Manufactured Homes: What Homeowners Should Expect
“Service is the lifeblood of any organization. Everything flows from it.
Customer service is not a department….It’s an attitude.”
You probably have experienced dealing with customer service representatives at some point in your life where the “attitude” was not the attitude referred to in the above statement. I know I definitely have.
As a mobile home dealer for many years, I’ve learned a lot about customer service and the importance of providing good service. Not only is it important to sustain a viable business enterprise, but it is also important and self-satisfying to show appreciation to the customers that are responsible for whatever success is attained.
Manufactured homes today are constructed in a factory controlled environment subject to standards and inspection requirements mandated by federal regulations enforced by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Code (H.U.D. Code). Manufactured homes are the only form of residential housing subject to a mandatory building code. Every building procedure is inspected at each station along the assembly line. Every home is issued a label certifying that all aspects of construction is in compliance with the mandates of the H.U.D code. This label must be affixed to the home prior to being transported from the factory.
As a result of the factory environment, use of quality materials, and the enforcement and inspection system requirements of the HUD code, today’s manufactured home leaves the factory with few defects in material and workmanship. Structural integrity defect problems (sometimes inherent in site built housing) are extremely rare with manufactured homes.
Most items or situations requiring after sale service are not necessarily a result of the manufacturing process. Instead, quite often the items requiring servicing are associated with the transport of the home to site, home installation, site preparation, or the exterior accessories and equipment installed on site. The retailer is responsible to service any of those items that were included in the total purchase price, including the work quality of any of the equipment installed by sub-contractors.
The most common situation that is most difficult to service are the occasional specification errors or misunderstanding regarding options and/or decor selections during the sales and ordering process. At the time of sales closing, you should review all specifications for your home and insist that the sales representative correct any errors or omissions before signing the order confirmation. Make sure any verbal promises are acknowledged and documented in written form and signed by both parties.
A retailer/dealer should have a customer service program in place to respond to customer service requests. At the time of purchase you should ask the dealer to explain his customer policy and how it works.
The following questions should be answered:
- Name and contact information for the individual responsible for coordinating customer service. Is this individual an employee of the retailer? or an independent contractor?
- How and when a customer walk-thru will be conducted following home installation and the follow-up re-inspection at completion of repairs?
- What is the typical waiting time for repairs to be scheduled?
- If a home “settles,” is a re-level provided? If so, at what point should the re-leveling occur?
- If the interior walls are tape and textured drywall, are drywall stress crack repairs included in the retailer service program?
- Does the manufacturer provide warranty service directly from the factory or is it coordinated through the retailer? Who is the manufacturer’s representative or coordinator and how can this person be contacted?
Retailers are aware of the importance of customer satisfaction. Referrals from happy customers is truly the lifeblood for every retailer’s success. A homebuyer who understands how the customer service program works and knows what to expect will benefit both seller and buyer. A retailer who adheres to the attitude “that a customer is always right” will benefit from customer referrals.
A retailer’s attitude regarding service is quite often apparent during the sales process. Good customer service should be on display before and after the sale. A salesperson employed by a retailer who provides outstanding service will be anxious to use that asset in his or her sales presentation.
Final note: The price you pay for the home includes the costs associated with providing customer service. A dealer who always sells homes at a lower price than other retailers may not be able to provide the quality of customer care as those who are more customer-service oriented. Value is not always defined by price alone. Good customer service is also an important component of value.
(Photo via Wallace Home Sales)