Manufactured Home Retailers: Happy Customers are Key to Referrals
Referrals from previous customers are the answer to sustaining and maintaining a profitable manufactured home sales center. Unfortunately, there still exist those retailers who minimize the importance of “Customer Service” and may look upon it as an annoying, albeit necessary, a component of the sales transaction. Luckily, retailers with this mindset are fewer than ever before. The majority of today’s manufactured home retailers realize that providing good service translates to customer referrals, which are absolutely essential for thriving in the competitive housing market.
Even if you already offer great service, it’s worth remembering that there is no such thing as “Too Much Customer Service.”
RIGHT FROM THE START
The beginning of the customer service process is coincidental with the sales process. Customer dissatisfaction following the delivery of home often relates to perceived promises made during the sales presentation or at document signing. These complaints include omissions of upgrades assumed to be standard, mismatched decor color and materials, the size and quality of exterior accessories, and discrepancies in delivery schedules.
Even items that the dealer may consider minor can be very important to the homebuyer, and failure to address them can foster distrust, ultimately eliminating any chance of referral.
Sales documentation should specify what is and what is not included in the selling price. The equipment specifications and decors should be clearly detailed in writing and verbally reaffirmed with the customer.
The delivery and installation process should be thoroughly explained. Likewise, the delivery schedule should be estimated while allowing enough cushion for production delays, weather conditions, and the completion of site preparations. Never promise a firm date or time for anything that cannot be controlled.
A separate “no promises letter” should also be signed. However, before signing this document, the customer should be asked to note any and all verbal promises made, but not reflected in the written sales document.
After closing, the purchaser should be informed where to go and whom to contact to request a service or voice concerns. If the appropriate service or management representative is present on the sales center premises, an introduction should immediately be made.
RETAILER SERVICE AND FACTORY SERVICE
The manufacturer warranty basically covers defects in materials and workmanship while the retailer assumes responsibility for home installation and cosmetic repairs. This dynamic is where customer dissatisfaction often originates: while the retailer and factory debate responsibility, the homebuyer is left high and dry, waiting for the repairs to be made.
Neither the retailer nor manufacturer openly blame the other in the customer’s presence. Avoid finger-pointing and make the repairs without delay. Only after the customer is satisfied should the discussion determining responsibility take place.
PREPARING FOR CUSTOMER MOVE-IN
Prior to the new homeowner assuming occupancy, the home should be professionally cleaned, all packing tape removed from appliances, all lighting fixtures with bulbs installed and all installation material removed from the home and site, A pre-walk-through should be performed by the retailer without the customer present prior to them moving in. The walk-through with the customer shortly after they have moved into the home.
A “welcome home gift” should be left in the home prior to move-in, or arranged with a delivery service to coincide with their move-in. Some suggested gift ideas: A bottle of wine and cheese platter left in the refrigerator, flower delivery or a fruit basket, to name a few.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
- Make it a habit to genuinely thank the customer for their business.
- Adopt the philosophy “that the customer is always right,” and mean it!
The key to retailer/home buyer relationships: “say what you are going to do, and do what you say you are going to do.”