Better timing, a new location and a fresh program of the hottest topics await dealers at the 2014 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo in Las Vegas, hosted by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA). According to a press release, North American RV dealers will convene at Bally’s on the strip, Nov. 10-14, under the theme, “Passport to Excellence: Education and Training.”
Registration is open now on the RVDA convention website, www.rvda.org/convention.
“Shifting the convention to November is better for our dealers and will allow greater participation by more people at the dealership,” said RVDA Convention/Expo Committee Chairman John McCluskey of Florida Outdoors. “Employee development opportunities will be expanded and we are aiming for maximum flexibility for dealers to plan their schedule for the convention.”
Vendor Training +Plus will be back again after its successful implementation last year, offering even more informative training sessions by industry suppliers and vendors on Monday andTuesday. Tuesday through Friday, educational workshop topics will target the burning issues affecting every department in the dealership and many will be repeated so participants won’t have to miss out on one great workshop to attend another. In addition, workshops will be shorter in duration so presentations remain both targeted and engaging.
A very big change this year will be the venue itself as the convention is moves to Bally’s. The venue is at the heart of the famed Las Vegas strip, surrounded by the most iconic casino properties, bright lights and street attractions that characterize Las Vegas. Convention registrants will have easy access to all the nightlife Las Vegas has to offer and be able to book rooms in blocks at Bally’s or Paris at low convention rates.
The 2014 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 committees will also meet again this year to work on important dealer-manufacturer issues, but the meetings will be spread more evenly throughout the week to ease dealers’ schedules.
Visit www.rvda.org/convention to register and for regular updates. You can also get convention updates on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
Editor’s Note: Robert W. Baird & Co. recently partnered with the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) to contact 116 RV dealers to assess trends during the first quarter. The following is a summary of the results.
RV momentum improves sequentially: Weather hampered retail traffic and demand early in the quarter, though dealers noted sequential improvements. Inventory remains balanced in motorhomes and towables, supporting parity between retail and wholesale going forward. Big picture, we believe the wealth effect is releasing pent-up demand for RVs, supporting our favorable fundamental outlook – though we are biased toward later-cycle exposure (motorhomes).
Retail improves sequentially: Dealers reported growth in motorhomes (+14-16%) and towables (+4-6%) in the January-March period. While traffic trends were abysmal in January and February – during the height of the Polar Vortex – traffic improved materially in March. Although the results are not a surprise, given the overlap with already-reported results from Winnebago and Thor, the sequential improvement is encouraging – especially given recent weather and reports from other discretionary categories (boats).
Inventory is balanced: Dealer inventory appears balanced in motorhomes and towables, as inventory levels appear essentially in line with levels last year. Based on anecdotal commentary, dealers still appear willing to stock incremental units – as many dealers believe that weather created significant pent-up demand – and are concerned that long lead times will result in insufficient inventory to satisfy an inflection in retail demand.
Sentiment improves sequentially: The Baird/RVDA dealer sentiment index improved from seasonal lows, as dealers become increasingly optimistic about the spring selling season. The 3-5 year outlook remained above 70 for the eighth consecutive quarter (73), and the measure of current conditions improved dramatically as well (from 57 to 64). Net, dealers remain optimistic at this point in the cycle and see a pathway to a strong retail season as weather improves.
Credit: Credit trends remain favorable, in aggregate, though conditions decelerated from our prior survey. While we think credit still provides a tailwind at this point in the cycle, we believe it is a trend worth watching, particularly as dealer commentary on credit conditions becomes incrementally negative.
Outlook: Big picture, we continue to believe an emerging wealth effect is releasing pent-up demand. Towable retail has reached 90% of prior peak volume, while motorhome retail has recovered to just under 50% of prior peak – a trend that favors motorhomes over towables.
Hometownlife.com reported that the local company is relocating its Wixom dealership/headquarters to 33 acres of land just down the road from its current store.
“Things are moving along really well and we are looking forward to getting into this new location,” said Dennis Anderson, vice president of marketing for General RV.
Owned and operated by the Baidas family, General RV has become the largest family owned RV dealer in the nation with nearly 600 employees in 10 locations.
Staying in Wixom was important for the company. It had a previous offer to move to South Lyon, but never pursued it. Anderson said that when this new opportunity came about, it was ideal.
