The Route 66 RV Network drew 235 dealers and partners to its 10th Annual Rally in San Antonio, Texas, Sept. 4-6. With nearly 155 locations in the United States and Canada, Route 66 has “grown well beyond the founding partners expectations,” according to a press release.
“In 2003, while laying the foundation for the network, we talked about how cool it would be to one day have 66 locations across the country,” said Route 66 partner Steve Francis. “Quite honestly, in those first couple of years the network grew so fast that no one even noticed when we blew by bringing on dealer No. 66.”
Partner Dave Francis noted, “The rally has evolved over the years into what feels like a large family reunion. These relationships between dealers, partners and the network’s management team are in large part why the network has enjoyed so much success. There’s a true sense of unity and partnership. In fact, many of the partners who attend the rally will say they really enjoy coming to this event and is one of the best and most productive marketing events they attend every year.”
With 34 network partners and the lion’s share of the network’s dealer principals from both the U.S and Canada present, the this year’s rally continued to “strengthen the ties that bind the network together,” according to partner Rob Merrill.
“While the what’s and how’s of the network have kept pace with our evolving industry over the last 10 years, our why’s have not changed,” said Merrill. “The network’s original vision and consumer promise of ‘Wherever the Road Takes You … You Can Count on Us’ remains the same. We continue to be a network of best-of-class dealers and partners focused of ensuring our customers enjoy the best RVing experience possible.”
During the gathering, Jim Rogers, CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), addressed the entire group in the rally’s opening session, highlighting KOA’s partnership with Route 66. “We couldn’t be more excited about our growing relationship with the Route 66 RV Network,” said Rogers. “As local Route 66 dealerships and KOA campgrounds begin working together, campers will quickly experience the benefits of these two brands aligned.”
In addition, several ROUTE 66 dealer principals shared their perspectives of being members of ROUTE 66, including:
• Randy Ketelsen, Ketelsen Campers, Wheat Ridge, Colo., stated, “It’s the best of the best … people who in their hearts have their customer’s best interest first. That’s the people I want my dealership to associate with.”
• Sylvia Thistle-Miller, Triangle RV, Sidney, British Columbia, said, “A lot of our customers go south, so being a part of a North American network with dealers who have similar business operations and ethics is really important and a huge bonus.”
• “We work better as a team. We’re all in this together,” saud John Meyer, Apache Village RV, Hazelwood, Mo.
• Randy Biles, Pikes Peak Traveland, Colorado Springs, Colo., noted, “Looking at the network dealer list, everyone of them is top notch. I’m not sure why any customer-focused dealer wouldn’t want to be a part of Route 66?”
Strengthening the Route 66 consumer brand and the many associated products continues to be a major focus for Route 66. Current members programs include: RV Club, Roadside/Tech24, Classic Coverage Extended Service Agreements, Certified Pre-owned RVs, Parts 66 Protection and RV Smart Sites.
“Looking ahead at the next 10 years, Route 66 is fully committed to continue growing our footprint of quality dealers throughout North America, strengthening our programs and relationships with our current and new supplier partners and ensuring our dealers’ customers are the most satisfied RVers on the road,” says Dave Francis. “We know that as a network we’re only as good as the company we keep, and we’ve been very blessed with a great team of dealers and partners.”
For more information contact Merrill at rmerrill@Route66RV.com.
The ROUTE 66 RV Network in Canada has agreed to partner with Danzy Distributors/Robert Thibert Inc. in Mercier, Quebec, to offer its growing team of RV dealerships a group buying program for parts and accessories.
“We couldn’t be more pleased to announce this new partnership with Danzy Distributors. Being our first in a number of Canadian partnerships we intend to forge, we were very impressed with the quality and professionalism of their management team,” said Dave Francis, ROUTE 66 partner. “After carefully evaluating our options, we concluded that Danzy’s nationwide sales and distribution system was extremely well suited to meet the current and future needs of our ROUTE 66 Canadian dealers.”
