Editor’s Note: The following is a column by Jeff Hirsch, chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) and owner of New Hampshire-based Campers Inn, focusing on how dealers can effectively engage employees following severe cutbacks during the recession. The column appears in the latest issue of RV Executive Today.
Few things are more enjoyable than providing a workplace where employees feel that they are important, empowered, and fulfilled. As an employer, being able to provide this environment is a reward in and of itself and, for me, is one of the great things about being in business.
However, I’m sure you remember how difficult it was to provide such an environment just a few years ago. The recession forced all of us to cut spending, including spending on employee training and incentives. We also took other extraordinary measures to ensure the continued existence of our dealerships. As we cut back on these expenses, we changed the spending habits – and sometimes even the culture – of our employees. Our employees learned how to be lean, make the dollars stretch, and be more productive.
Economic conditions created a new normal, and it seemed in a split second we were transformed into permanent survival mode.
Here’s the problem: Many of us owners have ramped up since the recession. We’ve begun to spend more, growing our businesses and casting off the scarcity mentality. But many of our employees are still operating with a mindset of scarcity.
Recently, one of my managers told me he was hesitant to spend, based on Campers Inn’s past policies. He let me know that he’s been told many times that business has ramped up and we need to increase personnel and once again invest some of our profits back into the business. It’s almost as if the recession caused a sort of permanent fear of spending among our employees, and it’s hard to break this mindset.
This is not an easy problem to fix. Our employees are trying to do what’s right for the business, but their outlooks may actually be holding us back. We need to get them reengaged and reenergized. According to an article in the November 2013 issue of Talent Management magazine, companies are reporting much higher turnover rates in 2013 than in 2012 as frustrated employees have started looking for new career opportunities. The article says that employee engagement at some companies is declining, along with productivity and profitability.
Various studies show that employees who are fully engaged can make a tremendous difference on a company’s financials, lifting profitability by 22%, productivity by 43%, and sales by 37%. So we need to continually foster engagement with good communication, support, and training. Now that we owners and general managers have changed our mindset, it’s our task to help respark our employees.
The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) will host a member reception in conjunction with the National RV Trade Show on Dec. 2 at the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel in Louisville, Ky.
The event will include presentation of the 2013 Dealers Satisfaction Index (DSI) Quality Circle Awards to RV manufacturers. Rick Horsey of Parkview RV Center and Matt Zimmerman of Keystone RV Co./Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. will also receive RVDA Chairman’s Service Awards.
The awards ceremony, in the Coronet B room of the hotel, will begin promptly at 5 p.m. and the reception follows immediately after the presentations. The DSI Quality Circle Award recipients were announced in October and honor manufacturer brands based on a survey that gauges dealer satisfaction.
During the show, dealers are encouraged to stop by the RVDA/Mike Molino RV Learning Center display in booth 442-446, a new location which is on the floor of the Freedom Hall arena. Dealers can get more information on an array of RVDA and Learning Center programs and services, as well as a demonstration of the new RV technician certification prep courses.
“After many years in the foyer of Freedom Hall, the RVDA booth is moving down to where the action is, on the arena floor,” said RVDA President Phil Ingrassia. “This is an excellent opportunity for dealers and dealership employees to quickly get information on RVDA member benefits and activities during the show.”
Non-member dealers are also invited to stop by the booth to learn about the ways RVDA membership can provide dealers with support and services they need to compete and succeed in today’s marketplace.
For more information contact RVDA Dealer Services Manager Chuck Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 591-7130 x113.
Former Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) President Bob Strawn passed away on Oct. 10. According to a press release, Strawn served RVDA for 17 years as a volunteer leader and as the association’s chief staff officer from 1986-1996.
Under Strawn’s leadership, the association improved its financial stability, education programs and member services. Strawn began his career in the RV business in 1968 after acquiring a small dealership in Denver, Colo. He quickly became involved in association affairs and advanced through the leadership of the Colorado state association.
Strawn joined the national RVDA board in 1979 before advancing to higher elected positions. He became secretary in 1980-81, vice president in 1981-82, president in 1982-83, and chairman in 1983-84. He was named RVDA’s chief executive officer in 1986 and retired as president of the association in 1996. Throughout his tenure at RVDA, Strawn was assisted by his wife, Nadine, who handled all of the finance and administration operations for the association.
