To the delight of dealers everywhere, the pandemic unexpectedly boosted sales last year to levels not seen in more than a decade. But there’s growing speculation that the momentum may not continue through another prime selling season. In response, the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, a segment that also has seen robust Covid-related sales, is taking notable actions.
While the message that boating is the choice safe-family outdoor activity is still resonating, increasing concerns now range from dealer inventory levels and probable changes in consumer shopping trends, to supply-chain problems and renewed competition for discretionary recreational dollars. To maintain a “steady as you go” course may lead directly into a storm.
Many of the things RVIA is doing to head off a possible decline are worth reflection. For example, using its Go RVing consumer advertising mantle, the industry is addressing the need to do what’s necessary to keep newcomers from being drawn away from RVing. There’s little doubt that when competition for pastime pursuits resumes — from cruises to summer camp — other recreational activities will take a hit.
RVIA is supplying new RVers with the resources and information they need for successful outings. Using comprehensive articles and how-to videos on everything from how to select the right RV to setting up at a campground allows new RVers to be better informed. The expected result is more enjoyable experiences that should increase the likelihood they will remain RVers for the long haul, buying again and moving up.
The RV industry is also placing more focus on reducing the amount of time it takes for an RV to be serviced or repaired. Prior to the pandemic, the industry had begun a process of examining how to address this issue. Now, a task force has been created to establish and deliver measurable ways to reduce service and repair time.
To the service point, the development of the RV Technical Institute to increase the number of certified RV technicians was paying dividends prior to the pandemic. Even before RV technician became the third-fastest-growing job in 2020, according to RVIA, the RV Technical Institute was successfully training and certifying more RV technicians at its Indiana headquarters and through technical partnerships across the country.
The institute team also accomplished in 2020 the development of an online training program. The immersive program is self-paced, allowing students to complete training and testing according to their own schedules. The level one program focuses on predelivery inspections, and a level two program is about to be rolled out.
While hands-on, in-person training will continue to be a focus of the institute’s curriculum, the additional online program allows many more technicians to be trained and certified on the only industrywide curriculum.
For marine dealers, there is already a wealth of information available that should be provided to customers, especially new boaters. Moreover, much is available in print and video formats that are professionally produced and usually free. But it requires taking time for a dealer to seek out, review and select what’s appropriate.
If there’s ever been a time when taking such action could prove an insurance policy for future sales, it’s now. Start today by visiting the MRAA’S excellent Resource Center.