“We need more space is the biggest reason, but we also want to provide an even better service to our customers. This new location will help in that and should be a perfect fit,” he said.
For the full story click here.
It’s no secret that group dealerships need the right software solutions to run their businesses. A free webinar, hosted by the Mike Molino RV Learning Center in conjunction with online marketing company KPA, will detail how new HR technologies including automation, broad reporting and flexibility can increase a dealer’s efficiency, increase your return on investment and manage multiple groups from one desktop.
According to a press release, the webinar is slated for April 10, noon to 1 p.m. EDT. To register click here.
The webinar will also demonstrate KPA’s Human Resource Management (HRM) software. Tailored to group dealerships, KPA HRM is an automated system that provides consistent practices that can be customized to individual dealership needs. KPA’s Kathryn Carlson will demonstrate how KPA HRM is the paperless software solution for you.
If unable to attend, register and receiver a link to a recording of the webinar along with the presentation slides. If you have any questions or feedback, contact Becky Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org, (866) 356-1735. or Karin Van Duyse at the RV Learning Center at email@example.com (703) 591-7130.
The Go RVing Dealer Tie-In Program for 2014 is still available to dealers for $225 through the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association’s (RVDA) website, according to a press release.
RVDA reported that participating dealers will be receiving a bright green and white indoor/outdoor banner as part of the 2014 tie-in program. These eye-catching, high quality banners provide participating dealers with another promotional tool to increase consumer interest and drive traffic to the dealership.
“Dealers who participate in the Go RVing Dealer Tie-In Program are able to leverage the power of the national Go RVing campaign to promote their dealership using high-quality leads, professional images, and now banners,” said RVDA President Phil Ingrassia. “These new banners are an effective way to reach consumers and build on the visibility the Go RVing campaign provides.”
Dealers can sign up now to get the most from the benefits of Dealer Tie-Ins, including Leads Plus and professional photographs and video footage that can be customized for use in their marketing efforts. A recent study showed that Go RVing leads produced purchase rates for new RVs at twice the national rate.
Dealers can go to the RVDA website to sign up and put these professional marketing and publicity tools to work for their businesses. For more information about Go RVing Dealer Tie-In Programs, contact Chuck Boyd at RVDA by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (703) 591-7130 x113. To sign up right away, go to the online form.
RV dealers are expecting big things this year, according to results from a Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) survey conducted in late January to early February.
In the March issue of RV Executive Today, RVDA reported that after a good 2013, the majority of survey respondents are expecting 2014 to be even better. Specifically, 68% of dealers who participated in the survey feel the outlook for the retail market this year will be better than it was in 2013. Another 32% believe the market will be about the same as it was last year.
The only area of concern to dealers as they head into spring is the size of inventories. Forty-five percent of respondents feel their inventory levels are too high, 50% believe inventories are the right size and 5% feel they’re too low.
The optimism about 2014 comes after a solid recovery in 2013. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said last year’s retail market was better than it was in 2012 and 41% felt it was the same. No dealers said 2013 was worse than 2012.
All of the survey participants believe towable RV and motorhome sales will either be better in 2013, or at least the same. Seventy-seven percent believe towable sales will be better than in 2013 and 23% believe they will be about the same. Fifty-nine percent felt motorhome sales will improve from last year, while 41% are expecting no change.
The vast majority of dealers in the survey feel adequate amounts of both wholesale and retail credit are available. Ninety-five percent say there’s sufficient floorplan credit, and 86% feel there’s plenty of retail credit for their customers.
The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) board ratified the association’s strategic plan during its March 10-12 meeting in Fairfax, Va. According to a press release, the board’s annual planning meeting reaffirms and adjusts the association’s future vision, mission and goals.
RVDA reported that the board reviewed ongoing efforts to protect dealer-assisted financing, which remains the association’s top advocacy goal. RVDA continues working to educate lawmakers, regulators and consumers about the benefits of dealer-assisted financing.
RVDA believes that dealer-assisted financing improves competition, saves consumers time and money, and is an efficient means for lenders to deliver RV financing.
In other action, the board reviewed the preliminary schedule for the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo, scheduled for the week of November 10 at Bally’s in Las Vegas. The association will release more information on the Convention/Expo to dealers and exhibitors in the coming weeks.
