A Cup of Coffee with…Chad Carr

Cup-manufacturedhomepronews1) Who, What and Where: (Your name, and your role/job title at Rainmaker as well as any other industry roles, association positions, etc.).

Chad Carr of Rainmaker Software and Consulting.  I am officially the President of this second-generation family business, but with both of my parents still actively involved, we really all balance multiple duties.  Our company has been serving Retailers in the Manufactured Housing Industry since 1978 when my mother, Judy, started working for Dealer Magazine as the head of the Hardison Institute.  In addition to my work at Rainmaker, I am an active speaker and writer with a focus on teaching best practices to Independent Retailers in this and the other industries we serve.

2) Background: (Educational/Professional before entering your current positions and the factory-built housing arena).

My roots in this Industry run pretty deep.  I literally started out cleaning the bathrooms for my parents when I was a teenager.  I remember meeting a lot of retailers at industry gatherings hosted by my parents.  But when I left for college, I had no intention of following in my parents’ footsteps.  I can remember my father saying, “Don’t think about coming back here to work for us,” and me replying “Over my dead body.”  Famous Last Words.

I got a degree in Political Science from Duke University.  More importantly got involved in their Wilderness Education program and ended up as the co-director of the largest student run outdoor program in the country.  From there, I spent four years as a wilderness instructor working with adjudicated youth in Pennsylvania.  These were the tough kids who’s committed violent crimes and were repeat offenders.  Many have joked that this was the perfect background to get me ready for this industry, but other than the strong will and independence I see in our clients – there’s no similarity.

3) When and How: (When and how you got into your role at Rainmaker, et al.)

I loved working as a Wilderness Instructor – making a hands-on difference in the lives of kids.  But I had risen as far as I could with my employer. There was nowhere to go until some of the founders started dying – and they were healthy guys.  About this time I fell in love and realized that I couldn’t do a good job raising a family if I was always out in the woods with other people’s kids.

Originally I decided to come back and do an Internship with my folks so I could learn more about business in general.  But I quickly found a second passion working with Independent Retailers.  I was a do-gooder by nature and here was an entire industry trying to help people live the American Dream.  I know that sounds hokey, but seriously, what could be better than helping people own a home?  Working with my parents, I got to help the retailers who were serving that need find a way to do it that was financially rewarding for them and their families.

4) What are your personal interests or hobbies? How do you like to spend non-work time?

I am a family man.  I am still in love with that girl I met in Pennsylvania and we have three amazing kids (two now teenagers).  I try to be as involved with them as they can stand.  My son and I are in Boy Scouts together and that has led me back to my roots in the outdoors.  I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so when I am not working, or driving my kids around, I tend to lean toward some of the crazy things I did when I was young – like rock climbing.  However, in my mid-forties find I can get a big rush from not so big risks.  Plus I get tired easily, so I’m never really in danger of pushing things too far.

5) You and some industry colleagues are planning a meeting in November for “Retailers only.”  Please give us a background on the meeting and its role objectives.

The PEAK Retailer Summit grew out of conversations with some of our clients about the state of the industry.  We work with a lot of dealers who are still doing quite well.  But, over the last few years, even they have started to find it hard to stay motivated.

In the not so distant past, there were many industry events and award ceremonies that would help keep driven people excited and moving forward.

Today, those retailers that are doing well are like islands in a sea of despair.  They don’t get to interact with each other as much, so it is hard for people to know that there are others out there who are also doing well and its even harder for then to share how it is they are doing so well.

We know people who are selling more homes at better profits than they ever have.  We know people who have solved their financing problems.  We know people who have turned their history of selling homes into very profitable books of insurance business.  We thought if we could get those people together to share their successes, it would not only be motivating and uplifting, but would also provide an opportunity for those who are doing well to get even better.  Plus its going to be a fun party!

We work with retailers, so we are biased, but we believe that if every retailer could just sell a few more homes it would make a tremendous difference for the entire industry.  We can’t solve all the industry’s problems, but we do know how to help retailers sell more homes.

This Summit is not going to be me and my colleagues telling dealers what we think can work, but retailers sharing with each other what they know does work.  We expect every participant – even those who are the very best in the industry – to walk out with a concrete punch list of things they can do to improve their business (i.e. sales and profitability) as well as a network of people that can help them accomplish their goals.

6) What do you consider the largest challenges facing the manufactured housing industry today?

There’s plenty of chatter about the obvious issues of finance and regulation, but at the core I think we have lost our collective drive.  I think most sales teams in this industry are so beat up that they expect to lose sales to the builder or the realtor.   Of course they have plenty of good reasons to feel beat up; but at the end of the day, if we don’t believe we can sell – we won’t sell.

