Motorhome USA: A New Online Retail Outlet
It took Robert Vander Boegh six months and $375 to sell his 37-foot Winnebago Itasca through a website called MotorhomeUSA.com. But if you ask him about the experience, he’ll tell you it was time and money well spent.
“It went real smooth,” said Vander Boegh, 76, of Pocatello, Idaho.
Unlike standard online classified listings, which require the seller to field countless telephone or e-mail queries, MotorHomeUSA acts as the seller’s agent, fielding incoming phone calls and prequalifying prospective buyers by running credit checks on them and referring them to companies that can help them obtain financing.
Vander Boegh said he liked the convenience of having MotorHomeUSA.com screen prospective buyers on his behalf so he only had to deal with qualified buyers who were willing to travel to Idaho at their own expense to view his motorhome. He sold his 1999 Class A motorhome to the third prospective buyer for $52,500.
MotorhomeUSA.com was founded in Austin, Texas in 1996 by Roger Agnew, 52, a former radio disc jockey, marketing consultant and RV dealership sales manager who has had a passion for RVing since he was 13, when he first subscribed to Motor Home magazine. Agnew started the website after working for two years as a sales manager for Bay Area RV in League City, Texas, just south of Houston.
Although a number of websites provide classified RV listings, they typically leave it up to the sellers to field incoming calls and charge sellers’ fees based on the amount of time their ads remain posted.
Agnew has carved a niche for MotorHomeUSA.com by charging consumers a flat fee of $375, which keeps the ad posted until the vehicle is sold. Dealers of both new and used motorhomes pay $75 to $150 for the service, depending on the volume of ads they place with the website.
“We have five salespeople and six editors who do the editing of photos,” Agnew said, adding that MotorHomeUSA works with as many as 10 freelance photographers around the country who also fill out detailed questionnaires based on their visual inspection of each vehicle. Vehicles are rated on a scale of one to 10, and only vehicles rating 8 or higher are accepted for posting. For example, vehicles with pet odors or odors from smoking are not accepted.
Agnew said this approach is intended to ensure there is a high quality of new and used vehicles offered for sale on the website and to avoid surprises for prospective buyers. The full content of the questionnaires is disclosed to prospective buyers once a price has been negotiated, but before the buyer invests any travel time to personally inspect the vehicle. The idea, again, is to avoid any surprises, Agnew said, adding that most people who are serious enough to negotiate a price end up purchasing the vehicle. If the prospective buyer negotiates a price, makes a deposit to hold the vehicle and then, for whatever reason, decides not to purchase the vehicle after inspecting it, the deposit is refunded, Agnew said.