Marc Yvan Loiselle, sales director of Danzy’s RV division, noted, “We are proud and honored to be a partner with an organization like the ROUTE 66 RV Network. Through this relationship-building process we have learned that they share our same values and we are certain that both companies and all of their Canadian ROUTE 66 dealers will benefit greatly from this association.”
Francis said the partnership agreement goes into effect immediately and all ROUTE 66 dealership parts managers will continue to maintain their current Danzy sales representative relationship. Danzy will also participate in the 10th Annual ROUTE 66 Rally scheduled this fall in Texas.
Danzy is one of Canada’s largest RV parts and accessories distributors with sales and distribution warehouses coast-to-coast. The ROUTE 66 RV Network is North America’s largest network of independent RV dealerships with nearly 150 locations in 44 states and provinces
Partners from The ROUTE 66 RV Network held a meeting last week in Thunder Bay, Ontario, with a team of Canadian dealerships to finalize the formation and launch of the ROUTE 66 RV Network in Canada.
“This is the network’s latest step in delivering on our consumer promise that ‘Wherever the Road Takes You … You Can Count on Us,’” said Rob Merrill, ROUTE 66 partner, in a press release. “Given the considerable amount of travel between Canada and the U.S., this move will ensure any ROUTE 66 customer who crosses the border will always have a friend they can count on.”
Two Canadian dealers will be taking lead roles in helping establish and grow ROUTE 66 in Canada – Sylvia Thistle-Miller, owner of Triangle RV Centre in Sidney, British Columbia, and Ken Friedenberg, general manager of Arrkann Trailer & RV Centre in Edmonton, Alberta. According to ROUTE 66, they have identified around 10 other dealers from across Canada who have expressed an interest to joining ROUTE 66 RV Network of Canada.
“Like the formation of the U.S. network in 2004, these charter dealers will be very instrumental in the direction and growth of ROUTE 66 across Canada,” said Dave Francis, partner at ROUTE 66. “We will work closely with them to define any Canada specific programs, as well as integrate the group with our roughly 140 U.S. ROUTE 66 dealer locations.”
Thistle-Miller of Triangle RV, 2012 British Columbia Dealer of the Year, said, “We’re excited about this opportunity to lock arms with ROUTE 66 in the states. It is not only a terrific opportunity for our dealership but it offers an unparalleled value to our traveling Canadian customers in terms of RV service and camping at KOA.”
Friedenberg added, “As far as I know, this is the first time in the RV industry that dealers have reached across the border to work together and serve one another’s traveling customers. It will not only benefit our dealership but also offer our customers great security and peace of mind when they RV in both the United States and Canada.”
Additional dealers will be added to the ROUTE 66 RV Network in Canada with the recommendation from these charter dealers and other member dealers. Each dealership’s territory will be clearly defined to ensure every dealership enjoys market exclusivity in offering the network’s dealer and consumer program benefits in the U.S. and Canada.
ROUTE 66 RV is planning to have an informational meeting in Louisville, Ky., during next week’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., for those Canadian dealers interested in learning more about ROUTE 66 RV Network – Canada. For more information regarding the time and location of the meeting contact Merrill at (913) 908-3066 or rmerrill@Route66RV.com.
The ROUTE 66 RV Network presented Mark ‘Mick’ Ferkey, owner of Greeneway RV Sales & Service in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., with the 4th Annual Larry Coker Commitment Award at its recent 2012 rally held in Peachtree City, Ga.
According to a press release, the annual award is named in memory of Larry Coker, a long-time RV industry colleague and ROUTE 66 employee who unexpectedly passed away in February, 2009. “Larry was committed to making the vision of the network a reality,” said Rob Merrill, partner in ROUTE 66. “His faith, sense of humor, optimism, humility and dedication were evident to everyone he met.”
The Larry Coker Commitment Award is given to the ROUTE 66 RV Network dealer who best reflects “Coker’s total commitment to building the ROUTE 66 brand.” ROUTE 66 partner Dave Francis noted, “Greenway has been a member of the network for over six years and Mick, along with his entire team, deeply embrace what it means to be a ROUTE 66 dealer. Not only is that evident in the dealership’s culture and participation, but during a recent visit to the dealership I noticed as I stood in one place that I could count 28 ROUTE 66 shield logos in their parts store and showroom alone.”
