May '20

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14 • RV PRO • May 2020 rv-pro.com continued to prosper and grow more quickly than those dealerships that had to radically cut back their operations, he says. "I always try to think three steps ahead and make sure I have a 'B plan' and a 'C plan.' You have to, just in case something blows up on you," he adds. 'The Little Dealership That Could' When Eckstein bought the dealership and its assets, he began with an inventory of 58 units and a staff of 17 employees. "The only thing I had was room – 17 acres of it," he says. "We would spread out the RVs strategically, so we didn't look like an empty lot." Today, Mount Comfort RV routinely has more than 450 RVs on its lot, nearly 70 employees and has expanded three times. Last year's revenues topped $52 million, up from $6 million back in 2006. "Our business plan was; not to be the biggest, but to own our own backyard," Eckstein says, "and to do everything we could to get repeat customers. Our motto for years was: 'If it's right, it's right.' It sounds corny and old-school, but honesty and hard work got us to where we are today. Maybe it's a relic, or maybe it a business model of the future." Most recently, Mount Comfort RV erected a new sales facility last fall that features a 10,000-square-foot showroom, 20 sales offices, administration offices, a conference room, a nursery and a full kitchen. It also houses a 5,000-square-foot parts store that has expanded to nearly double its original size, as well as a depart- ment for service writing. The former facility was a re-purposed restaurant and truck stop, and was never intended to be an RV dealership, but the new facility – which carried a price tag of nearly $5 million – is designed from the top down to be one. The differences are sig- nificant, according to Eckstein. "My old parts department was about 100 yards away from ser- vice," Eckstein says, "and now, it's 30 feet away. I often tell people that's the reason I built the facility. Our parts department staff has expressed a great appreciation for it and now we can have effective point-of-sale displays and store layouts. Our service department is also more productive solely because of its proximity to the parts department now – it's been a huge uptick. "All in all, the new building is also attracting more customers – and talented new employees, such as techs – and provides a more enjoyable overall experience," he adds. "It has boosted morale, as well. As we were building it, it created buzz among staff and stirred excitement. Our culture has benefited and we're a dealer- ship where people look forward to coming to work. You might not think that new brick and mortar could make that kind of difference, but it has." Tapping into Today's Younger Market Eckstein says Comfort RV is seeing more first-time RV buyers than it ever has before. He notes that an RV Industry Association study from the early 2000s stated the average RV owner – 55 years old – was in the market for 11 years, owning three RVs during that span. "Imagine if we can get that same buyer at 35," he says. "When Mount Comfort's new sales facility features a 10,000-square-foot showroom (pictured), 20 sales offices, administration offices, a conference room, a nursery and a full kitchen.

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