For the eighth consecutive year, the RV Learning Center and the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) have renewed their partnership to provide online training for RV dealership personnel through the Distance Learning Network (DLN). The DLN represents a convenient and cost-effective way to provide dealership training.
Dealers taking a yearly subscription to the DLN receive unlimited access to more than 50 training sessions, coursework reviews, and test preparation sections. They’re available anytime throughout the program year and all a dealer needs for access is a high-speed internet connection.
The 2013-14 DLN program includes a broad curriculum designed to improve the performance of most dealership personnel, including:
• RV Technician Certification Preparation Course: More than 40 hours of instruction will help train and prepare RV service technicians for the RVDA-RVIA RV Service Technician Certification test, and completion fulfills recertification requirements.
• Service Writer/Advisor Course: This three-hour program is ideal for both veteran service writer/advisors and new hires. Presented by service writer/advisor veteran Andrea Blackmon, the program helps prepare your personnel for the RV Learning Center’s Service Writer/Advisor Certification test. Completion of the course counts toward recertification requirements.
• Advanced/Manufacturer Specific Training: Features product-specific training from RV manufacturers and suppliers from within the RV industry.
• RV Greeter – Receptionist Course: A 50-minute program that covers: the importance of customer service; the skills and expectations for the RV receptionist; the importance of making the right first impression; communicating on the phone; handling difficult customers; and organizational techniques for the workplace. The program is suitable for all persons needing customer service skills. The program includes a final exam and certificate of completion.
“Because it’s delivered right to your dealership, this is extremely cost effective training and that is important as dealerships will have more employees to train as the economy improves,” said FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson. “FRVTA also provides mentor support and encouragement throughout the year, once the dealership is signed up for the program.”
“We’re pleased to renew this partnership, because it offers so much value to dealers. If your dealership needs to kick start a training program quickly, this is the way to go,” said RV Learning Center Chairman Jeff Pastore of Hartville RV Center in Hartville, Ohio. “The DLN training model truly simplifies the training process for dealers and offers unparalleled convenience.”
The only requirement to participate is a high-speed internet connection. A video cable connected to a television is also useful for group training. A one-year subscription to the program costs $995 per dealership location. The subscription term is August 1, 2013 – July, 31, 2014.
During the Florida RV Trade Association’s (FRVTA) July 20 board meeting, members approved the Florida RV/Educator Partnership Program, according to the organization’s newsletter.
The goal is to allow RV dealerships to partner with local school districts and colleges to access students in their career and technical (vocational) education programs.
“The program is motivated by the constant calls FRVTA receives asking for help in locating new employees, said FRVTA Training Director Jim Carr. “We will try to access this school-based population one more time and hopefully with good results.”
Carr said there are two major benefits to the program: giving RV dealers the opportunity to form relationships with local schools so they can attract entry-level employees with previous training; and providing local schools a business partner to assist with their career and technical initiatives.
Carr reported that he will be attending in early August the annual conference for the Florida Association of Career and Technical Educators to get the process started.
Other highlights from FRVTA’s board meeting included:
• FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson brought the board up to date on preparations for the 2013 Convention to be held at the Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach.
Marketing Director Dave Kelly gave a report on the 2014 SuperShow. Booths are over 80% sold at this time and the manufacturers’ draw will be held at the state office Aug. 6-8. Contracts for space are running well ahead of last year.
Other highlights included:
• Carr reported that the Distance Learning Network continues to grow. New Mentor Information Notebooks have been sent out that will serve as an excellent guide. The program will also offer LP Gas classes in Tampa and Lake City in the near future.
• FRVTA General Counsel Marc Dunbar reported on scheduled meetings with DMV to discuss consistency of enforcement of offsite premise permits. During the session, he will also discuss consumer complaints regarding misleading advertising of shows.
• The Scholarship Committee awarded 10 full and one part-time scholarships for the upcoming academic year.
