April '14

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rv-pro.com April 2014 • RV PRo • 25 parts associates may not be able to explain the features and benefits. Or, worst-case scenario, a customer is involved in an acci- dent due to improper installation. A third situation that correlates the renovation and education aspects of your PREParations could involve changes to the layout of and merchandising of your P&A retail showroom. Because you have invested in major changes to the showroom, it might be nec- essary to educate your customers on this new layout, especially as to where the sev- eral types of goods that you offer are located in this renovated showroom. Perhaps you have established a cashier workstation and position so that your parts associates can dedicate their time to selling. It will be important to educate both your existing customers and your new cus- tomers to the location of and the existence of the cashier. If you don't, your customers might assume that they must wait in line to pay for point-of-purchase items from your parts associates. is could frustrate them, especially when they learn that their purchase could have been transacted in two minutes instead of 15. Given that I have introduced the fourth letter of our PREParations acronym while discussing the third letter, let's conclude our planning with some points about ... Product As evidenced by the advertisements in RV PRO, there is a plethora of new product offered almost year-round. However, which of these offerings should you include in your inventory of parts, accessories, equip- ment, and materials? If you don't already do so, I recommend that you distribute the monthly issue of RV PRO to your department managers and encourage them to read the articles and evaluate the products advertised within. To ensure that they are at least perusing the contents, a few days after distributing each month's issue of RV PRO, ask each of them about a specific article or product. You will be able to determine by their responses if they have actually opened the magazine. In addition, you could schedule a staff meeting with each department to solicit your associates' input as to what they learned from reading the articles and columns, and as to which of the products your associates think are worth adding to your inventory. And, don't forget to schedule a meeting with the technicians to solicit their opinions of the products and to inquire as to any training that might be required to ensure proper installation and service. After deciding on which new products you will add to your offerings, perhaps you could assign the P&A manager to contact the representative for those items to deter- mine if any P.O.P. displays are available, to learn about any quantity price points, and to schedule a presentation to train your staff in the selling points relative to each of these products. Regardless of whether you add new product, it will be important that your P&A manager review her stock levels and reorder points to allow for the increase of demand that frequently accompanies the start of the RVing season. And, don't forget to discuss this possible increase in demand with your service manager so that he could consider scheduling some over- time for his existing staff or to consider adding a technician. What about developing some mainte- nance kits to offer your customers as they PREP their RVs for the ensuing season? For instance, these kits could be themed on sanitary system supplies, coach exte- rior cleaning and polishing supplies, and interior maintenance items. What should be in each kit? Where and how should the kits be displayed in your P.O.P. area? What should be the price for each? How will you make your customers aware of these kits? Are you PREPared? Yes, as with many of my columns, there is some work involved with my suggestions. However, with proper advance planning, these tasks can be scheduled over a period of one or two months, which can minimize the intensity of the process. Your customers and staff will benefit from your PREParations. And you could realize the opportunity for increased income and customer service. to upgrade to the latest version of your DMS hardware and/or software. Quite a few options exist for the renovations aspect of your PREP plans. Do any of these enhancements to your physical plant involve the third letter of our PREP acronym? Education Who could be the intended recipients of the training? Obviously, some of your associates might qualify for it. Consider these scenarios. Perhaps as part of your renovation, you have decided to invest a substantial amount of your profits into an upgraded DMS. What features and processes are different from your previous system? Which of these features will directly impact your customers? When could this training be scheduled before going live so that you and your associates can learn about these different features and processes? Could at least one terminal be installed several weeks before the transition so that you and your associates could engage in hands-on practice sessions? As you can see, this education aspect of your PREParations could be very important to the successful transition to and integra- tion of this DMS. Or, suppose that you have decided to add a new line of towing equipment. What training and familiarization is nec- essary for your associates? Who should be educated about the features and benefits of this equipment? Everyone who would be involved in the sale, installation, and service of the equipment should receive proper training. This could be your major unit sales associates, your parts associates, your installation technicians, and your ser- vice technicians. Wow, this might take some substantial planning when coor- dinating this training to accommodate everyone's schedule. at's a lot of work. Yes, it could be. However, if you don't commit to scheduling this training then your investment in this new line of towing equipment might not pay off. 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