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Sales Lot Set-up
By George Porter
This is the time of year to think about homes on the sales
lot. This is especially true if your sales center is in a northern
climate. Most people think the set-up of a model on a sales lot
is not so important. You sort of get it level and propped up with
any old stuff lying around. There is no reason to do a great job
because no one is living in it and it's only temporary anyway.
Well guess what, gravity, wind, and water have the same effect
on homes on the sales lot as they do homes on the customer's lot.
Plus there are a few extra problems that only happen on the sales
Winterizing: Did you know that most, if not all, manufacturers
test their plumbing with water? They fill the lines with water
and put pressure on them for a period of time to check for leaks.
In the winter months they winterize the home after they do this
test by blowing the lines out and pumping in some antifreeze.
They do not do this winterizing from the Spring through the early
Fall. If you have a home that you ordered in June, left over on
your lot in a northern area of the country, then you better check
it out, or you might be replacing some broken water lines due
to ice. (I have often thought that this might be what loosened
the aluminum rings on the polybutylene piping we can't use any
more) Manufacturers always put a warning in the home when it has
not been winterized, but I think maybe not all the paper work
gets the attention it deserves sometimes.
So go out on your sales lot right now and see if all your homes
have antifreeze in the toilets and sinks, you could save yourself
Proper blocking Correct me if I am mistaken, but I bet there
is just as much snow on the roof of a sales lot house as on any
other home roof in the area. This being the case, why would it
not need proper support to hold that load without cracking the
drywall or crowning the floor just as it would with any other
house. I can count on one hand the number of dealers that correctly
block the marriage line of a home on the sales lot. Yet, these
same dealers that do not block the centerline on the lot will
block it when someone buys the home. As much as we don't like
to admit it, some of us have had the same home, or homes, set-up
on our sales lot for a year or longer. Not supporting it properly
is a good way to make a multi-section not fit well in the middle
or bow the floor joists at the ridge beam support columns along
There is one manufacturer of a certain style of single section
home that has the off-door side covered with full length windows
and skylights. Every one I have seen on sales lots that I ride
by is sagging where the windows are located. The glass will not
hold up the roof. I know that the manufacturer must have special
points along the sidewall that are supposed to be supported so
this won't happen, but on the sales lot they just never get blocked.
(If I can see this so can the customers)
It is a curious thing that most dealerships will spend lots
of money on decorator kits so homes look nice on the lot but they
save the good blocking job for when you can't see under the home
because of the skirting. There is something about a rag-tag blocking
job done with broken blocks and firewood that just doesn't go
with the image we are tying to convey on the sales lot. It doesn't
inspire consumer confidence and it is not good for the home.
Do the best job possible under the home on the lot and train
your sales people to point it out to the customers. Tell the people
why it looks like this and what benefit it is to them, it will
sell homes for you while it keeps them properly supported.
Anchoring: When was the last time (or even the first time )
you saw homes on a sales lot anchored? Somebody once told me that
we could avoid a lot of trouble with our homes if we didn't leave
them outside so much. While this was his weak attempt at humor
there is a point here. Either our homes are inside the factory
being built, which incidentally is the best place to build a house,
or they are outside exposed to the elements. The homes have to
effectively deal with all the elements they encounter from the
time they roll through the factory door or they suffer for it.
The home itself does not come from the factory ready to deal with
these elements, we have to do certain things to help it, and we
have to do it on the sales lot the same as anywhere else.
I will never forget the day twenty years ago when my sales
lot went through a hurricane. We put the hitches facing into the
wind and dropped the whole home down on the ground as low as it
would go. The homes were not even blocked but we put some anchors
on them anyway. With the air out of the tires the homes were just
inches out of the mud and by some miracle they all made it. Lots
of my friends in the business lost everything because when one
goes they all go. They said it was like a strike in a bowling
alley, the one up front got all the rest.
The floor plan insurance paid off for them, but I often wondered
if it would have done so as easily today. If some insurance company
didn't want to pay out several million for a loss, would they
have a case if the homes were not protected by proper anchoring??
I don't know, but if I owned a sales center in hurricane country
I would sure ask my insurance carrier, and I would get the answer
in writing. Please be aware that anchoring is necessary for all
HUD Code housing in all wind zones so this caution might apply
to everyone in the country.
Sorry to give you all these things to worry about, next month
I promise to give you some good news.