The Florida RV Trade Association’s (FRVTA) board, during its July meeting, added 11 new students to the FRVTA Scholarship. According to a press release, the move brings the total number of students on the scholarship program to 26 full-time and three part-time students.
The FRVTA Scholarship began in the fall of 1990 and since that time over 100 students have received an undergraduate degree with the aid of the scholarship. The scholarship pays students $500 per semester or up to $1,000 per year for a total of $4,000 per student. Students must attend an in-state college and must maintain a 3.0 grade point average.
“Every year we get a lot of qualified applicants,” said Nelda Iacono, chairman of the FRVTA Scholarship Committee. “I wish we could give them all scholarships, but I’m real pleased with the applicants we’ve chosen. We base the scholarship not only on academic achievement, but upon financial need and extracurricular activities. I feel this is one of the most important membership benefits our association offers.”
Students currently on the FRVTA Scholarship are Courtney Runte’, Evan Richardson, Ciara Sibbick, Brittani Worden, Ryan Lynch, Cody Cochran, Michael Ryan, Cameron Purton, Charles O’Neil, Benjamin Molay, Courtney Craig, Dalton Dee, Trey Poehlman, Kevin Smith, Alexandra Spitzer, Jessica Williams, Justin Downey-Defretas, Adrienne Gerzeny, April Graham, Irene Medina, Danielle Prunty, Samantha Purton, Marissa Scrofano, Bradley Senderling, Veronica Beltran, Kayley Clay, Lisa Sansbury, Jennifer Postlewaite and Gina Newell.
The Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) will be holding its 33rd Annual State Convention at the Sand Pearl Resort on Clearwater Beach, set to run Sept. 5-8.
According to a press release, this year’s convention will feature the “brightest and best minds in the RV industry” to bring FRVTA members up-to-date on the state of the industry and what to expect in the coming months.
The general session will kick off Friday afternoon with an industry panel offering representatives from every segment of the RV industry. Members of the panel will include: Ernie Schumacher from Bank of America (retail lending); a representative from GE Capital (wholesale lending); Jayco Inc. CEO Derald Bontrager (RV manufacturers); FARVC Chairman Pat O’Neill (campgrounds); Bill Leonard of Coast Supply (parts and supplies); and Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVDA) Chairman and Campers Inn owner Jeff Hirsch (RV dealers).
RVDA President Phil Ingrassia and James Ashurst, vice president of public relations and advertising for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), will offer an overall industry update. Rounding out Friday morning’s general session, FRVTA Education Director Jim Carr and General Council Marc Dunbar will update attendees on the RV training program and the recent legislative Session.
Saturday morning the break-out sessions will bring very detailed information to attendees in smaller, more intimate class-room settings. Scheduled sessions include:
• Allen Monello will cover dealer compliance issues.
• Tom Walworth, president of Statistical Surveys Inc., will take a look at the industry numbers.
• Bill Leonard of Coast Distribution will show how to make parts departments more profitable.
• A representative from the Department of Revenue will cover state issues.
• Erick Swinson from Morgan, Stanley, Smith, Barney will cover investing and the stock market.
• Jerry Mann from Executive Tax Services will go over implementing the new healthcare legislation.
A host of activities and entertainment are also planned, based on the convention’s theme of “Taking Care of Business…The RV Way.” The 70’s theme will feature the “I Will Survive” Hospitality Room along with the “May The Force Be With You” golf tourney and the “Fantasy Island” boat outing on Friday. That evening the “Boogie Nights” Costume/Dinner Party will feature everything from disco outfits to icons of the 70’s. “Disco Dave” and his “Dy-NO-mite” Game Show is also on tap.
The convention wraps up Saturday evening with the “Saturday Night Fever” awards banquet and silent auction. The silent auction benefits the FRVPC Fund and features such items as weekend getaways, I-pads, E-readers and Disney gift certificates.
FRVTA still has a few sponsorship opportunities and is also taking prize donations for the silent auction and the game show luncheon. For more information or to make a donation, contact the Florida RV Trade Association at (813) 741-0488.
