The deadline for turning in completed applications for this year’s 2019 RV Business Top 50 Dealer Awards has been extended to Aug. 19, according to Top 50 Coordinator Barb Riley ([email protected]) and administrator BJ Thompson.

A panel of independent judges will then finalize the selections in a closed-door session in early September at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind.

That’s the way the Top 50 awards process has worked for 12 years as part of a program facilitated by Elkhart-based G&G Media Group LLC, the mission of which is to bolster industry professionalism  much like the former Go RVing Coalition’s Committee on Excellence by recognizing dealerships that excel in general business, civic-minded outreach, technician training and overall customer care.

Now, years after the Committee on Excellence fell by the wayside in the Great Recession, the Top 50 program continues to hold its ground as one of the industry’s cogent benchmarking tools.

“The Top 50 dealer awards are now part of the industry’s ongoing drive toward long-term improvement,” noted Thompson, a former long-term chair of the RV Industry Association’s (RVIA)  Public Relations Committee currently marking his 50th year in the industry. “We’re focused on smart dealers who are actively and earnestly improving their customers’ experiences. Those are the operations we want to highlight so they can tell the world that a third party has identified them as being an outstanding operation.

“The nomination process is simple,” he added. “We ask manufacturers to nominate their best dealers and we then send out applications. Those choosing to apply fill out applications that are ultimately reviewed by a panel of industry insiders who finalize the selections. Some of the key areas that we look for are dealers who provide a better customer experience to enhance the long-term RV lifestyle. Everything that pertains to customer satisfaction is evaluated including facilities, philosophy, employee education and more.”

Perhaps the most telling sign of the program’s evolution over the years, observed Thompson, is the pride with which it is viewed by dealers who market their Top 50 status in their advertising, public relations, show signage and staff apparel.

“It’s a program to which we’ve made a long-term commitment,” added RVB Publisher Sherm Goldenberg, who has worked since Day One with Thompson’s Elkhart agency in overseeing the awards. “Our goal from the outset was to recognize quality-minded U.S. and Canadian dealers who, because of their demonstrated professionalism, continue to help raise the bar for the rest of the industry.”

The program culminates at a Nov. 13 awards reception at Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino that’s open to all registered attendees at the RV Dealers Convention/Expo, the annual convention hosted by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association and RVDA of Canada. The following Top 50 sponsors will again play a visible role: Airxcel, Brown & Brown, Cummins Power Generation, Dometic Corp., Freightliner Custom Chassis, Northpoint Commercial Finance, NTP-STAG, Lippert Components Inc., Protective Asset Protection and Wells Fargo CDF.

Also feted at that reception will be five exemplary Blue Ribbon dealers plus the recipients of this year’s special awards: the Gaylord Maxwell Innovation Award sponsored by Lippert Components Inc. for creative business practices and the Arthur J. Decio Humanitarian Award sponsored by Wells Fargo CDF for charitable endeavors.

The Top 50 program will continue to provide decals and licensed use of the logo for winning dealers, said Thompson, adding that retailers have reported that just filling out the app in itself provides a worthwhile exercise for self-evaluation. “If they’re fortunate enough to go on to win,” said Thompson, “they have reported a large boost to the morale at their dealerships in addition to the obvious value as it relates to customer sales.”