July '20

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82 • RV PRO • July 2020 rv-pro.com service and parts team for staying on the front lines to help our customers (and) the sales team for hanging in here when they were not permitted to sell. And now for selling from home, without the personal interaction that is normally required." Scott Krenek, owner/president Krenek RV Center Coloma, Mich. "At the start of March, we were up about 30 percent over last year. It took until the end of March to fulfill all the orders we had in the pipeline. That helped a lot. Then we closed the lot for first two weeks of April. "We received a HUD designation as 'essential' because there are people living in their RVs and they need HVAC and other services. It's freezing in Michigan in March, so people have to have heat. Our parts and service department was also declared essential, so they never closed. "We kept the sales department open six days a week with just family – we let the staff work from home or collect unemploy- ment – but there were many days when we closed early because it was so dead. Of course, we were not seeing customers. Even the family members who were in the dealership were working on the phone and online only. "It was really slow in early April, but about three or four weeks ago (late April) things started to pick up a little. No one could enter the dealership yet, but we were making sales and delivering RVs. "Then we were able to have customers on the lot by appoint- ment only. They would let us know when they were coming and we'd open the units they wanted to see and go back inside. They'd call us from the lot and we'd answer their questions and make the sale. Now we can go out and stand outside the unit and answer questions from potential customers who are looking around inside. Of course, everyone on staff is wearing a mask and we are wiping the units down after each visitor. "Those of our employees who want to work have kept their jobs, but unemployment pays more than working right now, so some have chosen to go on the dole instead. Those salespeople who stayed worked from home all the time for a while, then we installed Plexiglas guards and they were allowed to come in if they wanted. "Now, most of them are in the office most of the time. They prefer that because if a customer asks, 'how big is the space between this and that?' they can just go out to the lot and measure it. "Because dealers have limited inventory – and that is even more so now that manufacturers have been virtually closed for five weeks – people are going on the internet and searching instead of just driving to the closest dealership. When someone falls in love with a floorplan, they will keep searching until they find it – even if it's several states away because, even if their local dealers can order it, there is no way of knowing how long it will take to arrive. We have customers contacting us from Colorado, Utah, Arkansas – states that are open. "We make the deals on the phone or online and ship the units to them. Normally, we might get one call per year from a potential customer in Colorado. We have had two in the last two weeks, and they were both all-cash deals. "All these long-distance sales mean our margins are thinner because we have to ship units farther, but we're happy to be selling anything because while interest rates going down has definitely helped, all our bills keep coming in and my state taxes have not gone down one penny. " We will be main- t a i n i n g o u r m i n i m a l staff and about a 20 to 25 percent reduction in inventory. We had an expansion planned for this year that we will not be doing. "As for the rest of 2020, I expect things to pick up for a while due to pent-up demand and then slow down again as we get closer to the election. No matter who you want, people are just more fearful leading up to a presidential election and they don't make major elective purchases. Then, no matter who wins, it takes time for the dust to settle. "As a member of the RVDA board, I have weekly phone calls with regional reps from RVIC, RVIA, the campground association, and others to talk about how to bring the industry back when things are open every- where again. States like Texas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Iowa have already reopened, and some never really closed, so they are doing great – some even better than last year. "On the other hand, places like New York, New Jersey, and other major urban areas on the East Coast and those with inter- national airports like Chicago, are the hardest hit." April was slow because of uncertainty about the contagiousness of COVID-19. However, people are using their RVs to self-isolate, so business is very strong right now. Although we have less overall foot traffic, the people who do come are ready to buy. –Darrell Friesen, president, All Seasons RV

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