Because RV manufacturers use many of the same suppliers, the attractiveness of the floorplan has become a key element in determining the number of units that consumers are willing to buy from a particular manufacturer.
But because of the competitive nature of the RV business, new floorplans are not unique for very long, Kay Toolson, president and CEO of Monaco Corp. Corp. said during Monaco’s national dealer meeting in Las Vegas last month.
This also complicates brand-management strategy for large producers such as Monaco, which builds the Beaver, Holiday Rambler, McKenzie, Monaco and Safari brands.
In the case of Monaco, difficulties can arise when designing floorplans for its Monaco, Beaver, Safari and Holiday Rambler motorhomes, Toolson said.
“I have heard some of you say, ‘Gee, this product is similar to your other brand.’ ” Toolson said during a speech to the dealer gathering. “We’ve worked hard, and we’ll work even harder, to differentiate our products so that they each have unique character and value. And we’ll do our very best to keep floorplans unique from brand to brand.
“The problem is if we have a really hot Holiday Rambler floorplan, the Monaco dealers beat the tar out of us for it, and vice versa,” Toolson continued. “And it’s no different for any of our other brands.
“This extends to our competitors too,” according to Toolson. “For example, many of you (dealers) beat up our competition, telling them that they need this Holiday Rambler floorplan or this Safari floorplan. Sure enough, that’s all it takes for them to copy it. You know it used to take these guys a long time to copy our floorplans, but they’re getting better at it.
“As a result, very few hot-selling floorplans remain unique for long, whether we offer them in more than one brand or our competitors offer them. This is not an easy issue to resolve, but we won’t stop creating exciting products that your customers demand and our competitors envy.”
The solution, according to Toolson, is for dealers to develop their own customer loyalty to go along with the loyalty that customers may already have to a particular manufacturer or brand.
“As dealers, you need to do everything you can to make your customers loyal to you so they will return to your dealership for their next purchase,” Toolson said. “We know that you know if you go the extra mile for your customer, the Holiday Rambler owner who bought an Ambassador from you is not going to price-shop a Monaco Knight in a similar market segment with similar features and amenities.
“By promoting the heck out of your products and providing a high level of customer care, your customers won’t pressure you by saying they could buy a similar coach down the street from XYZ dealer,” he said. “They’ll buy from you again because they believe you’re a better dealer.
“We want them to buy a Monaco Coach Corp. product, whether it is a Holiday Rambler, Beaver, Safari, Monaco or McKenzie, because they had a great experience. We want them to cringe at the thought of buying a Fleetwood, Winnebago, Damon or any (competitor). We want them to return to you because they know your dealership and our company are going to take care of them. We want your customers to purchase our brands because they feel incredibly loyal to both us and your dealership.”
There will be full coverage of Monaco’s dealer meeting in the September issue of RV Business magazine.