Friday, March 29, 2019

Latest Modcoach Builder Survey

Thinking it was time to check in on what modular home builders once again about their views and opinions of the modular home factories they work with to provide them with new homes, I sent out a survey to modular home builders across the US and here are their answers to a few general questions.

Nothing terrible but a few surprises both good and not so good but overall it seems that all the wheels are still on the wagon for the modular housing industry.

Here are the questions and some of the answers I received from builders:

Is your factory responsive to your requests in a timely manner? (estimates, drawings, special orders, etc)

Responsiveness to builders has always been a problem area. The respondents to this question gave high marks to their sales reps but were not quite as generous with praise for the rest of the factory team.

One builder said “Sometimes, but sometimes not. The worst of it is that it’s impossible to anticipate.”

Another builder added “Estimates are not very fast, I feel I have lost customers because of this.”
A Northeast builder has a good relationship with their sales rep “He normally responds to us in minutes or a couple/few hours, not days or weeks). The other factories are slow, slower and excruciating.”

Does your factory service department handle your problems in a timely, efficient manner?
This is an area that just can’t catch a break. Even though every factory says they have excellent an excellent service department that sentiment is not shared by most of the builders that responded to the survey.
“My factory almost always. Others, if/when they get around to it.”
“They try to, most of the time we fix our own issues.”
“Absolutely not. The factory service department is awful.”
“Our manufacturer has been fair about providing the service we need. In fact, they’ve gotten better recently. Part of that is because we’re doing better at following up with them and, when necessary, chasing the needed help.”
“The service manager is terrible. Always wanting to blame me for the problem even when I take pictures.”

Technology is quickly taking over parts of all construction methods. Is your factory beginning to embrace it (ordering, BIM, AI, VR, etc)?
I included this survey question simply to learn what if anything the builders are seeing being adopted by their factories. It’s almost like the factories are not even addressing anything that involves new technology.
“Our manufacturer is still using the same systems it’s been using for the last several years”
“I think so but don't know how extensively.”
“Our manufacturer is still using the same systems it’s been using for the last several years. If they are intending to implement changes, they haven’t consulted with us.”
“I can’t even imagine my factory spending any money on new technology. They build like they did when I first started with them in 1997”

Today’s sales rep needs to be just more than an order taker. Has your factory rep become a partner in helping you succeed or are they still selling like it’s 2006?
About once a month I try to write an article concerning the factory sales rep's side of the industry and the responses from builders across the US tell me most of their reps are worth their weight in gold. Well, maybe not gold but at least their weight in Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. “We have an excellent sales rep. He understands the factory side – order processing in addition to modular construction – as well as anyone we’ve known. He identifies problems we didn’t even know we had.”
“Our rep is very responsive and knowledgeable. With that said, we have considered other factories, but they reps have driven us to not pursue those avenues. I would follow my rep to another factory if they left.”
“Sales rep is swamped with quotes. Sales manager and factory leadership is still in the same mode of the 2006”
“I probably talk/text/email with my rep 10 times/day during the week, and a couple times over the weekend.”
“Our rep is good people and the factory builds a great house but it's like root canal trying to get a custom home order processed correctly and plans drawn/stamped”
If you could sit and talk with ALL the key people at your factory at the same time, what would you like to tell them?
I was hoping this would be a good forum for both praising and venting the builder’s factory and a couple of the builder comments did catch me by surprise.
“Some factories need to improve response time for quotes, prelim and stamped plans. Be reasonably flexible, and fair on option pricing.”
“Improve your service department and stop complaining about custom houses. If you want us to push plans and offerings, please educate your builder base on what you are selling.”
“Quality control needs to be improved. Even considering the service assistance we get, there are still too many things we need to correct on site”
“you guys don't get to build anything until we sell it, so don't treat your builders like you're doing us a favor... respond to requests promptly, be accurate, provide answers that make common sense (as opposed to "that's the way we've always done it")”
“make QC and post-delivery customer service a top priority (which leads to happy customers, and referrals, and more business for all of us!)”
“Either build homes for your builders or hotels. Stop trying to do both on your production that can only turn out 12 floors a week. I’m sick of hearing a production schedule for my house, telling the customer and then finding out you moved my house back another two weeks because you didn’t finish a big project” Is there room for improvement? Sure is but that is too be expected in every type of manufacturing industry.


Anonymous said...

Coach. You didn't ask me but my answers would be my factory needs to fire the service manager and hire a couple of people with eyes that function to look over my houses before they leave the factory.

As soon as the house is unwrapped I begin dreading my customer walking through each box and seeing missing cabinets, trim that looks like a gorilla put it on, windows without interior trim and lots of other stuff that should not have made it out the factory.

Then the service manager tells me to fix it and send him an invoice for the work knowing full well he will fight me over every last penny until I settle for pennies on the dollar.

This is my 4th factory and each one has had a problem with quality and stupid service managers.

Taking pictures and sending them to the my rep doesn't do a darn bit og good. He tries at least.

Gary W said...

I would say your sales reps are failing you. When I was a sales rep I personally walked each unit with the final finish inspector. I knew when that unit left it had met my expectations. When I was sales manager at a factory I had my sales reps do the same. You can not inspect the quality in a home if the company has people who have pride in what they do, the inspections become much easier

Anonymous said...

I left a plant as a sales rep because I was not allowed to walk modules and eliminate shortages/ QC problems. I took my builders to a competitor and did not look back.