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Old 03-28-2014, 11:59 AM   #1
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Dealer Puffery

I found myself on Safford RV's website today and noticed two odd things.
  • they advertised themselves as "Virginia's #1 Airstream dealer
  • they claimed that no one would offer a lower price, but that Airstream wouldn't let them advertise their actual price - "call in for a quote" bait

I instantly wondered - well when did Airstream authorize another dealer and where is it? Checked Airstream. com... Nope, Safford is still Virginia's ONLY dealer. How do you spell "SPIN"?

Now how is it that other dealers ARE offering deeply discounted prices openly?

I'll bet the salesman comes out wearing a plaid suit and smokes a cigar. (Question) How can you tell a used car dealer is lying? (Answer) His Lips are moving.

Oh well, it's Friday, it's warm, it's time to check that tiny pesky leak over the front Pano. ta-ta

Paula
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Old 03-28-2014, 12:23 PM   #2
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If you go to a dealer expecting trouble you will probably find it. They all use some kind of inventive advertising. Maybe their prices are lower, maybe not. Jim
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Old 03-28-2014, 12:47 PM   #3
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I stopped by there on a trip. I had my son with me, and we went straight to looking at the newest model Airstreams and comparing them to our '64. I was wearing some grubby no-name jeans and a t-shirt, and my son the same.

I make plenty enough to buy a new one, and I'm almost done restoring my vintage one. It was so nice not to have the sales guys come running. I don't like to be fawned over, nor to be bothered. The sales guys were too busy eating free hot dogs (they had a little grill out that day) to bother with people who "obviously couldn't afford it).

You wear some nice kahki's and a button down oxford and you have to beat them off. I remember showing up at a Mercedes dealership in jeans and a Virginia Blood Donor t-shirt. They wouldn't even look in my direction, even though I probably earned double what those guys were making at the time.

So, if you are interested, dress down and take your time. I saw all kinds of flaws and broken things on these trailers that I may not have seen with a salesperson trying to re-direct my gaze. They also may try to work a lower price with you if they think you can just barely get into one.

As for the sales hype, every salesman wants to make you think you're getting a good deal. Even if you are not, the person that thinks they are getting a good deal is less likely to complain about little issues.

Rob.
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Old 03-28-2014, 01:15 PM   #4
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Paula

If you are looking to replace with a new rig call Colonial. They are "used car salesman" but I have seen some interesting pricing come out of there. I know one Streamer that came in from Washington state because the deal warranted it.
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Old 03-28-2014, 01:45 PM   #5
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I think Paula just recently purchased her Eddie Bauer at Colonial...
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Old 03-28-2014, 04:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
Paula

If you are looking to replace with a new rig call Colonial. They are "used car salesman" but I have seen some interesting pricing come out of there. I know one Streamer that came in from Washington state because the deal warranted it.
Yep I sure did. Patrick Botticelli PM'ed me as soon as I started the thread about the wreck of the 2005 Safari. Made me an epic deal on a very very gently used EB which is loaded to the gills and beyond. Happy camper! I have been playing consigliori for a member in Richmond who has moved from "looking" to "shopping" to "buying" .. just keeping current on the local dealer's stuff.


BTW, I think I'm finally naming the EB. "EB-Jeebee" for obvious reasons
or "HORSE" (a veiled reference to Mr. Ed. and the classic western "A Man Called Horse")
I had a few issues early on that made me think of naming him "Eddie Haskell" but I wouldn't do that to an Airstream.

Found my first tiny leak yesterday Moisture meter says it hasn't reached the floor - creeping crack cure scheduled for tomorrow morning if it doesn't rain. EVER VIGILANT!

