in this industry who are incapable of taking action or making changes? From my conversations with Dealers and other Industry Professionals, I have come up with a list of four reasons:

#1 – Fear

Many people are just plain scared. They feel the problems they face are so big, and their ability to fix these problems so limited, that they are just scared into trying nothing.

We all know how opossums play dead when they are afraid, even if it increases the chance that they will end up dead. Many people are so stressed about their situation that they just "play dead," try nothing different, and hope that they don't get hit by the one last problem that will finally put them over the edge.

#2 – Fatigue

I was recently talking to a dealer about changes he could make to grow his business and he said, "The problem, Chad, is that I'm just tired of working this hard. I spent twenty years working my tail off to build this business, five years working to save it, and I don't want to have to work that hard again at this point in my life."

This was about as honest an answer as I have received from anyone in the last three years. He knew he could do better, but he was tired and instead of getting back to work, he had decided to lower his expectations and adjust his lifestyle so he could meet his needs without having to re-grow his business.

#3 – Fairy Tale Thinking

I can't tell you the number of times I finish up a speaking engagement where I am trying to show people how they can turn around their businesses only to have someone come up to me and talk about how everything would be better if someone would just start sending again, fix the appraisal problem, put together an image campaign, enforce the duty to serve, etc.

There is no white knight coming to save this industry. This industry is going to have to save itself. Or at least each Retailer and Community Owner is going to have to save themselves.

We have always had to fight harder than other segments of the housing market. We have always had powerful enemies who do not want to see our industry grow. We have always had to overcome a stigma about our product.

And there have always been people making money in this industry despite all these issues.

#4 - Fatalism

As evidenced in some of the recent discussion on this and other sites, there are many who have finally given up on this industry. I talk to lots of people who say they would love to sell out and be done if someone would just make them a decent offer. I talk to many more who are just hoping to outlive the business.

This fatalism is understandable; it has been a very hard 12 years for this industry. However, it makes no sense to sit by and watch your life savings go back into a business that you are not going to make successful. Those who are "Retired in Place" really do need to cut their losses and move on.

Each of these four reasons for inaction can be excused on an individual basis. Each Retailer or Community Owner is allowed to do what they wish to do; and each can tell themselves what ever they need to in order to make themselves feel comfortable about their decisions.

I worry though, that we are collectively reaching some point of negative critical mass where we spend more time talking about the reasons things are bad than we do trying to make positive things happen.

There are plenty of people working hard as individuals, trying new things and being very successful in this business today. But we need more of them.

I'm not talking about working to solve big industry-wide problems (not that people shouldn't do this). I'm talking about working on your own business.

I don't think there is one magic solution to solve the industry's problems, but there are concrete steps that can be worked on each day to grow your individual business and be profitable. When we each do that individually, the industry will begin to improve collectively.

I am not ready to give up on this industry because I know many people who have overcome the challenges of this industry to be very successful. If some businesses are actually successful, then it must be possible for others to be successful.

For those who wish/want to break out of the cycle of negativity, there are plenty of resources to help. There are many people out there offering help in the form of articles, webinars, training sessions, consulting services and more.

You can find many of those resources right here on the pages of this site. As I mentioned before, our company hosts free webinars (on-line seminars) each month that go into detail on the ten strategies I listed above and many more Best Practices that we have learned from successful dealers through our 35 years in this industry.

If you want help figuring out where to start, you can give me a call and I would be happy to get you pointed in the right direction. But it doesn't matter so much where you go to find something new to try. What matters is that you make the conscious decision to seek out something you believe could help your business and then invest some time and energy in making it happen.

###

Chad Carr is the President of Rainmaker Software, a second-generation family business that provides Retail Management Software and Consulting Services for the Housing, RV and Trailer markets.

Rainmaker works with dealers ranging in size from five to six people up to some of the biggest and most well recognized names in the industry. Register for their free monthly newsletter at http://visitor.constantcontact.com/d.jsp?m=110294633464five&p=oi.

