Monthly Archives: October 2013

Are You Losing Leads?

BY: DAWN HIGHHOUSEBusinessman Handshake

Here are some frightening statistics:

U.S. businesses spend billions of dollars generating sales leads only to lose more than 70 percent of them simply because they don’t make contact quickly enough, according to one study.

But that’s not the only way they’re losing out on opportunities, says Brandon Stuerke, president of Advisors Edge Marketing, a specialist in marketing strategy and automation for financial advisors and other professionals.

“A study of more than 600 companies by Dr. James Oldroyd of MIT found that the odds of a lead entering the sales process were 21 times greater if the business made contact within 5 minutes of generating the lead versus contact in 30 minutes,” Stuerke says. “Another study, this one by the Harvard Business Review, found that the average response time by businesses to a generated lead is 42 hours – and that’s just for responses that occurred within 30 days.”

The excerpt above comes from an article on www.realtor.com – the emphasis is mine. I wish I could tell you this didn’t happen in our industry, but the truth is, I hear this complaint all the time. Home buyers who are on MHVillage, actively looking to purchase a home call us directly in desperation. “I’m really interested in home XYZ,” they say, “but I can’t get anyone to call me back.” This breaks my heart.

Think of your leads like a pint of Hagan Daaz ice cream: wonderful, but also very perishable. Would you leave ice cream you’ve paid for sitting on the kitchen counter for a few days? Of course not! Leads, particularly internet leads, are just as perishable. Every moment that lead sits without being taken care of, it loses value. You’ve spent a lot of time and effort into your marketing, now’s the time to make it pay off!

Here at MHVillage, we send out roughly 50,000 leads per month to our Professional users. To get the most out of those leads, you need to respond quickly. Here’s why:

The First Contact Creates a Bond

People are always a little afraid of the unknown. The quicker you can reach out to the buyer and create a bond, whether it is through email or via the phone, the quicker you start to build a relationship. Buyers are much more inclined to work with someone they know, and the sooner you get your foot in the door, the better.

Compare and Contrast

When buyers shop online, they start by finding something that fits their needs. Once they have that first one, they begin comparison shopping, but they always compare new finds to old ones. “Is Home B better than Home A?” and so on. If you are the first seller to respond to their inquiry, you have the opportunity to cement your home in the top position.

Text messaging Business ManBuild Customer Loyalty – Before They Buy

A quick response is a sign of great customer service. Show your buyer that you are there for them by answering their questions right away. If they have to wait too long to hear from you, they’ll start to feel neglected.

Out of Site, Out of Mind

The minute someone clicks away from your ad, they begin to forget the details. Buyers might contact sellers of several homes in one night, but by the next morning, they’ll have a hard time keeping them all straight. Are you selling the white house on the north side of town or the gray one on the south? Is it the one with the garage, or the carport and the shed? The closer you can get to them when your homes are fresh in their minds, the better.

Modern technology offers a number of great tools for helping you handle your incoming leads efficiently and effectively:

Buyers are Going Mobile, You Should Too

At a recent state association meeting, one of our clients came up to me and told me how he turns 75% of his MHVillage leads into sales contacts – he calls them immediately. This gentleman had a simple system: the leads went to an email on his phone, and his goal was to call them back within 5 minutes – preferably while they were still looking at the home online! He’s smart – in the article quoted above, that 5 minute marker is an important one. Here’s a quick tip – have an email account dedicated to your sales correspondence only. (That way when you see an email come in, you know it is from a buyer and you won’t have to wade through the tons of daily spam and other nonessential email we all get in our day-to-day accounts.) Have that email on your phone so you are ready to respond instantly.

Route Calls Effectively

There are a lot of options in phone systems these days. You can route calls to your cell, to your home and even to your email. If your office system won’t support this, take a look at some of the free and low-cost systems out there, like Google Voice. With Google Voice you can have a specialized phone number for leads and have it ring multiple phones at once. You can have voicemails be shared among several phones, and you can even reply to calls with text.

Emails: If You Can’t Respond in Person, Have Your Computer Do It for You

Obviously, a personal response is better than a canned response, but a canned response is better than none at all. Most email systems will let you sent up an automatic reply.  You can craft the equivalent of a professional voice mail message that provides your company name, your business hours, driving directions, link to your website, phone number and a promise that someone will get back to them the very next day.

Check Your Spam Folders

We keep a complete copy of all your leads in your MHVillage account.

We keep a complete copy of all your leads in your MHVillage account.

If you use a public email system like Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL, know that these companies try to keep their users from receiving Spam. While that effort is appreciated, it means you can lose leads if they wind up in the wrong folder. In fact, Gmail recently changed its settings to where some important emails might have ended up in the wrong place. If you do lose one, don’t worry! MHVillage always keeps a copy of all your leads in your account.

Creating a Sales Strategy

Here’s a few more tips and tools for creating a powerful sales strategy. (Click on the links for more information about each one.)

