Opinion: How Important Is Offering Roadside Assistance?

A picture of Brown and Brown's Shawn Moran, a speaker at the 2021 RVDA conference/expo

As the RV selling season rolls along, many F&I professionals begin to skip some winter training knowledge and skills they learned. During the winter, Brown & Brown training sessions greatly emphasized Lifestyle Selling and explained how a roadside-like contract would fit into the selling style.

We still receive many calls weekly asking how the protection plan is important to an RVer and why the dealership should offer roadside assistance. Let me explain.

Why Offer RV Road Club Coverage?

When a customer hears the word “roadside” during an F&I presentation, the word may bring about thoughts such as, “I have that on my insurance” or “I have AAA or another popular road club product.”

Many F&I professionals themselves do not understand the true benefit of the roadside assistance products available to them. Think for a minute about why a larger RV road club administrator changed its product name to “Camp Assist.” The company changed the name purely because the product’s main purpose is to assist campers in arriving to their camping destination safe and sound.

Let’s dive into this idea for a minute.

We encourage F&I professionals during their initial “meet and greet” to ask customers where their big camping trip will be. The Big Trip is the place most RV buyers have been to once in their life or have seen only in magazines or on Pinterest. Often, the sole reason new RVers bought their coach was to visit their dream location, which was previously unattainable because of price, reservation shortages or some other limiting factor.

The consumers’ excitement of visiting this dream vacation spot starts your path to making truly priceless memories for your customers. When an F&I professional gains this valuable information through conversation, incorporating customers’ Big Trip into your presentation is exciting. The trip finally creates a relatable factor tying your protection plans to something valuable to the customer.

So how does roadside protection fit into the equation?

Most RVers and F&I professionals do not know any RV road club programs’ top three benefits. The first is 24/7 technician help by phone. The Brown & Brown training team sometimes jokes with new F&I personnel that this perk may be called the “Phone A Friend” benefit.

What better peace of mind can you give customers than to know a technician is waiting to take their call and walk them through common first-timer mishaps, such as locating breakers or knowing how to dump the black tank? YouTube videos do not replace an experienced, warm voice on the phone to walking consumers through how to fix common problems.

The second-most used RV road club program benefit is flat tire or tire blowout assistance, again, 24/7.

During training, I love to hear new a F&I professional say, “Why doesn’t the customer just change their own flats with their spare?”

As many industry veterans know, most towable RVs and motorhomes do not include a spare. More important, even fewer have a jack. Recently, our F&I training team conducted a large group training for a dealer, and I posed a question to the F&I and sales departments: “Has anyone ever changed a flat tire on an RV?” The simple response was silence from the audience.

We proceeded to play a video on how to change a flat tire on a 33-foot travel trailer. Most were amazed to know the RV does not include a wrench to remove the lug nuts. More were amazed to learn you could not reach the lug nuts without first using a Philips head screwdriver to remove the cap over the center of the tire.

Next, we watched a video showing a customer needing a breaker bar to loosen the lug nuts with the appropriate side socket. The technician in the video proceeded to pull out a specialized floor jack requiring blocks under it to reach the frame’s height. The technician then hand-cranked over 200 times to lift the RV and remove the tire.

Dealership staff in the room quickly realized average customers could not change a flat tire themselves.

We continued the training segment by asking whether any RV ever breaks down on black top, on a sunny day, in a level parking lot. Again, the room realized most tire failures occur on the edge of the road, on uneven ground, or in rainy or snowy weather, amplifying the difficulty of changing a tire. Quickly, we began to hear from the room, “I could sell this product easily knowing just that.”

We reminded everyone, though, their pitch does not stop there. The RV road club plan would deliver and install the tire for the consumer, whether on the side of the road or in poor weather conditions. Most important, techs will arrive with the proper tools and equipment to get RVers back on the road.

This is when eyes opened wide in the room. Next, we asked who would pay for the tire if the RV road club brought it out. I smiled as I heard shout after shout say, “tire and wheel protection.”

Amazingly, the same epiphany the room had during training will carry over to your RV customers when you combine both offerings. One product finds them help, the other pays for the wheel and tire, so RVers can keep traveling toward their Big Trip destination.

The third-most used RV road club program benefit is mobile technician dispatch.

Service capacity is a concern in many shops, creating a month or longer wait times. In some scenarios, an RV dealership may only accept coaches into service originally bought at their dealership. New RVers may have just one place to seek help when traveling: the mobile RV technician. For the average RVer, how will they know which technicians are reputable and provide quality service? As we know, Google ratings are not always accurate.

The RV road club has spent years vetting and seeking the best mobile techs across America, verifying they have insurance and state-required licensing. We pass this knowledge to our customers. F&I personnel can tell consumers, “Wouldn’t it be great to know that if something happens to your coach on the Big Trip that stops you from camping, a technician is a phone call away to diagnose the situation over the phone?”

If the tech on the phone needs to dispatch a mobile mechanic, they will send someone so your trip is not ruined.

The second epiphany moment is just around the corner.

During the same large group training we mentioned earlier, I asked the group, “Who pays for the mobile tech’s repairs?” The room was quiet, and then one F&I professional said, “The customer’s service contract.” That was the correct answer. It was another wide-eyed moment for the audience.

We now have tied the RV road club to an extended service plan and tire and wheel protection. To state simply, consumers call the RV road club for help, and the club finds them help. The service contract will pay for their mechanical and electrical repairs, and the tire and wheel coverage will pay for new tires and rims. When you put all three products together, you have the perfect trifecta of mechanical, electrical and tire coverage on a coach. The combo is the peace of mind consumers need to make a Big Trip.

RV road club policies provide many more benefits, but those perks are used less often than top three defined here. Please make sure to review your exact policy to determine benefits and liability limits specific to your dealership.

With this approach at hand, most F&I professionals say RV road club contracts, when including cash deals, may quickly overtake their service contract production.

We dare go one step further and remind F&I personnel they need not always sell five-year plans. One-year contracts are great, too. One-year deals enable the customer to renew the contract next year, creating a recurring F&I revenue source for the dealership it previously may not have had. Some dealers even have their business development team contact consumers during the renewal process to pick up leads on possible trade-ins.

The Wrap Up

The key advantage to selling with this method is you can show customers how the product will work in relation to how they will use their RV, eliminating many objections that stem from customers’ misunderstanding of the protection plan’s value. You can define the process to most customers as “true value.” It parallels the excitement tied to the Big Trip.

This selling method also pushes your average-products-sold per deal to three in fast order. In a future article, I will discuss how to wrap both financial and environmental product offerings into your F&I product presentation.

The key takeaway is our RV customers want to join in on the RV lifestyle and create long-lasting memories. We need to listen to them and provide true beneficial protection plans—ones protecting their coaches and their RVing family memories for years and generations to come!


Shawn Moran is the national RV and marine training director with Brown & Brown Insurance, Dealer Services Division. He started his career in 2002 as a business manager at an automotive dealership in upstate New York. In 2003, Moran became a successful finance director for a multilocation RV and marine dealership. In November 2008, he opened his agency, F&I Consulting Unlimited, where he quickly became known for his work ethic and knowledge of the RV industry. In July 2013, Brown & Brown bought the agency, creating the largest RV master general agency in the country. Moran provides personalized finance training to RV business managers. He conducts numerous weekly training sessions with small and large RV groups.

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