The chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) is urging dealers to make it a priority during the coming year to secure written agreements with their manufacturers that outline the obligations of both parties.
“I think it’s the most important thing you can do,” said RVDA Chairman Jim Shields. “It binds the relationship between you and the manufacturer. And it’s part of the security that’s necessary for both the manufacturer and the dealer to make the expenditures and to do the things that are necessary to move our industry forward.”
Shields, who owns French Camp, Calif.-based Pan Pacific RV Centers Inc., talked about the importance of written agreements during the 13th annual conference of the California Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (CalRVDA), held Nov. 8 at Marriott’s Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
The meeting, which drew more than 40 dealer representatives, offered reports from several prominent industry representatives, including RVDA President Mike Molino; Carl Pfalzgraf, chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA); RVIA President Richard Coon; and Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Travel Parks Association (CTPA).
On the topic of written agreements, CalRVDA President Andy Coyle said it behooves both dealers and manufacturers to obtain them as soon as possible. “A written agreement is a basis for a good business arrangement,” he said. “A verbal is just begging for trouble.”
While written agreements can offer various protections for dealers, they also help manufacturers. “The manufacturer gains a stable dealer group with ongoing policies that stabilize the industry,” Coyle said.
Coyle, who owns Canyon RV Center in Colton, Calif., said it’s also imperative that dealers and manufacturers work together to improve the industry’s parts fulfillment capabilities.
“We need to make parts fulfillment a priority,” he said. “It sounds like a small issue, but if you think about it, it has a lot of huge, unintended consequences.”
He noted that delays resulting from parts fulfillment are a primary cause of Lemon Law litigation against dealers and manufacturers. Parts-related delays also cost dealers money and lessen their ability to service vehicles efficiently.
“In the automobile business, they are able to service cars the same day, almost all the time,” he said. “That’s because they can get parts the same day or at worst in one or two days.”
Coyle said that some car dealers can have two service shifts a day, meaning they’re moving two complete sets of vehicles through their service department daily.
RV dealers, however, typically wait days or weeks to get parts. Coyle said part of the problem stems from the fact that RVs have multiple sources for parts, while cars typically only have one or two.
“It’s becomes a big deal,” Coyle noted, “because we all look like fools because we can’t get the job done.”
Dealers could help alleviate some of the problems by working with manufacturers to provide overnight shipping of RV parts, Coyle said. He also said the industry could benefit from the adoption of universal parts and warranty software so dealers could use one ordering system instead of multiple systems.
Coyle also said dealers and consumers would be better served if manufacturers allowed dealers to order warranty parts locally, rather than through the OEM. “We don’t have the economies of scale that the car business does,” he said. “But we can do a lot more than we are today to mitigate (these problems).”
Regarding the industry in general, Shields said that 2006 has been a challenging year for dealers. But Pfalzgraf noted that the industry goes through cycles and that he expects some improvement in shipments by the beginning of the third quarter of 2007.
CalRVDA’s annual meeting included presentations by attorney Aaron Jacoby as well as Mary Garcia, chief of the Department of Motor Vehicle’s occupational licensing division, and Bill Brennan, executive director of the California New Motor Vehicle Board, who spoke about dealer rights.
In other business, CalRVDA installed its officers for 2007. They include Coyle; Vice President Darrel Friesen, All Seasons RV, Yuba City; Secretary Mark Richardson, Richardson’s RV Centers, Riverside; and Treasurer Curt Curtis, Paul Evert’s RV Country, Fresno.