If you would be interested in learning how to look at these and other ratios for your company, call Rainmaker Consulting for a free business analysis. We will look at your financial statements, analyze them and provide you with both the results and our feedback, all at no charge. For more information, visit their website at www.getRain.com or contact Chad at (800) 336-0339 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Daily Business News Briefs

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Skyline Advances; S&P 500 Hits New High

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21 Aug 2014

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Existing-home Sales Show Modest Gains

Existing-home Sales Show Modest Gains

Although existing home sales rose 2.4 percent from last month to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.15 million in July, the highest rate of 2014, they are down 4.3 percent from last year, according to housingwire.com. Last July’s 5.38 million unit level, the highest for 2013, includes single-family homes, condos, townhomes and co-ops....

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100 Tiny Homes Set for Portland, Oregon

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21 Aug 2014

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New 55 Older MHC Opening in Michigan

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Prospective Manufactured Home Buyer Seeks Lender

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Manufactured Home Wire Supplier Presenting at Investor Conference

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21 Aug 2014

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Professor Specializes in Affordable Housing, Moves to U. of New Mexico

Professor Specializes in Affordable Housing, Moves to U. of New Mexico

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Demand for Multifamily Units Continues to Expand

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Featured Articles and Reports - August 2014 Vol. 5 No. 11

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Enhanced Manufactured and Modular Home Marketing and Sales Results

Enhanced Manufactured and Modular Home Marketing and Sales Results

by L. A. “Tony” Kovach American companies spend 2 billion a year on training. So why don't more manufactured and modular home (MH) retailers and communities invest properly in sales training? Read more

MARKETING

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COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT & FAIR HOUSING (LEGAL)

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COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT & FAIR HOUSING (LEGAL)

A New Strategy for Community Owners

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COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT & FAIR HOUSING (LEGAL)

The Impact of a 1.3 Billion Dollar Manufactured Home Communities Acquisitio…

The Impact of a 1.3 Billion Dollar Manufactured Home Communities Acquisition

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COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT & FAIR HOUSING (LEGAL)

July, 1960 Popular Mechanics highlights Evolution of the Travel Trailer

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COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT & FAIR HOUSING (LEGAL)

CFPB Proposes New HMDA Requirements: Changes Exemption Threshold and Incre…

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FINANCING

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GENERAL MANUFACTURED HOUSING INDUSTRY TOPICS

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An Opportune Moment

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GENERAL MANUFACTURED HOUSING INDUSTRY TOPICS

A Second Cup of Coffee with...Bill Matchneer

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A Cup of Coffee with… Paul Bradley

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GENERAL MANUFACTURED HOUSING INDUSTRY TOPICS

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GENERAL MANUFACTURED HOUSING INDUSTRY TOPICS

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PERSONAL REFLECTIONS, MOTIVATION and INSPIRATION

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SALES

Upcoming Events

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MHLIVINGNEWS.COM FEATURED HOME OF THE WEEK

Classifieds

Press Releases

RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inducts the Cl…

RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inducts the Class of 2014 into RV/MH Hall of Fame

(Back row l-r) Thomas "Tom" L. Kern, Style Crest Enterprises; Ed Evans, EPM; Gary McDaniel, YES! Communities ; Richard "Dick" King, King Insurance (second row row l-r) Barry Cole, Manufactured Housing Insurance Services; Bob Livingston, Good Sam; John D Roba, Roba and Associates (front row l-r) Mrs. James F Shields. accepting on behalf of her husband,James F Shields (deceased), Pan Pacific RV Centers; Debbie Brunoforte, Little Dealer, Little Prices and Peter B Orthwein, Thor Industries. ELKHART, Ind., August 5. 2014 -- The Class of 2014 was inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame (Hall) last night in Elkhart, Indiana, in a gala ceremony before a record breaking crowd of more than 440 family members, friends, and colleagues from across the country. The Class of 2014 includes: Debbie Brunoforte, Little Dealer, Little Prices;...

the MHMSM Team 05 Aug 2014 Corporate Press Releases

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Steve Lefler - Modular Lifestyles and Ne…

Steve Lefler - Modular Lifestyles and Newport Pacific – Successfully Gaining Acceptance for Super Energy Saving, Green Manufactured Homes

