September '20

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152 • RV PRO • September 2020 rv-pro.com RV I N S I G H T The RV Ambassador Will See You Now With COVID-19 spurring a new wave of RVers, it's imperative that dealers provide those customers with the tools they need to be happy campers. One thought: Employ veteran RVers to share their expertise with newbies. T he RV industry is enjoying over- whelming success in sales as the country settles into what might be called the "new normal." I'm not sure anything is going to be normal for a while, but I do know that consumer interest in RVs is unprecedented, attracting many people who have never previously set foot on an RV sales lot. It's spawning new sales opportunities for dealerships. The question is: Are you leaving additional profits sitting on the shelves in your parts and accessories store? Are you maximizing upsell opportunities in the service department? Many dealers will admit that they are having trouble keeping up with the demands created by all the new sales activity. That has meant there is hardly enough time to provide an ade- quate walkthrough for the new "happy camper" as they begin their RVing journey. If we, as an industry, do this right, we can create many customers for life who will enjoy making wonderful RVing memories. Alterna- tively, if we do it wrong, those same potential customers will move on from any negative or unpleasant experiences that were not part of their vision of what RV life was all about. Is there anything your dealership can be doing right now to change customers' initial exposure to RVs – even before they drive off the lot? Can you improve their introduction to RVing and show them that you are willing to provide them with the necessary education and information they need and are expecting to receive as part of the buying process? Countless articles in print media, on tele- vision and on the internet are extolling the attractiveness of our industry even during the pandemic. RVing is very appealing currently, with some estimates indicating more than 50 percent of buyers are first-time purchasers. Managing Expectations How can you manage customers' expec- tations better? And how can you deliver new services and support that some retailers may not It's imperative that dealers look after the needs of a growing group of first-time customers. One possible solution: Have veteran RVers who love your dealership share their expertise with new customers, which can include guidance on parts and equipment they may want to purchase to enhance their camping experience. By Bob Zagami Bob Zagami has served as the executive director of the New England RV Dealers Association (NERVDA) since 2013 and is the principal consultant at RV Insights, a media, marketing and consulting company serving the RV and outdoor hospitality industries. He can be reached at bobzagami@ nervda.com or via phone at 617-974-3739.

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