July '18

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rv-pro.com July 2018 • RV PRO • 73 dealers in the past and we saw opportunities to do things better." Transferrable Skills Noteboom says that many of the skills he and his wife had developed operating five mobile phone stores in Iowa and Nebraska – of which they still own two – transferred directly as they made the leap into becoming RV dealers. "From our experience as RV customers, we learned a lot of what not to do," he says. "We experienced negative pricing issues, a lack of deep product knowledge and, maybe most importantly, a lack of sophistication in how dealers approached accessories. But from our experience in other industries, we knew we could do it better." In 2014, when the couple opened the first of their now two locations, in Sheldon, Iowa, they immediately put their retail sales experi- ence to work in their efforts to create a better customer experience. "We chose Sheldon as our first location because we owned a cell phone store and knew the community there and we found a location that used to be an automotive dealership, so it was a fairly easy conversion," Noteboom notes, referring to the 6,000-square-foot dealership on 2.5 acres, including four service bays. "But we immediately set to putting our experience to work in doing things differently. "Coming from the cell phone business, everything was about accessories," he adds. "So, having a great selection of parts and accesso- ries – and creating packages of accessories for customers – was a major focus from the start." In this way, the Notebooms treated the dealership operations in a similar fashion to how auto dealers or aftermarket automotive shops offer accessory packages to customers even before new vehicles roll off the lot. "Particularly with first-time RV buyers, they don't necessarily know what accessories they need to have a great camping experience," Noteboom says. "Of course, you need a sewer hose and a power adaptor, but we offer $300 to $400 kits, as well as larger $1,500 accessory kits, to ensure a great time out camping. That's all based off our own experiences as campers or RV owners ourselves. "On that higher-end package, we have things like mattress upgrades, high-quality anti-sway control hitches, even a cutlery tray, fridge fan, interior and exterior chemicals, portable trash Mary Noteboom helps customer Frank "Butch" Huizenga pick a door handle assist product. The Notebooms say they learned from their experience owning mobile phone stores how important it is to have a good selection of parts and accessories so customers can accessorize their RVs. Mary Noteboom works in her office while "Vanilla Pudding" the cat looks on. The dealership employs 11 people at its Harrisburg, S.D., store, which opened in April 2016, and an additional four employees at its store in Sheldon, Iowa, store, which opened in 2014.

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