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With 2021 well underway, the RV industry (and the world) is still experiencing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But despite the challenges, many dealership businesses were able to not only stay afloat but thrive in 2020 and have continued to thrive in 2021. In fact, the RV industry is expected to grow by 7% between 2019-2025.
With everything we’ve learned in the past year, how are dealers plotting their course for the year ahead? We surveyed RV dealers across North America to find out what challenges they expect to face in 2022, what technology they plan on implementing at their dealerships, and what sales channels they want to focus on.
Here is what we found.
When asked what some of the biggest challenges RV dealers expect to face in 2022 are, 34% of respondents said “parts shortages”. “Hiring and retaining talent” was a close second with 27%, followed by “Fixing service bottlenecks” with 19%.
What’s more, when asked if decreasing their repair event cycle time would be a priority for dealers in 2022, 88% of respondents said yes. Industry benchmarking reports like the IDS RECT Report can help dealers pinpoint service department bottlenecks.
With parts shortages being top-of-mind for dealers across North America, it comes as no surprise that many dealers are looking for ways to optimize parts management.
When asked which processes dealers plan on optimizing in 2022 using technology, the top answers were evenly split between “parts ordering and inventory management” (32%), “service management and work” (33%).
Tools like Service Mobile that gives service technicians the flexibility to manage tasks and enter work order data on the go will play a role in optimizing dealership workflows. When asked if dealers plan on using mobile technology for sales, service, and payments in 2022, a resounding 77% said yes.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of having multiple sales channels for your business. Due to social distancing guidelines, many RV businesses had to create a more robust customer experience for their dealership online. For example, more dealers have started offering virtual tours of their units.
But the benefits of having a strong online presence go beyond the pandemic. Millennials and Gen Z make up 22% of current RV buyers. These demographics are used to shopping online and reading reviews before deciding to patron a business.
When asked if online sales and marketing will be a priority for RV dealers in 2022, 77% said yes. But when asked if dealers currently offer an online catalog, only 23% said they do and only 12% said it’s up to date.
The topic of sustainable RV technology has been gaining traction over the past year. According to the “Go RVing Owner Demographic Profile”, 88% of RV owners would like to see an off-grid element incorporated into their next RV, with the greatest growth in desire being for generators and solar panels, and WiFi.
But despite the increase in interest from buyers, many dealers are not ready to offer those features quite yet. When asked if alternative/eco-friendly power sources and features would be a priority for RV dealers in 2022, 77% answered no. For the dealers that do plan on making alternative power a priory, they may be positioning themselves to tap into an early market that is likely to grow.
In 2020, many businesses and associations were forced to either cancel their events or move them online. This year, with restrictions lightening in many places in North America, a number of events have adopted a hybrid approach, offering both in-person and online sessions, like the 2021 RVDA Convention.
The question now is, how do organizations approach events moving forward?
When asked what types of events dealers prefer or plan to attend in 2022, 56% of respondents said in-person events. However, a not-insignificant 28% said online, while 16% said hybrid.
The benefits of online and hybrid events—including accessibility and less overhead costs—may give event organizers reason to adopt a new approach moving forward.
With travel restrictions in place throughout 2020 and some of 2021, the RV industry saw an uptick in demand for rentals. Despite restriction loosening and many people across North America resuming their travels, industry experts predict RV rentals will continue to be relevant in the year ahead.
But when asked if they currently offer rental services at their dealership, 74% of survey respondents answered no, and they don’t plan on adding rental services to their dealership in 2022. Only 5% said that they do plan on adding rental services.
Still, with more RV owners putting up their units for rental on sites like Airbnb, and more people co-op buying RVs for the purpose of renting them out, dealers may want to keep an eye on this trend.
Despite the challenges 2020 and 2021 have presented, the RV industry is booming. RVIA projects a 33% increase in RV shipments by year-end in 2021 over 2020. Does that mean RV dealers are looking to expand their businesses in 2022?
When asked if they plan on opening another dealership location in 2022, 89% of respondents said no. However, bigger dealerships are looking to expand—7% of respondents said they are planning on opening a fourth location or higher.
For more insights like this, read our IDS RV Industry Trends Report. In this report, we share data-driven insights from leading industry organizations and experts, to help dealers like you navigate the road ahead.
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