May '16

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34 • RV PRO • MAY 2016 rv-pro.com during the year, we still made money," Peay says. "We operate very efficiently. We are very, very, very lean." Getting through the downtimes were tough, he says. But Pri- ority is stronger than ever now. "Prior to me taking over as president, we had some discouraged members who weren't really happy with the direction the group was going. So we are very focused," Peay says. "If we're going to do something, it needs to be beneficial for our members and they need to see it." Only So Many Open Markets Left Today, that success has led to a different issue, but one the board members will happily accept. The way it works, dealers are recruited from large markets in the U.S. and given exclusivity. The group's membership has grown so much that Priority RV is running out of open markets. "Our growth is flattening," Bretz says. "There's not very many major markets that we don't have somebody already." Regan mentioned Las Vegas as a market that Priority would like to gain a member. So, to keep growing, board members are looking at get- ting dealers that are not big participants in the program to up their volumes. To resolve that issue, Richardson believes it's a matter of keeping the information in front of dealers. "What happens," he says, "You come to this meeting, you hear all this information, and it all sounds great. Then you go back to the dealership and you are going 100 miles an hour and you forget it all. "It's really just making people aware," Richardson adds. "We are concentrating on the dealers we think we can get the most improvement on. It's just education." Bretz agrees. "We can get a bunch of dealers to really do more business. That would be the biggest thing we could do," he says. Priority could consider smaller markets, "but when you only do a few million dollars in business you don't have much to con- tribute and when you talk to a vendor, you are not going to buy that much from that vendor, so you're not going to get that much benefit," Bretz says. "It's not beneficial for the dealer or the vendor." The sweet spot for dealer membership, he says, is dealerships doing between $10 million to $150 million a year in business. "Once you are beyond $150 million, you can negotiate a pretty good deal yourself," Peay says. Alliance with Canadian Partners Pays Dividends Priority's alliance with Canada's RV Care Network has been a boon and Canada still has room to grow, says Earl Manning, vice president. RV Care operates the same way as Priority. RV Care and Priority joined together as a reciprocal service network in 2011, says Manning. That pairing has resulted in a network that runs from the border with Mexico through Canada. RV Care has 55 dealers at 61 locations and 19 partner suppliers. "When I got involved in 2007, I started saying we have to get together with the American group because RVers don't care. They go north and south," Manning says. "Both groups share the same principal of the network also for traveling customers. That prin- cipal is being a service network for customers." A customer who buys from a Priority or RV Care dealer can rely on the network across North America for "priority service," Manning says. "It's an added value when you buy a unit from a network dealer, the rest of the dealers will all see you so you can get in quick and back on the road. It's huge for dealers and no cost to consumers." RV Care has nine dealers on a wait list for membership and Manning says he believes the organization can reach as high as 70 before it tops out. Ruzicka agrees that customer service is a huge plus. "You buy from one of our dealers, you live in Reno and you buy at Sierra and you are headed to Florida and you have a breakdown A record 183 dealers attended this year's event, up from 133 just four years ago. Dealer membership in Priority RV has grown to 65 dealer groups representing 110 dealer locations throughout the U.S. Katherine Brackett, event coordinator for Priority RV, was pleased with vendor turnout at this year's conference, noting there were a number of new companies showcasing their wares.

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