Wheat, Chaff, and the Monday Morning Manufactured Housing Sales, Marketing Meeting

Too many in the industry have been looking for short cuts and magic bullets for decades. How is that working out? Wheat and Chaff, think long term, without ignoring the short term. 

Billions of humans depend on wheat as an important part of their nutritional needs. But chaff?


Succeed Equine says, “feeding chaff with your horse’s concentrated feeds is all about increasing chewing time. Along with free choice hay or turnout on quality pasture, this is a great way to help your horse avoid serious digestive issues like gastric and colonic ulcers, hindgut acidosis, and colic.”

The ancient expression of separating wheat from chaff is meant to symbolize what is or isn’t fit for people to eat or use. But even chaff can have a purpose.

To tee this topic up, this writer has shared before that when I began selling HUD Code manufactured homes in the 1980s, it was my first time selling a big ticket item. I’d been successful at selling insurance (award winner), later was a rapidly rising rocket in membership sales (quickly promoted to management), and prior to those did well at history and writing (multiple award winner, plus academic recognitions). Motivation wasn’t lacking.

But I had not yet found my ‘calling.’

I stumbled upon manufactured homes and this industry by accident. Traveling eastbound on I240 in the Southside of Oklahoma City, this writer took the off-ramp one exit too soon (I was looking for I-35), ever do that?

It was a mistake that turned into something great.

That “wrong exit” led me to discovering for the first time what was then still called then “mobile home row,” one of the most intense manufactured housing (MH) sales environments in the entire U.S.

SolitaireHomesUniversalHomesSouthShieldsBldOKCOKmanufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBUisnessNewsMHproNews433South Shields Blvd. in OKC, OK today is a mere shadow of its MH Industry glory days. Back then at its peak, there were some 52 sales centers (“dealerships”) on a three mile stretch of Shields Blvd. There were over 200 retail sales people, plus their managers and owners, competing for every customer. Most pros  today don’t know what intense intra-industry retail competition is.

Working on commissions, you had to learn how to sell. It was do or die. Having been instantly fascinated by the manufactured homes on each side of Shields, I was determined to get into the industry.  I got a job at the first company that I applied to.

But in manufactured housing at the company I was hired by, as well as at many others then or today, there was no formal training program.

Then and now, most companies do little or nothing beyond the basics of the paperwork.  There was no one willing to explain how someone attracts and sells well qualified customers. Those with weak, bad or no credit pour onto sales centers and communities, right?  Then and now, it’s about attracting and selling the well qualified buyers is where the magic takes place.

The guy who hired me at that lot on Shields had the same name as a current executive staffer at MHI. Here was his training program.

Here’s the keys (to the inventory), our price sheet (with low/high pricing), here’s the purchase agreement, and here’s the credit ap. Go get “em Tiger!”


That literally was the training. So you wandered the inventory on your own, and tried to observe whatever you could, because it was sink or swim.


The Wheat and Chaff

With that backdrop, I dug in on my own, using a wheat and chaff approach.

  • What did other sales people do that seemed to work?
  • What did others do that made no sense to me, and didn’t work?
  • Every single sales encounter, I was told in the insurance business, was a learning experience.
  • I read a lot, listened to audio by Zig Ziglar and others, and applied what I learned to manufactured housing.

I wrote up my very first manufactured home customer, and was off to the races. Having started with selling “singles,” I was soon promoted to be the sales manager of our “double-wides” (more properly, multi-sectionals) sales center.  But it was personal study, personal motivation – not some team or corporate training – that made that possible.

Wheat and chaff was a key concept that got me there, and far beyond.

This writer may disagree with someone on 85% of what they think, say, or do. But it is always in my mind to see whatever I can learn from someone, even someone I may have little in common with. The lesson to be learned is often what not to do.  For example, I strongly disagree with the strategic moat plan of one Warren Buffett, as it tends towards monopoly, which is arguably bad for all. But there are some Buffett quotes that I find useful and insightful.  Wheat and chaff.

Keep what’s good, which is the wheat. Toss the chaff aside, which at best might be used as filler for something else.

It’s a valuable principle that can be applied to anybody, or any group.

That may seem like a simple lesson, but it is the basics that are often the most powerful.  That willingness to learn from anyone, and the value of separating the wheat from the chaff is priceless.

Here’s a related bonus.

Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t prejudge. When it comes to reading, don’t skim. Read and listen for understanding. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” my better-half wisely quoted Steven Covey yesterday. All seven of the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People are mondo.


There are lots of people in the world with limited motivation, and who have closed minds. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few things the mind must close on. I believe in the law of gravity, so should everyone. I don’t have an open mind about cliffs or ledges in a high-rise. So common sense is crucial. There are some realities you must close your mind on, because they are dangerous, or a waste of time.

But beyond gravity and some true laws like it, there is much to be learned by using the wheat and chaff approach.

The motivation to continually learn, combined with that wheat and chaff approach, are huge.  Because you may stumble across something you didn’t know, precisely because your mind was open to it.  Much like this writer stumbled across manufactured housing, and have now successfully served in this industry for over a quarter of a century since then.

I might only use a tiny fraction of what I know when working with a retail customer. So it’s not about flooding a customer with information, to prove how smart you are.  Knowing what to say, what to ask, generally in what sequence, that’s a matter of a formal training program – that clients pay us to do.

Gratis, I’ll say, learn and never stop. Read as much as you can that is related to your industry every day.

I’ve sold and managed the sales of thousands of mostly HUD Code manufactured homes. We’ve had operations that did 20, 30 or even as many as 50 new home sales delivered in a single month. There are nice plaques, letters, and plenty of framed recognition for those who like such things. From the 80s to the late 2010s, I’ve done mostly MH, but took a few years to discover the RV and trade show business, where I did well too.  Those later two were all part of a wider plan to make manufactured housing greater than ever, by helping the industry understand and achieve its true potential.

Wheat and chaff. Read as much as you can every day. Watch videos, especially on MHLivingNews.com as much as you can every day. 30 minutes should be the minimum, 1-2 hours daily is still just a fraction of what Warren Buffett says is one of his most important habits. Reading, virtually anyone can do that, right? Before becoming President, Donald Trump was right is saying you have to know as much as you can about a business and the forces that influence and impacts your profession. Be open to the wheat from both of those success stories.

Read for understanding. Separate the wheat from the chaff. Reject failed notions, like socialism, which is the nearly the polar opposite of free enterprise.  Free enterprise – the truly American way – once unleased, can make manufactured housing more successful than ever before.

What was accomplished previously in sustainable shipment levels, can clearly be done again.

As an industry, back when there were fewer regulations, the industry nearly achieved 600,000 new home shipments in a year, for two years running. The population was smaller then.  The needs are greater today. Don’t get me wrong, some regulations on quality and the consumer protections are useful. But over-regulations and excessive taxes are both proven killers.

But the point is, with the correct methods – using wheat and chaff thinking, motivation and discipline – the typical location could grow 500% to 1,000% in sales. That can be done with happy customers, ethically, and sustainably.

Wheat and chaff, lessons learned.

Wheat and chaff. Learn, earn, return. Enough said for today. ## (Coaching tips, marketing, sales, management, commentary, and analysis.)

(Third party images, and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)

FactoryBuiltCarsClothingAppliancesElectronicsCellsSmartPhonesHomesItJustFollowsLATonyKovachC2017MHproNewsBy L.A. “Tony” Kovach – Masthead commentary, for MHProNews.com.

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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