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RV Dealer Acquisitions


throgmartin
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The last couple years have seen a lot of dealer acquisitions and I am not sure it is good for the industry.

We have owned 2 coaches in the last 20 years and both were bought from small independent dealers. Our current coach we bought brand new from a family owned dealership that at the time was a Holiday Rambler dealer. The price I paid was 29 % below sticker which was typical in 2005. Our level of service for warranty items was outstanding and it was easy to get the coach in and get it back in a matter of a couple days. Twice I took it in and when I picked it up they had dumped the tanks, filled the fresh water tank and washed the coach knowing we were heading out on a trip. I never asked for any of it. Our first coach we bought I wholesaled through a small dealer. We drove that for 2 years and sold it for $ 1,000 more then what we paid for it. They picked me up at the airport, drove me to the coach, had it fueled, washed, holding tanks emptied, full fresh water and ready to go for my trip back home.

In both cases the level of personal service and technical support was outstanding. The technicians they had seemed to be very good as the work they performed was excellent. Never having bought from a large dealer before I cannot say what the level of personal service is like, how quickly they get you in for warranty items and how quickly they get you out. I already know the quality of work large dealers perform as we get coaches into our shop all the time that require my techs to undo the previous work done at a large dealer and then make the repair the right way. I have seen some very simple repairs made that were total failures. My favorite is a customer who came in from a large dealer who had his slide toppers installed upside down by a rookie tech.

I am curious as to the level of personal service these large dealers provide  " After the Sale". Do you just become a number and stand in line ? Do they get your money and the customer care aspect go to the way side ? I have heard many horror stories of these mega dealers rolling out the red carpet and kissing your behind until after the paperwork is signed. At that point some have told me they have to fight for warranty work and the repairs are done below standard and their coach sits for days or weeks waiting on work to be done.

It just appears the entire RV industry is all headed down a path of major consolidation. One only has to look at the purchase of Entegra by Thor, Newmar by Winnie, Tiffin by Thor and the massive acquisitions in the parts sector which have been made predominantly by Dometic and Lippert. This surely cannot be good for the RV industry. That is my feeling anyways.

Here is a recent article: Acquisitions Shaking Up Dealer Sector - RV PRO (rv-pro.com)

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Chris, it's happening everywhere. You can't tell me Google's purchase of YouTube has made YouTube better. As the big money continues to eat up little money the competition lessens. Less competition means less quality and less service to the consumer. I also see a major decline in customer service across many platforms. It seems many use Covid as an excuse for poor customer service. Nowadays, if you call a company with an 'issue' you will always get a recording that either tells you to use their website (read, we don't want you to bother us) and/or tries to sell you something you don't need. We were always taught the phone should be answered by the third ring and by a live person but that's no longer the case. We, as consumers, allow ourselves to be bullied and pushed beyond belief, that this is the 'new normal'. Unless we start using our checkbooks to fight back, we will continue to see the megabucks control our future.....Dennis

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18 hours ago, Dennis H said:

Chris, it's happening everywhere. You can't tell me Google's purchase of YouTube has made YouTube better. As the big money continues to eat up little money the competition lessens. Less competition means less quality and less service to the consumer. I also see a major decline in customer service across many platforms. It seems many use Covid as an excuse for poor customer service. Nowadays, if you call a company with an 'issue' you will always get a recording that either tells you to use their website (read, we don't want you to bother us) and/or tries to sell you something you don't need. We were always taught the phone should be answered by the third ring and by a live person but that's no longer the case. We, as consumers, allow ourselves to be bullied and pushed beyond belief, that this is the 'new normal'. Unless we start using our checkbooks to fight back, we will continue to see the megabucks control our future.....Dennis

Getting a live human on the other end of the line is a rare thing anymore. You always get the #@%& press # so and so for so and so, I hate that crap. Just the other day I called our health insurance provider and after the number thing got a recording that said I was in the que and the maximum wait time was 3 minutes. After waiting 30 minutes I finally hung up. They always refer you to canned answers but we were trying to find out where our new insurance cards were because our other insurance runs out on Jan 1st. You need to talk to a real person for that.

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I have issues with large conglomerates taking over industries. Customer service normally suffers, prices go up and that personal interaction goes out the window because you become a number. When a large company moves into a region and either buys out or runs small family owned competitors out of business there is little incentive for them to up their game in service and quality work because they have the market locked down. Pricing also suffers because there is little competition in their region.

