The Mungo Cos. relishes customer feedback.
In 2011, when many home building companies were just trying to stay even, The Mungo Cos. increased its profitability. It was no accident, though: Mungo’s success stems from its product diversity, organic growth, and its ability to cultivate satisfied customers.
“I like the word ‘evangelical,’” says CEO Steven Mungo of the company’s mission to get its buyers to proselytize about Mungo and its homes to their neighbors. “I want our company to delight people, and I love it when you’re standing on the line in the grocery store and they come up to you to say how happy they are with one of our homes.”
The Mungo Cos.’ proactive approach kept it one step ahead of its competition during the recession. The best example of this occurred in 2007, when the economy was unraveling. Mungo launched a multimedia marketing campaign featuring its CEO, which emphasized how a bad economy didn’t negate the need for a safe, secure home. In those ads, Mungo also implored the public to purchase a house to stimulate the economy, “even if you don’t buy from Mungo.” The builder was the first in its market to guarantee mortgage payments if a buyer lost his or her job.
The Mungo Cos. has since adjusted its marketing to match how customers research and buy homes. In 2010, it focused on driving traffic to its website and was the first builder in its home market of Columbia, S.C., to create a Facebook page. Last year, Mungo gave customers access to information about its products and the company on their mobile devices. In 2012, it’s homing in on Realtors. The company also gave its sales team practical solutions to answer buyer objections. One is its Buy-Back program that will purchase a customer’s existing home at a discounted price if that customer pays full price for a new home.
The houses acquired are either resold or added to its pool of rental properties. Mungo has about 100 of these, which it leases to buyers needing someplace to stay until their new homes are ready, or to relocating buyers until they decide where they want to live. The company’s rental business, Palmetto Residential Rentals, offers customers with credit issues the opportunity to rent one of Mungo’s homes, and eventually purchase that home within a given time frame.
Seventy percent of the homes Mungo sells are to entry-level buyers, and in recent years it has introduced narrow neo-traditional houses for infill and niche locations. But Mungo has also moved toward what it calls “luxury production” houses that include upscale standard features and finishes. Some features—such as tankless water heaters and gourmet cabinet layouts—are informed by a “What Women Want” focus group that the builder conducted in 2010.
Mungo builds all of its homes to the specifications of its “hauSmart” standards, which it rolled out last summer and emphasizes efficiency, affordability, and convenience. Mungo believes hauSmart is one more weapon that gives his company a competitive advantage. So is Mungo Construction, its commercial division that often has been its first foot into new areas.
After adding five new markets since 2003, The Mungo Cos. is concentrating on increasing its existing market share. That strategy should be abetted by the industry, philanthropic, and community service to which Steve and brother Stewart have committed time and financial support.