Ferkey expressed his gratitude for the award, stating, “I am honored to be a ROUTE 66 dealer and humbled to receive this prestigious award. Larry was passionate about ROUTE 66 and the values it stands for. I am proud to be among dealers who share my values. While I certainly see my employees as family, I also view the people of ROUTE 66 as an extension of my family.”
In addition to the dealership recognition that this award delivers to the recipient, it also donates the dealership’s total annual network membership fee to a college education fund in their name to support Coker’s daughter who is currently a college freshman.
As a further reflection of Ferkey’s commitment to the ROUTE 66 family, after learning Stephanie Notter, a ROUTE 66 employee, had unexpectedly lost her husband, Rick, to a heart attack, he was moved to launch a fund to help her finish restoring a 1969 Firebird that they were working on. Learn more about the fund at www.RicksFirebirdFund.net.
The ROUTE 66 RV Network recently completed its 9th Annual Rally in Peachtree City, Ga., with network dealers and partners touting the gathering as “the best rally yet,” according to a press release.
Overland Park, Kan.-based ROUTE 66 reported that attendance at the Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center was over 200 strong, representing nearly 90% of the network’s dealerships and 30 vendor partners.
“Our rallies are designed to deliver good golf, good food and a great relationship-building opportunity for our dealer management teams and our partners,” said Rob Merrill, partner in the ROUTE 66 RV Network. “And this year you could sense a unity and commitment to the team like no other past rally.”
While many new programs and initiatives were launched during the Sept. 10-12 meeting, the major announcement was the partnership with Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), as previously reported on RVBUSINESS.com.
Dave Francis, ROUTE 66 partner, noted, “Suffice it to say, you’ll be seeing the classic ROUTE 66 shield and famous yellow KOA logo together quite a bit in the months and years to come. When you pull the best and largest campground network together with the best and largest RV dealer network like we’ve done, you can’t help but positively impact an RVer’s overall experience and satisfaction.”
Lorne Armer, KOA’s vice president for brand development, attended the rally and addressed the dealers shortly after the formal announcement. “This partnership is a step in the natural evolution KOA has seen occur in camping over the last 50 years,” Armer said. “KOA and ROUTE 66 are always looking for new ways to evolve the industry forward to better meet the needs and serve today’s camper. Quite honestly, our challenge moving forward will be to determine what are the best of the great ideas on the table and focus our efforts there.”
Another major topic of conversation focused on the Internet side of a dealership’s operation. After two-plus years of intensive web development based on dealer input and fine-tuning, ROUTE 66 detailed the performance of its “RV SmartSites” web platform including visits, leads and sales generated.
Steve Francis, ROUTE 66 partner and RV dealer who has led the development of this proprietary platform, stated, “RVSS is doing exactly what is was designed to do for our network dealers who are currently on the platform. Nearly every critical analytic you track and evaluate is up at least 50% over last year’s numbers and still climbing.”
Other announcements during the rally related to the network’s expanding brand promise of “Wherever the road takes you … you can count on us” by introducing an enhanced ROUTE 66 RV Club and new Roadside/Tech24 program. Dealers were also offered a way to not only continue to increase their dealership’s program rebates but also maintain their participation as a branded ROUTE 66 dealer with no annual membership fee.
“The unanimous sense from this year’s rally was overwhelmingly positive,” said Merrill. “Everyone left Georgia with high expectations and an enthusiastic charge to make 2013 our best ever.”
The ROUTE 66 RV Network currently includes 140 dealer locations in 41 states. For additional information contact Merrill at (913) 317-6678.
Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and the ROUTE 66 RV Network are partnering to extend benefits to members of both companies, according to a press release.
Under the new partnership, KOA’s 350,000 Value Kard Rewards Program members will receive 10% discounts on parts and accessories at all ROUTE 66 RV Network locations. In return, the more than 150,000 campers who carry the ROUTE 66 RV Network membership card will receive 10% discounts on camping at any KOA location.
