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RV Business Announces 2009 Top 50 Dealer Awards

August 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

rvbtop50logo-smallRV Business today (Aug. 31)  has announced selections for the 2nd Annual RV Business Top 50 Dealer Awards, which are based on the nominations of North American RV manufacturers and are to be presented on the evening of Wed., Oct. 7, at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas during the annual RV Dealers International Convention/Expo.

A volunteer panel of industry veterans concluded its review of dealer applications on Aug. 21 at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., keeping a keen eye on dealers’ overall focus on professionalism, association activities, civic involvement, best practices and consumer care.

Above all, RVB Publisher Sherman Goldenberg maintains, the mission of the Top 50 program is to continue to remind individual dealers – and the industry at large – of the intent and specific recommendations of the Go RVing Coalition’s Committee on Excellence and, beyond that, to give attendees at the Recreation Vehicle Dealer Association’s (RVDA) Con/Expo a chance to relax and reflect on a year that was trying at best.

“We had an overwhelming response from our manufacturer nominees this year,” said Goldenberg. “The number of applicants received was about 40% more than what we had in 2008. Before judging even started, we considered this year’s program a success, and that was largely due to the many quality dealerships submitting applications. Because there were so many worthy RV dealers who applied, it was a much more difficult selection process this time around, and, unfortunately, we weren’t able to include everyone who applied.”

“The judges did take a very good look at all the application materials dealers sent in, and it was a very close race,” adds BJ Thompson, president of BJ Thompson Associates Inc., whose Mishawaka, Ind.-based agency oversees the application process for RVB. “We encourage all participating dealers, whether they were selected or not, to reapply next year.”

RVB Top 50 dealers are not ranked, although 10 Blue Ribbon retailers are singled out for special recognition. In addition, a Dave Altman Award for lifetime achievement in RV retailing and exceptional corporate citizenship will also be presented to one of the Blue Ribbon dealers at this year’s RVBT50 dinner at which Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee, the former — and possibly future — Republican presidential candidate  will be keynote speaker.

“Given the current national political climate and the ongoing debate between the two political parties — and the ways in which these debates directly impact the recreational vehicle industry  — we consider Mr. Huckabee an excellent and thought-provoking choice for an enjoyable evening in Las Vegas,” said Goldenberg. “And that goes for industry people of all political persuasions.”

The following U.S. and Canadian retailers are the recipients of the 2009 RV Business Top 50 Dealer Awards (in unranked, alphabetical order):

  •      Aberdeen RV Center, Aberdeen, MS
  •      Aloha RV, Albuquerque, NM
  •      Altman’s Winnebago, Carson, CA
  •      American RV, Grand Rapids, MI
  •      Apache Village RV Center, Hazelwood, MO
  •      ArrKann Trailer & RV Centre, Edmonton, AB
  •      Beckley’s Camping Center, Thurmont, MD
  •      Big Country RV, Bend, OR
  •      Bill Plemmons RV World, Rural Hall, NC
  •      Boat N RV Superstores, Rockwood, Tenn.
  •      Can-Am RV Centre, London, ON
  •      Carolina Coach & Camper, Claremont, NC
  •      Coachlight RV, Carthage, MO
  •      Coates Trailer Sales, Columbus, MN
  •      Colonial Airstream, Lakewood, NJ
  •      Crown RV, Conyers, GA
  •      Curtis Trailers, Portland, OR
  •      Dandy RV Superstore, Anniston, AL
  •      Dixie RV Superstore, Newport News, VA
  •      Dodd RV, Yorktown, VA
  •      General RV, Wixom, MI
  •      Giant RV, Montclair, CA
  •      Greeneway Campers, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
  •      Guaranty RV, Junction City, OR
  •      Hilltop Trailer Sales, Fridley, MN
  •      Ketelsen Campers of Colorado, Wheat Ridge, CO
  •      Kings Campers, Wausaw, WI
  •      Lazydays RV Supercenter, Seffner, FL
  •      Little Dealer Little Prices, Phoenix, AZ
  •      Mike Thompson’s RV Super Stores, Santa Fe Springs, CA
  •      Modern Trailer Sales, Anderson, IN
  •      Mount Comfort RV, Greenfield, IN
  •      Parkview RV, Smyrna, DE
  •      PleasureLand RV Centers, St. Cloud, MN
  •      Poulsbo RV, Kent, WA
  •      Quality RV, Draper, UT
  •      Reines RV Center, Manassas, VA
  •      Richardson’s RV, Sun City, CA
  •      Rick’s RV Center, Joliet, IL
  •      Roy Robinson RV, Marysville, WA
  •      RV America Inc., Johnstown, CO
  •      Steinbring Motorcoach, Garfield, MN
  •      Tennessee RV Sales & Service, Knoxville, TN
  •      Terrell Camping Center, Terrell, NC
  •      Thompson Family RV, Davenport, IA
  •      Tom Johnson’s Camping Center, Marion, NC
  •      Topper’s Camping Center, Waller, TX
  •      Trafford’s RV, Center Conway, NH
  •      Veurinks’ RV Center, Grand Rapids, MI
  •      Woody’s RV World, Red Deer, AB

