Dealer Outlook

Trade Only Dealer Outlook Blog

Lessons from Lazydays

These days, if you want to find someone who is likely worse off than you are, make friends with an RV dealer. The industry that we once looked on with envy as flying high with its “Go RVing” campaign, and after which we patterned much of our industry’s national “Discover Boating” campaign, is taking its lumps now.

But if you drop in at the nation’s largest (126 acres) single-site RV dealership, Lazydays RV Center between Tampa and Orlando, you might never realize that sales for the RV industry are running down 45 percent. There, the schedule of fun and games seems to be endless. If line dancing isn’t your shtick, try bean bag baseball or a seminar on interior decorating after breakfast. Oh, yes, there’s always free breakfast waiting in the Café (more than 250,000 served last year!)

“The market is down, we’ve seen dealers go out of business; we’ve seen manufacturers go out of business,” Lazydays CEO John Horton recently told Jeff Harrington at the St. Petersburg Times. But the last thing Lazydays wants to do is slash anything that affects customer interaction.

“The level of customer service we provide has to be better than it’s ever been,” Horton added. “This is all about the experience.” He contends that is how to capitalize on a diminished customer base. And signs of good experiences seem to be everywhere at Lazydays, from the 170 golf carts that whisk customers to parties in Rally Park or to shop in the Camping World store. Customers who purchase an RV of $250,000 plus get a three-year membership in the Crown Club with its lounge bar, dining room, pool, library and complimentary hors d’oeuvres, among other amenities.

According to RV expert Mark Polk (www.rveducation101.com), RV dealers reportedly faring the best are solidly focused on customer service. Moreover, these dealers are taking more units on consignment, renting more of them and pushing more used RVs. In Lazydays’ case, for example, it reportedly sold more used than new RVs last year. Three of Lazydays’ major suppliers – Fleetwood, Country Coach and Monaco – are in bankruptcy. But a positive-thinking Horton points out they represent less than 25 percent of Lazydays’ business. Last year, Lazydays’ sales of Class A diesel RVs accounted for more than 10 percent of all those sold nationwide.

Bloggers who watch the RV industry have speculated that the fuel-thirsty homes on wheels simply won’t survive the recession. But Horton disagrees, with a prediction just like the one I make for our boating industry. Horton says RV customers may be holding on to their vehicles longer than in the past, but they’re still RVing. “As long as we treat them right, we know they’ll be back,” he says.

“Treating them right” in entertaining and accommodating ways is clearly the current Lazydays business model, and it’s a worthy reminder for us.

Comments

8 comments on “Lessons from Lazydays

  1. John Green

    We took a 9200 mile trip last summer in our 40 ft. diesel motorcoach and spent $7500 on fuel that cost as much as $5.20 a gallon. I put a pencil to taking the same trip via automobile and founf it would take twice as much money. RV fuel costs more but you have youe home and comforts with plus your pets. RV travel is the better way to travel.

  2. JR Goodman

    I have kept my subscriptiion to RV Trader up for years, only because I have always felt our industries are going after the same dollars in most cases.

    Recently when I was employed at Brunswick, in several of our discussions I used Lazy Days as the example of how a dealership and builders can work together to bring the proper experiance to the customer, as this dealership does, and how Lazy Days works with a potential customer. I also wanted to incorporate dealer training to include a study of how this dealership does business, to educate our industry, but it fell on deaf ears. I applaud you for bringing this example to the readers of this forum. You continue to demostrate the ability to think out of the box, and bring to the forefront blogs which hopfully the dealers reading these posts, will take to heart. This is a great one!

  3. Wilson

    I’m not a dealer so tell me how Lazy Days floor plans all those vehicles, runs a vip room and gives free breakfasts every day plus normal operationg expenses and still manages to stay in business when sales are way off.

  4. Jeff

    Excellent. In a down market companies who do the right thing can grab market share, which will really pay off when the market improves. That being said; what is missing from this article is how do Lazy Days sales actually compare to last year as compared to the RV industry sales year-over-year. How does the 10% share compare to previous years? Thanks,

  5. Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

    Come on back up north, Norm. and I’ll row you around the farm pond after bass… It’s still a boat and still a whale lot of fun. Don’t have to worry about the dealership going under, either…

  6. Jim Glus

    How does Lazy Days do it? Well first, rumor has it that they are hurting real bad these days. Second, flood the sales floor with over 100 sales staff and something is bound to happen (we all know the adage about throwing it against the wall), the trouble is that only a few make a real living at it.

    That said, they do have a great reputation for customer service and that says it all. Common sense managment, customer service, and truly caring for you clients is quickly becoming a thing of the past for way to many industries. Once again, if we don’t get back to the basics, we might as well close up shop also.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. For more information, please see our Comments Policy.