Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Modular Home Factory Owners Need to Take the Initiative

If you are a modular home manufacturer, have you ever sat back and asked yourself why you're not attracting the builders you really want?

The answer to this question lies with YOU!

I've found that manufacturers view their businesses in many different ways. Some think the builder wants the best engineered products available; others think builders are driven by the lowest price and others think that style and floorplans are what is needed. Whatever you think the builder needs is probably correct. The builders that share your vision are your "MUST HAVE" customers.

How do you communicate to these people just what your factory offers?

Some manufacturers use style and floorplans to woo builders to their company. Others use engineering, multifamily designs and options to attract builders.

And there are some that still use price as the best way to attract and keep builders looking for the lowest price in their market.

Whatever your main thrust into the market is, it is no better than how effectively you pursue it. 

There are three weak links in most company's plans to become a "MUST HAVE" factory:

The first is the corporate Mission Statement! Just about every manufacturer uses the same one.

"We strive to produce and sell the best damn modular home in America" or something very similar.

If you think even one builder or dealer is swayed by your mission statement, guess again.

The second weak link is management. Management tends to think that everybody at the factory from the new hire to the experienced Sales Manager shares their vision for the future.

They might if you actually told them, but you don't.

What the people on the floor care about is their paycheck and hoping they don't get fired or laid off. There are some company owners that think $10 an hour is good pay for factory workers! 

The office staffs feel like drones going about doing their jobs with little or no acknowledgement that they matter to management. And don't get me started on management respecting the sales departments. Management reads the sales reports and dumps on the Sales Manager who then dumps on the reps who then start wondering why they continue to work for such people.

The last weak link are sales managers. No two managers are alike. Some are tyrants, some are incompetent, some are "missing in action" and then there are the ones that actually try to do good for both their reps and the company.

But no matter what, there MUST be a Sales Manager in the mix. He or she steers the boat (reps) in the direction they should go.

I've worked for quite a few Sales Managers in my life in modular housing and the tendency is to try to get the reps on the ground running as quickly as possible. They give them a map, a thermos of coffee and tell them to "hit the road".

Which brings us back to what makes you a "Must Have" factory.

First, identify your strong points and list them for everyone to see. If you build great multifamily housing, market that. If your niche is custom homes, go for it. Don’t forget energy efficient homes. Whatever you decide to do, put your back into it. DON"T write a Mission Statement! Write an action plan that everybody can understand.

Be a good manager of your business. Be the coach that everyone looks to advice. No football coach ever said before a game, "Go out there and pick up the ball and run around for an hour". 

Your people have to know what you want and saying "get more business or else" is not it.

Your sales reps will find a way to do their job that keeps you off their backs. It doesn't matter if they do it the way you wanted them to, only that they bring in sales.

That brings us to the Sales Manager. It was my pleasure to work for a professional Sales Manager in this industry.  He worked with me to understand the business and our customers. What management envisioned for me and how I fit into the organization. He never threw me under the bus, even if I deserved it.

There was consistency in his orders to us and "atta boys" for even some of the smallest victories. His sales staff would walk through fire for him and the factory workers loved him because he took the time to acknowledge the role they played in the company's success. Pick the right Sales Manager and you'll be surprised how things will start to turn around.

Management must identify the market for the business, communicate that effectively to EVERYONE, help the Sales Manager by giving them the proper tools and make sure that the company keeps on track. It really is that simple. Can you turn it around in one day? No, but you can get started today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


How about a company that builds a quality engineered home designed for the needs of today's buyer at a value price for the market within 250 miles of their facility delivered with minor defects to the builder or consumer. Obviously, transport, taxes, and local quirks will affect the pricing but a consistent process for all from the factory floor to the final set and button up would change the perception of the builders and the end consumer.

With the consolidation of factories under various corporate holding firms why is this message so hard to communicate to the builders and the general public.