Building on last year’s format, which appears to have worked rather well for those involved, RV Business Top 50 Dealer Award honorees will be promoted in the national press, in dealers’ hometown newspapers and in the pages and websites — of Affinity’s trade and consumer magazines: RV Business, Trailer Life, MotorHome, Highways, Coast to Coast and Camping Life.

Underwriting this year’s program are Platinum co-sponsors ADP Lightspeed, Salt Lake City, UT; Blue Ox, Pender, NE; Coach-Net, Lake Havasu, AZ; Cummins Onan, Minneapolis, MN.; Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., Gaffney, SC, RV Trader and RVTraderOnline.com, Norfolk, VA, and Ultra-Fab Products, Elkhart, IN, while Protective Asset Protection Division, Chesterfield, MO, is a Gold sponsor.

Tickets for the $120-a-plate dinner ($99 for RVDA members, Con/Expo exhibitors and Top 50 dealer guests) are available through RVBUSINESS.com’s registration link (http://www.rvbusiness.com/top-50-dealer-awards/2009-registration-form/).

“All in all, we can’t imagine that anyone attending the RVDA Con/Expo wouldn’t want to take the opportunity to mix with Mr. Huckabee and their industry peers at the cocktail party prior to our dinner and to hear Mr. Huckabee speak on the hot topics of the day at the dinner itself, regardless of their political persuasion,” said Goldenberg. “And, of course, we’ll honor our dealers, one by one, at the dinner as well, giving everyone a chance to reflect on the professionalism for which we’re trying to help raise the bar in this industry.”

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ADP Lightspeed Helps Dealers Find Hidden Cash

August 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

adp-lightspeedEditor’s Note: The following posting is one in a series of four articles provided by ADP Lightspeed on how RV dealers can increase cash flow in their different departments. This installment, written by Hal Ethington, focuses on service. Along with the articles the company is having webinars, which cover the information in the articles and show how they can be implemented. Here is a link to the next one, which is scheduled for Tuesday: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/703312875.

Service managers, this one’s for you. The owner and the GM both think that service can’t make money. You know it can, you think you have but you just don’t know where it is. Here are some places to look:

Completed operations. This is your inventory of finished operations. You roll it out the door, park it in the lot call the customer and then…? Do you know what happens? Do you know if the money ever came in? In a shop I looked at recently I found 1,300 RO’s open and unpaid in the system. One thousand three hundred! I looked for the units, and found 98. In other words, over 1,200 RO’s with no unit to be found, and never paid. Total revenue involved? About $300,000.

Further study found that about 1/3 of these missing units were customer pay, 1/3 were internal and 1/3 were warranty. For the customer pay, we found most were actually in-house warranty where the customer was not required to pay. Most should have been charged back to the original tech, but nobody ever got around to it, and the second tech was compensated at the dealership’s expense. Bad. And finally there was a substantial group that were simple theft (customer got the keys and drove away). Poor control over the delivery process had cost this shop $70,000.

The 400 uncashiered internal RO’s were a different problem. Much of it was installation of accessories to units that were sold to customers, so the parts and labor were never added to the deal – but the parts and labor went to the customer! A loss of revenue to the shop of about $100,000.

And the final group, the warranty piece. $80,000 in stale warranty that had lapsed because nobody ever got around to filing the claim. Unit was returned to the customer at no charge, but the warranty was never filed, and never collected.

So why did this loss of $300,000 happen? Mostly because of poor controls. You, the service manager, must be constantly checking to see that you get paid for every piece of work you do. And that fork-lift time for the sales department? Bill it.

So you can start by cleaning up your inventories. Yes, inventories, plural. You have quite a few. Let’s take a look at some others.

First, the obvious. Tech Time. It is an inventory of hours. Track those available hours, and make sure you are getting saleable hours out of each available hour. Become familiar with efficiency and productivity. Know who is efficient (saleable hours produced / actual hours logged in on the jobs), and productivity (actual hours in the jobs / available hours in the store). Efficiency tells you how well your tech can do the work, and productivity tells you how much of the day they are actually turning wrenches. A slow tech, little training and few tools, is costing you money and using up your customers. A super tech, who works fast but is a rag-flipper half the time, is again, taking up space. Measure output, and re-train or cull low performers.

