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With eCommerce becoming more and more popular, many RV dealerships are turning to the Internet for help – to blend both online and offline shopping experiences into one. The trick, of course, is to accomplish all that without overworking the staff.
One such dealership is the Tennessee RV Supercenter, founded by Roger Sellers and Charlie Anderson in 2004. By putting customers first and turning its website – tennesseerv.com – into a pivotal part of its business, Tennessee RV has become one of the most influential RV dealerships around, appearing on RVBusiness’ list of Top 50 RV Dealers in North America each year since 2010.
We’ve recently had the chance to learn what exactly makes Tennessee RV so successful from two key individuals at the dealership – Cindy Morton, the Office Manager, and Jowee Secore, its Marketing, IT and Web specialist. Find out what they had to say in our interview below.
Tell us a little bit about the dealership and how you got involved.
Jowee: “Tennessee RV started in 2004 with our owner, Roger Sellers, and another partner, Charlie Anderson, opening a location in Sevierville, Tennessee. However, due to rapid growth, they had to move to a much larger location in Knoxville in 2007, where they continued to thrive, even throughout the real estate crisis of 2008-09.
That’s roughly when I got involved as a sales rep. However, since selling isn’t really my forte, they developed a special role for me, which pulled from my Internet and technical backgrounds. I’m now involved in the marketing, IT and whatever else is needed for the dealership.
Cindy, on the other hand, was here from the very beginning.”
Cindy: “I started out as an assistant to the Sales Manager, and then continued to work in other departments – from receptionist to payroll and accounting. So, I’m involved in just about everything – my current position is Office Manager, Controller and Assistant to the General Manager.”
You have been named as one of the top 50 RV dealerships in North America by RVBusiness. What do you think makes your dealership that good?
Jowee: “We’re recommended by peers to be in that category, so it’s always nice to be recognized by them. Our volume in total sales plays in to that as well.”
What aspect of the business is Tennessee RV handling better than any other dealership in the industry?
Jowee: “We’ve been working together for so long that we’re like a family. While everyone is expected to perform, Roger also realizes that life happens, and that goes a long way towards establishing a culture where you don’t feel like you’re going to be fired every second, which makes everyone feel more relaxed.
That gives people the incentive to get the job done right, because they know they won’t be penalized for minor mistakes.”
Your website is always up to date. Who keeps it that way?
Jowee: “That’s me, and thank you! We always try to stay on top of technology and organic search, while keeping a functional yet hip look to our website.”
How much of your time do you devote to keeping the website up to date?
Jowee: “We’ve gotten to the point where we have two people looking after the website. It used to be just me, but now we split it up, so that I’m responsible for employees, content and making sure everything functions properly.
We now have a person who handles all the photography. I think having product photos on the website is important, because people want to see what the exact product they’re going to buy looks like before they walk in. We now put up 40 to 70 pictures of all aspects of the unit based on people’s requests.”
How big of a role does the website play in your sales?
Jowee: “The website plays a huge role in influencing sales. In fact, we redesigned the website last summer because we saw that our mobile traffic has increased to 65%, and it’s been increasing steadily during the past few years. So, we redesigned it with mobile-first mentality.
We’re now also much better at tracking and converting our Internet leads. In the past, all the leads would go to our sales people, but follow-up was questionable, so that had to change. Now we have a dedicated web lead manager who works all the leads. Then once a salesperson gets them, they are monitored by that manager to ensure follow-up”
When did you implement IDS and what was the initial reason for that?
Cindy: “We made the change to IDS in 2010 after ADP discontinued their software support for the version we were using. After reviewing our options, we chose to go with IDS since it was specifically geared towards the RV market.”
So, how does IDS help you tackle some of the challenges right now?
Jowee: “It works well with our website, preventing double entry, and brings all aspects of our dealership together better than anything we’ve had before.”
Cindy: “I like IDS because it’s so automated. From the accounting side, the automation greatly eliminates errors when posting deals. Everyone knows the process, and it’s been great for us. Also, the wide range of reports for all the departments are very detailed and effective.”
What’s your favorite IDS functionality?
Cindy: “For me, it’s accounting and sales. I think our sales department has the best paper flow that I’ve seen in a dealership thanks to IDS. We have developed a process where everything follows a clear path – from F&I down to the Sales Manager and back to my office. As far as that goes, it’s probably the best part of the system.”
What is the process to get the inventory up to the website?
Jowee: “The way it works now is that we enter an item into IDS, and every night at 11 o’clock, our website automatically pulls the file from IDS. This makes our job much easier.”
Does IDS influence the quality of your customer service?
Cindy: “IDS has helped us to get things done much quicker. Thanks to IDS, our processes are better and more accurate. For example, our receptionist can send customers in the right direction as soon as they walk in due to having a system that allows her access to the customer base and information input from the staff.”
How much overall has IDS contributed to the success of Tennessee RV?
Jowee: “IDS has made a huge contribution to our business. Knowing all our numbers at any given time allows us to see exactly what we need to improve, based on the numbers being up or down in certain areas. The ability to see how many units we’ve sold and quickly pinpoint whether they’re selling well or not is also incredibly helpful.”
What role do you think IDS will play in the future of Tennessee RV?
Jowee: “There no way the dealership can run smoothly without it. So, IDS will play a critical role in our future success.
There are several features that IDS already has available to us that we haven’t properly implemented yet – like the ability to stay in touch with our leads throughout the sales process and beyond. So, applying those features is going to be a priority, because they will help us increase our sales, return visits and overall customer loyalty.”
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