Manufactured Home Dealers: Happy Customers are the Key to Referrals
Referrals from previous customers are the answer to sustaining and maintaining a profitable manufactured home dealership. Unfortunately, there still exist those dealers who minimize the importance of Customer Service and may even look upon it as an annoying, albeit necessary, component of the sales transaction. Luckily, dealers with this mindset are fewer than ever before. The majority of today’s manufactured home dealers realize that providing good service translates to customer referrals, which are absolutely essential for thriving in the housing market.
Even if you feel you already offer great service, it’s worth remembering that there’s no such thing as ‘Too Much Customer Service’ – you can always improve upon it. By constantly striving to provider better and better customer service you will increase customer recommendations while simultaneously reducing expenses.
RIGHT FROM THE START
The beginning of the customer service process is coincidental with the sales process. Customer dissatisfaction following the delivery of a home often relates to perceived “promises” made during the sales presentation or at document signing. These complaints include omissions of upgrades that the customer 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.
Your sales documentation should specify what is and what is not included. 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 within the written sales document.
Also at closing, the purchaser should be informed where to go and whom to contact to request a service or voice concerns. If the appropriate sales representative is present on the sales center premises, an introduction should immediately be made.
DEALER SERVICE AND FACTORY SERVICE
The manufacturer’s warranty basically covers defects in materials and workmanship while the dealer assumes responsibility for cosmetic repairs and home installation.
This dynamic is where customer dissatisfaction often originates: while the dealer and factory debate responsibility, the customer is left high and dry, waiting for the repairs to be made.
Neither the dealer nor manufacturer should ever 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 home owner moving in, the home should be professionally cleaned, all packing tape removed from appliances, all lighting fixtures w/bulbs installed and all installation debris removed from the site. A pre walk-through should be performed by the dealer without the customer present, prior to them moving in. The walk through with the customer should occur shortly after they move in.
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 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. Also, adopt the philosophy that “the customer is always right” and mean it!