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What Is A Good Installer Worth?
By George Porter
This article is directed to dealers who are not sure they are
getting their moneys worth out of their installers. Next time
you have a home to install try this. Don't call the regular guys
you use, do it yourself as a general contractor. Please don't
get the idea that this is some sort of cheap shot at you because
it's not. This is truly the only way I can think of that you can
actually get a realistic feel for the value you are receiving.
Some years ago I went to Japan for a manufacturer to show the
Japanese how to put these homes together and finish them off.
Actually the only thing that needed any instruction was the assembly
process of mating a multi-section home and properly supporting
it. All the rest was not new. Seaming a carpet; spackling and
painting a drywall seam; putting up shingles and siding; and all
the other tasks are pretty much the same all over the world. The
thing that was different over there was the fact that in that
country, and in almost every other nation as well, there were
no persons that could do it all. In fact there were no people
that could do even two of the different trades necessary to get
the job done. I certainly don't mean to infer that no one could
do a good job, quite to the contrary, these folks were some of
the finest craftsmen in the world in their chosen trade. The problem
was they had only one trade. The guy that seamed the carpet had
no idea and no interest about the plumbing. Why would he? What
does plumbing have to do with carpet or shingles or painting?
This was and is the culture in most of the world
I really don't get out and around the world very much so for
some reason I thought that everybody could do most everything
a little bit. The USA is a nation of "do it yourselfers"
and the local hardware stores are everywhere. I never saw one
hardware store the whole time I was in Japan. There were trade
supply stores that sold whatever the various trades needed, but
no place at all that even remotely resembled an American hardware
All of this background is to serve as an explanation of what
had to happen when we first started to install a home. It took
3 to 4 weeks and used about 13 or 14 different people to apply
the different trades needed to complete the home. Obviously step
one was to cross-train everyone in as many other trades as possible
in order to cut down on the time and people. All this did eventually
come to pass, but in many cases in the beginning, they needed
to import an installer from the states to get the jobs done. This
was not inexpensive but it was far less money and time than doing
the same with a dozen local tradesmen.
This set me to thinking about what an asset a good installer
is and I would encourage everyone in the industry to give it some
thought. For instance, how many people in the world can do a fairly
good job in 16 different building trades? Only one, the American
Manufactured Housing Installer, no one else even comes close.
Here's a typical list:
- 1. Carpentry
2. Truck Driving
3. Rolling, jacking, and supporting home
4. Anchoring home
5. Plumbing, water and sewer
8. Floor covering installation and repair
9. Drywall installation and repair
10. Window and door repair
11. Appliance troubleshooting
12. Heating and air conditioning
13. Building adjacent structures, steps awnings etc.
14. Basic electricity
15. Masonry, footings, piers, etc.
16. Some business law and accounting if he runs his own business.
This is a bunch of talent from one guy! If you really want
to know how much he contributes to the affordability of these
homes, try doing these same trades with individual subcontractors.
You will probably have to increase the price of your homes by
thousands of dollars and it will take you weeks not days to finish
Installers are every bit as important to this industry as manufacturers,
dealers, and salespeople and yet many people think of them as
some sort of overhead expense or worse yet, basic labor.
There is an old saying that goes like this, "If you don't
play the game then you shouldn't be making up the rules".
Installation is the biggest problem in the industry today and
installers are the most under appreciated and under represented
people in this business and almost nobody is asking them how to
fix it. Could it be that there is a connection here?