Strawn was inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in 1996, and the RVDA headquarters building was dedicated in his name that same year. He received the association’s highest honor, the James B. Summers Award, in 1997.
“As a volunteer, Bob played a key role in getting RVDA established in the Washington D.C. area and, as president, developed a professional organization and staff to serve dealers more effectively,” said RVDA President Phil Ingrassia. “He left a lasting impression on this association and will be missed by his many friends in the RV industry.”
RVDA will have more information in an upcoming issue of RV Executive Today. Members wishing to share tributes to Bob Strawn may send them to email@example.com.
The Strawn family has no immediate funeral plans, but RVDA will inform friends and colleagues immediately once arrangements are made.
Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Chairman Jeff Hirsch presented Chairman’s Service Awards to three dealers and one associate member on Oct. 3 during the association’s Annual Meeting at the 2013 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo in Las Vegas. According to a press release, the annual award allows the chairman to personally recognize individuals who have made a significant contribution to RVDA and the industry.
Dealers receiving awards were Rick Horsey, Parkview RV, Smyrna, Del.; John McCluskey, Florida Outdoors RV Center, Stuart, Fla.; and Tom Stinnett, Tom Stinnett Derby City RV, Clarksville, Ind.
Hirsch recounted Horsey’s many contributions, including service as chairman of RVDA and the RV Learning Center. He praised his commitment to the industry, saying, “there are few people who’ve done as much for dealers as Rick Horsey.” Horsey was not on hand to receive the award due to the recent death of his wife, Sharon, but Hirsch said the organization’s “prayers and thoughts are with him,” and that he would find a suitable time in the future to present the award in person.
Horsey helped the RVDA board navigate through a host of issues regarding the timing and location of the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo.
In honoring John McCluskey’s contribution, Hirsch cited his service both as second vice chair and RVDA Convention/Expo committee chairman. In the latter role, Hirsch said McCluskey gave an “incredible amount of time, thought, and leadership to create a top-notch experience for all of us.” McCluskey’s job as Convention/Expo committee chairman was especially busy in 2013 as the association launched two new initiatives, the Young RV Executives Program and Vendor Training +Plus. He also played a crucial role in the negotiations that will move the convention to Bally’s in Las Vegas through 2017.
Stinnett, a past RVDA chairman, was recognized for his continuing leadership in key roles as RV Assistance Corporation (RVAC) chairman and as co-chairman of the Go RVing Coalition.
“With Tom in those positions of leadership,” Hirsch said, “it provided stability in those areas and took one more thing to worry about off my plate.”
RVAC is the for-profit subsidiary of the RVDA that develops member benefits for the association and has contributed $31,000 to the Mike Molino RV Learning Center.
All three of the honored dealers have extensive records of leadership and service on RVDA boards and committees and Hirsch thanked them for their guidance and leadership throughout his first year as chairman.
Hirsch also singled out associate member Matt Zimmerman of Keystone RV Co. and Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. for a Chairman’s Service Award citing his solid commitment to dealership education.
“Matt is a busy guy,” Hirsch said, “but he has made time to serve as a manufacturer representative on the Convention/Expo Committee, providing great insight and helping provide a business partner’s perspective on our activities here in Las Vegas.”
In addition, Zimmerman “cleared the way for a ground-breaking program that will provide $250,000 over the next five years to their dealer network (Keystone/Dutchmen) to assist in getting technicians certified,” Hirsch said. Congratulating Zimmerman, Hirsch said he hoped other manufacturers would follow the example set by Keystone and Dutchmen.
Mike Regan of Crestview RV Center in Buda, Texas, and Rod Ruppel of Webster City RV in Webster City, Iowa, were elected to the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) board during the recently completed RV Dealers International Convention/Expo in Las Vegas.
According to a press release, Regan and Ruppel join a leadership team led by Chairman Jeff Hirsch, Campers Inn of Kingston, Kingston, N.H. Officers elected at the RVDA Annual Meeting are: First Vice Chairman John McCluskey of Florida Outdoors RV Center, Stuart, Fla.; Second Vice Chairman Brian Wilkins of Wilkins RV, Bath, N.Y.; Treasurer Darrel Friesen of All Seasons RV Center, Yuba City, Calif.; and Secretary Tim Wegge of Burlington RV Superstore, Sturtevant, Wis. Andy Heck of Alpin Haus in Albany, N.Y., continues as Immediate Past Chair.