Region One of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) is returning for its 18th annual recreational vehicle show at the Lee County Sports Complex/Hammond Stadium in south Fort Myers April 19-21.
According to a press release, the three-day-event will feature 11 dealers from throughout Florida’s Gulf Coast displaying a wide selection of new, used and leftover recreation vehicles of all styles, brands and price ranges. A variety of RV suppliers also will be on hand to provide information on where to camp as well as various other services to make the great outdoors accessible. Financing for well-qualified buyers will also be available.
“This event is held just before the summer traveling season, so consumers can make their plans to see our great nation,” said Dan Wylie, president of FRVTA’s Region One. “Dealers also need to reduce their inventory from the busy winter season, so prices for new and used RVs have been reduced as well.”
Financing for both dealer inventory and qualified buyers has improved, resulting in a market that has seen RV sales markedly recover for both new and used merchandise.
“Statistics continue to show that an RV vacation is much less expensive than other vacation travel options, even when a purchase is factored in,” Wylie explained, “Despite recent fuel cost increases, an RV vacation is still a bargain.”
Furthermore, Wylie stressed that RVs are versatile vehicles perfect not only for camping, but for exploring, tailgating and weekend excursions. “You can bring your entire family together, even the dog, by taking them away,” he said.
The admission-free recreation vehicle show is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. all three days. For more information visit www.FRVTA.org/rv-shows.
The Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) just completed its sixth regional show at venues throughout the state and reported that attendance numbers have been strong, according to a press release.
A roundup of show results includes:
• The Fort Myers RV Show, celebrating its 28th year, featured 17 dealers from all along the Gulf Coast along with well over 100 vendors. Show Chairman Chris Morse reported that attendance increased about 1,000 over the the 12,300 patrons last year while dealers and vendors registered steady sales. Morse noted that the event also generated followup sales for dealers.
• The Ocala RV Show held the last week in January showcased 13 dealers and the supplier’s tent included representatives from campgrounds and resorts along with a parts and accessories store. Great weather the entire weekend brought in just under 5,000 people over the four days of the show. “This was the second year at the new location adjacent to the Super Flea Market, which gives us great visibility from I-75,” said FRVTA Marketing Director Dave Kelly. “It’s easier to get to and we are closer to town than the old location. I know the dealers like being closer to town and it appears the public does, too.”
• The 7th Annual Spring Clean-Out RV Show was held the second weekend in February and featured seven RV dealers and six vendors at Germain Arena, which fronts I-75. Held in conjunction with an annual home and garden show, the event attracted over 3,300 attendees despite a cold, rainy start. “We hold this show to reach down into the Naples market where there are lots of RV resorts, but no RV dealers,” said Region 1 President Dan Wylie. “From what I could tell, every dealer did well, moving both new and used products.”
• The Jacksonville RV Show returned for the fourth year to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. Six participating RV dealers showcased product and the supplier’s area was setup so that the public came in and out right past the booths. Great weather again brought in a record crowd of over 7,300 people. “We renewed the promotion from last year’s show to get visitors to go to every dealer and have a card stamped that made them eligible for a drawing every day for a gas card,” said Region 6 President Tom Tibbitts. “This not only got people to visit every dealer, it also gave every dealer the chance to interact with every visitor.”
• The Central Florida RV Show was held at the Volusia County Fairgrounds in DeLand the last weekend of February. Seven RV dealers reported “good to great” sales from the close to 4,000 people that attended. “We dropped the admission price a couple of bucks to try and get a bigger crowd, and we were up about 400 people over last year’s show,” said Ken Prentiss, Region 4 president. “We will continue to look at ways to increase attendance and bring more buyers to this event next year.”
• The last winter regional show was held March 7-10 in West Palm Beach. Held in the parking lot of the South Florida Fairgrounds, and included nine dealers and 10 booth exhibitors. Drawing over 3,400 people, dealers enjoyed strong traffic, including Keith Waits from Palm Beach RV who reported selling both new and used units.
