Improving the RV Purchase and Repurchase Experience

How RV dealers can foster lasting relationships

In an earlier post I discussed the results of a recent survey of 3,000 consumers engaged in the recreational vehicle buying process from 2017-2018. Conducted by AVALA, a Rollick Company these results are included in their whitepaper, “The Recreation Shopping Experience: Why Customers Buy and How to Ensure They Buy From You.”

The study concluded with suggestions on how RV dealers can improve both the purchase and repurchase experience.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Distant Drums RV Resort in Camp Verde, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

For dealers to set themselves apart from the rest of the RV industry, it is imperative they optimize consumer engagement with their brand.

Areas of focus that will move the needle in their favor include pricing clarity.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Gila Bend KOA in Gila Bend, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

According to a study by Paul W. Farris, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5-20 percent. And according to Bain and Company, returning customers spend an average of 67 percent more than first-time customers.

All the new customers in the world don’t matter if dealers don’t retain the ones they already have. To keep customers coming back RV dealers should follow up with them. Thank them, provide them with great service and continue to grow the relationship. Use a post-purchase/delivery satisfaction survey.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Casa Grande RV Resort in Casa Grande, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

A proper delivery process makes for happy customers and is a key for developing a lasting relationship. This requires having in place qualified technicians to complete a walk through with the purchasing customers and full-service guest spots to allow an appropriate amount of time to learn about their new RV. Some highly technical units can take a few days of training.

With some RV dealers, you’re unlikely to speak with anyone unless you’re contacting them with a complaint. This is not the way lasting relationships are fostered.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Vista del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

There is opportunity to sell the same consumer multiple products, and the goal is to make sure it is your products they repurchase, which is a joint effort between the dealer and the manufacturer. In fact, the data indicates that if a consumer leaves a dealer because of dissatisfaction with their service, they may also leave the brand.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Grand Canyon Railway RV Resort in Williams, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

It’s an oft-quoted statistic that acquiring new customers costs six to seven times more than retaining existing ones. The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that 68 percent of customers leave because they’re upset with the treatment they’ve received. That’s why offering fast, helpful customer service is critical to retaining customers. Not to mention that happy customers and word of mouth can also be some of the most effective drivers for new business.

Often the key to growing your company isn’t just getting new customers, but keeping the older ones.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Las Vegas RV Resort in Las Vegas, Nevad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Most recreation products are discretionary, or not a “need” product. Any friction the consumer may experience reduces the opportunity of a sale. Both the manufacturer and the dealer do better when they focus on great customer service and working together. 

An RV is no small purchase, and the best dealers and manufacturers are run by those who understand what it takes to create a lifelong customer. A connection like this is the result of a total dedication to transparency, integrity, and responsiveness.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Ambassador RV Resort in Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

If you have a problem, those involved in the manufacturing and sales process have a problem that must be handled with honesty and an emphasis on making things right, right away. If you get the feeling that one of dealers and/or manufacturers you’re considering might not react this way, move on.

And remember that not all manufacturers are created equal and not all dealers are created equal. Before you sign on the dotted line you owe it to yourself to get the facts and become an educated buyer.

Moving from the old to the new at Midtown RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

In the interests of full disclosure, we currently own a 2019 Dutch Star diesel pusher. This is our fifth Newmar motorhome and Midtown RV in Penticton, British Columbia, is our trusted dealer.

In a recent conversation with Kalvin Stayberg of Midtown RV, he indicated that repeat customers account for about 60 percent of their total Newmar sales. Yes, great customer service matters.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Las Vegas RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Worth Pondering…

Here is a simple but powerful rule: always give people more than they expect to get.

—Nelson Boswell