Dealers were upbeat about the potential for 2006 as aftermarket distributor Stag-Parkway Inc. hosted about 700 people representing some 600 RV dealerships during its annual trade show – Business Solutions 2006 – Jan. 16-18 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas.
“Dealer attitudes were positive about the business prospects for 2006, mainly because most of them had a positive 2005,” Mike McKay, vice president of sales and marketing for the suburban Atlanta, Ga.-based distributor, told RV Business. “The dealerships that seem to be progressive and are improving their infrastructure and training their personnel are the ones who are having success.
“There is some share-shifting going on where stronger dealerships are taking share away from weaker dealerships,” McKay added. “The dealerships that are responsive to the changing needs of the RVers today – the younger RVers – are the ones that are winning the battle.”
At the trade show, Stag-Parkway sponsored 14 workshops on subjects that included ways to increase aftermarket sales, how to promote an RV dealership on the Internet and identifying the hallmarks of successful RV dealerships.
A question-and-answer roundtable with company officials was held over a luncheon, and at the general meeting dealers got a preview of the new Phase IV Go RVing television ads that were to begin running on NBC in February during broadcasts of the Winter Olympic Games.
In McKay’s general session presentation to dealers, he noted that matters beyond the industry’s control – primarily Hurricane Katrina, which grew sales, and rising interest rates, which negatively affected sales prospects – had an impact on business throughout 2005.
At the same general meeting Stag-Parkway President Stan Sunshine expressed hope that interest rates would stabilize by the prime spring selling season.
“The impact of continued interest rate increases on the monthly payment of a new RV are well known to us all, as they tend to exponentially increase those amounts beyond the comfort level of many of our consumers,” Sunshine told dealers.
Even with consumer confidence slipping, the industry has done remarkably well, Sunshine said. “2004 and 2005 were the best years our industry has encountered in decades, despite all the issues that we have faced,” he noted.
McKay said that all segments of the industry need to work to increase customer satisfaction, which hasn’t risen substantially beyond 80% in recent years, despite industry efforts.
“There are several reasons for these levels of satisfaction or dissatisfaction, most of which deal with service levels – how long it takes to fix a problem, getting good information on what’s wrong and how long it will take to fix, and the overall issue of parts delivery,” McKay said. “We all share to some extent the solution to these issues.
“One of our core values is continuous improvement,” he continued, “and this manifests itself in the ongoing training efforts of our sales team to bring you the type of relationship that will help us achieve our mutual objectives.”
North Trail RV, an RV dealership in Fort Myers, Fla., received Stag-Parkway’s Lifetime Value Grand Prize from among a group of six Lifetime Value Award winners that included All Seasons RV, Yuba City, Calif.; Colerain Travel Center, Cincinnati, Ohio; All Seasons RV Center, Streetsboro, Ohio; Colton RV, North Tonawanda, N.Y.; Big Country RV, Bend, Ore.
According to Stag-Parkway, the six finalists, “truly set (themselves) apart from others in a very positive way” in 2005.
Recipients of Stag Parkway’s Supplier Partnership Award were Automatic Equipment Manufacturing Co. (Blue Ox), Pender, Neb.; B&W Custom Truck Beds Inc. dba B&W Trailer Hitches, Humboldt, Kan.; Camco Manufacturing Inc., Greensboro, N.C.; Prime Products, Paramount, Calif., Progress Manufacturing (Equalizer Hitches), Provo, Utah,; Cygnus Business Media (RV Trade Digest), Fort Atkinson, Wis.; SHURflo LLC, Cypress, Calif.; Tekonsha (Cequent Commercial Products), Tekonsha, Mich.; Ultra-Fab Products Inc., Elkhart, Ind.; and Valterra Products Inc., Mission Hills, Calif.