Now, on the other end, getting customers in the door: Pre-paid maintenance. Get the service-work pipeline full and flowing by selling pre-paid maintenance up front. People love it, and they love the perks they get when they come in to use it. Check your state laws, and if you can do it, get on it. Don’t know how? Ask around. Join a 20-group. Ask your buds in another state. It works.

Sell Hours. One quarter hour more per RO means about $50,000 more per year in revenue. Do the 360 walk-a-round. There is always another quarter hour if you just look for it.

Little things: Shop supplies. Ask the tech for the empty can of WD-40 before giving out a new one. Keep fasteners, clips and hardware where you can see who is dipping in. Watch bulk oil. Move to quarts if you can, charge the whole quart and give the customer the covered can with the leftovers. If your state allows, charge shop supplies on the RO. Get a list of those common supplies and post it by the check-out station. Tell you cashier to point to it when asked about the charge (the average dealership gets about $20,000 per year for shop supplies). Never Never Never allow techs to pull their own parts. Go through the parts guys and get it on paper – always. Keep the shop clean and give customers a view of it. Let the techs know that they are always in the spotlight, and they are one of the store’s most valuable assets. They will love it. So will your customers.

Most Important Thing for today is: Always watch for cash. Create the things that create cash (get units in, do work, get units out), convert your inventories into cash (quickly deliver finished operations to customers), and collect cash (perfect warranties, no PO errors).

Do this. Look for cash. It is lying all around you. Turn your shop into a cash cow. It can be done.

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Huckabee Highlighting RVB Top 50 Dealer Awards

August 7, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

 

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee

Despite the headwinds of 2009, RVBusiness is turning the corner on the second annual RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards after having gone to manufacturers earlier this year for nominations of their best dealers in terms of consumer care, civic involvement and general professionalism.

A number of applications are in hand and a host of nominated retailers, as has been the case for so many business people this year, are currently scrambling to submit theirs. “I can report at this point that things are going well,” says RVBusiness Publisher Sherman Goldenberg, who is overseeing the second annual RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards program on behalf of the industry’s flagship trade journal. “And we’ll continue to flex with the times and bend that deadline to get as many of those last-minute applications as we can before turning them over later this month for review by our panel of experts.”

The Top 50, like last year, will be not be ranked in any sort of order, says Goldenberg, but will be presented as a group in alphabetical order at a reception and dinner at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 7, during the annual RV Dealers International Convention/Expo, sponsored by the Fairfax, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).  But five of the Top 50 will receive special recognition as Blue Ribbon dealers and one above the rest receives the Dave Altman Award, which goes to an exceptional corporate citizen.

 Appearing as keynote speaker at this year’s dinner is former – and possibly future – Republican presidential candidate and Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee, who will more than likely have a few things to say about the current economic and political landscape.

“All in all, we can’t imagine that anyone attending the RVDA Con/Expo wouldn’t want to take the opportunity to mix with Mr. Huckabee and their industry peers at the cocktail party prior to our dinner and to hear Mr. Huckabee speak on the hot topics of the day at the dinner itself, regardless of their political persuasion,” said Goldenberg. “And, of course, we’ll honor our dealers, one by one, at the dinner as well, giving everyone a chance to reflect on the professionalism for which we’re trying to help raise the bar in this industry.”

The bottom line of the Top 50 program, he maintained, is to continue to remind individual dealers – and the industry at large – of the intent and specific recommendations of the Go RVing Coalition’s Committee on Excellence.

 “I don’t think there is ever a bad time to be talking about excellence and customer service and treating people right, especially customers,” said BJ Thompson, president of BJ Thompson Associates, the Mishawaka, Ind., agency that is again working with RVBusiness on the Top 50. “So, whether it’s a good economy or a bad economy, this is a good program and helpful to the industry.”

Underwriting this year’s program are RVB’s “Leadership Alliance” sponsors for 2009, including “Platinum” co-sponsors ADP Lightspeed, Salt Lake City, Utah; Blue Ox, Pender, Neb.; Coach-Net, Lake Havasu, Ariz.; Cummins Onan, Minneapolis, Minn.; Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., Gaffney, S.C., RV Trader and RVTraderOnline.com, Norfolk, Va., and Ultra-Fab Products, Elkhart, Ind., while Protective Asset Protection Division, Chesterfield, Mo., is a “Gold” sponsor.

Tickets for the $120-a-plate dinner ($99 for RVDA members and Con/Expo exhibitors) are available through RVBUSINESS.com’s registration link (http://www.rvbusiness.com/top-50-dealer-awards/2009-registration-form/).

Online versions of the applications can be downloaded by linking directly to http://www.rvbusiness.com/top-50-dealer-awards/2009-top-50-dealer-application/

Building on last year’s format, which appears to have worked rather well for those involved, RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Award honorees will be promoted in the national press, in dealers’ hometown newspapers and in the pages – and on the websites — of Affinity’s trade and consumer magazines, RVBusiness, Trailer Life, MotorHome, Highways, Coast to Coast and Camping Life.