  1. Start with good, solid information online. Make sure your company and community information is up-to-date and has good contact information.
  2. If you have your own website, increase web traffic by linking it with MHVillage.
  3. List your entire home inventory online to create the widest marketing net.
  4. Use all the tools in your MHVillage account to make powerful home listings. (Here, Here, and Here)
  5. Now that you have a powerful marketing presence, set your benchmarks and goals for lead follow up. (Use technology where you can to make things easier.)
  6. Sell those homes!

 

Smart Phone Shoppers – And Why it Matters to You

BY: DAWN HIGHHOUSE

89% of new home shoppers use a mobile search engine at the onset and throughout their research.

Mobile applications are used by 68% of new home shoppers at the onset and throughout their research.

(Source: Google & Compete Home Shopper Mobile Survey, 2012)
Where Shoppers use their mobile devices

(click to enlarge)

More and more, people are using their smart phones to shop for homes. What are they doing on their phones? Well, according to Google and Compete.com they:

  • Read general home information (51%)
  • Get directions to visit a home (48%)
  • Compare prices (44%)
  • Compare features (35%)
  • Search a listing company’s inventory (35%)
  • Call a listing company (28%)
  • Locate a listing agent (21%)
  • Read reviews (21%)
  • Research mortgage financing (20%)
  • Contact a listing agent, other than by calling (18%)
  • Watch an online video about a home (16%)
  • Other (3%)

MHVillage has a mobile app designed for buyers shopping for homes. Approximately 7,000 people a day look for manufactured housing using our mobile site. There is a huge market of home buyers looking for manufactured housing using their mobile devices; let’s see how the items above specifically impact your sales.

Read General Home Information

I’ve written about this before, but home descriptions matter. Let me give you two examples of homes that are on the site right now.

House One:

BEAUTIFUL VIEWS WITH WELL MAINTAINED MANUFACTURED HOME WITH GARAGE. LOCATED IN A 5 STAR COMMUNITY. PRICE TO SELL HAVE TO SEE TO BELIEVE CALL XXX-XXX-XXXX

House Two:

This beautiful home has over $60,000 in upgrades. tile floors throughout, tile counters, additional tiled & lighting above & below plant shelves in living room, bedroom & bath. Every room has fans & are wired for phones & Internet except baths, dining room & kitchen. This house is handicap friendly with raised toilets, vanities and an entrance ramp. A hobby room off the master with 7 cabinets & 3 banks of drawers.  5 cabinets in the Laundry room with tile counters. The master bedroom has a huge walk in closet and the master shower is tiled to the ceiling. The spacious kitchen is a cooks kitchen!!  Built for entertaining!!  Extended counter, massive amount of cabinets with all tile counters (great for a buffet), access to corner cabinets with double entry and new faucet.  There is a water softener & RO system. The garage is 34ft with 14 ceiling to floor cabinets and workbench. Extra outlets in the garage, house & good sized extra room. An extra area for the BBQ has been poured and front steps have been added. It has sun screens all around and also has a mountain view.

Both of these homes are in the same manufactured home community, but one of them gives the home shopper more of what they are looking for. Not only does the description in House Two give more information about the property, it also tells a great story. House Two is a home – it’s a place to cook up a great buffet dinner with the extended family or spend nice evenings grilling outdoors. These are the things that sell people on a home.

Get Directions to Visit a Home

On MHVillage, we make it easy for buyers to find your homes. Our website is designed for location-based searches. In fact, did you know that on the MHVillage mobile app, we have a button that buyers can click to “View Nearby Homes”? It uses their current location and pulls in all the surrounding homes, so if a home buyer is out driving around looking at neighborhoods, they can instantly see what is available in their area.

Compare Prices

It is probably not a big surprise that home owners compare prices. The best way to handle price comparisons is not to change the price of the home, the best way is to offer a better home. This is where creating good, solid home listings pay off – photos, descriptions, and caption lines, these can help you show buyers why your home is the best deal in the neighborhood. (For more information read: Three Easy Steps to Powerful LIstings That Sell, Part Three – The Right Price)

Compare Features

Do I sound like a broken record when I say I’ve written about this before? MHVillage makes it easy to showcase your home’s features – and it’s free. Learn how here: Missed Marketing Opportunity – Don’t Forget the Features!

Search a Company’s Inventory

Ahem: Missed Marketing Opportunity – One Simple Step to Getting More Leads

(Note: if you have your own website and are having a hard time keeping your inventory on it and up to date, let us know. If you have over 50 listings, we have a simple product called an i-Frame that will let you enter your homes on MHVillage and have them automatically update on your own website.)

Call a Listing Company and Locate an Agent

Here’s another reason to make sure that your company’s information is up-to-date. The best place to do that on MHVillage is on your Sales Center page. (Read about your Sales Center here.) If you are a Real Estate agent and help people sell their homes, be sure and add that information to your Company description! We get calls everyday from homeowners looking for a professional who can them sell their home.

Watch an Online Video About a Home

More and more people are expecting video tours. They are easy to do, you can upload them to YouTube and your own website. MHVillage offers a special link on Premium homes and Showcased communities so you can upload your video links on our site as well.

