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ROUTE 66 Adds Education Focus to Annual Rally

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September 29, 2017 by   Comments Off on ROUTE 66 Adds Education Focus to Annual Rally

The ROUTE 66 RV Network will institute a new format for its Oct. 2-4 rally in Colorado intent on bringing dealer members a more education-focused format through a series of targeted workshops

“We tweaked the format to offer work sessions throughout the rally, each with 30 to 40 people,” reported Rob Merrill, partner for ROUTE 66, one of the industry’s leading independent dealer groups with nearly 150 locations throughout North America. “There will be a heavy emphasis on new proprietary technology for our dealers that was developed at the behest of our 12-member dealer advisory board. The technology will allow us to aggregate collective business data from members so we can analyze and leverage that information to help them better manage their business.

“We’re definitely trending toward having more business engagement with our dealers. This new technology will allow us to dig deeper into understanding our buying, selling and marketing behaviors. That data can then be put to use by our dealers and also at the organizational level.”

For the second straight year, the ROUTE 66 RV Network Rally will convene at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, Colo. Merrill estimates that attendance will equal last year’s totals that included 240 dealer personnel from 70 of the Kansas City-based network’s approximately 100 member-dealers.

Rob Merrill

“We consistently draw 75% to 80% of our members,” Merrill said. “We pull the majority of our dealers because we are very respectful or their time. We like to say that we take five full work days of information and consolidate into 1 1/2 really long days. Our dealers know that their time will not be wasted.

“They also enjoy the reunion aspect of the rallies. There is a real sense of camaraderie with our members, and the rally gives them a chance to catch up.”

Merrill related that another key topic of discussion during the rally would be the ongoing consolidation taking place across all sectors of the RV industry.

“Route 66 started in 2003 to preempt the inevitable consolidation that we predicted would take place in the RV space,” he said. “Well, that has happened, and its impacting retail, OEM, supply and distribution. I think that we successfully pulled together a group of the best independent RV dealers in anticipation of that consolidation. Our independent dealers function as a collective business, which, in turn, gives us more strength.”

One of the “highest functioning events,” according to Merrill will be a nearly a 90-minute open forum for dealers. “It’s a walls down, roof off, town hall format. You get a real idea of what’s on people’s minds.”

The rally will culminate with appointment of six new members to the advisory board along with presentation of this year’s winner of the Larry Coker Award. The award recipient is selected each year by the network’s leadership and is named for the late Austin, Texas, retailer who was instrumental early on in supporting the 13-year-old network, which today includes 150 outlets operated by independent affiliated retailers.

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