RVBusiness is rolling out the 2015 RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards through which well-run U.S. and Canadian retailers nominated by North American RV manufacturers will be recognized at a Nov. 4 reception held during the 2015 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo at Bally’s on the Las Vegas Strip. The convention is sponsored by the U.S.-based Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) as well as RVDA of Canada and the Mike Molino RV Learning Center.
The RVBusiness Top 50 awards are part of an independent, bar-raising, quality-focused program overseen by RVBusiness and BJ Thompson Associates that promotes best business practices at RV dealerships in both the U.S. and Canada.
“We were amazed at how well things went last year, the first year we hosted the awards after a three-year, post-recessionary hiatus, in terms of the cooperation we got from the national trade associations — our hosts in what turned out to be a very special Wednesday night reception at the Con/Expo,” said RVBusiness Publisher Sherman Goldenberg. “The interest level was also impressive among dealers who cooperated by filling out the applications that were forwarded to them for a review by our panel of experts.
“And we were pleased, to say the least, by the number of dealers who chose to attend our Con/Expo reception, which is free to all convention registrants,” added Goldenberg. “Beyond the awards presentations themselves, the reception turned into a memorable and much appreciated social mixer for all of us that, like the Con/Expo itself, underscored RVDA convention’s emerging reputation as a networking event for the entire RV industry.”
Eight sponsors have stepped up to underwrite this year’s RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards, including Ally Financial Inc., Cummins Power Generation, Dicor Corp., Dometic Corp., Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., Lippert Components Inc., Protective Asset Protection and GE Capital Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF).
Two of the sponsors will again bestow special awards, one by Ally for charitable giving and another by Lippert for business innovation.
Ally and RVB will also make a joint donation to the philanthropic award-winning dealer honoree’s charity of choice, while Dometic and RVB plan to partner in what is becoming an annual gesture by donating $2,500 to Kampgrounds of America Inc.’s “KOA Care Camps” for kids with cancer.
Indeed, RVDA President Phil Ingrassia indicates, it looks as if this year’s Nov. 2-6 Con/Expo should continue the success achieved by the 2014 convention, which posted a 22% registration growth and included 120 exhibitors and 60 presenters for 50 education and training sessions.
“All our leading indicators going into the show are very strong with regard to dealer attendance and also exhibitor interest in the show,” Ingrassia told RVBUSINESS.com. “So, things are going very well and we’re looking to build on the success of last year. We’re very pleased to have the RVBusiness Top 50 reception and awards ceremony back at the convention. It created a lot of excitement and it’s a natural extension of recognizing outstanding dealerships when we have so many focused dealer personnel there at the convention improving themselves through continuing education. And we’ll also have the nation’s leading RV suppliers, manufacturers and service providers at the Con/Expo.”
Elkhart, Ind.-based PR executive BJ Thompson, an active Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) board member who coordinates the RVBusiness Top 50 selection process with associate Barb Riley, says the “panel of experts,” largely comprised of well-known industry retirees, has been lined up for the year.
“The process of naming 50 top dealers in North America is a lot of work, but I’m again looking forward to it,” said Thompson. “It’s remarkable to see the creativity and hard work of top dealers through their applications. But the real satisfaction comes from the fulfillment of the core purpose of the Top 50 program, which is to recognize some great dealers who are at the top of their profession and are the pride of their industry.”
Here are nine frequently asked questions regarding the RVB Top 50:
1: Where did this whole Top 50 idea come from? The concept was actually borrowed about a decade ago — back when RVB was owned by Affinity Group Inc. — from AGI’s “Top 100″ marine dealers awards program sponsored by the company’s “Boating Industry” magazine. We figured 100 was just too many, so we modified the concept and adapted it to the RV arena and started recognizing U.S. and Canadian dealers for their track records with respect to overall business operations, customer service, general professionalism and civic/charitable involvement. Then, we started recognizing RVBusiness Top 50 dealers during RVDA’s Con/Expo, where there is already a gathering of leading dealers.
2: Are award recipients ranked from 1 to 50? No, dealers aren’t ranked, although we do recognize five Blue Ribbon performers who will be honored (in alphabetical order) as the top finishers among the 50 award recipients.
3: How does a dealership get nominated for the awards? RV manufacturers do the nominations, and it doesn’t matter how many times a dealer gets nominated by different OEM’s when it comes to making the final selections.
4: So, how does RVBusiness make those final selections? A small committee of independent industry veterans – we call them our panel of experts – sits down at Elkhart’s RV/MH Hall of Fame and reviews all of the applications.
5: What advantage is there to being named to the Top 50? Aside from the satisfaction of being recognized for excellence, Top 50 honorees generally get local and regional newspaper coverage as well as high profile exposure on RV consumer websites plus prestigious logos for use in their advertising, showrooms and retail show displays as well as an actual personalized award.
6: When are nominees’ applications due? August 15, although there may be some wiggle room, especially if dealers let us know ahead of time that they’re still planning on submitting their applications so that we can plan around them.
7: Are dealers expected to answer every question in the application? Again, if a question or two on the application is problematic or perhaps too intrusive, skip it. That said, we trust that retailers will view the application itself as an opportunity to present their store(s) in the best possible light and take the opportunity to expand their other answers where pertinent so that we can get a good handle on their general business philosophies. The judging, after all, is made on the basis of a complete, well-presented and impressive application.
8: Are multistore dealers limited to entering only one of their facilities? No, you can enter as a group.
9: To whom do I direct Top 50 questions? Contact Sherm Goldenberg at (574) 457-3370 or (574) 457-6637 or [email protected] BJ Thompson can be reached at (574) 255-5000/ext. 501 or [email protected] and Barb Riley at (574) 255-5000/ext. 505 or [email protected]