In addition, KOA Value Kard Rewards members will have access to special monthly product offerings at Parts66.com, the online store for ROUTE 66 RV Network, as well as camping content and tips from the ScenicROUTEOnline.com website. KOA campgrounds will also be listed on ROUTE 66 RV Network websites and online applications.
All ROUTE 66 RV Network dealers will receive a KOA dealer kit that includes the KOA directory as well as other materials to distribute to members; free listings on the world’s most visited camping website, KOA.com; and integration with KOA’s growing online social media and KOA Kompass email newsletter communities.
“This is a great opportunity to expose both KOA’s and ROUTE 66’s services to customers that haven’t had access to before,” said KOA Vice President for Brand Development Lorne Armer.
Dave Francis, partner for ROUTE 66 RV Network, noted, “This is truly a win/win situation for both companies as well as all of our loyal guests and customers,” Francis said. “KOA and ROUTE 66 RV Network are a perfect fit.”
KOA is the world’s largest network of family-friendly campgrounds with 488 locations throughout North America. ROUTE 66 RV Network, with headquarters in Overland Park, Kan., has nearly 150 dealer locations in 41 states.
A slate of new programs and initiatives will be rolled out to an anticipated record attendance during the 9th Annual Route 66 Rally, which opens this evening (Sept. 10) at the Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center just south of Atlanta.
Route 66 partner Dave Francis reported that over 200 dealer personnel representing around 90% of the network’s dealer locations would be on hand for the event, which runs through Wednesday.
“We’re extremely excited about this year’s rally,” Francis said. “In addition to a ‘State of the Network’ report we will be announcing a number of new programs and initiatives set in place by the management team and the adviser’s board.”
Around 30 Route 66 “partners” will also be in attendance, representing service companies and suppliers that support the network’s programs.
“There will be a Partner Expo where dealers can interact with the different companies that support the network,” Francis said. “But the partners will also be involved in all of the activities planned during the rally.”
The annual golf outing will kick things off this afternoon. Francis said that in addition to daily meetings with dealers, several social events were planned.
“We have a full agenda,” Francis said. “The weather is beautiful and we’re looking forward to a great gathering.”
The ROUTE 66 RV Network has grown into a network of around 140 independent dealership locations in 40 states. For additional information on the Route 66 RV Network call Rob Merrill or Dave Francis at 913-317-6678.
The ROUTE 66 RV Network Dealer Advisory Board met last month at its offices in Overland Park, Kan., to “drill down and speak into the strategies, tactics and direction of the network,” according to a press release.
“Ten network dealer principals sit on the board and provide invaluable input, thoughts and perspectives to help us define and refine priorities, fine-tune existing programs and evaluate new opportunities,” said Rob Merrill, a ROUTE 66 partner. “There’s been an increase in dealer interest and engagement in ROUTE 66 coming into 2012. In fact, the strength and alignment of the network and its dealers appears to be very high from all vantage points.”
As has been the case for several years, much discussion centered around the increasing role the Internet plays in today’s RV and parts purchases. Steve Francis, owner of Trailside RV and ROUTE 66 partner, noted, “Today’s RV dealership website must be much more than an online billboard… it must be an extension of your brick and mortar facility, offering an additional location to do business. Two or three years ago RV shoppers would make five to six dealership visits before making their RV purchase, but today that’s down to one to two visits because they’re doing much of their shopping online.”
ROUTE 66 RV Network launched Amdia Software several years ago to help dealers capitalize on web-based business. Amdia has built an exclusive RV dealership-ready web platform, RV SmartSites, that offers many valuable selling features and built-in online Search Engine Optimization capabilities to drive traffic. In addition, the network has built its own national online parts and accessories store at www.Parts66.com. Network online training workshops and 20 Groups have been implemented to support ongoing dealer education and website performance.
Other network online web properties include a travel site for RVers, www.ScenicRouteOnline.com, the RV Club membership site, www.Passport66RV.com, and the network’s consumer site, www.Route66RV.com. All network-wide web efforts are built to serve the Network dealer and transact sales through their dealerships.
