Friday, April 3, 2020

10 Things Every Modular Home Builder Should Do During the COVID-19 Crisis

Economists across the country are making some wild predictions about what the US economy will look like following the COVID-19 lock down. Their forecasts for construction, medical, infrastructure and heavy industries look robust.

But the same can’t be said for small businesses like restaurants, specialty shops and even small new home builders.

However there are some things modular new home builders can do right now to make sure you not only survive during this crisis but come out on the other end with a healthy business.

Here is my list of 10 things you should be doing right now:

Don’t listen to the doomsayers. Life will go on with or without you. Most modular home factories will weather this storm and new home buyers will re-emerge from their “shelter in place” holes like prairie dogs doing the ‘wave’.

Readjust your Business Plan. Even if you don’t have one written down it has to be on your mind. Take a few minutes and write out what your thinking is important right now, in the next 6 weeks and then for the next 52 weeks. If you already have a Business Plan, take it out of your desk drawer, blow the dust off it and readjust it for this pandemic.

Stay in touch with your modular home factory several times a week. Contact a couple different people there and don’t ask them “are you open?”. If they were, you would’ve heard from them already. Be upbeat and smile when you talk to them. Ask them things they can actually answer like questions about their supply chain, what they anticipate their turnaround time for quotes and drawings will be after the crisis, etc. DO NOT be a pain in their ass. They are having their own unique set of problems.

Stay in touch with your vendors, subcontractors and employees. All of them share your pain but reaching out and letting them know you are still ready to use them is always reassuring to hear.

Pay your bills. If you have cash reserves, use it to stay current with the people and businesses. If you don’t have enough to pay them and keep the doors open, call them and go over your situation. Be honest with them. Don’t put off looking into an SBA loan which could be the difference between you surviving this crisis and watching the recovery from the sidelines.

Talk to your customers. This is so fundamental I shouldn’t even have to mention it. There are four types of customers. The buyers that moved into their new home within the past year, those with a house ready to be set, the ones with deposits at the factory just waiting for their home to be built and lastly, the buyer that gave you a deposit for their new home but have not been given a production slot yet. They are your most important source of marketing right now. Keep them informed, answer their questions and listen to their rants without getting angry and they will shout your praises when this is over.

Keep in touch with your prospects. Let them know they are important to you by sending them email updates about the positive things you are seeing concerning new home building. Good interest rates, the speed of building a modular home with you and anything else that lets them know you are on top of things.

Use social media. Put on your smiley face and do a series of small one minute videos about what you are doing during this crisis. If you are one of the builders that doesn’t currently have a house to build, show off your desk with plans and a couple of building material samples and simply say that even though you must shelter in place doesn’t stop the work. If you’re lucky enough to be at a jobsite, take a quick one minute tour of what is happening.

Catch up on your reading. Don’t sit at your desk playing video games, taking the dog for a walk 10 times a day or learn how to make your own bread or watch YouTube. No, simply read what the NAHB, MBI, BSC, MHBA and others in new home construction are putting out there about our industry’s response to the COVID-19. Right now I’m reading “Jim Clayton, First a Dream.” Powerful book.

Don’t neglect your family. Everyone in your household can tell when you have a problem, even the dog. No matter how hard it gets for your business, you must maintain an open relationship with both those living in the house and family across the US and even the world. We’re all in this crisis together and you thinking that everything is going to crap is not healthy mentally for you or your family.

Please stay safe and follow the guidelines set forth by the Federal and State Governments and we will all come through this crisis, some better than others but we will emerge from this stronger and united.

Gary Fleisher is a housing veteran, editor/writer of Modular Home Builder blog and industry speaker/consultant.

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