I also think we have drifted too far away from our primary mission.  This industry was founded on providing affordable housing – in whatever form that takes.  This may not be a popular point of view, but I think we really blew it when we decided to go after the site-built industry instead of focusing on our core constituency.

There is a huge segment of the population searching for affordable housing that we no longer serve well – we are pricing ourselves out of the reach of those who need a basic dwelling.  And please don’t tell me people don’t want to live in “mobile homes” or that they can’t get financed.  The FEMA homes that moved through the market over the last two years sold like hot-cakes.  People need a place to live.  I know this is oversimplifying, but if we can get back to selling them what they want – affordable housing – instead of what we want to build, it would be a big step in the right direction.

7) What do you see as solutions or possible responses to those challenges?

First of all, retailers need to stop accepting mediocrity from themselves and from their people.  Many owners are so beat up themselves that they just don’t push anymore.  I remember a conversation I had with one long time retailer where he basically confessed he didn’t want to try a new program because he just didn’t want to have to work any harder.  That’s fine: we all get to make that choice; but then the problems really start with us – don’t they?

Those who sell houses need to figure out how to find people who are buying houses and sell them what they want.  There is not enough space here to list all the things they can try, but we do about six free webinars a month that go through all these options in detail. Here are just a few:

Retraining or rebuilding the sales team so they can be winners
Develop, and stick to a good sales process
Get aggressive in Used Homes
Focusing your marketing on the Internet
Install an aggressive Follow-up Program
Look outside the box for Financing

These are some of the things we will be discussing in Chicago at the PEAK Summit, but we also talk with people about them all the time.  Usually when we talk with retailers about these strategies for improving their business, we hear they are too busy to try something new.  Owners are back in the trenches doing the work, but too busy to work on improving the business?  Ouch.  We have to get back to being aggressively pro-active.  That takes a mental attitude shift and, again, it’s hard to do that when the industry around you seems to be in such dire straights.

8) As you know, there has been plenty of finger pointing in recent years, often between and about associations.  What are your thoughts on those?
Tell us what value you see to association membership and involvement?

I don’t get involved in those conversations very much, but I don’t think any failures or shortcomings by the associations are due to lack of desire or ability or direction.  I think it’s important for us to all remember that trade associations are groups of people and people need to earn a living.  The industry can not fund the associations like it once did so the associations have to do more work with fewer people.

We also need to remember we have rivals.  The Home Builders and Realtors have very powerful lobbies and a vested interest in making it harder for us to sell housing.  When laws and regulations that will hurt our industry come up there are people someone on the other side pushing for those rules even as our associations push against them.

At the state level, I think retailers who get involved with their associations will reap benefits.   It is always good to be around others who do what you do – especially if they do it well.  Rubbing shoulders with other retailers, in any environment, is always a good idea.

9) You see businesses that are profitable, in spite of the overall down market.  What factors do you see that contribute to the success of those when others nearby may be failing?

We see a lot of business that are profitable and I think the number one thing these businesses have in common is an owner who is refusing to participate in the down turn.  They are conscious of the fact that the market is getting smaller, but they don’t equate that with their sales having to shrink.

This attitude opens so many doors.  For example: when a sales person can’t make sales – you replace them with someone who can; when a customer can’t get financed – you look for other sources, or look for other customers; when your manufacturer doesn’t build the house you need for your market – you find another manufacturer; when you don’t know how to do something – you go find someone who does and learn from them.

Another important thing these profitable businesses have in common is diversity. They serve multiple aspects of the housing industry – high-end, low-end, new, used, HUD, Mod, etc.  So many retailers painted themselves in a corner during the race away from affordable housing when the declared they would be “builders” and never sell any of those darn “trailer-houses” again.  I’m not saying you can’t be successful playing one niche, many people are, but I think it’s easier to be successful if you are a bit more flexible.

10) Any closing thoughts or comments?

Yes, if I may, I would really like to encourage everyone to sign up for our Monthly E-mail Newsletter and the reason is this:

Each week we hold two or three free on-line seminars (or webinars) where we share the best practices that others in the industry are using to be successful.  Each month our newsletter lists the schedule of these free sessions for the next month.

These are not commercials for our services; rather they are very informative and full of ideas that can be implemented with or without our help.  We host these because we have a vested interest in making sure Independent Retailers survive.  This industry needs to keep Independent Retailers around – and we want to help them be a strong as they can be.

If you wish to receive Rainmaker’s Free Newsletter and announcements about their free educational programs you can register for their mailing list by clicking this link:

mas kovach mhpronews shopping with soheyla .jp

Get our ‘read-hot’ industry-leading 

get our ‘read-hot’ industry-leading emailed headline news updates

Scroll to Top
blumen verschicken Blumenversand
blumen verschicken Blumenversand
Reinigungsservice Reinigungsservice Berlin
küchenrenovierung küchenfronten renovieren küchenfront erneuern