Half of the households planning to become first-time RV buyers recently told researchers from the University of Michigan that they’ll rent an RV first. So should RV dealers focus more on rentals in order to expand the number of RV owners? Opinions are divided, according to a report in RV Executive Today.
Although no more than 5% to 10% of the renters at United RV Center in Fort Worth, Texas, become buyers, dealer Kevin White believes that percentage will grow. United RV rents both towables and motorhomes and has a program allowing customers to apply their rental fees toward an eventual RV purchase.
The dealership only rents what it sells and competes with rentals-only operations in the Dallas- Fort Worth market by “not nickel and diming rental customers with a generator fee” and other add-ons, says Bill White, Kevin White’s brother.
But John Myers of Myers RV Center Inc., Albuquerque, N.M., believes converting rental customers will always be a challenge. “We were in the rental business for about 20 years, and although a lot of people said they were interested in renting first before buying, we saw very few examples of that happening,” he said.
“It sounds good in theory, but when customers find they can’t necessarily rent the same configuration of RV that they want to buy, they change their mind,” says Myers. “For the most part, rental customers are rental customers, and buyers are buyers.”