Wednesday, August 9, 2017

In Case You Missed It: July RV Industry News

To help keep you informed with recent leading industry news, upcoming model reviews, and new product launches, we’ve put together a recap of viral RV business stories from the month of July. Check them out and see which story you think was the highlight for this past month.

RVIA’s recent manufacturer survey indicates a healthy RV industry in the month of June with a unit shipment rise to 47,416 from last year’s 40,072 - an increase of over 18%.

The new travel trailer is described by Airstream’s Correspondent as “your beach-house-on-the-go,” fully equipped with a dinette, wood blinds, floral accents, and more.

Image: RV News

After finishing assembly in late July, the 100,000th Keystone Montana fifth wheel was successfully delivered to Texas’ Holiday World of Alvarado. First produced in 1998, Keystone reps attribute the model’s success largely to progressively innovative designs over the past 20 years.

According to an economics feature by The Washington Post, luxury goods purchases are a go-to indicator of the health of our nation’s economy - and the boom in RV sales has been deemed a ‘key metric’ for fiscal stability in the United States.

The company’s Class B plant reuses or recycles more than half of its manufacturing waste, and most of the wood used is SFI-certified to promote forest sustainability. The Class B’s are energy- and water-efficient, and join the brand’s “Silver Bullet” as certified TRA Green units.

The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association has announced a new awards program, which will recognize current and future industry leaders under the age of 40. Nominations are open, and can now be submitted via

Despite what’s been seen as low recent demand, the American Automobile Association has stated that gas prices continue to remain stable - a likewise positive sign for the RV world.

In recent reports, CNN described RV sales as hitting never-before-seen highs, and attributed these industry successes to a ‘flood’ of new technology, as well as increased millennial interest in long-distance, residential travel.

We of course couldn’t go without mentioning that our RV Trader product development experts have successfully created an easy-to-use tool that will give dealers unprecedented access to cross-market pricing patterns, as well as help businesses determine what an ideal price looks like for a specific unit of certain make, model, and year.

The National Highway Safety Association (NHTSA) announced that 1,455 Coachmen Cross Country and Encounters from the 2014-2015 manufacturing year were being recalled due to the presence of exposed wire ends.

Image: Casper Star Tribune

In mid-July, Airstream introduced their new “Nest” model, designed with minimalist taste and measuring in at only 16 feet. The simple new unit is estimated to be vastly popular among the growing ‘simple life’ RV crowd, and is predicted to do extremely well once sales begin.
Trader Online Web Developer

CNN: RVs "Back and Bigger than Ever"

A recent article from CNN explained the currently “booming" condition of the "old school" RV industry. The article explains that two core trends are impacting the industry for the better: RV sales are skyrocketing, and the primary age range of buyers seems to be getting younger.

According to RVIA, approximately 430,000 RVs of various makes and models were sold in 2016, representing a yearly increase of a whopping 15%. This rise in revenue has been consistent over the past 7 or so years, increasing significantly each year since 2009.

What other factors could be driving these patterns? According to CNN, new technology developments (i.e., smartphones) are actually driving younger generations like millennials to be one of the core RV consumer groups. With RVIA explaining that more than 50% of RV buyers are under age 45 now, many new units aim to showcase themselves as highly affordable for first-time buyers.

Take a look at this insightful article - CNN phrases RVs as being "back and bigger than ever," but comment and let us you think they ever left?
Trader Online Web Developer

Ghost Customers: What exactly are they... and why should you be aware of them?

You may have heard the term “ghost customers” before, but what exactly does this term mean? To put it simply, a ghost customer is equivalent to a ‘mystery shopper’. These hired, anonymous shoppers essentially visit businesses (both in person and online), acting like interested customers, who then report back with ratings of customer service and experiences with the business. In order to properly judge their thoughts on a company’s customer service, they often frequent the store, visiting a business multiple times. These ghost customers are used in nearly every marketplace the question is, are they present in the RV industry?

The answer is, without a doubt, yes. A growing company, Pied Piper uses a unique and patented process to evaluate a business’ prospect satisfaction, and has focused many of their studies on the automobile, powersports, and RV industries. Industry-leading publications like RV Business have featured the company in their publications, explaining the business’ goal of conducting long-term studies using thousands of mystery shoppers. Their strategy analyzes countless dealerships across the U.S., looking especially closely at these ghost shoppers’ customer service experiences.

Pied Piper’s president and CEO, Fran O’Hagan, warns that online customer service is becoming more and more important in motorized vehicle industries. According to O’Hagan, since the majority of buyers’ research and information gathering happens online, the number of visits a customer makes to a dealership before making a purchase is dropping nearly twofold. Recently, the majority of studies have found that an average of 4+ visits before a purchase has dropped to 2 or less in 2017. O’Hagan went on to explain that the most successful dealerships combine a number of customer service approaches, but all tend to respond relatively quickly to customer inquiries that come through various online portals. Examples of some of these portals may include a dealer’s website, social media profiles, or RV Trader listings.

What’s the point?

At the end of the day, two things are important to remember. First, since ghost and mystery shoppers are just that - a mystery - they are virtually impossible to target, and you can pretty much say goodbye to trying to figure out who they are. Our advice? Treat every single customer like they are a ghost shopper sent by satisfaction ranking companies, and give them your all when it comes to service and commitment to quality. This may seem like common sense, but rather than reminding yourself to “do the best you can” every day, approach each customer like they are the ones who are going to determine your ultimate customer ranking for this year.

Second, but just as important, is to remember to give as much attention to your customer service online as you do to those people who walk through the doors of your dealership each day. You wouldn’t wait hours or days to respond to an inquiry from a potential buyer on the phone, or in person, so why would you do that to prospects online? Check your TraderTraxx platform daily, and make it a habit to field questions and answer inquiries. Check-in with your social media platforms as often as you can, as many buyers can and will find you through shared listings and posts by friends.

Above all, though the idea behind ghost customers can be intimidating, don’t let their presence make you uneasy. These essential and helpful customer service ‘surveyors’ can help keep your business and staff on its toes, hopefully ending in even better customer service each day than the day before.

Trader Online Web Developer