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 .
Wed May 24, 2017
In this new age of technology, the majority of customers are going online first to research, shop around and receive quotes for the newest models.
With this focus on online presence comes opportunities for RV dealerships throughout the country to improve their online presence and make sure that customer service isn’t lost when face to face encounters don’t happen.
Lane Bell of Bell Camper Sales in Bartlesville, Oklahoma says the vast majority of his customers are online, which has changed the way he and his dealership do business.
“The internet is a big part of our business,” Bell says. “I would say 90 to 95 percent of our customers shop online first. They get on the website and see the features, they send in their information, get credit checks.”
The online-first mentality has provided some definite benefits and drawbacks for the company. One of the best things about the online presence is it has expanded the company’s scope toward the entire United States, whereas beforehand, it was all about location and word of mouth.
“(The internet) definitely broadens it,” Bell says. “That’s how we’ve got people from New Jersey and New Mexico to come down and make a purchase. People will drive 500 miles to get a great deal on a trailer.”
However, one drawback to the focus on the web for the customer is the reduced ability for the salesmen and the employees to sell themselves to the customers. Instead, the entire first impression and, oftentimes, the whole selling process, boils down to how the website can sell the company.
“They don’t know about our reputation,” Bell says. “You have to keep all of your website and what you’re displaying on there, it becomes even more vitally important. We treat all that very seriously. Another thing I’ve found out from my lead salesman is how many deals he’s closed via text. The first impressions is all you get in this case.”
Bell is the third generation of his family to own and operate the RV business. His grandfather started the company in 1967, and it was passed on to his father and now to him. In 2017, the dealership is celebrating 50 years in business and Bell says there are some customers who have stayed with the company for all 50 years.
“We have an excellent reputation for service, sales and customer service,” he says. “We have people who are third generation buyers of Bell Camper Sales, where their whole family has bought campers from us. We’re pretty proud of that.”
Bell is also the Oklahoma state delegate to the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association, where he represents the state to the national association. He says the state’s current trend is the smaller travel trailers and other less expensive towables.
“We haven’t done as many big fifth wheels as in years past,” he says. “We’re seeing the 24- to 28-foot travel trailers are what everyone seems to getting right now. We hope that turns around some.”
Bell says in the 50 years the company has been in business, there are some things that have changed very little – being the focus on the customer and the attempts to create a family-friendly atmosphere that welcomes the new buyer.
The newest change for the company is a campground that Bell has installed next to the dealership in March, which includes about 30 sites. Bell says he started the campground because of the customers who travel far to buy or those who travel in to get repairs done.
“It’s another department for us. We have the sales, parts, service, finance and now the campground department,” Bell says. “A lot of our customers want to stay at our campground for a week and a half and go on traveling. It helps bring customers from farther away to stay here while they get used to their trailer. It’s not a destination campground. It’s just for someone who wants an express campground.”