The ROUTE 66 RV Network announced today (Feb. 24) the addition of three new dealerships to its nearly 140 dealership locations in 40 states.
According to a press release, the three new ROUTE 66 RV Network dealers are:
• Rex & Sons RV’s, Wilmington, N.C.
• M&M Camping Center, Trenton, Mich. (south Detroit)
• Bayou Outdoor Supercenter, Bossier City, La. (Shreveport)
“The addition of these three quality dealerships continues to strengthen the network and solidify the promise we make to every ROUTE 66 dealership customer that ‘Wherever the Road Takes You, You Can Count on Us,’” says Dave Francis, a ROUTE 66 partner. “Making and delivering on this promise is very important to our network dealers.”
Comments from the new Route 66 dealers included:
• Travis Creech, operations manager of Rex & Sons stated: “We are most excited about the opportunity we now have to promise our customers that when they visit any ROUTE 66 location nationwide they’ll be treated with the same level of service and commitment they get when visiting us.”
• Mike Ellias, owner of M&M Camping, also sees their participation in ROUTE 66 as a strong competitive advantage, noting: “We can not only give our customers a ‘safety net’ with nearly 140 locations nationwide ready and willing to serve them as they travel, but also enhance our ability to compete by taking advantage of the many exclusive programs the Network offers.”
• Bayou Outdoor’s Chad Brazzel said: “When you look at the map and see who the ROUTE 66 dealers are, it’s some of best independent dealers in America. You’re known by the company you keep, and we’re delighted to be a part of this elite dealer network.”
“With a 90-minute drive-time protected market area there are still a few areas around the country that need a ROUTE 66 dealer,” said Rob Merrill, a partner in ROUTE 66. “The major criteria when we consider a new dealer is do they have a reputation for delivering excellent customer service and are they a full-service RV dealership location.”
For more information on Route 66 contact Rob Merrill or Dave Francis at 913-317-6678.
The ROUTE 66 RV Network presented Bill White, co-owner of United RV Center in Fort Worth, Texas, with the Larry Coker Commitment Award at the Overland Park, Kan.-based dealer network’s recent 2011 Rally in San Antonio, TX.
The Larry Coker Commitment Award is presented annually to the ROUTE 66 RV Network retailer who best reflects the long-haul commitment of Larry Coker, a revered ROUTE 66 associate who passed away in 2009 and is warmly remembered today for his “faith, sense of humor, optimism, humility and dedication” and commitment to building the Route 66 brand, Route 66 partner Rob Merrill reports in a press release.
“Bill & Kevin White and the entire United RV Center team truly embrace what it means to be a ROUTE 66 dealer,” said Merrill. “It goes well beyond the dealership’s branding and promotions. It’s deeply ingrained in their culture and the hearts and minds of their associates.”
In addition to the dealership recognition that the Coker award provides, ROUTE 66 also donates that dealership’s annual network membership fee to a college education fund in their name to support Larry’s daughter, currently a high school senior.
United has been a ROUTE 66 member since soon after the network’s founding in 2004.
“It was about two years into their membership, however, that the owners and key members of the United RV management team decided it was time to go ‘all in’ with ROUTE 66 and tie the United RV brand with ROUTE 66,” adds Merrill.
“That meant participating in the full suite of ROUTE 66 offerings and customer benefits,” he continued. “Bill White also served two years on the network’s Dealer Advisory Board, contributing to the strategic planning for ROUTE 66.”
“The ROUTE 66 vision and strategy are perfectly aligned with the United RV brand,” states Bill White in the Route 66 release. “We have always had taking care of customers as our top priority, and the many locations, savings and service offerings of ROUTE 66 dramatically extend what we are able to offer as one dealership. It’s great to know that wherever our customers travel throughout the nation, there is a ROUTE 66 dealer committed to treat them like they were their local customer!”
Past recipients of the Larry Coker Commitment Award include Colerain RV Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Walnut Ridge Family RV Center in New Castle, Ind.