Why Buy from Stewart’s RV?
The internet is a glorious thing. We are reaching you on the internet right now! Because of the internet, we can reach many of my customers at very little cost. We can be open 24/7!
We are a small family-owned business. Stewart’s RV has been around for 25+ years. We do not want to be a big dealership because with becoming a big dealership your customers tend to become a number. And big decisions must happen at the Corporate Level rather than right there at the dealership. And we don’t like the feel of that. We like to be able to deal with each and every customer that walks into our yard. We like the fact that we know what was said to every customer. We like the fact that each customer can rest assured that he or she will see the same faces each time they come to our dealership. And our customers like the fact that we actually care about them after the sale. I know we don’t have a 100% satisfaction rating (that would be impossible) but I think we are pretty darn close.
Back to the internet. It is wonderful for our business… but it also presents many, many challenges that we are running into more and more frequently and which we would like to address.
Cost vs. Value
We refer to these problems (not so affectionately) as the “Internet Wholesalers”. There is nothing wrong with being a smart consumer and doing your research. We do the exact same thing with most large ticket items that we buy. However, what so many people around us are failing to do is look at the big picture and the long-term value of what they are purchasing. Price and value are two separate things.
Let me begin by saying that when we purchase a trailer… let’s say brand x from the manufacturer… even though we are a smaller dealer in Utah, we pay the same amount for the trailer as any other dealer (assuming it is optioned the same and there haven’t been price increases, etc.). But most of our trailers are built in Northern Indiana… that is approximately 1600 miles away from here. So, even though we pay the same amount for the trailer, we also must pay an extraordinary amount of freight to get that trailer to our lot that dealers in the Midwest and East do not have to pay. This also goes for a smaller number of trailers we receive from Oregon. We have larger freight than those dealers in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington.
Compare Equivalent Costs
So… Lesson #1 – When you are comparing our prices to a dealer in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana or basically anywhere in the in the Midwest or East… you are not comparing Apples to Apples. We must pay to get the trailer down here. Just like you will have to pay to get the trailer down here from that dealer or you will have to take time off work and drive 22+ hours each way to pick it up. And then… when you get up there, What happens if that trailer isn’t just like they promised? What if they try to throw in some hidden fees? What if there is some damage or flaws on it that you didn’t notice in the photos? What if during the walk through of your trailer the air conditioner stops working and they must order a part for it? What if when you get up there, they can’t figure out how to connect your brake control module? We are not making up these scenarios… they are all actual stories that we have heard from actual customers who have driven hundreds or thousands of miles trying to save money.
Consider Future Service Concerns
Lesson #2 – Now… on to the next issue… future Service concerns. Buying a trailer is not the same as buying a car. Every single trailer ever made will eventually need to have service work done on it. Most new units will have at least 1 (usually 2 or 3) warranty claims during the factory warranty period. We will confess, we don’t know how car manufacturer’s payout on their warranty claims to auto dealers, but we will tell you, warranty claims to an RV dealer are a money loser. We get paid flat rate time for warranty claims. So, while it may take our service tech an hour to replace the electric jack motor that went out on your travel trailer, the factory only pays us for 15 minutes’ worth of labor. I also do not get reimbursed for all of the time it takes me to Order the Parts, File the Claim, Schedule the Appointments, etc. In the end, it costs us a lot of money to do warranty work for our customers. But we do it, and we do it quickly for our customers because that is part of what our customers pay for when they purchase from us.
If you decided to save a couple of bucks and purchased elsewhere, we may be able to do your warranty work (depending how far out we are already scheduled), but you will be scheduled after our customers, the ones that bought from us. You may also be asked to pay the difference between what it cost us and what we receive from the manufacture in warranty payout. So, if it takes us an hour to fix something and the manufacture pays us for 20 minutes…you could still be responsible for the other 40 minutes. We don’t make our customers pay this.
Beware the Hidden Fees and Extras
And, the Final Issue… when shopping online and comparing prices, make sure you are comparing apples to apples.
Lesson #3 – Make sure you are getting a written quote with: Year, Make, Model and a list of all options on the trailer. We are one of the few dealers in the U.S. that orders most trailers fully loaded with options (assuming the manufactures can get the parts). Most dealers will order their units stripped or semi-stripped down to be able to sell them cheap. We don’t want cheap trailers. We want to sell great trailers.
Also, be sure that your Price Quote includes any “Hidden Fees” that the dealer will be tacking on later. This may be in the form of Prep Fees, Delivery Fees, etc. We do not add in any of these fees. And be sure that your quote includes all items that you will need for your camper (batteries, propane, walk-through, etc.). Our competitive sales prices will include all of these. However, most dealers will tack on upwards of $2500-$4000 to the price of the trailer for all the “Extras and Fees”. We call all of these “Hidden Fees” because they will try to hide them all the way up until you are sitting with their Finance Person, signing the Final Purchase Documents.
Extras can also be found in the Warranties they sell with the trailer. For example, we average around $2,000 for a 5-year warranty. We have heard of competitors charging upwards of $3,500 or more for the same warranty.
This purchase will be one of the biggest purchases you make in your life…don’t be tricked into spending more and getting less!