The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association commissioned an Economic Impact Study on the RV industry, released on June 7, 2016. The study found that the RV industry contributes about $49.7 billion in economic output or 0.28 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Through its production and distribution linkages, the industry impacts firms in 426 of the 440 sectors of the United States economy.
Nationwide, the industry is responsible for 216,170 jobs, both directly and inderectly, creating an economic impact of $37.5 billion. The full study results, along with each individual state and congressional district's economic impact is available on the website by clicking here .
Fri Mar 24, 2017
Author: Scott Hansen
For an RV dealership to attain the highest customer service award in the country once, it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, the right staff, the right market conditions and a little bit of luck.
To win the award twice in a row, it removes all doubt that the dealership has figured out the right formula.
Dodd RV, which has two locations in Yorktown, Virginia and Portsmouth, Virginia, was recently named the winner of the National Customer Satisfaction Award by Dealer Rater for the second straight year.
The 61-year-old family-owned company has found a formula that makes it the No. 1 dealer in customer satisfaction two years running.
“It means a lot for us to be awarded the national award for superior customer service,” Owner Jamie Dodd says. “It means our team is doing a great job with guests, day in and day out. The guests are clearly sharing their experience online with everybody. It’s just a phenomenal thing when people think highly of you and will take the time to do that. We look at the reviews as stories for their time invested in us. It shows that they are pleased with our service and their experiences.”
When Jamie’s father George Dodd started the dealership in 1956, a little bit of luck smiled on the new dealership. George Dodd was good friends with RV industry legend Bill Gorman, who was an industry consultant that taught dealers throughout the country how to better sell RVs. Gorman convinced Dodd to start an RV dealership in the southeastern area of Virginia.
Dodd knew that to be successful in business, he had to get a good partnership from the beginning. He saw Fleetwood, an industry giant in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s and would not give up on his pursuit.
“When my dad first started the business, there were so many brands to pick from, just like there are today,” Jamie Dodd says. “He selected Fleetwood RV – they were the leader in the industry – and he was very persistent to acquire a Fleetwood franchise. There were a number of franchises available, but he pushed hard to be with the best. It took quite a bit of effort for that decision to consider him and partner with him. That was from the very beginning, starting with a great manufacturer.”
After that relationship started the dealership on good footing, it also developed a relationship with a newer company that was starting to get off the ground. It was called Thor Industries.
“Thor grew into a behemoth of companies and had the support of product knowledge and a lot of things right,” Jamie Dodd says. “From there, we had Keystone in the early 2000s and they blossomed after Thor bought them in 2002. I look at these relationships with these key manufacturers and they picked us. We have been blessed with great brands.”
In recent years, Dodd RV has partnered with Forest River, which also has grown into a mammoth-sized company and Grand Design five years ago, at its inception. Grand Design was recently acquired by Winnebago Industries.
A loyal group of customers also helps when building a brand and becoming the No. 1 customer satisfaction dealer throughout the United States.
“We’ve also been blessed with repeat customers and referrals from family, friends and neighbors,” Dodd says. “We’ve had the great brands for folks to choose from and have had lots of repeat buyers and strong customer service. We’ve serviced a family from young first timers with a pop-up camper all the way up to a motorhome and then, when they get older, all the way back down.”
Dodd RV has about 250 units on its lot, which bulks up to about 275 during the winter months. In the state of Virginia, there are 51 RV dealerships and more than 330 RV businesses. To be named the best customer service business in the country also means to be named the best in the state. When each business is essentially trying to do the same thing, Dodd RV has had to find a way to set itself apart from the competition.
“It starts from the top. We really want to take excellent care of our guests. We train everyone to make sure our guests are happy,” Dodd says. “We do a lot of things for guests that aren’t required. We just value the people that have decided to come and visit us. They have so many choices today with the internet opening up purchasing options. So, we really do try to think of the relationships for the long haul and invest in them in as many ways as we can.
“It’s also about investing in our people so they have a positive experience - investing in our team. We have a significant amount of training. We’ve done training with Disney, Chick-Fil-A. That training is all about things to do for exceptional customer service. I don’t know if our competitors are doing that – I know they’re doing product training, but we do a significant amount of customer service training as well.”
Operations Manager Brian Doss agrees. When everyone in the company feels both integral to the day-to-day business, as well as dedicated to make sure the customers feel valued, everybody wins, he says.
“I would say probably the biggest thing we do here is empowering the employees to take care of the customers and making sure they have the tools and resources they need to handle them. Basically, from the top ownership down, the message has been no matter what position or role, we all know we’re there to serve the customer and make sure they’re satisfied and the entire theme and focus is from top to bottom. The employees know that that’s what they’re supposed to do.”