Putting It All Together

So, what does this tell you? That today’s shoppers aren’t predictable. Some shop with desktop computers, some on their phones. (Some will use both.) Some while shop while at home, some while at work, and some while eating dinner in a restaurant. There are buyers who will want to call you, others will prefer email. Your best bet? Use the tips and techniques in this newsletter to create the best listings you can – the more powerful the listings, the better the leads. If you need help, contact us and we’ll help you make the most out of your MHVillage account.

 

Are You Ready for Vacation Home Shoppers?

BY: DAWN HIGHHOUSE
Park Place in Sebastian, Florida. I'm in Michigan as I write this and this photo makes me want to hop on a plane!

Park Place in Sebastian, Florida. This looks like heaven to a Michigander like me.

As the weather starts to get colder in the Norther climates, people start thinking about vacation properties. If you are located in a warm weather state, did you know that: 56% of vacation home buyers start their home search online and 93% of vacation home shoppers use the internet during their home search?*

In other words, well over half of the people who start thinking about vacation properties start their search by looking online, and almost all of them use the internet at sometime during their search! That’s why if you have manufactured homes in communities frequented by out-of-state (or out of country) vacationers, you need to have all your home listings online. Not only that, but you need to make sure that all your community data is up to date and looking it’s best.

Here are five quick tips to draw the attention of Vacation Shoppers:

  • Make sure all your inventory is online. Vacationers will have to travel to purchase a home, and they are going to be more likely to go to places where they can see as many options as possible in a single trip. Having more homes available makes you more attractive than your competitors.
  • Of course vacationers want different from things than year round residents. Make sure your community and your homes on MHVillage list rental and site leasing specials, promotions, special events, and other opportunities.
  • Have vacant sites in your community? Turn that into a selling point! Now is the time to include in your community description that buyers can purchase the perfect home and have it placed in the community of their dreams – yours!
  • Do a quick survey of your photos on MHVillage. If possible, get photos with blue skies and sunshine – something the Northern climates are starting to lack. Include photos of shuffleboard courts, pools, tennis courts, golf courses and anything else that would draw in people looking to relax and have a good time. Photos of landscaping showing flowers and palm trees are also winners.
  • Take a look at your Caption lines, do they have a call to action for vacation home buyers? There is a great article on how to write captions lines on this newsletter (Missed Marketing Opportunities – Caption Lines) take a look at that, and then craft Captions that draw folks from out-of-state. (Hint: Heated Pool, Resident Activities, and Beautiful Ocean Breezes)

If you have any questions about updating your community or home listings on MHVillage.com, please let us know. We are always happy to walk you through the site!

 

*Source: The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate

September Sales Results on MHVillage

MHV-SeptemberResults

BY: DAWN HIGHHOUSE

Up here in Michigan the leaves are turning gold and the apples are showing up on the fruit stands. As we move into fall, now is a great time to take a few moments and review your online advertising. Are you getting the web leads and traffic you are looking for? If not, we can help! Give us a call and we can go over your account with you and help you take advantage of all the benefits MHVillage has to offer.

Following are the September sales results on MHVillage:

Website Visits

September 2013 – 1,660,899

Year to Date – 15,055,064

September generated over 1.6 million web visits, and we are well over 15 million for the year so far! As you can see from the numbers below, these folks are shopping MHVillage and sending inquiries on purchasing and renting manufactured homes.

Sales Leads

September 2013 – 47,050

Year to Date – 533,952

As I always say: don’t miss the fine print on those numbers – these numbers do not include the estimated 40,000 phone inquiries generated each month! I travel a lot, speaking to professionals in the manufactured home industry, and I can’t tell you how many tell me that over 50% of their leads are coming from MHVillage. Are you getting your share? Here’s a quick tip – read my Missed Marketing Opportunities series to find some simple ways to make your listings more attractive to home buyers.

Homes Sold

September 2013 – 4,694

Year to Date – 45,629

As you can see, before the end of the year, over 50,000 homes on MHVillage will have marked as sold. That’s incredible! And we are constantly working behind the scenes, ensuring that MHVillage is one of the very first places people go to shop for affordable manufactured homes. Need help selling yours? Or Email us, we are happy to look over your account for you and offer suggestions to help.

NCC Fall Leadership Forum in Chicago, IL

MHI National Communities CouncilMHVillage is proud to be a sponsor of the MHI National Communities Council Fall Leadership Forum: Building a Vision for the Future.

Presentations at this event will include:

  • Marketing and Image: Lessons from Billion Dollar Branding
  • Generating Resident Referrals
  • Tackling the Obvious: More Action, Less Reaction
  • Going to School: What the Industry Can Learn from the Small Operators
  • Selling Homes Out of Your Rental Program
  • Home Financing in the Future
  • Zillow’s View of the Future of Real Estate Marketing
  • Making the Most of a Rental Home Inspection Program
  • The Future of the Land Lease Business Model

Plus featured speaker: Sam Zell

Chairman of Equity Group Investments (EGI), the private investment firm he founded more than 40 years ago, Mr. Zell maintains substantial interests in, and is the Chairman of, four other public companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange including Equity LifeStyle Properties, Inc., the largest publicly traded manufactured home REIT.

Event Information

October 16-18
W Hotel City Center
Chicago, IL

For more information on this important industry event go to www.mhcommunities.org

Building a Vision for the Future