ACTIVISTS, HACKTIVISTS, MHACTIVISTS

ACTIVISTS, HACKTIVISTS, MHACTIVISTS

The Manufactured Housing Industry Needs More MHActivists

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Cellphone, Cable, Airline, and Manufactured Housing In Common

I.

“Traditionally, hacktivists will overwhelm a targeted website with nuisance requests, temporary cutting off access to the site. Sometimes they will deface the site’s home page.” Quoted from USA TODAY. So that’s a hacktivist.

“Hmm.” Kinda causes one to wonder if our own brand of MHActivist, buy with a positive, constructive agenda, afoot in the presently moribund world of HUD Code manufactured housing, might be ‘just what the doctor ordered’, since we’re not seeing much, in the way of remedial action, from almost anyone else, even among elected and salaried industry leaders these days. Simply reacting to the S.A.F.E. Act, and anticipated provisions of the Dodd-Frank bill, are not what’s being talked about here; rather, what it’s going to take; no, better yet, ‘What a few individuals are doing to get the manufactured housing industry back on track as this country’s preeminent supplier of truly affordable, quality housing for its’ citizenry!’

After all, a recently published study by a national Think Tank included ‘manufactured housing’ as one of ten dying industries in this country, right there along with the video rental business. Are we gonna take that perception ‘lying down’? For many, ‘Apparently so’; but for a few others?

There are indeed signs, albeit small and sometimes fleeting ones, that some MHActivists are starting to come out of the proverbial woodwork. Here’re a few I’ve been watching and documenting for awhile….

• A chattel finance service consultant (Wish I could tell you there’s more than one, but sadly, there isn’t!) who has been bold enough, during the past two years, to ‘lead the way’ teaching landlease (nee manufactured home) community owners/operators to self – finance home sales transactions on – site in their properties via, originally, buy ‘here – pay here’, and later ‘captive finance’ methodologies. Today, some of that momentum has shifted toward lease purchase (maybe spawning, finally, yet another finance service consultant), even the on – site rental of apartment (i.e. manufactured home) units – just like we did back in the late 1970s. In the meantime, however, this sole MHActivist has been willing to step out, and at least attempt to bring reason to multifaceted interpretations arising from aforementioned federal finance regulatory measures.

• Possibility of a new, national not for profit platform, to ensure continued research and resource needs, as well as communication, networking, and education requirements of landlease community owners/operators, will indeed be met and fulfilled during decades to come. Creating something new like this, out of whole cloth, in trying economic times is no mean fete. Here too, it takes MHActivism, of the first degree, along with cooperation and financial support from the target audience to be served.

• New wave of trade press media. Less than a decade ago, the manufactured housing industry was awash in monthly print publications. Today, there’re but two left, one advertiser – supported (Though publisher is attempting to wring subscriber dollars from decades long readers) and two subscriber – supported business newsletters. But the Good News is the manufactured housing industry is now well – served by a daily online news outlet (See MHMSM.com) or ezine, two financial service newsletters on line (one free and one subscriber – supported), and an independent, weekly blog posting at this website.

• Know what? There’s at least one manufactured housing sales MHActivist out and about these days. That’s right. One Business Development Manager (‘BDM’) out of the two dozen named in Elkhart, IN., at the second NSAC caucus (National State of the Asset Class) on 2/27/10. Today, that BDM is aggressively marketing Community Series Homes (‘CSH’) to landleasse community owners/operators throughout the U.S.! What’s sad about this example of MHActivism, is should be at least two dozen of them at work these days filling the estimated 250,000+/- vacant rental homesites in landlease communities throughout the U.S.

There’re indeed more MHActivists out and about these days, but are difficult to identify.

So, what are YOU doing, in the way of MHActivism, to ensure the continuation, even rejuvenation of the HUD Code manufactured housing industry; contrary to the death knell predicted by that aforementioned Think Tank? OR, are YOU simply ‘along for the ride’, and will just look for another job when this one runs out. Geesh! Hope that’s not the case!
II.

Cellphone, Cable, Airline & Manufactured Housing In Common

In another recent issue of USA TODAY, one editorial was titled: ‘Going over your limits? Cellphone companies don’t want to tell you’. Therein was a paragraph that, to me anyway, read spookedly like it was describing how our industry, the manufactured housing business, too oft relates to its’ homebuying customers:

“It’s hard to fathom why companies so dependent on public perception would take such an anticonsumer stance. Unless maybe, they’re taking advice from the cable or airline industries. Or unless making it easy for customers to exceed their limits is a lucrative part of their business models.”

Anticonsumer stance? In the case of cellphone companies, the editorial describes their general reluctance to provide “…a real time alert to customers when they get near their usage limits.” And, of course, with cable TV and the airline industry, these days, you’re more than tone deaf if unaware of their poor customer service practices – just read Consumer Reports magazine and take a flight somewhere (e.g. in the latter instance, unless you’re flying Southwest, two flyers –husband & wife – can expect to spend at least $100.00 in extra ‘baggage’ fees on just one round trip between two cities as nearby as Chicago and Indianapolis!)

Manufactured housing? We continue to struggle with safe and secure installation of our product, as well as immediate, reliable, and satisfactory customer service ‘after the sale’. Oh sure, there’re pockets of sterling performance, for varying periods of time – usually dependent on personnel attrition, that make us ‘feel good about ourselves’ as an industry; but the bottom line is ‘we’re not known, in a positive way – yet’ for how we treat our homebuying customers over the long run.

Hmm. Harkening back to part I of this week’s blog posting, here’s one more major area where the manufactured housing industry would certainly benefit from the presence and actions of more than one MHActivist! Might that person be YOU?

***

George Allen, CPM®Emeritus & MHM®Master
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry &
The Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class
Box # 47024, Indianapolis, IN. 46247
(317) 346-7156

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