Still to be held is the 18th Annual RV SuperSaver Show in Fort Myers. Show Manager Jack Carver expects to have about 11 dealers and 10 exhibitors in this annual event that is aimed at local residents. “Depending on the weather, this show usually delivers about 3,500 people over three days,” he explained. “It’s the perfect time for our dealers to reach out to local residents as they prepare for the summer travel season.”
Kelly noted, “The bottom line coming out of the Florida winter/spring RV show season is that the attitudes of consumers are vastly more positive and the fact that most shows were either at or close to last year’s attendance means the interest in RV products is still strong and getting stronger.”
For more information contact the FRVTA at (813) 741-0488 or www.frvta.org.
Organizers for the 28th Annual Fort Myers RV Show, held Jan. 24-27 at the Lee Civic Center, reported the event drew over 12,300 patrons while generating sales for dealer and vendor participants. According to a press release, the show was sponsored by Region 1 of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA).
“Everyone I spoke with at the show was generally pleased with the buying interest the public had,” said FRVTA Region 1 President Dan Wylie of Dream RV. “In fact, we had several dealers who achieved double-digit sales. All dealers came away with many sales leads they can now follow up over the coming weeks.”
While no attendance records were set, Show Manager Jack Carver said he was gratified the public responded so positively, especially following the economic turmoil the industry has suffered over the previous years. “We worked hard to put on a quality event that created a buying situation for all participants,” he said. “I’m very thankful the show was successful.”
This year’s annual event featured 17 dealers displaying well over 600 new RV units of all types, styles and price ranges. The show also staged 85 vendors selling everything from resort lots, insurance and permanent roof coatings to repair services and other enhancements for the RV lifestyle.
“Everyone seemed to be selling whatever they brought,” said Show Chairman Chris Morse of Skip Eppers RVs. “I’m still busy with traffic and additional sales a week after the show.”
Wylie added, “We are proud to offer dealers, vendors and patrons the best the RV Industry has to offer and look forward to helping spread consumer interest in the RV lifestyle.”
Jacksonville, Fla., RV dealers say the positive feedback that’s coming from last week’s Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa, coupled with strong sales of recreational vehicles locally the last quarter of 2012, are pointing toward a strong showing at the upcoming Jacksonville RV MegaShow.
The Florida Times-Union reported that the Jacksonville Equestrian Center will play host to the four-day event a third consecutive year. The show opens Thursday (Feb. 7) and runs through Sunday.
Tom Tibbitts, regional president of the host Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA), says the group expects to attract about 7,000 visitors to the show — about 1,000 more attendees than last year.
“I talked to one dealer at the Tampa show who said his sales were up nearly 35% from last year,” Tibbitts said. “Based on the response there, I’m expecting we’ll have a lot more interest and a bigger turnout at our show this year. Based on everything we’re hearing, the RV industry appears to be making a rebound.”
This will be the 28th year the FRVTA’s Region 6 has sponsored the event in Jacksonville. Tibbitts believes the show should feel the momentum established in Tampa.
“Attendance was up and sales of RVs were strong, primarily because of excellent attendance and RV pricing by individual dealers,” he said. “And the aftermarket vendors reported excellent exposure to their merchandise, campgrounds and services compared to 2012.”
A potentially more telling sign is the fact that additional campsites had to be found at the Florida State Fairgrounds where the event was held.
“Based on our experience this year in Tampa, I think the retail public waiting in the wings for the economy to recover aren’t going to sit back anymore,” said Lance Wilson, FRVTA executive director.
Wilson notes that his industry looks to sales in Florida, and specifically the Tampa SuperShow, as the “bellwether” for the year’s RV sales nationwide. Based on attendance, which could reach 55,000 once all the numbers are in, 2013 is shaping up to be a better-than-expected year in RV sales.
“The most important thing for us this year is that no people showed up with agendas on taxes or gas prices,” Wilson said. “They looked at a lot of product and made a lot of decisions. Financing was available and the price was right. Everything looks good heading into our biggest season.”