The board also set its yearly meeting schedule, which will include meetings in March, June and during the National RV Trade Show. The board will meet with the association’s board of delegates in November at the Convention/Expo.
The first dealer webinar for 2014 will focus on “Major Components of the Health Care Reform Act,” slated for January 9, at noon EST.
According to a press release, the free webinar is provided to dealers by the Mike Molino RV Learning Center through a partnership with online marketing firm KPA. RV dealers’ participation in the free, live event helps support the Learning Center’s development of new programs.
Dealers interested in ensuring compliance with Affordable Care Act regulations or looking for guidance about the law’s major components can register at the KPA site.
The webinar will be presented by KPA’s Kathryn Carlson, vice president for HR Management products. Carlson was a presenter at the 2013 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo, has written on the topic of health care compliance for RV Executive Today, and provided RV dealers with previous webinars on issues related to human resources, including the Affordable Care Act. She is a certified HR professional with extensive experience developing HR software and programs to businesses of all sizes that seek to improve efficiency, reduce risk, and ensure compliance.
If unable to attend, register and receive links to the materials for later viewing. Dealers interested in prior webinar topics will find them on the RV Learning Center’s webinar page. If you have any questions or feedback, contact Becky Ross email@example.com, (866) 356-1735, or Karin Van Duyse at the RV Learning Center at firstname.lastname@example.org,or (703) 591-7130.
Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) associate member A World of Training has made a $3,000 donation to the Mike Molino RV Learning Center. According to a press release, the annual fundraising campaign began last month at the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo in Las Vegas.
A World of Training provides training solutions for the RV and automotive industry and frequently presents at the convention/expo. “It is our hope to be able to continue to support the Mike Molino RV Learning Center with both monetary and time contributions to work together for the mutual benefit of dealers, customers and suppliers,” said Michael Rees, president of A World of Training.
“Michael Rees and his team at A World of Training understand the educational needs of our industry and have been valuable partners in the efforts of the RV Learning Center for some time now,” said Learning Center Chairman Jeff Pastore of Hartville RV Center in Ohio. “This donation is just one more way they are showing their support for high quality, affordable industry education.”
The RV Learning Center is dedicated to providing dealers and their employees with innovative ways to operate RV dealerships through an array of education resources including publications, distance learning, live workshops, online products, training, and certification programs for RV dealership personnel.
Rod Wagner, general sales manager at Madison RV Supercenter in Madison, Ala., has been elected to the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Board of Delegates. According to a press release, Wagner is the first delegate elected under an October bylaws change removing the requirement that a delegate must be an owner/officer of the dealership.
The RVDA membership approved the bylaws change during the 2013 Annual Meeting in Las Vegas. Chairman Jeff Hirsch explained that a task force formed by the board “agreed that a bylaws change would widen the talent pool available to RVDA.” The bylaws change only applies to delegates and does not change the ownership qualification for officers on the board.
“Rod’s election to the board of delegates is a positive reflection on the bylaws change,” Hirsch said. ”He will make a great addition to our team of volunteer leaders, and I look forward to working with him.”
The RVDA Board of Delegates is charged with providing input, advice, deliberation, and guidance on matters of association policy, positions, long-term goals, and planning. For information about the RVDA bylaws, visit the RVDA website.
Editor’s Note: The following is a letter sent to Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) members concerning action by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on dealer-assisted financing.
Twenty-two U.S. Senators — 11 Republicans and 11 Democrats — are asking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for greater transparency to justify its effort to eliminate motor vehicle dealers’ ability to discount a customer’s loan interest rate. This is a potentially significant development toward CFPB transparency since a Senate bipartisan letter signals to the CFPB that this is not a partisan issue, and emphasizes the need for greater clarity in its decision making.
The letter, led by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), comes after several prior congressional inquiries by House democrats and republicans asking whether the bureau had studied the impact on consumers if the extraordinary competitive benefits of in-dealership financing are eliminated.
RVDA supports efforts by these U.S. Senators and others in Congress for more agency transparency. For more on RVDA’s position on the CFPB guidance click here.