However, publicity is only part of the incentive for participating in this bar-raising national promotion, says Thompson.  “In talking with different size dealers last year, whether they be small, medium or large-size dealers,” said Thompson, “we did get some distinctly different responses. The smaller dealers were surprised that they were genuinely in the running to be recognized for their attention to customer satisfaction. They appreciated having the opportunity to be recognized for their hard work and their investment in customer service.

“The medium and larger dealers seemed to have their own unique set of issues in assuring good customer service and excellence in their operations,” added Thompson, who will be joined in hosting the event by Jim Sheldon, a Monaco RV LLC executive and current chairman of Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “Because they were larger, they weren’t able to have that one-on-one experience as principals because of their size. It was a unique challenge to them to drive down their values to the people in their dealer operations who were working with customers, whether it was sales or service or otherwise. It would take a lot of work and investment on their part to have that personalized service on a larger scale. So, to be recognized for actually accomplishing excellence on a larger scale for them was also satisfying.”

Leveling the playing field again this year is the fact that larger multi-store retailers, regardless of how many locations they have, can have only one store recognized in the RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Award program.

“It was satisfying for those of us who were involved in the development of the program to see that most dealers were genuinely appreciative of having the spotlight put on them,” added Thompson, current chairman of RVIA’s Public Relations Committee. “I think it’s always a good thing to put a spotlight on people who are doing things right and doing them well. Recognizing outstanding achievement in customer service and dealer operations not only lifts the dealership, but when they are spotlighted and shown off to the world, it lifts up the entire industry.”

 

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ADP Lightspeed Looks to Maximize Dealer Profits

July 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

logo-11ADP Lightspeed, a leading provider of computerized dealer management solutions and industry data for powersports dealerships, has released the first of its “Find Hidden Cash” white paper series. 

The articles are written by senior industry expert Hal Ethington and are available to the entire industry at its website, www.adplightspeed.com/findhiddencash/index.php?type=rv. 

Beginning with the release of this first white paper, and continuing through October  ADP Lightspeed will will review specific information on how to maximize profit in a dealership’s parts, service, sales and customer relationship management (CRM) operations. 

The first article focuses on the parts department and features impactful information on: 

  • Purchasing processes. 
  • New selling opportunities. 
  • Pricing techniques. 
  • Obsolete inventory controls. 

“In discussing this series of white papers with our dealers, we have already received tremendous demand for this information,” said Laurn Rice, general manager of ADP Lightspeed. “As these difficult economic times continue, it becomes increasingly critical that every business partner in the powersports industry contributes to making the dealers successful. We are very excited to be part of that effort.” 

ADP Lightspeed, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a part of ADP Dealer Services, which provides integrated computing solutions to more than 25,000 auto, truck, motorcycle, Powersports and recreational vehicle dealers throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. ADP, with approximately $8 billion in revenues and 550,000 clients, is one of the largest providers of a broad range of premier mission-critical, cost effective transaction processing and information-based business solutions in selected markets on a global basis.

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Editorial Series to Help RV Dealers Find Hidden Cash

July 7, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

logo-1ADP Lightspeed, a provider of computerized dealer management solutions and industry data for adventure sports dealerships, has announced its new initiative to help all RV dealers increase liquidity by identifying and recovering cash from frozen dealership assets.

Using data collected from the company’s network of thousands of dealers, the company will publish four department-specific articles that focus on common cash management mistakes made at the department level, according to a news release. 

“If our dealer customers are not successful, we will not be successful,” stated Laurn Rice, general manager of ADP Lightspeed. “We are facing serious economic news that affects us all. Through our visibility in the market, we have access to information that we feel can help dealers find hidden cash in their parts department, sales processes, service operations and more. Right now dealers need every dollar of their business to be working for them, these articles are one way we want to help.” 

The articles are written by senior industry expert Hal Ethington and will be available to the entire industry through their website adplightspeed.com/findhiddencash. Each month, from July to October, ADP Lightspeed will post a new article which will review specific information on how to maximize profit in a dealership’s parts, service, sales and customer relationship management (CRM) operations. 

“We’re not saying we can solve the economic woes of our industry,” said Ethington, “but we do have important and unique information that could help our dealers secure some extra cash flow during these difficult times. If dealers look to the numbers and facts we will provide, it will help their dealerships run at peak performance at a difficult time for the entire industry.” 

ADP Lightspeed, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a part of ADP Dealer Services, which provides integrated computing solutions to over 25,000 auto, truck, motorcycle, powersports and recreational vehicle dealers throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. ADP has approximately $8 billion in revenues and 550,000 clients.

For more information www.adplightspeed.com.

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