September '14

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94 • RV PRO • SEPTEMBER 2014 rv-pro.com Being a member of the RV Rental Dealers 20 Group has been valuable in establishing his business, according to Williams, while adding there is always an element of trial and error to running a rental operation. From a single location in Tampa, the com- pany serves the Sunshine State from the Sun- coast to the Spacecoast, including the cities of Bradenton, Clearwater, Daytona, Lakeland, Orlando, Sarasota and St. Petersburg. e rental stays busy year-round. In the spring and summer, it's vacations. In the fall, it's football. In the winters it's Daytona and Sebring auto races. Most renters average about 1,000 miles on their trips, according to Williams. About 10 percent go as far as Arizona or Michigan and back. Most customers are between 35 and 50 years of age. Corporate Clients Part of the Mix When Williams opened his busi- ness eight years ago, much more of his business came from corporations, with roughly 60 percent coming from home developers alone. Builders including KB Home, Ryland Homes, Lennar Homes and Beazer Homes had units rented out almost perpetually, using them as sales offices on development sites until their model homes could be erected. An added bonus for the corporate clients is that Suncoast RV Rental and Management offers a vehicle "wrapping" service that allows those customers to put their brand on the RVs, turning them into rolling billboards. It was especially useful for builders as they called attention to the new neighborhoods they were developing. e home building business was brisk for quite some time. However, as housing prices plunged in 2008-2009, the rental business shifted away from those corporate clients and toward recreational users. ese days, when a corporation is the client, it's more likely to use the RV as a hospitality suite for clients at an event, such as race day at Daytona or Sebring. Williams says he's also rented to a group of doctors touring Florida health clinics to promote their services, to agencies providing disaster relief services, to a fitness center for use as a sales office as its facility was under construc- tion, and to the occasional rock singer who uses the coach for touring or base camp at performing venues. e motorhomes he gets back from musicians are no worse for wear than other corporate clients, Wil- liams says. "These are old rock and rollers, and they're long past the stage of trashing any- thing," he says with a laugh. "ey're used to living in nice mansions. ese guys don't even drink that much anymore." Suncoast RV runs a hybrid rentals business that includes units it owns outright and those that it manages for private owners. The rentals business tends to rent newer, large Class A diesel pushers and higher-end gas motorhomes, along with nice Class C units. Wallace Williams takes time to explain details of the rental contract. Suncoast takes pride in making its customers comfortable with the renting experience, which includes making sure they are comfortable driving its motorhomes.

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