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The RV industry has done well this year, but considering the influx of Baby Boomers and their relative buying power — along with the anticipated effects of the GoRVing advertising campaign — dealers should be selling at least two to three times as many units as they are today.
That’s what Mike Molino, president of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), told dealers attending the 9th Annual Conference of the California Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (CalRVDA).
“My concern,” Molino stated, “is that the industry isn’t geared up enough to take advantage of the potential and we’re kind of just cruising along saying, ‘Oh, we’re doing a lot better.’ But count the number of units that we delivered and sold last year and how many we’re going to deliver and sell this year. And then go back and look 15 years ago, 20 years ago, 25 years ago, and there’s no dramatic increase. …
“But if you look at the levels of business, we ought to be doing twice as much, maybe three times as much as we’re doing now,” Molino said. “I think there are a heck of a lot more sales out there than we’re trying to get and we’re really complacent to say, ‘Gosh, we’re doing better.’ ”
Though Molino did not outline specific steps dealers should take to improve their sales, he did note that RVDA has formed an RV Learning Center, which provides dealers with specialized training programs to improve the capabilities and performance of their employees who work in management, sales, F&I, service management and other areas.
At the same time, he commended California RV dealers for their activism and support of the national RVDA. “I really do appreciate what you all are trying to do here,” he said. “And I think the dealers across America appreciate what you try to do for the association, because you really are one of the strongest and largest state dealer associations across the country. And you’re one of the most professionally run that I know of.”
The daylong conference, which took place Oct. 31 at Marriott’s Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage, Calif., included the installation of CalRVDA’s officers for 2003, including as president, Jim Shields of Pan-Pacific RV Centers, Inc., French Camp; vice president Bruce Cooper, Village RV, Inc., Roseville; treasurer, Fred Lemke, Happy Daze R.V., Sacramento; and secretary, Dick Dieterle, C & D Motorhomes, San Diego.
Honored for their years of CalRVDA board participation were Ernie Friesen, of All Seasons R.V., Yuba City, and Joe Range, of Range Vehicle Centers, Inc., Hesperia.
Among the speakers at the meeting was Paul Wible, senior vice president of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Bank of the West.
Wible warned dealers to be on the lookout for consumers who attempt to purchase vehicles using other people’s identities.
Dealers should scrutinize driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers, he said, particularly Social Security numbers that don’t appear to be consistent with the age of the people buying vehicles. Home addresses and the frequency of address changes should also be considered, especially if post office boxes are used instead of actual street addresses. Large numbers of credit inquiries, he said, might also signal a problem.
Speaker Peggy Kolkey, an attorney with the Los Angeles office of Hinshaw and Culbertson, urged dealers to closely document their RV repairs and to use caution when determining how long to allow RVs to remain at their repair shops because the number of days RVs is deemed to be out of service can be used against them in lemon-law lawsuits, even if they are merely storing the RVs for the convenience of consumers who don’t want to pick them up as soon as repairs are completed.
Also on the legal front, attorney Michael Sieving warned dealers to use extreme caution in writing and editing their advertisements because of the growing number of lawyers who file suit against RV dealers that violate state or federal advertising laws.
The conference also included educational seminars by Duane Spader, founder of Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Spader Business Management Co.