In March, the CFPB — without public comment or formal rulemaking — issued fair lending “compliance guidance” that pushes lenders to eliminate the ability that dealers currently have to “meet or beat” a competitor’s rate, and suggests a flat rate paid to dealers as a preferred solution over the current system of dealer participation.
The CFPB refuses to explain to Congress or the public the need to restructure a highly competitive and efficient marketplace that saves car, truck, and RV buyers enormous amounts of money every year.
The Portman-Shaheen letter follows two separate letters sent to the bureau this spring by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and 12 House Financial Services Committee democrats and former House Financial Services Committee Chair Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and 34 House republicans.
The bipartisan group of 22 senators is pressing the CFPB for additional information, because “unfortunately, the bureau has not provided complete responses to several of the questions presented to it by our House colleagues,” according to the letter.
For the full text of the letter, including the full list of senators who support the effort, click here.
The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) is inviting retailers to “extend the value of this year’s convention” with workshop CDs and CD-ROMs.
According to a press release, the offerings include the most popular sessions and speakers, including the general session panel discussion, “Managing Inventory with Logic, Not Emotion,” plus seminars on benchmarking, increasing F&I revenue, creative merchandising that sells more product and digital advertising.
Most of the 2013 convention’s workshops are available for purchase. Buy multiple sessions, grouped by RVDA track, on one CD-ROM, or select individual sessions on audio CDs.
CD-ROMs play in computers only. Some sessions may require multiple audio CDs due to session length and may appear in multiple tracks. To view a list of the available CDs and order, click here.
The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) will honor RV brands built by 18 manufacturers with its Quality Circle Award in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 2, just prior to the opening of the National RV Trade Show. RVDA will present the recognition awards at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 5 p.m., followed by the RVDA Dealer Reception.
These brands/manufacturers received at least 15 dealer responses and scored 80% or above in overall dealer satisfaction in the association’s 20th Annual Dealer Satisfaction Index (DSI) survey.
“The DSI Quality Circle Award recognizes the high level of success these manufacturers have had in working with their dealer business partners,” says RVDA Chairman Jeff Hirsch of Kingston, N.H.-based Campers Inn. “Their commitment to continuously improving products and services ultimately helps dealers serve customers better and preserves our industry’s share of consumers’ discretionary dollars.”
The towable RV manufacturers/brands receiving awards are (in alphabetical order by manufacturer): Airstream Inc.; Coachmen RV (Clipper/Viking travel trailers); Forest River Inc. (Palomino travel trailers and fifth-wheels, Rockwood/Roo expandables, Sierra/Sandpiper); Grand Design RV Co. (Solitude); Heartland RV LLC (Big Country/Elk Ridge, Bighorn/Landmark, Cyclone/Road Warrior/Torque, Gateway, North Trail/Wilderness, Prowler, Sundance, Trail Runner/Fairfield); Jayco Inc. (Camping Trailers, Eagle/Eagle Premier/HT, Jay Feather, Jay Flight/Swift/SLX/DST/Bungalow, Pinnacle, White Hawk); Keystone RV Co. (Cougar/X-lite, Hornet/Hideout/Energy, Laredo, Montana/Big Sky/High Country/Mountaineer, Outback/Sydney, Raptor, Sprinter/Copper Canyon); KZRV LP (Sportsmen/Sportsmen Classic, Spree/Spree Escape); Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp. (travel trailers and truck campers); Lifestyle Luxury RV/Bay Hill fifth-wheels; Open Range RV Co. and Prime Time Manufacturing Inc. (Avenger, LaCrosse/Tracer, Crusader/Sanibel).
The 10 motorized RV brands/manufacturers receiving awards are (in alphabetical order): Airstream; Coachmen (Class C’s), Forest River; Jayco (Class A’s and C’s); Leisure Travel Vans/Triple E; Newmar Corp.; Pleasure-Way Industries Ltd.; Tiffin Motorhomes Inc.; Thor Motor Coach and Winnebago/Itasca.
When rating their brands/manufacturers, RVDA asks dealers to express, confidentially, their level of satisfaction on eight core issues:
• Sales support
• Sales territory
• Vehicle design
• Vehicle reliability/quality
• Competitive price/value
• Parts support
• Dealership warranty support
• Overall dealer communications
The 20th Annual DSI survey was conducted between April and July 2013. RVDA reported that 469 dealers responded to the DSI this year and provided 2,501 brand ratings, an average of more than five per dealer. A summary of the DSI survey aggregate results will appear in the November issue of RV Executive Today.
