RV Dealers Share CRM Best Practices

It’s no secret that in order to be a successful RV business, you must rely on bringing in new customers and keeping your current ones. On average, a customer will look to trade-in their RV every 3 to 4 years. With that active of a market, you need to make sure you maintain consistent communication with each and every one of your customers to help ensure the initial purchase and each trade-in is done through you.

The thought of implementing a plan to maintain continual communication with your customers can seem like a daunting task. The good news is that there have been great strides made with technology to help dealers stay on top of their leads and customers.  This technology is called Customer Relationship Management, or CRM. A CRM solution typically integrates with your dealer management system, in some capacity, so that all customer information is shared and communication can be automated based on that data.

With the help of Jeremy Ketelsen, Vice President of Ketelsen RV, and Brian Wilkins, President and Owner of Wilkins RV, we’ll show you, from a dealer perspective, how to grow your customer base, implement a CRM solution, and offer best practices for using a solution effectively.


Growing and Managing Your Customer Base

Before you can effectively utilize a CRM solution, you have to grow and manage your customer database. New customers are obtained in a variety of different ways including walk-ins, phone, internet, trade shows, and other events. It’s important that with every new contact you make, you collect a phone number and email address.  These vital pieces of information will play a key role in your CRM success. Sending an email or a text message has proven to be significantly cheaper and more effective than direct mail by allowing you to send more targeted messages with a greater frequency.

 “We used to send a lot for direct mailing pieces,” said Brian Wilkins. “With the ability to email, e-blasts are now our best tool. It’s a lot cheaper and a lot easier than all of the time, money and work that’s involved with direct mail.”

“We send out a blast from each department once a month which translates into our customers receiving an email once per week,” added Brian. “We’ll do a sales event at least once a month, specials once a month, service maintenance once per month, etc. so we’re constantly on a rotation.”


How many emails are too many?

Although Brian sends out emails to his customer base once a week, you should use caution in how frequently you contact customers to prevent them from unsubscribing. So how can you gauge the interest level of your audience? 

“You have to analyze your web stats in your CRM system,” said Jeremy Ketelsen. “We’ll look at how many opens, versus sent, versus unsubscribe. We look at every email and determine if it’s relevant and how well it performed. The neat thing is that every time you send emails and review the analysis, the better you get at sending the right message, at the right time, to the right people.”


How do you assign leads?

Jeremy and Brian use two separate approaches when assigning leads. Jeremy uses a round robin method while Brian has implemented a full Business Development Center (BDC).  Each have proven advantages and results.

“We have success with the round robin system,” said Jeremy. “This feature is available in our IDS CRM and it corresponds through their mobile application. A lead comes in through our website, or through a third party, and then it’s put through a round robin process. The system first determines if the inquiry is from someone who is already assigned to one of our salespeople. If it is, the inquiry goes to them via their mobile device. The system also sends an email to the salesperson and everything is time-stamped.  If the lead doesn’t have a prior assignment, it goes to an online up sale system.”

“We take a more traditional approach with our leads,” said Brian. “That’s what’s great about a CRM is that you can personalize it and cater it to what works best in your dealership. We use a BDC which is a Business Development Center.  We have a team of specialists that work all of the internet leads. The intent is to work the lead to an appointment at which time they will turn the lead over to a salesperson. When a lead comes in, the representative will look up the contact and if they’ve already been working with a salesperson, they will assign them to that rep. If it’s a new lead, they are going to dig in, start responding, answer questions, and get the customer in the door as soon as possible.”

With either method, there is automation where you can follow the progress from start to finish.

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