RV Purchase Options
Part 1 Two Rules
I took a course in marketing while studying for my Business degree. Like most marketing courses of the time, there were only a few shades of gray between sales and marketing. The differences are actually quite stark; therefore, my clients should know that I am writing specifically about sales and client options. The course I took was page after page about “dressing the part” rather than understanding the part and applying that understanding.
My job in boat and RV sales is not merely to sell a unit, but to be sure that my clients receive good value for a unit that meets his or her specific interests. In doing this, guiding the client becomes an important factor. For me it is straight talk, presenting both good and not so good factors and giving hints on best uses for the unit of their choice.
Sales has two clients, one is the buyer and the other the seller. As indicated, the buying client may want or need guidance. Likewise, the seller needs guidance to prepare the unit for the sale. There are certain factors that always apply.
The First Rule of Sales: The seller always wants to get the best price he or she can.
The Second Rule of Sales: The buyer always wants to get the lowest price he or she can.
Part 2 Understanding Gender Issues
Part 1 rules are identical whether selling yachts or RVs, but there are other rules that are more “general” rather than “always” rules. The first of these rules is that a husband will generally choose to buy, but it is typically his wife that chooses which to buy.
Many people would like to think that everyone is the same - not so. There are huge differences in the usual perspectives of men and women and hence husbands and wives. These differences are neither good nor bad for the sales person; they are just different. The sales person must accommodate both. On a sailboat, it may be good for a husband to see a winch working well, but a wife may be more interested in a high sink spigot so that things do not get chipped. The list goes on and on. Here is the kicker. Men and women today have sometimes switched traditional roles. It is up to the sales person to determine who has which role.
So…the first buying or selling option is choosing which sales person understands these things and will accommodate them.
Keeping in mind that all buying couples will not be of different sexes, the astute salesperson must non-judgmentally identify the roles of each of the parties.
Note: Even business groups of multiple buyers have the perspective differences in priorities of the group’s individuals. The salesman must use open and closed ended questions so that each member of the buying group has attention given to his or her priorities without preference to any single individual.
Part 3 What are You Really Looking For?
I am often asked, “What types of RVs are there?” This is a much broader question than most buyers think. A salesperson cannot merely walk in the door and become knowledgeable in the sale of RVs. As an avid RVer for many years I can say that it takes time to understand RV types, uses, and applications for an individual sale.
Let’s begin by identifying the primary types of recreational vehicles.
Class A: They look like buses.
Class B: They look like large upgraded vans.
Class C: They look like smaller moving vans with an area over the driver’s cab.
Fifth Wheels: These units are trailered by a “fifth wheel” hitch located not in the rear of the towing vehicle but in the bed of a truck.
Tow-behind and Camping Trailers: These units are often referred to as trailers as they are hitched to a ball and receiver located at the rear of the towing vehicle, usually below the rear bumper.
Park Homes: These units tend to look like small homes. They are designed for long term living rather than mobility. Park Homes can be used as quality low cost housing.
The first thing we note is that these are vehicles designed for travel, with the exception of park homes. One option is whether or not the buyer intends to live in the RV or travel in it for shorter terms. A good rule of thumb is whether the RV’s use will be for periods longer or shorter than a month at a time. The reason for this? People and pets give off a lot of moisture as they live their lives. All this moisture is being trapped inside the camper and can deteriorate materials and insulation in the units. The units need to rest after each use. Air conditioning may resolve some of this issue.
If the buyer intends to live in the unit for more than one month at a time, he/she needs a unit with better sealing in and around the unit and insulation.
Most units use a lot of contact paper for cost and weight reduction purposes and are more subject to damage from excessive moisture. Purchasing a higher-grade RV, or a larger unit, may enable prevention of this damage. If the sales person does not mention this moisture issue, he/she is not serving the buyer as well as he/she could or should.
Part 4 What’s the Best Size RV for Me?
Big or small, neither is necessarily better than the other. The best size for a buyer is the intended use of the unit. We have friends that travel with up to seven show dogs; their choice was a Class A unit 45 feet long that had granite floors. This unit was very expensive but worth the price when considering the dirt seven dogs can make and the space needed for seven dog crates. The granite flooring allowed for easy clean up and ensured durability.
My wife and I chose a towable camper 23 feet long with two slide outs. This enables our easy access to the parks and camping areas we prefer. With a towable we neither had to drive our home to the grocery store nor haul a second vehicle.
Size is not only measured in length and weight but in width as well. Most States require a maximum towing width of 8 feet; therefore, RVs use slide outs to counter width limitations. RVs of any kind can have slide-outs; some large units have as many as four.
Vehicle size is also determined by:
What is your preferred camping environment, parks or commercial camp grounds?
Are you expecting to have pets along?
Are children going to be on board?
Commercial campgrounds, such as KOA, Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, and others are chains that cater to those who are willing to spend a bit more for extensive and established facilities. These parks generally cater to the larger units.
State campgrounds often have a variety of campground types based upon services available and site design. If one uses Jonathan Dickinson State Park near Jupiter, Florida, as an example, the RVer will find sites that can handle the largest Class A motorhome in one camping area and smaller sites in a more rustic woodsy environment for smaller RVs. We once camped in a Georgia State Park in which our 18 foot camper worked well at the time, but would not have fit in the beautiful site we found if it was much larger. The sales person should help guide the buyer to a unit that meets his/her sense of what his/her intentions will be. We have since upgraded our RV as many RVers do.
Part 5 Why Choose Your Salesperson?
