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It’s safe to say that the last few years have shown us just how quickly markets can change. We saw a big boom for RV dealers throughout 2021 and some leveling off in the industry in 2022.
So, what does 2023 have in store?
We surveyed RV dealers across North America to get a glimpse into the future – the challenges they anticipate, how they’re leveraging technology, and more. Here are 8 RV industry statistics every dealer should know.
It may not come as a huge surprise that top of mind for RV dealers heading into 2023 are rising product prices with 27% of respondents from our survey indicating it’s their biggest challenge. Hiring and retaining talent is the second largest challenge that RV dealers anticipate in the year ahead with 21%, followed by parts shortages with 18%, and rising unit inventory levels with 15%.
Recession, equipment recalls, and higher interest rates were some of the “other” challenges noted by respondents. 5% of survey participants said attracting new customers while 3% of respondents said customer retention and cybersecurity, respectively as their top challenges.
When it comes to automating service processes, 22% of respondents said they’d like to automate parts ordering and the same percentage said automating status updates. 18% of participants noted that they want to automate warranty submissions, followed by 15% who want to automate service scheduling, 13% to automate analytics reporting, and 7% to make invoicing automatic.
Automating tasks in the year ahead will be important among the short supply of skilled technicians. Service automation will help not just with reducing Repair Event Cycle Time (RECT) but streamlining communication between technicians, the service office, and parts department.
One of the best ways to start the customer journey on the right foot is through your dealership’s online presence. As younger generations, like Millennials and Gen Z, enter the RV market, your first point of interaction with these customers will be online – so having an updated website and online product catalog is crucial for reaching this audience.
However, 60% of RV dealers we surveyed said that they do not have an online product catalog. 40% of respondents said they do and of that percentage, only 25% of them have a product catalog that is up to date. In an ideal world, your physical and digital storefronts should work together. If you have a well-designed website, you’ve made the first step. If it displays accurate information on all your products and brands, you’re further ahead than most.
Only 35% of RV dealers currently offer mobile service outside the dealership. Offering mobile service could be a huge differentiator for your dealership. Now, with mobile service software like IDS Service Mobile, teams can access Work Orders, schedules, statuses, and timesheets from anywhere there’s a cellular or Wi-Fi location. Mobile service frees your team from their workstation or service bay so they take service on the road and directly to the customer.
Consumers nowadays are more environmentally conscious and the popularity of going “off-grid” is growing. The electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure is growing with multiple manufacturers introducing EV concepts to the market.
Our survey of dealers across North America revealed that 90% of respondents are already selling electric features like solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, and electric power sources. In 2022, Winnebago shared its e-RV concept, Thor shared its Vision Vehicle concept, and Airstream shared its eStream travel trailer concept with more manufacturers expected to follow this trend.
According to our survey, only 10% of respondents currently offer rental services at their dealership compared to 85% who don’t offer rentals and don’t plan on adding them either.
This trend is consistent with the findings from last year’s survey where 74% of respondents didn’t have plans to add rental services. What we’re seeing instead is that customers are renting out their own units instead, turning their RVs into rental units.
Person-to-person platforms like RVEzy are connecting RV owners with vacationers using an Airbnb model. There is an opportunity here for dealers to work with these PTP providers—for example, offering service plans for rental units. Who knows, we may even see dealers acting in property manager roles in the not-too-distant future. There is a lot of untapped potential in the PTP market.
Our survey respondents noted that they’re seeing more and more women coming into dealerships looking to buy RVs. 65% of dealers surveyed said that of the buyers that patron their dealership, 25-50% are women and another 30% noted between 50-75%.
Similar rising trends have been identified by Mobile RVing with single women taking RVs on the road. The RV Industry Association also found that 70% of women are embracing the RV lifestyle as full-time RVers. There are also a growing number of RV clubs and associations, such as RVing Women and Sisters on the Fly. These communities encourage women to connect through rallies and RV traveling.
For the most part, 55% of dealers whom we surveyed said that they plan on offering more flexible payment plans in the year ahead.
Both dealers and customers can benefit from having flexible payment options.
Allowing customers to break down large RV purchases and choose a pay rate matching their financial ability means more customers who may not have been able to afford an RV before can now do so. For dealers, this means closing sales that would have otherwise not been possible.
On the Canadian side, RV dealers are also feeling the effects of parts and labor costs going up and inflation.
Bi-weekly payments are becoming a convenient alternative, especially for people who receive a paycheck every two weeks. Paying a portion of each check improves cash flow.
But the biggest advantage of bi-weekly payments is that you’ll pay off your loan faster and save on interest.
Do any of these results surprise you?
For more insights like these, read our 2023 RV Industry Trends Report. You’ll get data-driven insights from leading industry organizations and experts to help dealers like you navigate the road ahead.
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