The Internet is changing the wholesale, as well as the retail, side of the RV business. And, in doing so, it’s providing RV wholesalers/ brokers like Jerry Lefevre more opportunity to capitalize on the growing number of RV owners anxious to turn their units into cash.
Lefevre, a veteran RV wholesaler and former dealer, launched his www.getabidnow.com in late March, as a site for RV owners and dealers after seeing the growing demand to bid used units.
“It’s the economy, ” says Lefevre, owner of Naples, Fla.-based JDL Buyer Services Inc. “Whether they’re scared of what’s to come or have an inability to pay for what they’ve got, or getting rid of toys or struggling to make house payments or moving – people need to turn things into cash.
“I really noticed a change in the last six to eight months,” says Lefevre. “So many RV owners calling dealers and asking, ‘Will you buy my motorhome?’ Most dealers have tightened up the reigns (on their RV purchases) and are referring more of these inquiries to people like myself. As I started getting more calls, I thought, ‘Why not get a website and refer everybody to it'”?
There’s nothing typical in the kind of units he’s handling. The first week of April saw him arranging bids on 2000, 2006 and 2009 model Class As, mid to late ’90s Class Cs and a fifth-wheel. “I’ve also handle high-end Prevost buses, and those are normally pretty wealthy owners,” Lefevre adds
He has about 30 RV dealers he works with in states like Texas, Arizona, California, Washington and Colorado.
He’s been promoting his website through dealer e-mails; and, in addition to getting customer referrals from dealers, also picks up customers from want ads, E-bay and local newspapers.
After an RV owner submits a bid request and he has obtained all the required information, he forwards the information to those dealers most likely to be interested. “I talk to these dealers regularly so I know who is looking for what. If a dealer’s looking for a 2-year-old diesel, I won’t waste his time forwarding information about a 5-year-old gas engine unit,” Lefevre says.
The dealer(s) then indicate what they’re willing to pay, subject to inspection, and the highest bid gets submitted to the RV owner, who has seven to 10 days to respond to the offer. Lefevre works off a buyer’s fee, which typically averages about $500.
With business on the upswing, Lefevre also buys boats, aircraft — “anything of value,” as he puts it.