1. Factory-built housing-wise, what would you like to see happen in 2010?
That we start thinking of ourselves and marketing as a better way of building instead of the mindset many of have that it's only about cost. We need to step up and show consumers why now is the time to buy a manufactured home.
2. What are the challenges and the paths needed to move forward?
Perception of our product - that we are still building 'trailers' that will only last 5 or 10 years. There are so many amazing homes that are factory-built available in every area, but we are the worst about telling our story.
3. If a national 'Go-RVing' style image campaign isn't achieved, would you favor state or regional level image and marketing campaigns as an alternative? Do you think that such an effort could in some ways be more effective than a national campaign? If so, why?
With social marketing and electronic media in every home these days, it really needs to be global and there shouldn't be a cost difference. If each manufacturer made a commitment just to put a link on their site or put the information that tells why factory-built housing is the way of the future.
4. Does this industry need natural disasters (i.e. hurricanes) to survive or thrive? Explain your position on this point.
If we are banking on something we can't control instead of focusing our efforts on what is in our hands we won't survive or thrive. People need homes, and entry level housing especially with the current tax incentives is where we should be focusing. It's all about "Right-Sizing" and "Right-Pricing" right now and we can offer that. As I stated in my trend report (Dec 2009 issue, available in the www.MHMSM.com archives), people are going back to basics and are looking for a long term housing solution they can afford. This should be our forte and our message - we can offer more home, built in a climate controlled situation quickly and efficiently.
5. What can consumers expect from your sector of the industry in 2010?Explain.
In home design and interiors I see more "mass customization" where we give our customers choices, but choices we can easily get and still make a profit on. We also need to get away from the 'trailer' stereotypes and design homes with specifications that are the same as they see in site-built homes and in the media such as HGTV, Better Homes and Gardens, etc. With Wal-Mart now offering their home lines by Better Homes and Gardens, every market in the country has access to on trend decor items at a very reasonable price point and customers will be shopping for homes that will coordinate with those products. The Home Idea Factory is focusing on doing more partnership merchandising programs such as we have done with KMart, Pier1 and Sherwin Williams in the past.
6. What can your sector of the industry do better? How can that be achieved?
Get out of the office and really understand what consumers are looking for and what other options they have. Trends are now established and seen at warp speed these days with the internet, etc. and as an industry we really haven't done as good of a job keeping up with these as we could have. Walking site built homes and talking to their sales teams is a great way to find out what's selling and what isn't. We also need to do a better job making our retail centers and communities look inviting. Making seasonal changes in our model homes shows that you are paying attention to details and it's also a great time to make a new punch list on what's damaged, dated, etc. and needs freshened up.
7. Any other thoughts or encouragement you'd like to share with our Industry Readers?
We build a great home! Factory built housing is one of the truest forms of green building - most of our plants leave very little to waste and we recycle every product possible. Consumers are now showing that they want to "do the right thing" as far as green, but most aren't ready to pay for it. By telling our story on how buying a factory built home really helps the environment without an additional cost to them everyone wins.
Please provide your:
Suzanne S. Felber
The Home Idea Factory
What Industry segement are you in? (Check "X" all that apply)
Finance & Insurance
Other: merchandising and decors