The Art & Science of marketing Manufactured Homes. Retailers, sales people community operators and managers share experiences.
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Velda Duke


Post by Velda Duke » Mon May 03, 2004 8:33 am

Do you think the mobile home industry will ever come back around to the late 90's sales? If so, when? What trends should I watch?

Chance Mc Call

Re: Economy

Post by Chance Mc Call » Tue May 18, 2004 9:44 am

Author: Velda Duke (
Date: 05-03-04 10:33

Do you think the mobile home industry will ever come back around to the late 90's sales? If so, when? What trends should I watch?

This is a complex answer. "Mobile Homes" are dead. As long as people continue to refer to manufactured homes as mobile homes this industry will continue to be stigmatized and hurt by the image the term projects.

Could the industry turn around? Yes, but in my opinion it will take several changes to make that happen.

First, the manufacturers need to commit to what they are building in ways that are only just talked about now. Investments in more efficient and more automated production methods need to be made. The costs must be driven down without decreasing the quality of the end product so that true economies of scale can allow pricing that is at least a 25% price point advantage for the same quality and the same square footage. Right now the most advanced manufacturer is producing homes using 1920's assembly line techniques, and that needs to change.

Manufacturers also need to commit to improving the image of the industry in a way they only give lip service to now. Dealer franchises should be awarded to carefully screened and carefully trained people. There should be requirements regarding how the homes are to be displayed and what type of advertising and marketing is acceptable, with the manufacturer hiring real experts to assist in the development of locations, lot development, marketing and advertising.

Retailers need to understand this isn't the trailer/mobile home business anymore and should be making the investments necessary to change their image and their physical facilities to attract the people they should be trying to market to. Changes in the sales staff either through training or through dismissals and replacement hires need to be made. The use of computers and auto CAD are skills necessary to the sales people who can sell to the prospective homeowners they should be seeing.

Lenders who are willing to really learn this niche market need to be attracted and supported. Lenders who want to follow the old models should get into the payday/car title loan business. Lenders should be committed to assuming a leadership role in pushing the industry in the right direction by refusing to do business with dealers that are hurting the industry, and yet knowledgeable and flexable enough to understand that not all good loans fit a cookie cutter mold.

The Associations need to be brave enough to become true leaders and educators, in addition to gifted evangelists for the industry. They need to educated both their members and the public with a uniform message, and become a real political force on the local, state and national level. They need to become effective and professional PR firms who can persuade and educate the media.

The whole industry needs to agree on a uniform image and message regarding manufactured homes. There should be zero tolerance for industry people who use terms like "trailer court", "mobile home park", "trailers", "mobile homes", "single-wide", "double wide", "triple-wide", "retail lot", "sales office", et al. People who talk this way, also think this way, and they are a major part of why the industry is having a hard time changing.

If these problems can be overcome, I believe this industry could be responsible for 90% of all new home starts within 20 years, which would be a significant increase over the best years this industry has ever had.

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