RV industry leaders achieved a feat nearly two decades in the making by sharing a Model RV State Franchise law last week.
The new model legislation is meant to encourage all U.S. states to adopt some form of RV-specific franchising laws, and to clarify the relationship between RV dealer and manufacturer. The RV Industry Association and RV Dealers Association collaborated on the language and provisions, and shared the new model law with their members on June 22.
RVIA Director of Government Affairs Mike Ochs said it’s important for RV dealers to have their own set of laws separate from auto dealers because of the unique relationship RV dealers have with multiple manufacturers.
He said the auto franchise laws many dealers operate under are based on a system of one manufacturer to one dealer, which makes sense in the auto world but not the RV industry.
“That’s not the case in the RV industry; you’ll have a dealer that carries models from seven or eight manufacturers,” Ochs said “The exclusivity isn’t there, so the auto franchise laws that take into account one-to-one representation don’t work.”
Ochs said the RVIA has been successful working with local governments to enact these RV-specific franchise laws in nearly 20 states so far. Many RV dealerships in the majority of states still operate under auto franchise laws.
“Each one has its own way of dealing with the manufacturer and dealer,” Ochs said.
The RVIA announced the new model law “is intended to serve as a framework upon which future RV specific franchise laws can be enacted.”
RVIA and RVDA leaders have long advocated for a change in the way states handle RV dealership franchise laws. Ochs said he and the RVIA team have been working with industry partners on the draft legislation since 1999.
Efforts ramped up in the last two years, Ochs said, after he connected with RVDA leaders at the RVDA convention in 2018. RVDA President Phil Ingrassia said he is proud to have a framework like this on the books.
“Coming in with at least a base document can speed the process along for people who seek the legislation,” Ingrassia said. “This provides a good base, and both our government relations committee and the group at RVIA, everyone’s got their own ideas of what should be in it.”
Ingrassia said the new model law also provides framework for introducing protections specifically for trailers or towables, which are not included in auto franchise laws.
“For states that do not have towable protections, or towables are not covered, this certainly is a plus for them,” Ingrassia said. “It clarifies certain parts of the dealer-manufacturer relationship.”
Ingrassia said he hopes the uniform framework can also eliminate the issues some suppliers or manufacturers face working in states with conflicting laws on the books.
“You want to make sure everybody can operate in the state at an optimal level,” he said. “That’s really what it’s about is creating a good business environment in the state that’s understandable so that everyone knows what the rules to the game are.”
The model law is available for members to access on the RVDA and RVIA sites.