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RVDA: Model Dealer Agreement Gives Guidance

Phil Ingrassia

Editor’s Note: The following is a column by Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) President Phil Ingrassia reviewing details of the revised Model Dealer Agreement. 

As RVDA volunteer leaders and staff worked over the past few months to revise the association’s Model Dealer Agreement, it became clear that “model” meant different things to different people.

To clarify, the model dealer agreement is designed to be used as a tool for dealers and manufacturers as they negotiate their business relationship. Using the model agreement is voluntary. It is not a model law or something that RVDA has the power to enforce on any business relationship.

Dealers on the RVDA Industry Relations Committee, chaired by Randy Biles and Debbie Brunoforte, patiently worked with each other and RVDA Director of Legal & Regulatory Affairs Brett Richardson to make the document relevant to the market conditions dealers are facing today.

Since the model was last updated in 2003, state laws have changed, manufacturer policies and procedures have changed, and the Internet has played a larger role in marketing RVs. Dealers can use the model to review their agreements, and it can serve as a starting point for discussion.

What is its value to manufacturers? Reading the model should give them insight into how dealers believe sales territories should be respected, how warranty service should be structured, and a host of other issues the committee (and previous RVDA leaders) have identified as key issues.

Sometimes policies covered by provisions in the model dealer agreement are addressed in separate addendums or procedures manuals set by the manufacturer after an agreement is signed. For instance, service policies are often updated, and it’s not uncommon for them to be outlined in a separate document from the agreement. So,while areas covered in the “model” may not be part of a formal “dealer agreement,” the impact is the same – the agreement and other policies determine how the dealer and manufacturer handle key areas of their business relationship.

Overall, the process of revising the model dealer agreement has been a good exercise for RVDA. Not only did board and committee members spend a lot of time on the revisions, but your representatives on the RVDA Board of Delegates devoted the majority of their last meeting providing input to make it a better document.

The revised RVDA Model Dealer Agreement was approved by the board last month, and distributed to members a few weeks ago. Please take a look and let us know what you think.

Thanks for your support.

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