May '19

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DEALER TRENDS: 60 • RV PRO • May 2019 rv-pro.com D E A L E R S Operating RV-Marine Hybrid Dealerships By Terri Blazell-Wayson Retailing and servicing RVs and boats at one location gives dealerships expanded selling opportunities while offering customers the best of both worlds – but it also means that dealerships face twice the challenges. That's the assessment of RV-marine "hybrid" dealerships across the country recently interviewed by RV PRO. Dealers spoke at length about how the two products are complementary and how they are different, how they train their sales and service staffs on those products, and what's required to have a successful marine service operation. Here is what they had to say: Justin Pheiffer, sales manager Lime Lake Marine & RV Delevan, N.Y. "We're a family-owned business. My aunt and uncle owned it and they purchased it from my uncle's father; he was the original owner and they only sold boats. ... They were going to NASCAR races and noticed that everyone had RVs and saw how it was a family atmosphere. "So, they decided that these were cool, so they decided to sell RVs, too. Now, we consider ourselves a recreational dealership. When it comes to recreational sports that means camping, RVing and boating. "Last year, we ended up finishing about 300 deals. And it was split right down the middle between RVs and boats. Some years, it's 60/40 boats/ RVs and the next year it may be the opposite. But it's typically, half and half. "Once you come on-board with the Lime Lake crew, you get trained on every product that we sell, including accessories. We invest in a lot of time and training because that's what we're about as a business. "We're just as much boating and camping people as the people we are selling the product to. We want everyone to be fully immersed in all the products and not separated off. "We have marine technicians and RV technicians. Every once in a while someone might lend a hand on a small job but for the most part they are separated. If we hire someone with carpentry or electrician skills, they're probably going to work on the campers. "On the marine end of it, it's all motors. It's more gear driven and mechanical. We sell three different brands of motors: Yamaha, Mercury and Evinrude. Each marine tech needs to be certified for each motor we sell." "Inventory management can be a challenge. When we do a show season we'll get 20, 30, 40 orders in a show. It is a challenge with our area because we have a short window for summer. People invest their hard-earned money into the product, so we want to make sure it's ready to go on the first day it's warm because you only get a few of those around here. That is a big challenge for us – the area we're in – making sure that all the inventory is in check so we can get people into their campers and boats in a timely fashion. "We only service our customers in the area. We'll do a service call 150 miles out if it is our customer. We'll drive out to them – they don't have to bring it to the shop. "Last year, our longest wait time was a week-and-a-half. That was on a camper. For boats, it's under a week for our longest service time. We're constantly tracking that – making sure it's in check – making sure people are able to enjoy and not have to wait a month or two months to get their boat fixed. "The most likely scenario is someone purchases a boat. They see their friends at the lake enjoying an RV and the next time they come in for servicing, they start browsing the lot. That's where the additional purchase comes in. When somebody buys a boat or a travel trailer,

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