Paula
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Old 03-30-2014, 03:18 PM   #7
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Paula and all,
We also had an unusual experience at Safford. We arrived in our very nice car, well dressed. We stood around for a bit until approached by a sales associate. We asked to see Airstreams. With what appeared to be some reluctance he took us out to the lot in a golf cart. We looked. We asked questions. He then asked us if we wanted to see the nicest unit? Sure, we said. He took is over to a huge SOB fiver. All plastic and vinyl inside, lots of potentially troublesome slide-outs, nothing like an Airstream. We politely said good-bye...
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Old 03-30-2014, 05:06 PM   #8
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Learned something.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Otter View Post
Paula and all,
We also had an unusual experience at Safford. We arrived in our very nice car, well dressed. We stood around for a bit until approached by a sales associate. We asked to see Airstreams. With what appeared to be some reluctance he took us out to the lot in a golf cart. We looked. We asked questions. He then asked us if we wanted to see the nicest unit? Sure, we said. He took is over to a huge SOB fiver. All plastic and vinyl inside, lots of potentially troublesome slide-outs, nothing like an Airstream. We politely said good-bye...
Dear Otter - I've always loved your "spirit otter" picture!
I bought my Safari from Safford almost on a whim. Got a decent deal. But later when I was camping about 20 miles from there I met a man who fell in lust - with my Airstream (drat). We decided to get groceries and go to Safford for the heck of it. The man who'd sold me the Airstream no longer worked there. In fact, I think they must have really high turnover because I recognized NO ONE and no one remembered selling me my 25'er. The whole experience was sort of like yours Otter, no one knew about or was enthusiastic about the Airstream brand. I doubt that most of them knew much about ANY RV brands.

The not so subliminal message was "hello - you're going to be milked for my big commission check." Obviously it wasn't working then, and it's not doing much better now. Here's what I learned The INTERNET has changed everything - not only about WHERE your customers come from - also about how you should SELL. It's almost going back to small town America in 1900... you bought from people you knew liked and trusted, and people you wanted an ongoing relationship with. High turnover in a sales force is counter productive. Hungry for commission gypsies are out.

I recently looked at Safford's website - it's not in the same league as Colonial. But that isn't what's hurting them - not really. It's the quality and the education of their employees. I Don't know the owner of Colonial - but as a business owner myself I see that Boticelli's have worked there forever. It would not shock me at all to find out that they have stock in the company - or at least are on a pretty impressive profit sharing plan. To the best of my experience they don't serve SOB customers for the other brands that Colonial does carry. They are "Airstream Consultants" and it's clear that they are tasked with knowing the whole line inside out. It's clear that they follow and manage leads forever. Patrick PMed me about the Eddie Bauer right after my wreck and he came across as not pushy when he did it. (I'd met him years earlier and he'd send me a PM whenever something "droolworthy" came into Colonial on trade.) When the air conditioner on the EB failed on the lot the night before I was supposed to drive it home - the Botticelli's personally jammed everything in the service department sideways to get the replacement done in hours, not days - and they obviously had the support of management to push service to get it done.

Colonial / the Boticelli's act just as happy to sell a used Airstream as a new one. They seem to get that selling ONE Airstream is often just selling the first of many.

When I gleefully remarked that I was giving tours through the Eddie Bauer while waiting to take it across the Cape May Ferry and handing out Colonial's business cards, Patrick said he actually didn't expect to get any phone calls from that... but still was glad I'd done it. Of course he also said that quite often someone called a year or two or three years AFTER seeing their first Airstream up close.

So Anyone who has "sales" in their job description - this is how you sell repeatedly - in the Internet Age.

G'night all, Paula
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Old 03-30-2014, 06:18 PM   #9
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Some thoughts on selling/buying Airstreams

Since I've just been through the whole process, I have been thinking about people/dealerships who sell these things, and I'm not sure why anyone does it.

First, there isn't anyplace that keeps vehicle salespeople. Other then some very small family owned business, I seldom walk into a store and find the same salesmen from year to year--but I have never, ever gone back to a dealership and found the same salesman, sales manager, F&I manager, general manager. Not once in a half century. I'm sure that has to do with the compensation structure.

Second: selling Airstreams means selling to the smallest segment of the RV market. That has got to be tough. They attract only a high-end buyer. Our salesman told us some statistic about how people who buy AS's research for 6 months to a year or something ... that means we're all really ruminating, checking out the competition, etc. So not only are we the rare buyer who can afford these things, we're also the rare buyer who doesn't make a snap decision. If you're making a living on commissions, you don't want to be selling AS's when you have to work for months and months to make a sale.

Third: The one thing that sets AS's apart from all the other travel trailers (I mean, beside the king's ransom price) is the engineering. So that means that a salesman has to really know his stuff to sell these things--he has to be able to talk about a bunch of technical stuff to people blinded by the flash/bling/whizbang of all those five-times-as-big, multiple-slidered, hot-tub-in-the-third-bedroom Box Trailers. If you're living on commissions, that's a time investment that probably looks like it's not worth the money.

