RV PRO

March '19

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16 • RV PRO • March 2019 rv-pro.com R V M A N U F A C T U R E R S Coachmen RV has sponsored the MBA Rental School for years. "Before that event was established, we held seminars in-house for our customers taught by industry leaders in RV rentals," Bear says. "We have a long-term relationship with a number of institutional rental companies, and continue to support and grow our dealership and rental only dealers." He adds, "There is a rental only-retail customer out there. That customer reserves an RV for an annual vacation date; they pay their rental fee, enjoy the RV lifestyle and at the end of their vacation simply return their RV. No maintenance, no storage, just a great RV getaway. Many dealers use rentals to make entering RV ownership easier by offering a first-time buyer the opportunity to rent before they buy." Thor: Market Leader for Rental Fleets Thor Industries is the primary supplier to the nation's largest rental agencies as well as RV dealers. Dealers have been renting Thor Class C's for decades, according to Jon Krider, vice pres- ident of product development and marketing for Thor Motor Coach (TMC). "All dealers have access to buy rental motorhomes from us," Krider says. Given that "Four Winds, Chateau and A.C.E. are 'first step' units – the least complex to operate and offer the most enjoyment to consumers" – these have become TMC's focus for its rental program, he says. The A.C.E. is especially appealing to renters who are considering buying a Class A motorhome, but wish to camp in one before buying, he notes. TMC has a lengthy history in the rental market, so it knows what to put in a rental unit –and what not to, says Krider. "When you look at how a renter uses it versus a retail con- sumer, some vehicles we offer with extra goodies – like TV lifts, overhead beds and transfer switches – don't add a lot of value to a rental," he says. "It becomes a hindrance." The "life" of a unit as a rental depends on the dealer, according to Krider. Once an RV is deemed no longer a rental, it is typically sold at retail at a reduced price. "Another key point that's important: We put Four Winds, Cha- teau and A.C.E into our own rental fleet for our employees who are able to use from about Memorial Day to November," he says, adding that TMC has been making rentals available to employees for about four years. "We get feedback on every vehicle used." One of Forest River's most steady RV rental customers is Barry Raye, owner of 84 RV Rentals & Service in Sussex, N.J. Raye's firm is one of the largest RV rental dealers serving New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania and the only one in the Northeast boasting a 5-Star Dealer rating. Raye's parents founded the business in 1960 and started renting RVs later in that decade. Motorhome rentals began in 1989. Raye's 60-vehicle fleet includes 27 Forest River and Thor Class C motorhomes ranging from 24 to 32 feet. He finds Forest River's 32-foot Sunseeker bunkhouse the most popular floorplan because it appeals to every demo- graphic from couples to groups as large as eight people. And he likes Forest River brands because "they allow me to upgrade my motorhome that may not be a standard run for their retail buyers. I don't buy for price, but for quality and durability." He rents units year-round, but finds his strongest season from May to November. On average, Raye keeps a unit in his fleet for two years, then sells it. By then the unit likely accumulated 25,000 to 30,000 miles and depreciated in value about 10 percent annually. Raye, who is one of the instructors for MBA Insurance's annual RV Rental School, sees the rental business holding steady in 2019, but warns, "The big 'disrupters' will create havoc for some dealerships, but not for a well-established dealership." These disrupters are the more than 20 peer-to-peer rental firms that are – at least for now – grabbing market share from established RV dealers and rental firms. He likens these peer-to-peer firms to Airbnb, the home lodging alternative to hotels that began in 2008. "Are hotels still in business? Of course they are," he says, but there is no denying that this online marketplace and hospitality service is taking market share. "I've found that being part of the National RV Rental 20 Group has helped me stay at the top of my game in profits and procedures," he says. -Steve Bibler Barry Raye, owner of 84 RV Rentals & Service in Sussex, N.J. Raye's firm is one of the largest RV rental dealers serving New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Raye's 60-vehicle fleet includes 27 Forest River and Thor Class C motorhomes ranging from 24 to 32 feet. Leading East Coast Rentals Dealer Shares Insights PHOTO COURTESY OF BARRY RAYE continued from page 14

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