When I purchased my first RV I visited many RV dealerships. Based on my experience, below are some things that you may want to consider when choosing the right RV dealership to purchase your first RV.
I did a lot of online research about buying an RV before actually buying one. One of the topics I saw online a lot were horror stories about how dealerships would keep RVs for a long time (months) when making repairs and some didn’t even make all of the repairs they were asked to make. So, doing as much research as possible about RV dealerships before you buy your first RV is very important. I would argue finding a RV dealership that you are comfortable with is just as important as the brand of the RV you purchase.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to look at all of the dealerships that are in your immediate area before visiting dealerships that are out of town. Why? Because, you’ll need bring your RV in for repairs and maintenance and the further away you are the more hassle and time it will be for you. And trust me, typically you’ll be visiting the RV dealership quite often in the first year of RV ownership. But, this doesn’t mean that you should buy at a RV dealership just because it is close if you don’t feel comfortable with the dealership. I ended up purchasing my first RV at a dealership that was not in my city, but in the region, about 45 minutes away from my home. You’ll have to decide what is too far for you to travel for service for your RV.
Note, some RV dealerships don’t have service departments. If this is the case, you’ll need to find a RV dealership that services RVs that they didn’t sell (some RV dealerships won’t service RVs they didn’t sell) or a privately owned RV repair shop. I personally was not comfortable buying an RV from a dealership that did not have a service department, but everyone is different and you may or may not think this is important.
The easiest first step is to read online reviews. Please note, not all of the online reviews may be accurate, but if the same issue is present in multiple reviews by different RV buyers and it is an issue that is important to you, you’ll want to look into it further by talking with other RV owners and by asking questions when you visit RV dealerships.
If you have friends that own RVs and they are willing to give you advice based on their experiences, then you’ll have an advantage that I didn’t have when buying a RV. You could ask your friends what they considered when buying their RV, which dealerships they chose to purchase their RVs from, what their experience been with the RV dealership in their first year of ownership, etc.
Service & Parts Departments
It is a good idea to talk with the service department manager to learn about typically how long the lead time is to schedule a repair appointment and how long they typically keep RVs for repairs when you’re buying your RV. This is something I didn’t do and I just got lucky that the service manager at my RV dealership is a good person, is knowledgeable and cares about his clients. I always tell him that the dealership should pay him a commission on RV sales because I would definitely be motivated to buy my next RV at his dealership because of his great service.
When talking with the service manager, you can also get a feel for how the service manager communicates and his/her level of professionalism. I think communication is really important when working with your RV dealership service department. What I mean is do they pick up the phone, do they respond to voice mails, do they respond to emails, do they answer questions in a way that is easy to understand, etc.
Typically, my RV dealership service department can schedule an appointment for repairs within a week or two and typically doesn’t keep my trailer for more than a week or two depending on what is going on and if they need to order parts. I’ve read about service department horror stories online where some RV dealerships keep their clients’ RVs for months and don’t even complete all of the repairs they were suppose to when they return the RV to the client. I haven’t had that experience yet.
Questions for RV Dealerships
Before visiting a dealership, you’ll want to write down any questions you have so you won’t forget them when you visit the dealership. First two questions I always asked the sales persons were “How long have you you been selling RVs?” and “Do you own a RV yourself?” If a person has been selling RVs for a while, then they probably know answers to common buyers questions based on experience of answering these questions in the past. If a sales person owns or has owned a RV, then they can speak first hand about RV ownership. Some sales persons have never owned a RV, so you’ll want to take that into consideration when evaluating their responses to your questions.
Some of the other questions I asked were:
– How long has the dealership been in business and are there any plans for the dealership to close or relocate?
– Does the dealership have service and parts departments for RV repairs?
– Do they offer extended warranties? If yes, are the extended warranties bumper to bumper? Levels of coverage? Deductibles?
– What is the service department’s hourly rate?
– How long does it usually take to schedule a service appointment?
– How long does it usually take for the service department to complete repairs?
– Does the dealership have a financing department?
– Does the dealership offer GAP insurance?
In addition to checking out different RV brands and floorplans, I would recommend visiting several RV dealerships before you buy so you can get a feel for the different dealerships, their staff, and how they do business.
Hopefully you learned something new from my article that will help in choosing the right RV dealership for your RV purchase. These are some of the things to consider when choosing a RV dealership to buy your first RV. Please note, every person is different and has different priorities, so you’ll want do what you think is best for your situation. Happy camping!