Friday, September 15, 2017

Time for a Modular Housing Mentoring Program Has Arrived

It’s amazing that the entire modular housing industry has never had any national programs in place to educate, recruit or mentor experienced and ‘new’ to modular construction builders.

You have to ask yourself why an industry that constantly says it wants to grow hasn’t. How do builders that want to add modular construction to their business model ever learn the most basic aspects?


Salespeople have traditionally assumed the role of teacher but who trained them to help new builders understand the most basic differences between site building and modular? Factories don’t have any programs in place to teach salespeople how to attract and train new builders.

Modular and prefab factories don’t even have training programs for new salespeople so why does each factory assume their salespeople are the right people to help new builders understand all things modular. Most factory salespeople have never owned or worked for either a site or modular builder that would give them at least some understanding of what is needed to make a new to modular builder a success.

I’ve been told many times that the attrition rate of builders wanting to start using modular construction is 80% in the first year after signing on with a factory.

80 out every 100 first time modular builders no longer using modular after the first year. That is appalling.

Since it’s obvious that the individual modular home factory across the country will never embrace a training program that costs them quite a lot of money to start and maintain, then the next best is a mentoring program with successful modular builders helping new modular builders.

Again, that takes money and individual modular factories just can’t justify the expense of establishing a program helping new to modular builders only to see the builder jump ship and go to another factory. Nobody can blame them for not putting this type of program into place either.

If both training and mentoring is off the table for modular factories then who should step up and take the reins of trying?

How about the NAHB’s Building Systems Council and/or the MHBA (Modular Home Builders Association) stepping up the challenge?

Training is an expensive undertaking and I doubt that either one of these organizations will be prepared to start a training program for quite some time even though both are growing stronger by the day.

But let’s be honest here, the expense of their helping develop a mentoring program would be considerably less and once put into place builders could begin taking it over themselves insuring its survival. There’s no better way for something to get done than to ask someone who is already busy.

Both of these organizations have boards comprising some of the best modular home builders in the country and as I’ve learned from personal interaction with them, they would welcome the challenge of implementing the foundation of a good mentoring program. Some of them are already doing it without recognition.

The benefits of mentoring are many and will vary from program to program, participant to participant.

Here is a short list of the benefits of a builder to builder mentoring program.

For the Mentor
  • Allows the mentor to "give back" -- to both the industry and the mentored.
  • Reminds the mentor how to listen actively rather than passively.
  • Encourages the mentor to share knowledge, which helps increase the mentor's sense of self-worth.
  • Strengthens the mentor's interpersonal relationship skills
  • Helps re-energize the mentor
For the Mentored
  • Increases the mentored's self-confidence
  • Helps the mentored learn to take better control of his or her business
  • Educates the mentored on how to accept feedback in important areas, such as communications, technical abilities, change management, and leadership skills.
  • Provides an important networking contact for the mentored
  • Helps provide a path to success
For the Modular Housing Industry
  • Conveys to people within the industry that the organization is willing to invest in its members
  • Shows the outside world that the organization values its members/employees
  • fosters leadership skills in mentors
  • Encourages the mentored's growth from being mentored to becoming a mentor.
  • Promotes a sense of cooperation and harmony within the organization.
  • More long term modular builders coming into the industry.
The only thing stopping this is good modular builders doing nothing. If you would like to explore the modular housing industry starting a mentoring program, contact either the BSC or the MHBA and tell them Modcoach told you to call.


Tom Hardiman said...

Oh Gary...

Obviously the existing modular builders don't want to mentor new builders, so that's out. I understand your point about the factories and their reluctance, but that should not discourage them from wanting to recruit and train new builders.

I can't speak for NAHB, but our focus at the Modular Home Builders Association is three-fold: 1) help to reduce or eliminate regulatory barriers that are adding unnecessary cost and time to projects, 2) promote the advantages of modular homes to potential home owners, 3) business development opportunities for the dues paying members (i.e. leads, networking). The overall goal is, of course, to help grow the modular market share. MHBA is working on the "demand side" of the equation.

Right now, we are still trying to get the existing builders, manufacturers, and suppliers in this industry to buy-in and support our current focus. We have about 35 factory members, 25 supplier/associate types, and about 40 builder members. That's tremendous growth from the 3 members we had in 2012! But I think we are still just scratching the surface and need many more companies to support this effort.

Our limited marketing dollars (funded by 8 manufacturers-need more help here!) are aimed at potential home buyers. Again, we are focusing on growing the demand for modular homes. Perhaps reaching more traditional builders would be a good target for BSC with their NAHB connection?

Josh Margulies said...

I think the need for internal training re the manufacturer/builder relationship and how to go from factory to field to happy homeowner is valid. The manufacturer has done it with his stable of builders. But now no one factory can afford to train any one builder. I wonder if the seminars could be sold!?

Builder Bob said...

Tom, I've been a modular home builder over 30 years and mentored several very successful builders when they first got into modular.

Your "Obviously the existing modular builders don't want to mentor new builders, so that's out" statement is wrong. Maybe statements like that is the reason the MHBA only has 40 builders out of the hundreds and possibly thousands doing business today.

Perhaps you should start calling it the Modular Anti-Regulatory Association. MARA

Bill Hart said...

One person I know of at least..Gary Grossman busted his butt prompting education for all for years thru the Building Systems Council..He heads Forest Homes; but apparently sadly his efforts were not duplicated by others particularly Mod factory owners.

You reap what you sow..Educational oppertunities relevant to.. all ..types of builders is always available right now off the shelve.dont re event the wheel!! And Im sure its, readily available from the BSC The NAHB and certainly there is room for all ...if you just ask! Alternative? Put ....experienced ...factory mod reps back out in the field ..everyday to spoon feed a much higher cost!! Plus Im sure you know PA is loaded with former NAHB mod and prefab experienced ask some like Gary Roger Lyons and the help!

Josh Margulies said...

You know we rarely focus on nuts and bolts stuff. The home show in Strattanville was a very big success. I am extremely impressed at the product on display at the new era plant. NICE STUFF!

We don't have a good shop talk, interactive blog. Model home programs, set crews, crane companies, hickory cabinetry is hot, geeze look st the bath they can do.

We need a builder safe place where we can all speak freely without fear of hurting each other's feelings.

Modslsman said...

Education is a HUGE valuable tool. I suggest at various Home Shows (Louisville, Tunica, etc.) they have training seminars just like NHBA does.

I have been in this industry for over 25 years, mostly in sales and for the last 7 years I am now an owner as well. Several owners have never sold and some of them shouldn't have so how does a potential new sales person get trained based upon that?

We talk about infusing our industry with "new blood" but until we solve this, it is going to be difficult.