Bruce Caico of California and Nevada partner John Ferrara have devised a way to help RV dealers tap into the burgeoning business of private-party sales by launching a website — RVSales.com – that allows dealers to supplement their existing used inventory with privately owned RVs being sold by consumers.
“Through RVSales.com, we’re essentially expanding the inventory of the dealership without expanding their floor,” reports Caico, CEO of RVSales.com of San Clemente. Calif.
Caico’s website works like this: Private-party sellers pay a fee to post each unit, complete with digital photos. Sellers are given the option of limiting purchase inquiries to private parties or making their listings available to dealers as well by “virtually consigning” them through the company’s Recreational Vehicle Listing Service (RVLS) system.
“The idea,” said Caico, “is to provide an organized system that functions similar to that of the MLS in real estate, since RV’s are more like homes on wheels, than automotive commodities.”
Consumers who opt to make their listings available to dealers increase their vehicle’s exposure and, consequently, increase their chances of selling their units in a timely manner. Dealers, in turn, can access RVSales.com to locate specific used units that match the needs of the customers visiting their lots.
“If somebody comes to your store and you don’t have what they’re looking for in the used category, you can see what’s available with the seller’s preapproved permission, through our ‘Web Lot’ dealer portal,” Caico explained.
Dealers who find units matching the needs of their customers can then contact the private-party sellers and negotiate a purchase price. The seller, of course, retains the right to accept or reject the dealer’s offer or wait for a better offer. In any event, dealers who succeed in arranging for the sale of privately owned units listed on RVSales.com can make a small profit on the transactions while gaining new customers who will likely come back to their stores when it’s time to trade in their used units.
“We’re trying to put a structure in place that doesn’t exist right now,” said Caico, adding that RVSales.com increases private parties’ chances of selling their vehicles in a timely manner while giving dealers the ability to tap markets they couldn’t otherwise reach. “Everyone wins,” Caico said, “including the dealer who now has authorized free access to otherwise unavailable used inventory to retain customer follow-through, earn commissions and sell F&I on an otherwise lost sale.”
The market potential is significant because roughly 85% of used RVs are sold by private parties, he said, citing Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) statistics. He added that the numbers are even more impressive when one considers that used RVs account for about 65% of all RVs sold each year.
All in all, the way Caico sees it, it’s a two-way deal. While most RV owners attempt to sell their used units on their own because they think they can get more money handling the transactiond themselves, private-party sellers tend to be inexperienced at the RV sales process and often wind up with inexperienced, first-time RV buyers. Such a process often produces both unhappy sellers and dissatisfied buyers, Caico said, adding that the consumers least likely to buy another RV are first-time buyers who purchased a unit from a private party – a fact he learned directly from Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President David J. Humphreys.
RVSales.com, however, gives dealers the ability to tap into the private-party sales process without entering into conflictd with private parties, because they retain the right to accept or reject whatever price dealers offer for their vehicles. Dealers who use RVSales.com can also offer to inspect the units of interest to their customers and provide basic safety and performance maintenance on the vehicle, much like they would with vehicles consumers provide to them on a consignment basis, hence infusing a level of quality control.
Dealers can also use the site to market their existing inventory of both new and used units, Caico said, adding that the service is being provided free of charge as a website promotion.
RVSales.com clearly is garnering dealers’ attention nationwide.
Lincolnshire, Ill.-based Holiday Holdings Co. LLC, the emerging retail chain, recently attempted to purchase the website, says Caico. In fact, the proposed transaction, which was never finalized, was prematurely announced in the December issue of RV Business.
Caico, however, has been aggressively moving forward to strategically develop and market RVSales.com.
“Our web traffic has already tripled since January,” he said, adding that “RVSales.com is providing dealers with business they can’t get anywhere else.”
RVSales.com, Caico adds, is attracting the attention of a growing number of private-party sellers who apparently like having the expanded exposure that the website provides. “It’s good for sellers and it’s good for buyers,” said Charles Turnbo, of Salado, Tex., who recently utilized RVSales.com to sell his 40-foot, 2002 Monaco Dynasty. He said a local dealer wanted to charge him a $25,000 consignment fee to sell his unit vs. a small advertising fee on the website.
Likewise, Joseph Coppola of Danbury, Conn., who recently listed his 36-foot, 1992 Coachman Royale motorhome, said he likes having the flexibility to consider offers from both dealers and consumers alike as well as the ease with which he was able to post his RV for sale.
“It took me only three minutes to post my information,” he said.