Monday, November 03, 2008

RV dealers says buying online and at malls is future
Dan Gamel, an RV dealer in Fresno, announced last summer he was liquidating his inventory, but ended up changing the way he does business. He slashed his inventory by two-thirds, cut his work force 64%, cut the number of dealerships he operates in half and switched manufacturers, signing a deal with Coachmen.

He said he thinks he may have the right model for the market through software he spent years promoting and perfecting his operation. The software allows customers to enter a Coachmen dealership online, look at the company's various offerings, make a purchase, secure a loan, reserve a campground and perform other functions.

Coachmen dealers can buy or sell from one Web site, which keeps inventory and personnel costs down. "They don't have to stock $20 million worth of inventory," Gamel said. "They can stock a couple million and sell from Coachmen's site."

Gamel also is working on his newest project: mall storefronts with entrances that resemble the front of an RV. Customers sit in recreational vehicle furniture while they shop online.

He's talked about the concept for years and hopes to debut his first one next year. It won't be long, he said, before physical dealerships will be a thing of the past.
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