Swift follow-up is the key to getting the highest return on Go RVing leads, according to a sales match analysis by global data and marketing solutions firm IHS Automotive, which incorporated Polk into its business last year.
According to a press release, the analysis shows 36% of total RV sales made by Go RVing prospects are made within 90 days of the lead entering the system. A total of 53% are made within 180 days.
“This study confirms that acting quickly is critical to getting the most from Go RVing leads,” said Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) President Phil Ingrassia. “Dealers can sort the leads by buying timeframe, so this allows sales people to contact prospects before they said they are most likely to purchase an RV.”
Go RVing provided 208,000 leads gathered from July 2011 through December 2012 and IHS matched those names through a registration database of new and used RV registrations through June of 2013. This provided an adequate buying time for the analysis.
The study also found that out of the total universe of U.S. households, the national new RV purchase rate for that period was .36%. The Go RVing lead rate of purchase for a new RV was .84% – more than double the U.S. household rate. Purchase rates for used RVs were even higher among Go RVing leads, at 1.5%. When combined, the total purchase rate for Go RVing leads was 2.34%, which is impressive when compared to the 1% to 2% rate the Direct Marketing Association considers good for lead conversions.
Go RVing Leads Plus is just one component of the optional Go RVing Dealer Tie-In program that, in addition to leads, provides access to professional Go RVing video downloads and a high-resolution image library that dealers can use and customize for promotional materials suitable for television, print, and web advertising. A high quality Go RVing banner is also included. The dealer tie-In Program for 2014 is available to dealers now for $225.
Dealers can set their Go RVing account to email leads to the dealership at a desired timeframe by simply by logging into the “Industry Only” side of the site and choosing how often they would like to receive them.
Dealers of recreational vehicles are increasing their inventory levels this year in anticipation of a strong selling season, according to GE Capital’s Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF) business, a leading provider of financing to the industry. That comes on the heels of a very positive 2013, when total wholesale shipments exceeded that of the prior year by more than 12%.
“Dealers are increasing their orders over last year’s levels, indicating continued confidence when it comes to consumer demand,” said Tim Hyland, president of CDF’s RV group. “Despite the distractions of politics, weather and healthcare in 2013, the RV industry surged ahead. We expect growth to continue through the spring and summer of 2014, even though some of these headwinds remain.”
CDF tracks trends in the RV industry related to inventory finance through its network of independent dealers, then reports on those trends to create awareness and understanding of market dynamics.
One measure to watch is inventory turn, which remained well above a healthy rate of 2.0X through year-end. The turn ratio reflects the number of times a dealer’s inventory is sold and replaced over a period of time, typically annually.
Aging, the ratio of financed inventory less than a year old to the amount of inventory greater than a year old, is also an indication of dealer health. RV aging has steadily declined over the past two years and remains under 10%, indicative of a healthy portfolio in aggregate.
CDF has supported the RV industry with flexible inventory financing products for more than 30 years. Inventory financing, also known as floorplan financing, allows dealers to stock, market and sell a wide variety of products from RV manufacturers. It provides manufacturers and their dealer customers with a robust array of performance statistics, which are available via CDF’s proprietary online business intelligence tools.
Spring renewal doesn’t just apply to flowers and trees. RV dealers in Utah are learning it’s a time of rebirth for them as well, according to KSL-TV, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Rob Jensen, manager of Ardell Brown RV Sales, a Camping World/Freedom Roads store in Draper, Utah, says winter’s usually slower for RV dealers, but this winter was especially so.
The good news: with the return of spring came the return of sales. “People start thinking, they get that itch to go outside and stop hibernating indoors,” Jensen said, “and they go camping again.”
Jensen said people still aren’t going as far away for vacations as they did before the recession, but that’s actually helping RV dealers. “If someone actually did the math, it’s actually quite cost-effective to own an RV and to use it, take your family camping,” he said.
It doesn’t hurt that prices are lower than they’ve been in years. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reports RV shipments fell 63% from last year to this year, prompting manufacturers to offer huge markdowns to dealers in hopes of reducing their inventory.
In exchange, dealers are able to keep prices lower, according to Jensen. “They’re selling things at 30% to 40% off of what we normally even buy them for direct from the manufacturer.”
Jensen says sales were definitely lower this winter than they normally would be in the off-season, but things this spring are much closer to an average year. If you consider 2007 as an anomaly because it was a peak sales year, 2009 is looking a lot more like 2005. Ardell Brown delivered 82 RVs this April compared with 92 in 2005.
It was never as bad in Utah as it was in some other states. Jensen says Ardell Brown was one of the top two sellers in its ownership group. He believes that could be, in part, because Utahns have more ready access to vacation spots than people who live in other states, therefore making an RV a bit more attractive here for someone wanting to vacation closer to home.
Davenport, Iowa-based dealership Thompson Family RV LLC will be holding an open house event April 23-25 to mark it 50th year of operation.
The retailer currently employs 45 workers and recently completed a 22,000-foot expansion on its 17-acre site. Operated by third-generation siblings of Mark, Tim and Brad Johnson along with Ann Thorndyke and Jill Tappendorf, the dealership features a 55,000-square-foot facility with 20 full-size service bays, cross-draft paint booth, 7,000-square-foot parts and accessory store, and three inside showrooms for RVs.
“Our family has the vision to grow our company stronger and more dominate in our marketplace with the foundational strengths that have kept us a stable force in an industry that has endured many cyclical upturns and downturns,” said President Mark Thompson. “There is nothing but good old fashion hard work and integrity of our company’s commitment to do what is right and fair, regardless of the circumstances that have helped Thompson’s to prosper and grow.”
In 2003, Thompson Family RV was awarded the first-ever Founder Award from Middlebury, Ind.-based builder Jayco Inc. The award is presented to a Jayco dealer whose ownership and management “consistently reflect a dedication to outstanding sales and customer support, and which most embodies the spirit of the founders of Jayco.”
“What I believe it takes to be successful in this industry for 50 years is to train and invest in your people, consistently build your customers trust in your company and have business partners with the same values,” Mark Thompson noted.
Some RV dealers in the Dover, Del., area admitted this past year has been challenging with one retailer saying sales dropped nearly 50%.
But, according to a report by WBOC-TV, Salisbury, Md., those same dealers showing RVs during this week’s RV and Camper show at the Blue Hen Mall in Dover claimed business has started to pick up.
Kevin Alexander, CEO of Alexander RV’s, said sales have doubled since this time last year. He added that people are really interested in used inventory, because of their price.
Other dealers agree there’s been a lot more traffic on the lots with people interested in buying.
“There’s still people sometimes that would say, I would want to hold on to my money, but all the same time the majority of them are tired of the talk about the economy – they want to go out, enjoy their family and they want to put this behind them,” said Ryan Horsey of Parkview RV in Smyrna.
Customers say even though they want to buy, they’re still looking for affordable prices.
Jeff Morey, who was shopping for his first RV, said he was hunting for a bargain.
“I’ve been looking at them for a while with today’s economy,” he said. “It’s when you have the opportunity to save a dollar or two that it’s a good thing to do.”
He says owning one of them will give him more vacation possibilities and will cut back on vacation costs.
“The initial investments higher but in the long term, it’ll end up saving money,” he explained.
Morey wasn’t the only one looking for a deal.
The Stallwood’s say they’re hoping to travel all over the U.S. They say an RV will save on hotel and restaurant fees. And with lower gas prices, they say it makes sense.
“You have to make a decision of what you want,” said Derek Stallwood. “You sleep in your own bed at night, you can make all our own food when you wish, you do as you wish.”