Editor’s Note: Robert W. Baird & Co. recently partnered with the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) to contact 133 RV dealers regarding demand and sentiment during the third quarter. The following is a summary of the results.
RV momentum continues. Demand remains strong and inventory appears lean-to-balanced. We maintain a bullish fundamental outlook and would look to be more aggressive on weakness. We believe improved asset values (homes and investments) are fueling a wealth effect for RV buyers, releasing pent-up demand. With lean-to-balanced dealer inventory, it is a good environment for manufacturers. Meanwhile, we are losing confidence that a better opportunity will present itself.
Retail remains healthy. Dealers reported robust growth in motorhomes (+18-20%) and towables (+11-13%) in the third quarter. Baird believes better used values combined with a better housing market and higher stock prices have helped reduce the negative equity that had prevented consumers from purchasing new RVs.
Inventory is lean-to-balanced. Dealer inventory appears lean in motorhomes and balanced in towables. Measured in days, inventory appears flat versus last year – but motorhome dealers want more while towable dealers want less. A limited supply of Class A chassis has exacerbated the inventory shortage.
Discounting has abated. Dealers report a less promotional environment, suggesting better margins for manufacturers. In motorhomes, 30% of dealers report fewer OEM discounts versus 7% that report more. The same trend holds for towables, where 26% of dealers report fewer OEM discounts versus just 8% that report more.
Sentiment near record highs. The Baird/RVDA dealer sentiment index remains near record levels. Dealers are concerned that an ineffective government and the Affordable Care Act could throw a wrench in the engine – but overall, optimism reigns.
Please contact your Baird representative for a complete copy of the dealer survey.
Editor’s Note: The following story, appearing in the latest digital issue of RV Executive Today, reports on results from the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association’s (RVDA) latest RV Business Survey.
RV dealers were a little more cautious in their outlook as of midsummer compared with the same time last year, according to the latest RVDA survey, which was conducted in late July and early August.
Some 56% of the dealers surveyed said their inventory levels were “just right,” the same percentage who felt that way a year earlier. However, 25% of respondents said their inventory levels were too high while a year earlier only 16% had the same response. Nineteen percent of dealers said inventories were too low compared to 28% last year.
As far as ordering plans are concerned, 25% of the dealers who responded said they planned to order more RVs during the second half of 2013 than they did during the second half of 2012. Last year, 36% of dealers said they planned to order more during the second half of 2012 than they did during the same portion of 2011.
An even 50% of dealers who responded to the midsummer 2013 survey planned to order “about the same” number of RVs during the second half of 2013 as they did during the second half of 2012. A year ago, 20% planned to order the same number as they did during the second half of 2011. The percentage planning to order fewer units stayed about the same – 19% in 2013 and 20% in 2012. Six percent of dealers were undecided as of midsummer 2013, while 24% were undecided a year earlier.
Towable market still in good shape
A slight majority of midsummer survey respondents – 53% – said the retail market for towable RVs was better than it was a year ago. Another 40% of respondents said their towable sales were about the same as a year earlier, and only 7% said they were worse.
During the midsummer of 2012, 72% of dealers said their towable sales were better than they were a year earlier, 20% believed they were the same, and 8% said they were worse.
Although still not as robust as the towable sector, the motorhome business showed significant improvement during the past year. Twenty-nine percent of dealers said it was better as of midsummer 2013, while only 14% said it was better in midsummer of 2012. Another 29% said the motorhome business was worse as of midsummer 2013, a slight increase over the 24% who believed the same as of midsummer 2012.
Forty-three percent of dealers said their motorhome sales as of midsummer 2013 were about the same as a year earlier; a year earlier, 62% said motorhome sales were about the same as the prior year.
Retail Financing Availability Improves
There was a slight improvement in the availability of retail credit between 2013 and 2012, according to the dealers responding to the survey. Eighty percent of dealers who responded in midsummer 2013 said the right amount of retail credit was available for their customers, compared with 72% a year earlier.
Almost all dealers – 94% – said in the latest survey that there was an adequate amount of wholesale financing available, compared with 96% who felt that way the year prior.