“Our greatest assets are our team members, and we are committed to continually improving their lives. Whether investing in leadership initiatives, or improving our facilities, we believe the only way you can create a world-class customer experience is by first creating a world-class team member experience.” – Kevin Clayton, President and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway owned Clayton Homes.
Preface: To tee up the new item produced by Clayton Homes that follows below, some background is useful. First, some related background, then the new items from Clayton.
An independent of Clayton Homes that stopped selling their HUD Code manufactured homes some time ago reminded MHProNews about claims that after Warren Buffett bought their brand, they tried cutting the pay of retail general managers. After sales suffered, they ended up returning to their prior compensation plan, per that well-placed source.
That statement is echoed by this next comment.
From a Key Multi-Year “Team Clayton” Member
‘If Buffett and Clayton get their way, and finally conquer Manufactured Housing, here’s what the Clayton [Retail] GMs don’t realize. Right now, a good Clayton GM can make 6 figure income, no problem,’ said a longtime Team Clayton member, who added the following key insight. ‘But if Clayton does win and they essentially take over the manufactured home marketplace, watch their GMs pay plan change. Then GMs will become more like a shoe store manager, earning maybe 50k to 70k.’
Rephrased, Clayton “success” at “conquering the industry” could be rewarded with a de facto pay cut. If so, ouch and ouch.
Among Clayton’s so-called “Guiding Principles” – per a company document obtained by MHProNews – are the following items and quotes.
- “Our strength is our people… we attract those who make us better.”
- “We uphold our integrity and reputation above all else.”
That echoes statements by Buffett. But how is it that Clayton leads the pack in both production in manufactured housing but also in legal, racial, lending and ethical controversies too?
In that extensive document Kevin Clayton said, “…please enjoy an inside look at how our teams work together to make homeownership more attainable for individuals and families across the country.” That’s how Kevin Clayton apparently explains what followed.
Part of that Clayton produced item included the following segment.
That ‘pitch’ by their CEO, arguably designed in part to impress Berkshire/investors, included the image above and the text as follows.
Goodall Homes®, part of Clayton Properties Group®, welcomed a new kind of team member in 2019 – the innovative sales consultants. Robotic sales consultants can now give home tours and show virtual floor plans to customers without a sales consultant physically being in the home with them.
“We’re excited for how the innovative sales consultants can not only help our customers when a sales member can’t be at a model home, but also exploring new ways it can provide assistance for our sales team.”
– Chris O’Neal, Chief Business Development Officer
MHProNews Analysis and Commentary
Is Replacing Salespeople with AI, Robots or Automation Doable?
Company statements and related allegations by insiders that Clayton was deploying more robotics, automation and AI in an sustained effort to reduce labor costs are not new. Concerns that they were trying to reduce dependency on sales team members were the focus of some reporting dated in 2018. A fair question would be, is that achievable or realistic?
There are those who argue that the answer to that question is “no.”
However, a February 4, 2019 report by Technology Advice stated that “AI is Replacing B2B Sales Roles.”
Just as some B2C sales calls are not done by automation, and a human is only involved at the end, there is much of the sales process that can be done by machines. As COVID19 pushes more remote, automated and online work, it understandably raises concerns that in a slow-motion way, Clayton could be supplanting humans in sales with aps and other tech.
Evidence for this is not clear cut, but some have pointed to Clayton’s 3D and other virtual, aps and online investments as possible examples of intermediate steps that upper management can hype as creating – per Kevin Clayton – ‘a world-class customer experience…’ that is minimizing the need for human interaction with prospects.
Perhaps related is this. A number of Clayton Homes sales team members have told MHProNews that they are promised big pay potential that they rarely see. At some point, instead of dealing with humans that can press for changes, as retail GMs once successfully did following Buffett’s acquisition of the firm as noted above, people might successfully organize.
Perhaps more important to Clayton, machines can’t blow the whistle on problematic, potentially improper or illegal behavior.
Beyond the items that MHProNews noted, it should be stressed that whistleblowers inside Clayton and their related lenders can play a significant role is disrupting purportedly improper, illegal, and immoral behavior.
A Knoxville metro insider in a manufactured home connected Berkshire brand told MHProNews about secret cameras and other tech that is purportedly used to monitor their own team. If so, that paints an Orwellian picture of ‘big brother is watching you.’
There have been several insider tips and other whistleblowers with respect to Clayton and their lending that has been published in reports like those found above. But the item below is from a lawfirm that has investigated Clayton et al. They provided this.
“Call to Action for 21st and Vanderbilt Mortgage Whistleblowers. Anyone who worked at Clayton Homes, Vanderbilt Mortgage or 21st Mortgage may be eligible for an award if they possess knowledge of wrongdoing. Federal law also protects whistleblowers from retaliation.”
There are reasons why they have been fined and are reportedly being investigated by state and federal officials. Other whistleblowers inside other MHI member brands have demonstrated they can have an impact on corporate behavior.
We won’t argue with the law firm that specializes in class action litigation on their observation quoted above. Tips on this topic or a range of other possibly valid issues and concerns in MHVille are welcomed. The saying that the best disinfectant is sunlight may have its limitations, but it certainly applies to the need to shine light on those who cleverly disguise the truth. Who says? Third parties. Michael Lebowitz used the term “contradictions,” but terms like head fakes, paltering, spin or deception could have been used too.
The links below the byline are relevant to this topic. The first one has been one of the most read articles in MHVille for over half-a-year.
That’s a wrap on this Clayton-focused report, but stay tuned for more from your #1 source for the most-read manufactured housing “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
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