Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Poor Customer Service Hurts Many Modular Home Factories and Builders

I am a huge Ice Road Truckers fanatic. The danger, the split second decisions and there is always somebody making a mistake that costs tens of thousands of dollars. Plus I have a crush on Lisa.

Lisa Kelly, Ice Road Trucker

What I noticed over the years of watching the show is that it only takes the smallest misstep by one of the trucking company owners to lose a valuable driver.

The modular housing industry sees a ton of these defections every year by both their builders and their sales staff.

There are many reasons why builders might leave your business to head to the competitor. Perhaps the builders left because their sales rep made a move to another factory or they thought that they could get better pricing from another factory. However, two-thirds of all builders leave a factory and never come back due to poor customer service.

Here are 6 reasons builders will leave your factory:

You Ignore Them
Builders are the bread and butter of your company, so they should be noticed and cared for the minute they become one of your authorized builders. How do you feel when you walk into a store and the clerks do not even bother to break away from their conversation to greet you? That is exactly how your builders feel when you ignore them.

You Undervalue Then
Your factory service department should make them feel like an integral part of your company every time they interact with them. Does your non-production line staff know your builders by name? If not, it is time to provide some incentive for them to turn up their personal service up a few notches.

You Don’t Answer Builder’s Questions
The first step in correctly answering a builder's question is to understand what they are asking in the first place. Teach your entire staff active listening skills that help them understand what your builders are saying to them. Your employees should know how to ask clarifying questions and summarize points to get to the heart of your builders' concerns as quickly as possible.

You Don't Solve the Builder’s Problems
Builders with concerns need resolutions if they are to remain loyal. Train your staff to own their builders' problems, and work through the issues meticulously until a resolution is reached. This is true whether your employee can easily solve the problem on their own or requires multiple phone calls and other departments before a satisfactory solution is reached. Take all your employees to a house set. Even the production line and clerical people should see what happens in the field. Can you imagine the pride they will have seeing what they have worked on in the factory actually turn into a home for the builder’s customer?
You Stand by Unreasonable Policies
No builder likes to hear, "That's our policy," particularly if the policy in question appears unreasonable or inconvenient. While some policies really are written in stone, most can be bent or broken to keep a regular builder happy and loyal. Even if you are pressed against a hard and fast rule, there is probably some alternative you can offer your builder.

You Don't Keep Your Word
If you tell a builder you will return a call or follow up with a supplier or the service department, do it in the time frame you promise. If there is a delay out of your control, follow up with your builder to let them know the situation. A builder that trusts your word is more likely to remain loyal to your factory.

When you lose a disgruntled builder, they often tells many others about the reason they left your factory. By avoiding the loss in the first place, you keep one happy builder, and you may gain a few new ones.


Anthony said...

Great article as usual Mr. Fleisher. I agree with everything that has been stated and have to say one of many strengths of Excel Homes is their customer service. They go ABOVE and beyond to work with us with ALL service requests. Their has not been a problem that we have not been able to work out together. They know how important their builders are and work extremely hard to always work together as a team. I could not ask to work with a better team that that at Excel Homes!

Skip Reich said...

Anthony, thank you for the kind words. We do our very best to service our partners/builders. We could not do it without the support of a great partner as yourself. Again, thank you for the support and partnership.