Interview with Sun & Fun on How to Prosper as a Small, Family-Owned RV Dealership

Sun and Fun logoSun & Fun has come a long way to develop into the thriving RV business it is today. In 1972 Don Goedken was 21 and a poor college student trying to support a family, so he began working for Hawkeye Tent and Awning in Iowa City, IA.  The gentleman who owned the awning shop wanted to retire. Don hadn’t worked there very long, but ended up approaching him about buying the business.

The owner was skeptical at first, but decided to give Don a shot. Shortly after buying the business, Don began carrying toppers and then pick-up campers. Before he knew it, he was in the RV business.

Today, Sun & Fun RV is in its second generation of ownership with Don’s son Chad managing the daily operations of the business. We recently sat down with Chad to discuss how the dealership sets itself apart from some of the larger dealerships in the area and has greatly improved its daily business operations with the help of IDS.

Watch a 2-minute video to see how Sun & Fun prospers with the help of IDS cloud solution:

IDS: What do you think makes your dealership unique?

Chad: “I think all dealerships want to answer this question the same way and say customer service.  But really to me it’s the culture that’s developed from our employees and the way we operate. Being a smaller dealership, I feel we have more of a family type environment. We have good employees that believe in what they are doing and taking care of their customers. We’ve worked to have an, ‘open door’ policy and that starts with my door. If you have a question or suggestion on how we can improve something for our customers, I’m all ears. I like to listen. More heads are better than one.”

IDS: Tell us a little about how your daily business management operations have evolved over the years. 

Chad: “When I purchased the business from my father, we didn’t have a dealer management system so I went out and purchased QuickBooks. Shortly after that I realized that it was not an appropriate software system to handle a business of this nature. It really didn’t departmentalize anything and it didn’t have the reports that I really needed to make the right decisions for the business. So I was still doing a lot of things on spreadsheets that we were doing prior to QuickBooks. It basically increased my work load rather than reduced it. We knew we needed a more industry specific way to manage our dealership. As I started investigating different software programs out there, I came to the conclusion that IDS SMS was the right one and we implemented it in January 2012. I wanted something that was going to departmentalize our dealership and IDS SMS has done just that.”

IDS: When you decided you needed an upgrade from QuickBooks, how many systems did you research before choosing IDS?

Chad: “I looked at several different programs. After talking to other friends in the industry and the software companies, we narrowed it down to Systems2000 and IDS. After the online product demonstrations of both, IDS proved to be the best software for our business.”

IDS: You decided to go with the IDS SMS web-hosted solution.  What made you decide on a cloud system?

Chad: “IDS SMS being web-based was a big factor in making our decision because I didn’t have to worry about the upfront costs associated with purchasing additional hardware and software. For a small business, it’s a good way to control your upfront costs and expenses. The added cost involved in hosting a system in-house just wasn’t feasible for our size of dealership. Having a web-based solution reduced the cost of implementing a powerful tool like IDS. Another huge advantage is that our data is safe at an offsite location.”

IDS: In what ways has your business improved since using IDS?

Chad: “Now that we’re departmentalized, I can analyze the data based upon the different departments.  This allows me to narrow down what needs our attention so that we can correct the issue and improve our business. It really has helped us to pinpoint what needs our attention.  Departmentalization and the number of reports that are available have been important to getting us down the right path.”

IDS: What reports help you the most?

Chad: “We use a lot of different reports for different purposes.  We track the efficiency of the service department, so we have a good idea of our performance.  We look at which techs are the most efficient on which task so we can try to assign the right tech to the right job to obtain maximum efficiency.  The financial data reports are fantastic and so are the inventory reports.  We utilize the Aged Inventory report and the Inventory Requirements report to monitor our inventory age and to forecast our inventory needs for the next few months.   Aside from looking at our profit and loss report and our balance sheet IDS also offers a Total Operations report that breaks down the profit and loss and balance sheet. These reports give us a great picture of everything that’s happening in the dealership to allow us to make more informed decisions.”

IDS: In what ways have you saved time or money since implementing IDS?

Chad: “A lot of double entries have been eliminated in all departments.  When we receive service calls we can pull up existing customer information to put on the work order and also track all work orders based on the customer number in the system.  No more digging through file cabinets or boxes for previous work orders.  We can easily pull up all work orders related to that customer.  It’s great being able to keep the whole sales process in one system from quote to a finalized deal.  The parts processing has been great.  Being able to go through the whole process from receiving the part to the integration between the service and the parts department for the parts associated with ROs saves time.  The Service Scheduler is fantastic.  We implemented that about a year and a half ago, and that’s been a great way to keep track of everything going on in the service department.”

IDS: How have the IDS F&I features benefited your dealership?

Chad: “The F&I features have been great!  We can go in and print off the purchase agreement, trade documentation, and the entire contract with our clients. Having all of this in one place and not needing additional software is time-saving and money-saving.”

IDS: What has your customer service experience been like working with IDS?

Chad: “The support is fantastic! When we used QuickBooks if we had an issue, we would be on the phone for hours with somebody from overseas. Not to take anything away from them, but they didn’t understand our business. With IDS, when we call support and ask a question, they understand our business and they get us on the right track. They draw experiences that other dealerships have had to help us solve our issues. The people we have worked with from IDS have been great. I initially worked with Greg Dewalt as our sales rep and he’s a fantastic guy, and has experience at the dealer level to draw from. Now we work with Shannon Held, who I have known from previous areas of the RV industry. She always has great suggestions on how to improve our operation. The whole process from the initial sale to the training and support has been a great experience and we couldn’t be happier.”

IDS: What future goals do you have for the dealership and how will IDS help?

Chad: “Obviously our goal is to grow the business and provide a great atmosphere for our customers and employees.  I think what is going to help us do that is proper data to analyze and determine our strengths and our weaknesses.  With this information we can see what we need to do to grow the business.  IDS will be a big part of that with the many different reports to give us accurate information to analyze.”

IDS: What advice do you have for the businesses looking to implement a web-hosted dealer management solution for their business?

Chad: “Analyze it, look at all of the different options out there and find the DMS for your business.  Ultimately you will find that IDS is the right fit for the value when you are going with a web-hosted dealer management software solution.”

Want to learn more about IDS hosted solution?

Tell us about your business and we’ll show you a complete dealer management software that your dealership can utilize through a subscription service without a costly up-front investment.

Share this with your friends and colleagues:

Don’t miss out!

Get the latest resources sent directly to your inbox.