Directors Will Jarnot of Pleasureland RV Center, St. Cloud, Minn., and Ron Shepherd of Camperland of Oklahoma in Tulsa will continue on the board along with RVAC Chairman Tom Stinnett of Tom Stinnett Derby City RV Center, Clarksville, Ind.; RVRA Chairman Scott Krenek of Krenek RV Center, Coloma, Mich.; RV Learning Center Chairman Jeff Pastore of Hartville RV Center, Hartville, Ohio; and former RVDA President Mike Molino. RVDA President Phil Ingrassia continues as a nonvoting member of the board.
In other action, members approved a bylaws amendment removing the requirement that an individual must be an officer of the dealership to serve as a delegate. “As dealership management practices evolve, the thinking is that the old qualification is not sustainable if we are to have a vibrant Board of Delegates,” said Hirsch.
The board formed a Bylaws Task Force which agreed that a bylaws change could assist in the leadership of the association and widen the talent pool available to RVDA. The amendment to Article VI of the bylaws was approved for a membership vote by the board in June.
To allow dealers to get the most out of the event, the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) has put together useful resources for those planning to attend the 2013 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo to be held Sept. 30- Oct. 4, in Las Vegas at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino. The advance registration deadline is today (Aug. 30), according to a news release.
Between the free mobile app for the convention, the RVDA website, and the September issue of RV Executive Today, dealers already have numerous ways to access the latest and most detailed information about the Convention/Expo even though the event is a month away. Meeting times and locations, workshop titles, speaker profiles, and even workshop previews are available now. Dealers can arrive in Las Vegas ready to learn. They can register for the event knowing everything that will be available to them and their staff.
“We’re trying to get as much information out prior to the start of the convention so people can show up prepared,” said RVDA President Phil Ingrassia. “We want this to be the most worthwhile meeting for our attendees, bringing them the most return for their investment.”
Since more dealerships are bringing more personnel to the convention in 2013, all the advance information allows teams to divide up the many program opportunities to maximize their ability to cover all the important topics and events. And with every exhibitor already listed on the website and app along with contact information, it’s possible to set up meetings in advance with key vendors who will be on site in Las Vegas.
To encourage dealers to bring more staff to the convention, the registration rate has been kept low, with discounts for additional staff and more opportunities to learn, through Vendor Training +plus. However, registration discounts end today.
Themed “Education: Your Competitive Advantage,” the convention program has been enriched to reflect the importance of training and education for all dealership staff.
The 2013 convention will also feature an exhibit hall filled with the RV industry’s top companies offering products and services to help dealers improve profitability. RVDA’s Partners in Progress Brand Committees will also meet to work on important dealer-manufacturer issues on Monday, Sept. 30 and Tuesday, Oct. 1.
Companies interested in partnership and sponsorship opportunities and exhibitor information can contact Julie Newhouse at (703) 591-7130 ext. 103 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Rogers, CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), will share with dealers the first comprehensive look at actual 2013 North American RV camping results and offer insights KOA has for future RV camping trends when he presents “A Campground Outlook” during the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Annual Meeting on Oct. 3 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. According to a press release, the annual meeting is held in conjunction with the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo, Sept. 30-Oct. 4.
Armed with KOA’s exclusive real-time data from 500 campgrounds across the U.S and Canada, Rogers will provide attendees with perspectives on the evolving needs and habits of America’s campers as well as explain how dealers can benefit from the emerging destination camping market.
“Jim is a dynamic industry leader who has championed a proactive feedback and knowledge-driven outdoor hospitality approach to meeting the wants and needs of camper guests,” said RVDA President Phil Ingrassia. “He has a passion for RV travel and the outdoors, and we are delighted he will be sharing his knowledge with us at the annual meeting.”
KOA and Rogers will also be involved in a new initiative at this year’s convention, sponsoring RVDA’s programs for young RV executives. KOA will host a young executives networking reception on Oct. 2, and Rogers will deliver a special workshop on Oct. 3, titled “Luck is When Preparation Meets Opportunity.” There will be track workshops designated for young RV executives in all time slots on Wednesday and Thursday.
Rogers, who was featured earlier this year in the CBS reality series “Undercover Boss,” has been at the helm of KOA – the world’s largest system of family friendly campgrounds – for the past 12 years. The company, born in Billings, Mont., in 1962, is still headquartered near that first campground location and now has 489 locations in the U.S. and Canada.
