NEWS IN FOCUS
RVB Top 50 Dealer Awards Set for RVDA Show
Judging by feedback garnered over the past year as well as rising participation levels, the annual RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards program has staked its claim among North American RV retailers as a valuable means of recognizing a dealership’s commitment to excellence in customer service and an array of other professional skill sets, according to the program’s organizers.
Again this year the Top 50 RV Dealer Awards will be presented before an anticipated standing-room-only crowd on the evening of Nov. 9 at Bally’s on the Las Vegas Strip during the 2016 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo hosted by the U.S. Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), the RVDA of Canada as well as the Mike Molino RV Learning Center.
“We think that these awards, more and more, are serving an important purpose not only in helping the industry set benchmarks and instill pride in best professional practices, but in generating a positive wave of publicity for the industry at large and the Top 50 dealers themselves as they promote their awards at dealerships, retail shows, on websites, in press releases and in their local and regional advertising,” said RVB Publisher Sherman Goldenberg, a partner with Vice President of Sales Beverly Gardner in Elkhart, Ind.-based G&G Media Group LLC, publisher of RVBusiness and Woodall’s Campground Management magazines.
Nominated dealers are again invited to fill out detailed questionnaires mailed out in July that in themselves are an important part of the process, although applicants won’t necessarily receive lower scores for declining to answer a question or two about which they may be uncomfortable for any variety of reasons.
Completed applications are due by mid-August so that an independent Top 50 “panel of experts” can sit down in early September at Elkhart’s RV/MH Hall of Fame to review them and select the Top 50 dealers based largely on the pursuit of excellence at every level.
The panel of experts, at the same time, will also single out five exemplary “Blue Ribbon” retailers and two special award recipients to be honored with the “Arthur J. Decio Humanitarian Award sponsored by Ally Financial Inc.” and the “Gaylord Maxwell Innovation Award sponsored by Lippert Components Inc.”
Again partnering with RVBusiness for the Top 50 Dealer Awards is BJ Thompson Associates, also headquartered in Elkhart and whose president, veteran PR agent BJ Thompson, serves as administrator for the Top 50 program that is sponsored this year by Ally Financial Inc., Cummins Power Generation, Dicor Corp., Dometic Corp., Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., Lippert Components Inc., NTP-STAG, Protective Asset Protection and Wells Fargo CDF.
“As we’ve said since day one about the Top 50 Dealer Awards, they are not based on the size of the dealership nor their sales volume,” said Thompson, a former long-time chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Public Relations Committee. “The awards speak to the dealership’s professionalism, the quality of service they provide to their customers – as well as other dealers’ customers at times – and their customers’ satisfaction with that service.”
Also important to the panel of experts, which has been expanded this year to include more industry people, are considerations like the level of service technician training plus civic and charitable involvement.
Thompson said the volunteer panel, whose members’ names are not released, is comprised of longstanding and respected industry insiders. “Not only do they enhance the brain power of the panel, they’re needed because we’re expecting to handle a greater volume of applications, and many of those we’re receiving are of greater content,” explained Thompson. “We have several dozen presentations in thick binders. Quite frankly, the dealers have been trying harder to provide a professionally prepared, well-organized application that conveys how professional they are in conducting their operation.”
The net result as the program matures, he added, is that the expert judges’ deliberations tend to get more “time-consuming and thought-provoking.”
Thompson, for his part, says the awards are gaining traction at a time of heightened interest in consumer care. “And I think that it’s an outgrowth of many different things,” he continued. “But I can say as an industry observer and former Committee on Excellence task force participant that it’s quite satisfying. We’re seeing indications from manufacturers and dealers who, even when they’re already doing a pretty good job, see the need for improvement with regard to consumer care.