I love the small business model because of the flexibility and one on one personal service a small company can provide. Ingrid, Amy and Jason go out of their way for our customers. They have run errands for customers, invited them into the shop to have lunch with our staff and Ingrid has cooked meals and delivered them to customers who have pulled in sick or not feeling well. Our techs spend a great deal of time educating our customers, explaining repairs, showing them what they did and why and answering questions. This is the business model I have always demanded and it just so happens our staff love assisting and working with our customers. A lot of you old timers like myself will remember back in the 60's and 70's that this is the level of service we routinely got whether it was at a car dealership, appliance repair place, grocery store and even the milk man. It was all about personal service. I truly miss those days.

 

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14 hours ago, Paul A. said:

Look what Amazon has done. 

Paul

I hate to even get started on Amazon. While we all love the convenience and cheaper prices I can think of no other large corporation who has decimated small businesses like Amazon ( other then Walmart ).

My favorite Amazon story is when I was working our booth at a rally. I had a table with free giveaways and this gentleman stepped up, grabbed a fist full of candy out of our dish, 2 company ink pens, 2 magnetic calendars and stuffed them in his pocket. He then picked up a bottle of 303, looked at the price and set it back down and proclaimed " I can get it $ 1.50 cheaper on Amazon ". I couldn't help myself and reminded him that Amazon isn't here supporting your RV association. They also didn't just finish giving a free coach care seminar. So the next time you have a technical question about your coach and need an answer " Call Amazon ".

 

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As a veterinarian who owns his own clinic, I see it too.  Corporations come in and buy out clinics like mine, keep the same name, and start with many of the same staff.  But the changes they make internally lead to bitter employees and frustrated clients who end up leaving and looking for another clinic that's not run that way.  The corporate clinics are all about $$.   It's been instilled in me to put the pet first and the $ will follow.  Online pharmacies have been a big issue with all vets.   It started out that they got their products through diversion...they would partner w vets who either needed the money or didn't care what they were doing was ethically wrong and they would get the vets to order products and then they would buy them from the vet who shipped them to their warehouses.  At that point, the manufacturers and distributors were not allowed to sell to thes online pharmacies so the pharmacies found a back door.  I "politely " turned them down when I was approached as an associate.  The online store wanted me to order products, have them shipped to my house (illegal), and put their mailing label and ship them out to their warehouses.  Nope, not now, not ever.  

Fast forward to now, pricing is a struggle w these.   I've seen items priced at reputable online pharmacies below my cost and been asked to match.  Sorry, order from them.  I'm not gonna take a loss.  What a lot of people do not know is if there is a problem with a product you buy through a vet, such as heartworm prevention,  flea prevention,  even vaccines,  they come w guarantees from the manufacturer.  Then we get on the phone and handle it for and with you.  When someone buys online, all that is gone.  Will Chewy help your dog with heartworms?  Nope.

Anyway,  I read this and thought I'd chime in.  Off to play with puppies and kittens now. 😸

 

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Remember when gas stations were called Service Stations.??? You pull in and ran over the cord stretched across the drive, which rang a bell inside the station. An attendant would come out and take your order and fill your tank. While it was filling, he'd check your oil and wash your windshield. Then he'd take your money and bring you change without you ever having to get out of your vehicle. Many even wore uniforms. S&H Green stamps was your bonus. Much of what I see today is the result of packing everything into a short timeline, pushing us to live our lives faster and faster. We need to slow down so we even know the roses are there........Dennis

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Dennis, when I was a kid I used to pump gas, wash windshields, add air to tires and check oil. Those were some great days. I remember the TV repairman used to come fix our TV ( replace tubes, etc. ) and knew my Dad's first name. You could go into a pharmacy, grocery store and many other places and they knew you. I am trying to hold on to some of those traditions with our companies. We do all we can to make our customers feel special because in the end they are............. They are the only reason why we stay afloat.

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 You guys are getting on back in the past.  Probably not very many on here remember those times. The stations around where I lived had the office, a wash bay and a lube-oil change bay.  Restrooms around on the outside.  The guy washing your windshield was eyeing your girl friend,  sometime he took forever to get it clean.  LOL    Just about everything is different today, some good some bad. 

I can watch tv in timbucktu and call home without finding a phone booth.

I called about a credit card that wouldn't work, got the robot machine & went through all their questions then the machine gave me another ph number, I called it and a man answered. The man said I'll transfer you to that department which was exactly back where I started, I gave up.  That's what I call the run around.  I have been told that when you enter your card number the system identifies the level of importance you are.  Important people get a real person.  Wonder what that says about me.  