The convention is sponsored by RVDA, RVDA of Canada, and the RV Learning Center.
The 2013 convention will also feature an exhibit hall filled with the RV industry’s top suppliers offering products and services to help dealers improve profitability. RVDA’s Partners in Progress Brand Committees will also meet to work on important dealer/manufacturer issues.
Companies interested in partnership or sponsorship opportunities and exhibitor information can contact RVDA at (703) 591-7130 or send an e-mail to Julie Newhouse at email@example.com. To register and find more information on the Convention/Expo, visit www.rvda.org.
The July issue of RV Executive Today is out with comprehensive information about the upcoming RV Dealers International Convention/Expo in Las Vegas, Sept. 30–Oct. 4. This 40-page promotional issue has a print distribution of 4,000 and is available free online to subscribers and non-subscribers.
Click here to read the free online issue in flipbook format.
Beyond convention news, the July issue covers the recently adopted Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Model Dealer Agreement, reports on industry trends for motorhomes and towables, and has the latest listing of contributors to the RV Learning Center’s annual fundraising campaign.
Convention news in the July issue of RV Executive Today includes an overview of the speakers and new initiatives like Vendor Training +plus and a curriculum geared toward younger RV executives. A list of all corporate partners supporting the event is also included. Readers will find the convention’s Agenda at a Glance, the complete schedule of Brand Committee meetings, and a call to action from RVDA Chairman Jeff Hirsch urging dealers to commit to bringing more staff to be educated at the convention.
The theme of the convention is “Education: Your Competitive Advantage.”
In his monthly column, Hirsch makes the case for developing new leaders. “We need to extend the competitive advantage of education to our ‘middle managers,’ to further develop their skills so that they can continue competing in a changing market.” Hirsch also details how this year’s convention has been enriched and improved by the Convention Committee. “They have spent months,” Hirsh says, “developing a curriculum that’s worthy of sending your people to.”
A convention registration form appears in the issue along with details about pricing and hotel accommodations. The convention registration deadline for the early bird discount has been extended through July 12 to give dealer members one last chance to get the best rate. And for non-members, a low convention rate is available if they join RVDA before the convention.
RV Executive Today is published monthly by RVDA and is provided to members as a member benefit. To learn about the benefits of membership in RVDA, go to the RVDA website, www.rvda.org.
Editor’s Note: The following is an alert to members from the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) concerning dealer-assisted financing.
Changes in dealer-arranged financing sought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) could hurt consumers, according to 35 congressional Republicans.
Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama and 34 other GOP representatives said CFPB guidance issued to lenders earlier this spring could raise borrowing costs and hurt sales. For a copy of the letter, click here.
“The controls strike us as onerous and unrealistic,” the letter said, “and restricting consumer choice is highly problematic.” Among those signing the letter were Rep. Marlin Stutzman of IN, Rep. Blaine Luetkmeyer of MO, and Rep. Gary Miller of CA.
The CFPB actions on dealer-assisted financing are opposed by RVDA and its allies including NADA. Dealers are exempt from regulation by the bureau, but lenders are subject to CFPB oversight.
For more from RVDA on this issue, click here.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVDA) board approved revisions to the association’s Model Dealer Agreement at its meeting on June 4 in Arlington, Va.
According to a press release, the revisions were developed by the RVDA Industry Relations Committee, co-chaired by Randy Biles of Pikes Peak Traveland in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Debbie Brunoforte of Little Dealer, Little Prices in Mesa, Ariz.
The Model Dealer Agreement covers issues such as dealer territory, transfer of ownership, termination and warranty. The model agreement, while substantially based on the previous version approved in 2003, is updated to reflect recent changes in industry business practices and state laws.
The revised RVDA Model Dealer Agreement will be distributed to members this month.
“RVDA’s Model Dealer Agreement is designed as a tool to serve as a basis of negotiation between dealers and manufacturers. Its use is voluntary and recognizes that various state laws may govern some of the areas covered in the model,” said RVDA President Phil Ingrassia. “I want to thank Debbie, Randy, all the members of the committee, and RVDA’s Director of Legal & Regulatory Affairs Brett Richardson for their hard work on this model agreement.”
In other action, the board approved the association’s program, plan, and budget for fiscal year 2014. The $2.8 million budget includes funding for RVDA’s membership programs, advocacy efforts and educational initiatives delivered through the RV Learning Center.