Scot Moody acknowledges that his Youtube alter ego, “The RV Whisperer,” has gained him some notoriety – and perhaps a few groupies – in the recreational vehicle community.
“I’ve been amazed at how many people watch those videos,” said Moody, who serves as towable sales manager for Elkhart, Ind.-based dealership Total Value RV. “In fact, I’ve had people approach me when I’m traveling and ask me if I’m the ‘RV Whisperer.’
“In the videos, I talk to the RV and tell it that I’m going to find it a good family and send it to a warm climate – just try to have fun. At the same time I give viewers a pretty thorough walkaround and also show them how to use the motorhome. They seem to love it. I was told that our YouTube presence has produced over 540,000 hits, which is pretty amazing.”
The intent, however, is not to grow Moody’s fan base, but provide another piece in Total Value RV’s widespread and highly targeted Internet campaign that has become the key cog in cementing the dealership’s status as the state’s No. 1 motorhome retailer for the past three years.
“Our business is heavy on Internet sales, and it’s primarily motorhomes,” Moody related, noting that Total Value, in operation since 2002, handles a mix of Thor Motor Coach, Forest River and Entegra motorized brands along with select towable lines from Heartland and Forest River. “In addition to the videos, we do a ton of Internet advertising. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have believed the amount of money we spend.
“Our owner, Hank Schrock, made it a priority, and it has proven to be a game changer for the dealership. The ads are all focused on driving people to our website.”
Moody emphasized that the company’s web-centric marketing focus was dictated by the Elkhart marketplace, noting that “being right down the street from the manufacturers” provides a decided edge over out-of-state competitors having to absorb shipping costs and added mileage on motorized units due to transport.
“We are the only dealer to sell new motorhomes that have less than 100 miles, which is featured prominently in our ads and on the website,” Moody told RVBUSINESS.com. “It’s a huge selling point and, along with our pricing and our service, is especially attractive to those high-end diesel coach buyers. We have found that those type of buyers shop dealers all over the country. The majority of our high-end sales are with customers that are out-of-state.
“We also are really strong in service. We have three bays dedicated to delivery and nine for service. The unique thing about us is that when anyone comes in off road, we try to take care of them. And for customers in other areas of the country, we are able to ship parts instantaneously instead of taking a week or two because the manufacturers, and a lot of the suppliers, are right here.”
He added, “We want to use every advantage of being an Elkhart dealer, which is reflected in our tag line of ‘Buy ‘Em Where They’re Built.’”
While Total Value has embraced the Internet, Moody said the online business model that took hold in Elkhart eventually signaled the downfall for the majority of Total Value RV’s local competition, which used to include 15 to 16 dealers concentrated on Cassopolis Street, the primary north-south connector in the city.
“For years, people used to travel to Elkhart because within a four-mile stretch they could see every brand, and shop the best price,” he said. “It was really competitive. But the Internet changed everything, especially the pricing structure. Dealers either caught on too late or they weren’t able to make the transition, and they began to slip away. Now there are just two dealers on that main stretch and then we’re located right off Cassopolis.”
Moody reported the dealer’s focus on the Internet, coupled with a resurgence in the industry as a whole, has triggered strong sales for the dealer over the last several years.
“We’ve had some of our best sales over the past three years,” Moody said. “It’s pretty much across the board. We are seeing some downsizing in motorized and have been doing well with Thor’s Axis, which is a smaller Class A.
“But something we’ve never seen before is that manufacturers are coming out with a 43-foot bunkhouse diesel pusher, which obviously is for RVers with families. It’s almost $400,000 but we’re moving some product. We’re also seeing steady sales in our towable lines. I don’t see things slowing down and from what we’ve experienced in the first month, 2017 is shaping up to be another strong year.”