Learn more at the article linked here, or by calling Steve Lefler, Vice President of Modular Lifestyles, Inc., a division of Newport Pacific Family of Companies at Ph. (888) 437-4587. Email steve@modularlifestyles.com. Steve is a Dual DRE and HCD Salesperson. Advanced Green Building Professional. CEC Solar Wind Retailer/Installer. http://www.modularlifestyles.com ##

the MHMSM Team 01 Aug 2014 Corporate Press Releases

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Sun Communities, Inc. to Acquire America…

Sun Communities, Inc. to Acquire American Land Lease Manufactured Housing Portfolio from Green Courte Partners for $1.32 Billion

Increases Sun Communities' portfolio to 245 communities totaling nearly 90,000 sites in 29 states with a combined enterprise value of approximately $5.1 billion Southfield, MI, July 30, 2014 - Sun Communities, Inc. (NYSE: SUI) (the "Company") today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire a portfolio (the "ALL portfolio") from Green Courte Partners, LLC ("GCP") sponsored funds. The ALL portfolio consists of 59 manufactured home communities, including those acquired from American Land Lease, Inc. by GCP in 2009. The communities comprise over 19,000 sites in eleven states, including nearly 11,000 sites located in Florida. Over 14,000 sites, or 73%, of the ALL portfolio are age-restricted.  In connection with this transaction, the Company will assume GCP's right to acquire an additional manufactured home community pursuant to a binding purchase...

the MHMSM Team 31 Jul 2014 Corporate Press Releases

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Mountainside Financial launches Dodd-Fra…

Mountainside Financial launches Dodd-Frank compliant non-MLO, MLO SUN Manufactured/Mobile Home Direct Loans and Refinancing

Using online articles, banner ads and video, Mountainside Financial is announcing the launch of the evolution of their direct lending platform promotion. As a division of San Antonio Credit Union (SACU), Mountainside has a unique 14 year history of making direct to consumer loans on manufactured and mobile homes. Direct loans are often done in "partnership" with brokers, communities, Realtors ®, other housing professionals and manufactured home retailers who refer consumers to them. Anthony Ducharme, Direct Channel Manager for Mountainside, explained how they created their new SUN System with Manufactured Home Professionals in mind who needed a compliant process to navigate SAFE Act and Dodd-Frank regulations enforced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). "If you've been originating your own loans, talk to us. If you want to have a legally complaint...

the MHMSM Team 08 Jul 2014 Corporate Press Releases

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Call for Nominations for the RV/MH Hall …

Call for Nominations for the RV/MH Hall of Fame Class of 2015

ELKHART, Ind., -- The RV/MH Hall of Fame Selection Committee has issued a call for nominations for the Class of 2015. Darryl Searer, Hall president, said, "The Hall welcomes nominations from all RV and manufactured housing sectors -- manufacturers, dealers, campgrounds, housing communities, suppliers, user groups, trade media, associations, etc -- for the class of 2015 and beyond. "The nomination guidelines and forms available online atwww.rvmhhalloffame.org/pages/nominations.cfm." According to the guidelines, anyone can nominate a person to the Hall of Fame that meets the eligibility requirements. The only people who may not be considered are those who currently serve on the Hall's Selection Committee. To be eligible the nominee must be, or have been, an active participant in any segment of the recreation vehicle, campground or manufactured housing industries for a minimum of 25 years....

the MHMSM Team 08 Jul 2014 Corporate Press Releases

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Southwest Region Manufactured Home Commu…

Southwest Region Manufactured Home Communities Showing Rent and Occupancy Growth, Outpacing National Average, According to JLT & Associates’ 14-Year Market Summary Report

Grand Rapids, Michigan – JLT & Associates (JLT), the nation’s #1 market research company for the manufactured housing industry, today announced a 14-year summary report of its manufactured home community rent surveys for 6 Southwest markets. Recognized as the industry standard for manufactured home community market analysis for over 20 years, JLT Rent Surveys provide detailed research and information on communities located in 72 markets throughout the United States, including the latest rent trends and statistics, marketing programs and a variety of other useful management insights. The most recent JLT Rent Surveys for the Southwest region cover 261 manufactured home communities encompassing 69,728 homesites in Albuquerque, Greater Kansas City, Greater Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tucson and Salt Lake City. This summary report is based on rent and occupancy trends from 2000 to 2014. Findings...

the MHMSM Team 01 Jul 2014 Corporate Press Releases

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