September was a busy month. Most of the pipelines in the field are full and strong enough to finish another great year in the manufactured housing industry. However, there seem to be warnings of storm clouds on the horizon. Every session, at every show or meeting, talked about softening demand, lower app volume, shrinking backlogs, orders being canceled, and increasing rates. It’s time plan now or PANIC!!!!
Nope. The recognition of facts and formulating a plan to move forward in an uncertain environment will pay dividends long term. When one sector of our economy softens, another grows stronger. Housing is the backbone of our economy, so this fundamental applies here as well. Let’s take a closer look.
Demand is NOT declining. In fact, it is increasing every day. Almost 80 million Millennials are forming households, having babies, AND still want to own their own homes. Pricing/costs are causing these and other home buyers to push away, waiting (hoping) for a time when housing might be a little more affordable. The lack of the ability to pay is actually the reason people are pushing back. During a recent meeting, economist KC Conway (Red Shoe Economist) suggested that the FED would raise rates at least two more times in the foreseeable future, pushing affordability even further out of reach.
Seeking housing security can assume the form of moving back in (or staying with) a family, seeking an apartment or rental home situation, purchasing a previously owned home (that may require re-hab), or something worse. But never forget, families, MUST have a place to live. These buyers have to reach out for something else. And you have a solution that works.
So here’s what we (retailers, communities, manufacturers, lenders, all of us) can do to plan now.
- Verify all orders are REAL. Weed out those wannabe buyers to understand exactly your vulnerability.
- Real orders get moved up to replace reserved spaces.
- Focus on the REAL customers
- Continue to nurture all prospects, making sure they know you want their business. Get them ready.
- Up your game in social media (FaceBook, Instagram, TikTok), showing happy homeowners that you helped get it done (home ownership). Link to your web page.
- Make sure your website is presenting the right story (We can get you home together) with easy inquiry capability. Make sure it stays dynamic (post changes, advice, etc.). Harvest leads.
- Ask former customers/residents for friends and family.
- Make a big deal about any promotion, price concession, “deals,” and special programs. Email prospects that haven’t purchased to get back in to get their best deal.
- Solicit former customers from more than 5 years ago to look at a home with more features, with the ability to use the equity in their home as a down payment.
- Look for trades, repos, and more, to re-furb and sell.
- Stay in touch. Stay in Touch. STAY IN TOUCH. If you are not using a CRM (customer relationship management) system, others will beat you who are.
- Get organized. Stay disciplined. Stay in TOUCH. ASK FOR THE BUSINESS.
This is just a start. You know your market. Wear your name badge out of the office. Pass out business cards. Be available.
There is no question the fruit on the tree is getting higher. That just means we have to work harder to have a good harvest. The first step is awareness. The second is defining a process. Third is maintaining the discipline to work the process.
Stay proud of what you do and your homes. We have an answer for seeking housing security through ownership.
Learn more on our other articles.