RV manufacturers and RV dealers whined about FEMA trailers flooding RV market and hurting new RV sales.

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Editorial - Opinion

RV Industry: Quit Your Whining!

My last editorial was titled ‘RV Parks: Quit Your Whining” and was a rebuttal to all the complaining the campground and rv park industry does about RVers who overnight or camp at places other than campgrounds and RV parks. Most often the complaints are directed toward Wal-Mart and other large retailers who welcome RVers.

Well, that whining continues and now the RV manufacturers and RV dealers have joined the choir whining about how the FEMA trailer sales will flood the RV market and hurt sales of new RVs.

Let me state here that I’m not defending FEMA... they are a bureaucracy with all that entails, and they bought way too many trailers without a clear plan for who would get them and how they would be distributed. It was a huge waste of money. But I am happy they are trying to recoupe some of that money by selling off the surplus units.

I do understand that RV dealers in the area where the FEMA trailers will be sold may see a slump in sales of new RVs but in my mind, they have an even greater opportunity. I’ll try to explain why I think so later on.

Boo Hoo. What are we going to do. FEMA is going to ruin our business. What can we do... Boo Hoo, Boo Hoo.

I didn’t hear any complaints or whining from the RV industry when they were selling all those trailers to FEMA. I didn’t hear them complain about ‘flooding the market’ with too many trailers or inferior construction. What did they think the impact of all those trailers on future sales would be?

And they certainly didn’t complain when the sales came at a time the RV industry was in a recession brought on by high gas prices.  Had FEMA not purchased those trailers many RV manufacturers would have been in the red instead of being millions of dollars in the black. Nope, no whining then, the RV industry was fat, dumb and happy.

Fat from selling inferior trailers at nearly full retail... that would make anyone happy. And dumb because they apparently thought all those trailers were being shipped off to the moon never to be seen again.

Now I’ll tell you why I think this can be a great opportunity for the RV industry... see if you agree.

First off, the FEMA trailers are the perfect size for entry-level buyers and the people most likely to buy a FEMA trailer (other than dealers) are going to be first-time buyers who see an affordable way to get into RVing. Injecting all this ‘new blood’ into RVing has got to be good for the RV industry... at least in the long run.

In the sort term, many of these new RVers are going to find their FEMA trailers lacking. Hopefully, they will blame the former ‘tenants’ for this and not shoddy construction by manufacturers.  In any case those trailers are going to need repairs and new parts. As I understand it it the warrenties, if there ever were any, are long expired.

If I was one of the dealers near a FEMA sale I’d be expanding my repair facilities and stocking up on parts. I’d make sure to get the mailing list for all the sales/transfers/registrations and I’d be offering free seminars for new RVers. My dealership would provide low cost inspections. Specials on upgraded hitches, brake controllers, etc. and 'new RVer' starter packages.

Also, since those FEMA trailers are entry-level, one may assume that once these new RVers are hooked on RVing, many of the rigs will be replaced by bigger, better, new RVs which will be purchased at local dealers. And since these people are ‘new blood’ these purchases really will be ‘new’ sales and a great opportunity to build customer loyalty. 

So, RV industry, here’s my advice, take it or leave it...  quit your whining, get over it and make the best of it. Opportunity is knocking.

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