We will start by “setting the table” or “teeing up” today’s topic with a series of thought provoking facts.
Then, we’ll dive into the reality-based action steps for today’s marketing and sales theme.
As hard to imagine as it may be to someone in the year 2018,
• there are still hundreds of operations in manufactured housing (MH) that have no website of their own.
• Then, there are thousands of websites in manufactured housing that range from the ugly to the stunningly cool and attractive.
Some websites are well organized, or even appealing. But the evidence reflects that they still don’t do the job that the MH retailer, community, production or listing websites are supposed to do.
What’s the goal of a website?
Attract more well qualified buyers, so that more sales can be made. Lead generation. In the case of a specialized product or service, it may also include the ability to take the order online.
Our focus in this column are websites that are designed to support the sale of more manufactured homes to qualified buyers.
Marketing and sales are complementary, but different.
Some marketers we’ve spoken with have complained that the leads they generate don’t get proper follow up. That’s a sales and management issue, and won’t be covered in this column, but it’s worth mentioning.
Today’s spotlight is about understanding how well, or poorly, a company or location’s website does in attracting qualified homebuyers.
Examples – Reality Checks
First, let’s note that we don’t give out specific client information without mutual agreement. But we can generically tell true stories.
That said, let’s consider the following.
Customers who had visited new home retailing locations – which can include, Manufactured Home Communities (MHC) – were getting follow up calls.
Of course, some of those prospects had purchased or made other housing choices elsewhere. No one sells every guest.
What do you suppose was the most common choice, when they didn’t buy from an MH client company?
Hint: it wasn’t other MH competitors.
Rather, they were those who chose some form of conventional housing.
That was true in location after location, in various parts of the country. Think about that when you consider your own follow ups. Isn’t that true for your location too?
It should be a big topic in our industry, and in your location’s meeting discussions. Because our approach closes that gap, but nothing closes it completely.
Here’s another troubling factoid.
There are several states were MH shipments are flat, or dropping. How is that possible, during an affordable housing crisis? See that related report, linked below. Again, that’s a symptom of several issues, which won’t all be covered in this article. The website and related marketing remains our focus today.
Keep an Open Mind, to Grow Sales
I’ve talked to some very bright and successful people in MHVille who hear or read a few words, and then mistakenly think that they get it.
Rephrased, some skim, and then jump to conclusions. We’re all guilty of it at times, but when someone is looking to increase sales, an open, questioning mind which is keen on detail is essential.
If most MH professionals understood all of the internal and external issues keeping the industry from achieving record sales, then MH industry companies would adjust their marketing (and sales) approaches. Our secret sauce has proven to grow sales, often by several hundred percent, at locations that learn and apply them properly.
By contrast, more of the same marketing will logically only yield more of the same results.
Some misunderstand the importance and value of fact checks and critiques. There’s a big difference between a blind criticism (trying to tear someone or something down), and critique/analysis.
Facts are what they are, and ought to be discerned to be understood.
Having set the table, let’s see the realities of website performance.
Big Industry Names, Facts, but Modest Results?
MHVillage thoughtfully provides their websites statistics. For the purpose of this article, let’s accept their and two other industry companies claims at face value.
Here’s what MHVillage says their results are for 2017.
If the average website visitor discovered there what they thought they wanted, then the conversion statistics at MHVillage would be dramatically different. That’s self evident, right? If shoppers got the answers they were seeking, then more sales would occur.
The same point applies to sales at giant Clayton, or #3 Cavco, which for a few years their own published data reveals that both firm’s are growing at a slower pace than the industry at large.
Clayton has reportedly closed about 100 of their own retail centers in roughly 7-8 years. Think about that fact. With a cool looking website, tons of quality videos, and an affordable housing crisis, they still closed 100 sales centers?
1) An operation can be large, successful, or even monopolistic. They can have access to boat loads of cash. That doesn’t mean that they have all the answers.
2) Some independents outsell the giants in specific locations. So that suggests, it can happen elsewhere.
3) But set aside others in MHVille entirely. If manufactured homes has the lower price, comparable quality, and lower payments, why aren’t hundreds of thousands of more new homes being sold every year?
4) Part of the answer is an operation’s website. Prospective customers must not be finding what they are looking for, or it is self-evident that more sales would be made.
5) A home shopper may or may not have a set of questions they want answered. But they most certainly have them. If prospects were finding the answers they wanted on a company’s website, there would be more calls, walk-ins, and sales of more homes.
Industry professionals must come to grips with some simple truths.
The first is found in the graphic below.
- The right kind of website matters.
- The right kind of videos matter.
- Then, he right kind of training and follow up process matters.
- Finally, the right kind of hiring process matters.
There are some very successful people who could be wildly more successful, if they just set aside their pride, ego, fear, habits, or whatever else is holding them back.
The facts like those above don’t lie. Some can try to explain them away. But facts are facts.
No one sells everyone.
But for those who invest in the right kind of marketing and sales systems, the results are astonishing.
When the industry is capable of doing 500% to 1,000% more in sales, rephrased, that means hundreds of locations could be doing 5 to 10 times more sales.
I’ve seen (and worked with) simple locations that sell rings around fancy ones, and vice versa.
Education, education, and more education pays.
But more than that, third party education is what’s needed.
Whatever you say or do about your own business is still you saying it. There are reasons other industry’s support their trade media. Because whatever is published there, that’s third party info.
I’m not saying we have the absolute prettiest websites. But MHProNews and MHLivingNews are #1 in their respective categories for good reasons. It isn’t always about pure looks, people have to find what it is they are looking for, or they will bounce out.
How your website appears may be secondary to your success. Education and your website(s), done correctly, can be huge steps to sustainable success with more happy customers.
Closing thought for today. How many websites do you have? If the answer is only one, plus your social media, odds are good that you’re missing out on more sales.
Got a budget for growth and more ROI? Ready for next steps? Click or call. ## (Coaching tips, marketing, sales, management, commentary, and analysis.)
(Third party images, and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)
Tony is the multiple award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
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