Once you have determined the use you intend for your unit and the approximate size you need, it is time to choose a salesperson and broker. There are many. Some deal in new units for manufacturers and others deal primarily in used units.
The buyer should use a salesperson who can find an appropriate RV and possibly be able to help the buyer upgrade later, often in just a few years. History dictates that buyers’ needs frequently change with time. Notes: Flooding a buyer with listings is not typically the sign of a caring salesperson.
Of course, a buyer can find and purchase a recreational vehicle all by him/herself; but, a knowledgeable sales person can provide needed guidance to the client. A salesperson should be more than a person that takes money and turns over a set of keys. He must also be an understanding guide.
The chosen salesperson should have experience on the road with RVs as well as having a general knowledge of ALL types of recreational vehicles. To provide the buyer with proper guidance, anecdotal experiences are necessary for the application of qualified guidance for the purchase of a unit suited to the individual client’s needs. This can help assure that the client gets the greatest value for his/her purchase price.
Some sales people are independent in their work for a broker. The best sales person, independent or not, must rely on their broker. With hundreds of brokers to choose from, the prospective buyer must do his/her “due diligence” or determine whether the broker is honest, flexible, attentive, and have access to their product.
In a world that is rapidly turning digital, the used RV broker that is tied to a few campers on their fixed lots is limited in their offerings. Such brokers as Lazy Days or Camper’s World can have a hundred or more newly manufactured as well as used units on their lots but may begin fading out in the future due to the extreme cost of maintaining both facilities and inventory. A digital supplier that has thousands of available units can meet nearly every need at a reasonable price. In the end, I chose POP Yachts and RVs because the reviews were over-all positive and they are both international as well as domestic.
It seems obvious that if a buyer wants to purchase a brand-new RV, the more traditional broker with a fixed lot inventory may be the best option. However, if a buyer wishes to avoid the great initial depreciation of a new unit and get a clean RV in great condition for a fraction of the new price, the sales person working for you through a pre-owned RV broker is probably your best choice.
Note: Used American made recreational vehicles (caravans), especially tow-behinds and fifth wheels, are ideal for use in nearly every country in the world. Used units allow the right price for transport. For international use, some possible low cost modifications may be necessary, such as having an electric inverter installed and installation of authorized propane tank valves. Because of their reputation for high quality, used American made units may be excellent choices.
Florida States Parks are some of the best and most interesting parks in the country. Florida Parks have great facilities and can match almost any camping and vacation need. Whether you are hiking along the Florida trails, driving you Class A motor home, tenting in with a group of Scouts, or pulling a camper you can find a spot suited to your individual preferences. If you decide to leave the rustic camping, carry in and out all your stuff, to the most-hearty purists, you will find at most sites electric, water, and either sewer or pump outs readily available, good camper pads, and plenty to explore and do.
It is interesting that Florida is really a flat peninsula on which the northern portion has a rolling geology with deciduous forests. Florida’s south is loaded with lakes and a savannah like environment. The extreme south is sub-tropical and meets its end in a 100-mile string of tropical islands. Its extreme end is the life-style island community of Key West. Just driving, its takes a day or more on expressways to go from one end to the other.
As you travel south, look for that park you think you will like, except for the tourist season in which travelers from all states north, including Canada, will take up many available sites, you will always find a site right for you. During tourist season October to March, call for reservations; sites will be available but the number of choices at the parks may be limited. You may need to visit the next park down the road to find a spot. Interestingly, a you may need to search for a site during tourist season but you will soon understand why so many travel these roads during the season. Mark your favorite camping places on a map or park guide and keep it for your next trip.
March to October is for the Floridians. Lower prices and many available spots almost anywhere make the camping experience easy and affordable. It is true that Florida has its summer rains, heat, and mosquitoes but those of us who camp here take these nuisances as just a matter of course. The people are not pressed by crowds, everything is open and operating, and the sites are at their cleanest and best kept. The fishing is exceptional and wildlife of all sort may visit you in your site. When was the last time you were visited by a flock of turkeys so close they were touchable, or have deer sniff around you as you sat and enjoyed the forest. My wife one time had to chase away a sandhill crane as it tried to enter our camper - with her in it. At five feet, my wife was virtually looking eye-to-eye with this large avian friend.
One of our favorite parks is Kissimmee State Park. The park has 124 sites including 60 camper site and 60 tent sites, 2 group sites and 2 rustic sites for backpackers. You can find the park by turning north off route 60 onto Boyscout Road and turning right at the “T” onto Camp Mack Road. The park is ahead on the right and you will be met by a very friendly and helpful ranger. Camping site are also supported by a volunteer Host.
Camp Mack is a private camping area and fishing camp merely a bicycle ride further east of the park. Camp Mack has a small convenient store, boat rentals, guided boat rides, and a group of wonderful people who meet around a campfire gathering in the evening.
Most people don’t realize that Florida has been, and still is today, a cattle growing state. Florida cowboys were a tough bunch that work off the back of sturdy swamp-bred horses that were used to dig the cattle out of the rough brushy savannah country that also held alligators, poisonous snakes and insects in hot weather and Florida tropical type rains. Unlike the better-known cowboys of the old-west, Florida cowboys used the whip rather than the lariat earning them the name of “Crackers” for the sound made by their whips when working cattle. A Lake Kissimmee State Park you can visit an 1876 cow camp and talk directly with a Florida Cracker. All this and a cow camp visit is free.
A good place to visit:
Lake Kissimmee State Park
14248 Camp Mack Rd.
Lake Wales , FL 33898
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