About a year ago Todd and I were researching travel trailers to purchase in the spring. We were first timers, and had no idea where to start! One of my friends suggested that we go to the RV show in early January and purchase our trailer there. My thought was… Are you crazy? Those shows are overly crowded places where people just go to look around. Plus, they probably jack up the prices! I couldn’t have been more wrong!
We learned a lot in the process of purchasing our first trailer. If you want to close this and wait until the spring to read it, STOP! Now is the time to act! Below you’ll find the key items to consider and actions to take to evaluate your options, get a great price, and choose a dealership that is right for you.
Evaluating your options
There’s lots to consider when purchasing a trailer/RV… this post focuses on visiting dealerships to check out the products. Check out http://www.thesechels.com/news/2016/3/22/our-new-camper for a deep dive into trailer/RV layout, preferences, features, etc.
You can do a lot of research online, but seeing the trailer/RV is critical, unless you’re a very experienced buyer. We visited several dealerships and looked at lots of different models. As we started looking around, we found that many of the dealerships close in later December for the holidays, and to get ready for the RV shows. Also, many of the dealerships start moving their inventory for the shows weeks before the shows.
When we went to the RV show we knew what we wanted and were prepared to make an informed purchase. The RV show was really crowded and quite hectic… we were very happy that we visited the dealerships in advance, so making the purchase was more of a formality and didn’t take much time. We told the salesman when we’d be there and he provided us tickets for the show and was ready when we arrived! One other tip... go to the RV Show on a week day if possible.
Getting a great price
As we started to talk to dealerships and researched RV show, we found that our initial thought that prices would be higher at the shows was totally wrong. The dealerships get big incentives from manufacturers for the RV shows and the prices are some of the best you can find all year. Dealerships do a big percentage of their sales for the year at the shows! The price we paid for our trailer was thousands of dollars less than the listed price and other sale prices we saw advertised at different times during the year.
Choosing a dealership
When we started looking for our trailer, we discovered that there are lots of dealerships of all sizes. We felt that making the dealership decision was almost as important as deciding on the trailer we ultimately purchased. Below are the items to be aware of/consider when making a dealership decision.
· Similar to car dealerships, the trailer/RV dealerships tend to offer specific brands, which you’ll start to notice as you look around. If you have your heart set on a specific brand, narrow your search to dealerships that offer the brand you’re looking for.
· Evaluate what the dealerships have to offer. Being new to the market, we felt more comfortable with a larger dealership that we felt offer more support and guidance.
· The service department is critical and perhaps the most important aspect of the dealership decision. Make sure the service department offers year-round service, will do maintenance and warranty work, and will help you solve problems when you’re on the road... we offer a little more commentary regarding our experience below.
· If you don’t have a place to store your trailer/RV until spring, make sure the dealership will store it for you until you pick it up.
We chose Avalon RV and couldn’t be happier with our decision. A couple things stand out in our mind…
When we picked up our trailer an experienced RV owner helped us determine what we’d need to purchase (there are lots of hoses, power lines, etc. that you’ll need). This might seem self-serving for the dealership, but our experience is that we needed everything we purchased and were very happy for the advice.
The service department is excellent. In addition to helping us get the trailer completely ready to use and addressing our questions and concerns patiently (as first timers we had a lot!), they also are ready to help remotely. We traveled for 7 weeks in the trailer last summer (click here to check out our Great Lakes adventure) and had a couple things come up and needed service advice ASAP. The service department helped us over the phone in one case and in another case they got online and sent us a video to help us resolve our issue. Both times the advice was spot on and we resolved our issues quickly. Overall, the Avalon service department provides exceptional customer service!
So… are you excited to start thinking about next summer? We look forward to seeing you at the campgrounds!!