Edited by Ray Davis
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11 hours ago, Ray Davis said:

 You guys are getting on back in the past.  Probably not very many on here remember those times. The stations around where I lived had the office, a wash bay and a lube-oil change bay.  Restrooms around on the outside.  The guy washing your windshield was eyeing your girl friend,  sometime he took forever to get it clean.  LOL    Just about everything is different today, some good some bad. 

I can watch tv in timbucktu and call home without finding a phone booth.

I called about a credit card that wouldn't work, got the robot machine & went through all their questions then the machine gave me another ph number, I called it and a man answered. The man said I'll transfer you to that department which was exactly back where I started, I gave up.  That's what I call the run around.  I have been told that when you enter your card number the system identifies the level of importance you are.  Important people get a real person.  Wonder what that says about me.  

How about this Ray - That company I have been calling about my missing ID card has the "press this number" stuff and if you want to speak to a person you select 0. When you get there it ask you if you are willing to take a survey after your  conversation. The first two calls I said no and got the "you are in the que and your call is important to us" crap for over thirty minutes with the benefit of elevator music before I hung up. Yesterday I called the same number and said I would take the survey and got a real person immediately. How about that! Of course when the call was over I hung up and did not take the survey.  

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My Grandfather started a hardware business, and my Dad worked for him and eventually owned it.
They sold hardware, appliances, mowers, and other power equipment, and when the 1970's energy crunch hit, he picked up Fisher wood stoves.
God, I hated delivering those heavy devils, LOL, but they sold like hotcakes for several years, and were a good money maker.
I worked for him from my early teens until I started college, starting out servicing and repairing lawn mowers and power equipment. 
I learned how to diagnose and repair mechanical and electrical stuff, as well as basic refrigeration work, which has continued to serve me well throughout my life.
There's no way I could afford all the toys I have today, if I had to pay someone else to do all my maintenance and repairs.
Nowadays, I only call someone else if it's something I just don't want to do myself. LOL

When Dad finally retired and closed the business, I remember many of his customers would still call him when they needed service, and Dad continued to support them for several years afterwards.  Many of his suppliers would still sell him parts at wholesale, even though he wasn't an official dealer anymore.

Speaking of the energy crunch, back when they did the gas rationing foolishness, with 5 gallon limits, odd/even days and such, Dad had been dealing with a particular Exxon dealer for many years before.
The owner told us that he didn't give a damn what the govt. was doing, but when his regular customers needed fuel, they could fill up whenever they needed.
We never lacked for gas during that time, which was critical for his business to continue operating.
Nowadays, with the demise of actual "service" stations, we just buy gas wherever it's cheapest.

I wish we had more business owners and citizens willing to stand up to the tyranny that's happening today.  I know I am doing my part, but see so many around me who are willing to just bend over and take whatever the gov't decrees for them.
Until We the People stand up and fight back, things will just continue to go downhill in this once-great nation. 😪

 

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18 hours ago, throgmartin said:

Dennis, when I was a kid I used to pump gas, wash windshields, add air to tires and check oil. Those were some great days. I remember the TV repairman used to come fix our TV ( replace tubes, etc. ) and knew my Dad's first name. You could go into a pharmacy, grocery store and many other places and they knew you. I am trying to hold on to some of those traditions with our companies. We do all we can to make our customers feel special because in the end they are............. They are the only reason why we stay afloat.

Chris, when I owned my business I placed a sign above the time clock that said: Customers Make Payday Happen. This was a constant reminder to my employees that without customers they would not be employed so make sure you take care of the customer. I also had another sign that said: Business is Easy, All You Have to do Is TAKE CARE of the CUSTOMER.

Frank O

01 Endeavor

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3 hours ago, dl_racing427 said:
3 hours ago, dl_racing427 said:

I wish we had more business owners and citizens willing to stand up to the tyranny that's happening today.  I know I am doing my part, but see so many around me who are willing to just bend over and take whatever the gov't decrees for them.
Until We the People stand up and fight back, things will just continue to go downhill in this once-great nation. 😪

     So true  :thumb:

 

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5 hours ago, frankogrly said:

Chris, when I owned my business I placed a sign above the time clock that said: Customers Make Payday Happen. This was a constant reminder to my employees that without customers they would not be employed so make sure you take care of the customer. I also had another sign that said: Business is Easy, All You Have to do Is TAKE CARE of the CUSTOMER.

Frank O

01 Endeavor

I have found out at the majority of the dealers I visited was that if a coach was left for service, many times that coach was pushed to the back of the bus so to speak if another coach came in for service with the owner staying with the coach while the repairs were made.  A one week repair promise time might turn out to several weeks.  

Chuck B

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