Should Every RV Dealer Be Doing This?
All across the nation, RV dealerships are reporting astounding spikes in RV sales. The culprit: the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning around April of 2020, folks were seeking a reprieve from lockdowns and quarantines and finding alternatives to vacation since flights and cruises were out of the question. Enter RVing.
Among those flocking to snatch a home on wheels are first-time buyers. In fact, new RVers account for up to 50 percent or more of RV purchases in 2020.
As with any new endeavor, people brand new to the concept of RVing might have preconceived ideas that are not necessarily true or realistic. For all the adventures and memories RVing brings, it has its share of unfortunate detours and roadblocks, especially if you have little to no education in the matter.
Lewis RV Center
RV dealers like Oklahoma City-based Lewis RV Center have seized the opportunity to help new RVers. Instead of making a sale and sending newbies off on the open road, the family-owned company has taken a proactive approach in the matter.
The company is practically holding the hands of first-time buyers by introducing and guiding them step-by-step through the ups and downs of owning an RV. Their new-buyer plan addresses the major components of owning an RV, including purchasing, operating, maintaining, and handling emergencies with their brand new or new-to-them unit.
Lewis RV Center co-owner Clifton Lewis sees this as a win-win for the buyer and the seller.
“These new customers don’t realize RVing is a hands-on adventure. If we don’t coach and train these new customers, we will lose them,” Lewis said. “If we do explain, coach, train, and give the support to these new customers, I believe we will thrive, as they will have a good experience and tell their friends about the RVing lifestyle. So, our reach will be that much further.”
How the first-time buyer initiative works
The company’s first-time buyer initiative is rather involved and includes a timeline of events that are carried out throughout the first year of ownership. There is additional support offered beyond that as well. The following is a rundown of what their first-time buyer assistance includes.
- Customers are initially handed an outline of everything that personnel will cover.
- A 1-3 hour hands-on schooling for their particular RV follows.
- Customers are then sent to the service writer. A general follow-up appointment is scheduled 60-days after the initial purchase. The follow-up is meant to address any concerns or issues during their first two months of ownership.
“We don’t sugarcoat things. We tell them they will have issues that will arise,” Lewis said. “We provide them with a worksheet that they can email to us all at once or periodically up to their appointment so we can address the issues when they bring it in. We tell them to expect things to happen, but we are here to take care of you when they do. By doing this, they are prepared for things to happen.”
Buyers are supplemented with a one-year prepaid subscription to Tech24, which allows users to access professional help over the phone 24/7 for any RV issues. New buyers also have the option to text the dealership with concerns or to schedule a service appointment.
Aside from these incentives, all customers, new and existing, are invited to join in on quarterly camping trips with the owners and technicians. During this mini-vacation, customers are encouraged to ask and discuss specifics about their RV or just learn more about RVing in general. The company emphasizes that the intent of the camping experience is not only to empower customers to be more informed about RVing. It also promotes community outreach among those that share a love for travel and the great outdoors.
Other dealers are jumping on the bandwagon
Lewis RV Center is not the only RV dealer reaching out and supporting first-time buyers. RVDA recently hosted a virtual conference (The RV Dealers Virtual Convention/Expo) in November. Among the many workshops presented to fellow dealership personnel from across the nation, several sessions honed in on educating new buyers and promoting long-term enjoyment for RVing.
“The on-demand sessions are an ideal way to educate and reinforce sound customer service practices as the industry welcomes an unprecedented number of first-time buyers,” said RVDA President Phil Ingrassia.
Additional support for new RVers
Aside from RV dealerships, many other members of the RV community are reaching out to help first-time RVers. Veteran RVers like Marc and Tricia of Keep Your Daydream, regularly communicate with RVers via social media and make videos featuring different aspects of RV travel. The video below presents their top ten list of things every new RVer should know.
If you are new to RVing and would like to talk to fellow RVers about RV ownership, be sure to join the discussions on iRV2 forums. If you’re still shopping around, check out our guide on RV Types: A Complete Beginner’s Guide.