Our family is getting back into camping. We have been spending a lot of time researching and shopping for the right RV to get started.
So we have narrowed our search to a towable and have been looking at what is available from the local RV dealers.
Here are a few things that we have learned during this process:
Research, research, research
I can’t stress enough how important it is for an RV shopper to do as much research as possible BEFORE they walk onto a dealer lot.
Many RV dealers have pictures of their inventory on their websites. Some even have floor plans available to look at. We googled all of the RV dealers within 100 miles of us and proceeded to look at all of their websites to see what they had available. If we found a unit that we were interested in, we would note it and look at the manufacturer websites for further details.
Our research told us which dealers sold what products, what prices we could expect to pay for them, and generally helped us narrow down what we were looking for.
Visit as many RV dealers as you can
Online research can only tell you so much. Actually going to the dealerships will shed even more light on the process.
We visited almost all of the dealerships around us. Some sold new units, some sold used, and some sold both. This was important because not all dealerships are equal.
Pay attention to how you are treated
First impressions matter. The face of an RV dealer will tell you quite a bit about the place. Do they want to sell you an RV? How do they treat customers? An RV is a huge purchase. It is important that the customer service is top priority.
We visited many dealers and we ran into the whole range of treatment. There were a few places that, for reasons unknown to us, were not real interested in selling an RV to us. One salesman made us feel like it was a chore for him to talk to us. We had another one who, when he learned we were not interested in a larger budget purchase, became very curt and reluctantly showed us the two units he had on his lot that would fit our request.
If the salesman, who is being paid to SELL an RV, doesn’t have the time of day for us, what makes us think the service department will be any better? Or the finance department?
Don’t assume that the salesman knows everything
Since it is the salesman’s job to know about their product, it is easy to assume that they know everything about all of the RV’s on their lot. That is not necessarily the case.
We did deal with some salesmen who knew all about the RV’s that they showed us. But we also dealt with many who needed to consult a spreadsheet of the units that they had available. There are so many different floor plans, so many different weights, so many different accessories… It is a lot for one person to remember, unless they are selling a small number of units.
Since we researched the RV’s that we were interested in, we were sometimes more well versed in those units than the salespeople were.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Even though a salesman may not know everything about every unit, they should know quite a lot about the manufacturers.
For all of our research, there are things that we didn’t know. We learned a lot from asking lots of questions and from having genuine conversations with some knowledgeable salesmen. The things that we learned at one dealer would help us know what to ask about when we visited the next.
MSRP is not the sales price
Do not pay MSRP (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) for an RV. What we found in our interactions with the dealers and from our research was that you should expect a pretty good discount on that number. Some say 20% off, but we found that the best prices tended to fall at about 30% off. One thing for sure is that the price is negotiable.
What about you?
Is there something you can add?
What have you experienced at RV dealerships?