Finally, resale: Other than those of us who buy a 22 Sport and decide when they get it home that they really needed a 35 International (is there such a thing?) we're not going to be buying an upgrade during the tenure of the salesman at this particular dealership. So that's another reason a salesman may not want to sell these things. If he wants a sale now and a resale soon ... it ain't happenin'.
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Old 03-30-2014, 06:18 PM   #10
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Paula,

You are absolutely right about dealers and how to make sales. Of course, when you are the only dealer in the state, you are both #1 and the worst one too.

When we were looking, one salesman at a dealership went to answer the phone and never came back. I guess I looked bad to him, but my wife never looks bad. But you can't always tell from that kind of experience. At the other dealer we went to, the salesman was fine, but after we made a deal, things started going downhill. We had one bad experience after another and never came back after the last one. Then I found out from others what a bad reputation that dealer had.

Since then, that dealer has opened a second store in Denver, so they are still there. The one with disappearing salesman is no longer an Airstream dealer, though I think they are still in business. The really bad one proves you can do a bad job in a large metro area and lots of people don't find out. But when someone asks me about the bad dealer, I tell them our experience and they may have lost some sales.

The internet can be helpful in alerting consumers to bad products and bad stores, but that is still evolving. Often there are not enough reviews. Products sold on Amazon, for example, usually have enough reviews and are useful. Reviews of doctors are sparse, though, and doctors are pretty important. But if you follow the Forum a lot, you know there are few really good Airstream dealers and too many bad or mediocre ones. For us, we are so far from Airstream dealers, we have gone to Jackson Center, or I fix it myself, or best of all, Lewster makes a housecall.

But, I am wondering, what were you doing on that website? Are you getting desires for an even newer, bigger, cooler Airstream?

Gene
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Old 04-01-2014, 02:14 PM   #11
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I did have some experiences at Stafford as well. Nothing that makes any real difference to the topic(s) covered here. My impressions is what most will find on 90% of the RV sales lots out there. Someone is trying to sell you something, most will tell you what you want to hear, some will say a few things you don't expect! Stafford isn't cornering a RV market with AS in VA. It's not like they are being overrun with people buying AS trailers.

Let's face it place an AS next to a big residentail 5'r and the comments will differ based upon the person. I for one see the "need" for the comfort of a 5'r yet hate the overall size. I don't like the 5'r materials as they seem so disposable. Quality satisfaction isn't quite 100% for either AS or SOBs. Some have posted about leaks so it's to be expected. One must acertian their own desires and realiastic expectations. I realize I'm going to spend more on an AS but damn I'll be MUCH happier with the product even if I need to change things myself.

I know what I want and how much I'm willing to pay. Dealers are going to sell to me or the next guy. If it's not what I want to spend, I'll pass. If I need to save up more money I'll just save up.

Right now I'm caught between buying for size, price and the interior. I'm willing to get a Classic for size and options but the interior just isn't me. I like the 30' Internationals overall and just need to go get one but the lots are scarce right now. Even worse is the buying competition I had a plan to get the 30' off the lot when it arrived but another couple snached it up prior to delivery. Maybe I'll just get a used one but I hate the whole idea of "wanting" to trade up down the road.
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Old 04-01-2014, 02:19 PM   #12
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The more important issue that rears it's ugly head is the so called "service department" where high labor rates are charged for untrained foks that more often than not create bigger problems than the original issue.

A lot with few new Airstreams will lack any depth to a service area.
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Old 04-01-2014, 03:02 PM   #13
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Back in the day when there were lots of small personal computer stores, there was a joke that went: what's the difference between a computer salesman and a used car salesman? The used car salesman knows he's lying to you.

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Old 04-01-2014, 03:07 PM   #14
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I have had service done at Safford RV. I had them seal leaks at the sky lights, I was worried about them because they seemed cheap, and asked them if they needed to be replaced. They told me that they were all like the cheap ones that come from the factory, they recommended to just seal them.

Well, the sealing did not even last a full year, and I ended up getting Frank, at Frank's Trailer works to replace them with Maxims. Frank did a really nice job on installing the new Maxims, and when Frank showed them to me I could not believe just how cheap, and cracked under the sealer the originals were.

I could have saved a lot of money if they knew more about what they were doing.
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