Welcome back readers. I’m pleased to announce the digital version of the June issue is now available for your reading pleasure. Click here to begin reading RV News magazine.
Opportunities and Threats
In my opinion, one of the biggest events of the year for the industry is taking place August 10-13 in San Diego.
While many things are possible in this twisty, turvy business environment, RVIA’s event planned in August could have an impact that stretches for several years to come and may well impact the future success of our industry in ways people don’t realize.
Like all business opportunities, success at the event depends on who attends and how they choose to capitalize the time spent there.
So what’s happening in August? RVIA’s annual executive conference for the aftermarket is taking place at the Hyatt Regency. It is where CEOs, presidents and other executives meet to have one-on-one private meetings with other executives they either do business with or want to do business with. These meetings, in many ways, set up much of the entire success of the following year for suppliers and aftermarket distributors.
This year for many reasons will be very different. I’ll say it again… very different.
Folks, 2020 is already a year of change. There are immense opportunities. There are also immense threats to our industry.
First, the big opportunity:
Interest in RVing in 2020 will be the highest anyone living has ever seen. I suspect more RVs will be sold than any year prior. Let me explain for my skeptics out there. You know who you are.
Everyone focuses on wholesale shipment reports from RVIA. They are projected to be 340,000 units this year and a far cry from our best year in history. That is the wrong stat to focus on.
RV dealers will run low or will run out of new units this year because manufacturers will not be able to build them quick enough, after losing two months due to shut downs. That is already happening. RV dealer lots are becoming bare. As a result of new unit shortages, used RVs will be in even higher demand. I suspect the RV auction companies’ RV inventory will look like Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard by end of summer.
When you factor in all the used units that will sell this year, it will be difficult to find an RV to buy or sell by end of summer. Even consumer to consumer RV sales are skyrocketing.
Now here is the threat and why San Diego is so important.
With so many RVs (a big number of them used) on the road, and many of them owned by brand new consumers, there is going to be a ton of things breaking.
Speaking of breaking, the parts/accessories supply chains broke with the two-month coronavirus closures. This is a huge deal.
Suppliers who sell parts to RV manufacturers do not have sufficient inventory and won’t get that inventory until it is too late. That means they will send everything they can to the RV manufacturers to keep the lines running and little to the aftermarket.
Who will suffer because of this? Two really important demographics. RV dealerships/repair facilities and RV consumers.
Parts/accessories will be in short supply. The aftermarket will get little to nothing. Dealers and repair shops will not be able to fix RVs in anything remotely close to a timely manner. You might as well forget about Repair Event Cycle Times (RECT).
Heck, even now we are seeing fifth wheel hitch shortages throughout the industry. “Wanna buy an RV? Fine, but we can’t sell you what you need to take it home.”
At the end of summer, (like in August) we may be facing a bunch of very unhappy RV consumers with broken RVs. This will set us up for interesting times in 2021. Our big opportunity will turn into potentially countless dissatisfied people. Those people will tell their friends of their new experience joining the RV lifestyle.
This executive conference in August will be an opportunity for the greatest minds in the aftermarket plus OE suppliers to meet and discuss not only how to potentially address what will certainly be issues come August, but also how to redeem 2021, 2022 and beyond. I’ll quote a former RVIA chairman: “If you are not sitting at the lunch table, you are the lunch on the table.”
I think he is right. If you aren’t at the table in San Diego in August, be prepared to be eaten alive in 2021 from a customer service perspective.
Heck, if I were an executive of an RV manufacturer, or in charge of purchasing at an RV manufacturing company I’d be in San Diego, too. I’d really want to be there if I was in charge of warranty claims at an RV manufacturing company. Please realize that isn’t the original intent of the conference but the opportunities and threats are just too great to miss this opportunity in August. Manufacturers who turn a blind eye to warranty and repair from the aftermarket will feel the RV consumer’s wrath. And their family’s wrath. And their friends’ wrath. And social media’s wrath. You get the picture. Outside the box thinking will be needed at the end of the summer.
To learn more about the conference, click here. Registration is now open for the event. Maybe I’ll see you there.
As always, thanks for reading.