July '18

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74 • RV PRO • July 2018 rv-pro.com D E A L E R S cans," he says. "They are things that first-time buyers wouldn't anticipate needing until they're out on the road, but we've thought of that for them. "The bottom line is that people like to accessorize their campers, and that's why we do merchandising a little differently than other dealerships," he adds. "Some dealers overlook that. For us, it's obvious." Of course, having operated retail-oriented businesses in the past also helped hone the Notebooms' skills in regard to building a relational – as opposed to transactional – sales philosophy within the dealership. Noteboom suggests that's not as common in most RV dealerships, but he believes it's what today's younger, very discerning customers expect. "Customer expectations in the RV market are changing quickly, including how they want to be sold to. This market will soon be, and to some extent already is, driven by Millennial buyers," he says, noting that customers under 40 years of age make up about 60 percent of the dealership's overall business. "That changes how you respond to your customers." For Noteboom RV, that shift means doing a great deal of digital marketing, including a heavy focus on search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM.) "A lot of dealers struggle with SEO and SEM, but that's a big focus for us," Noteboom says. "And beyond just meeting cus- tomers where they are – online – being more responsive overall is also critically important. And we are heavily focused on marketing to our existing customers, as opposed to just chasing new ones. "Back when I was just a customer, I'd make inquiries with dealers and they would take a day or two to respond; at best, a few hours," he adds. "Our rule is that all customer inquiries get a response in 15 minutes, and we've achieved that now. As we mature as a dealership, our goal is to reduce that to five minutes. Today's customers have come to expect a near-in- stant response." Overcoming Startup Challenges Although many of the Notebooms' previous experiences trans- lated well to their new industry, the transition wasn't always easy. There was a great deal of nuance to learn about the RV business itself, for instance: "I was shocked by the challenge of finding parts, parts avail- ability in general, and the amount of service work that campers need, both as they're coming off the truck from the manufacturer and as they are out there in the world," he says. "I wrongly assumed service would be a small fraction of the work but, obviously within two years we are now looking to build additional service bays. I didn't necessarily want to, but you can't sell RVs without a robust service department. Still, even with such challenges, Noteboom RV has experi- enced significant growth in just a short time. After opening the Sheldon, Iowa, store in 2014, the couple soon opened a second, larger location in Harrisburg, S.D., a suburb on the outskirts of the large Sioux Falls, S.D. market. This second location – located on 6.5 acres and featuring 9,000-square-feet of under-roof space, Noteboom RV technicians Bryce (left) and Matt Pedersen repair the inside of a trailer. Noteboom techs are skilled in all types of service and repair work.

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