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Attendance of 54,255 at last week’s Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa was up slightly over last year, but still set a record, according to the sponsoring Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA).
”We didn’t knock the doors off, but we had better weather last year,” said FRVTA President Lance Wilson, who noted that 54,016 passed through the show’s gates last year. ”We were very pleased. No. 1, we want to make sure enough people are there, and No. 1B is we want manufacturers to sell product. In most cases, people did very well.”
The Florida show, often said to be a bellwether for the year, was held Jan 15-20 at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
”The good news is that the public’s attitude is very positive,” Wilson told RVBUSINESS.com. ”Nobody was talking about gas prices and nobody was talking about interest rates.”
Fledgling towable manufacturer Grand Design RV, Middlebury, Ind., introduced its first product to the retail public at Florida RV SuperShow — the 38-foot extended-stay Solitude fifth-wheel.
”By far the SuperShow exceeded our expectations and down there, that’s a discerning crowd,” said Grand Design President Don Clark, whose company was represented by Lazydays RV Center. ”Many of them are previous owners and they are experts at extended-stay camping.”
Currently building only one floorplan, Clark said other Solitude layouts will be available within the next 60 days and a second brand, which has yet to be named, will hit the market in June.
Another new company, Augusta RV, Bristol, Ind., which began producing Flex-brand travel trailers and fifth-wheels, also did well, according to National Sales Manager Leif Freehafer.
”We had good retail activity and deals were written on both the fifth-wheels and travel trailers,” said Freehafer, who also is a part owner. ”The fifth-wheel drew a lot of attention.”
As reported previously by RVBUSINESS.com, several other manufacturers and dealers earlier reported they had good sales at the show.
Over the next several weeks, the FRVTA will sponsor regional shows in Fort Myers, Ocala, Jacksonville, Deland, West Palm Beach and tentatively, Lakeland.
”Not all the dealers are able to participate in the SuperShow,” Wilson said. ”The regional shows are for all our dealers. A lot of people come to the SuperShow and wait to make their buy at a local show.”
Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt of a column by Terry Tomalin, outdoors/fitness editor for the Tampa Bay Times, offering a rundown of the Florida RV SuperShow running through Sunday. To view the entire article click here.
When it comes to recreational vehicles, small is in big demand. “Everybody is downsizing,” said Dave Kelly, marketing director for the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA, which is hosting the 28th annual Florida RV SuperShow. “People want lighter, more maneuverable RVs.”
The time of the monster motorhome has not gone the way of the dinosaur, but the recession has reversed the trend of bigger is better.
“The market was once 60% motorhome and 40% travel trailer,” Kelly said. “But now that is reversed. They are selling 80 travel trailers for every 20 motorhomes.”
The downturn in the economy hit the RV industry hard. But according to a 2011 survey by the Reston, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the number of RV-owning households has grown to a new peak of 8.9 million, up from 7.9 million in 2005.
The Florida RV SuperShow, at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa through Sunday, features hundreds of recreational vehicles of all varieties and price ranges. You will still find rows of million-dollar motorhomes, but the hot buys this year are $20,000 or less.
“You can’t beat a Winnebago,” said Melissa Farrior, an RV consultant from Camping World in Bartow. “It is a household name and the quality is just outstanding.”
The bright yellow “Minnie Winnie” weighs less than 3,500 pounds. When I first stepped inside the 20-footer, I thought it would have a sticker price of $40,000 or more, but it was less than half that, starting at $17,000. Equipped with maple cabinets, a kitchen and bathroom, I joked that I could put a satellite dish on top and never go in the office again. The travel trailer, also available in white and fluorescent green, could be towed easily by my 10-year-old sport-utility vehicle.
“Part of the appeal of these new, lightweight travel trailers is that you don’t have to go out and buy a new vehicle to get it to where you want to go,” Kelly said. “They can be pulled by any truck or SUV.”
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