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Old 11-15-2007, 05:41 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Mike Lewis
If they say we'll match another deal if you find one better they are lieing when they say this is their best deal and I walk.-pieman
pieman, A dealer may be willing to match a price in order to make a sale -period. Often the manufacturer expects a dealer to meet a certain performance level and rather than lose the sale the dealer will match a price or do a break-even or worse deal just to "put up a number."

The dealers "best deal" is not this matching price or break-even or worse deal and he can't survive long selling that way. But, to say he lied by not giving this price first is incorrect.

Jim, Your situation is unique in that the dealer was going out of business and you have the ability and the willingness to suffer along without any support from the dealer - and the wherewithal to pick up and head for the Mother Ship if need be. I will relent and say that you can "generally" not save enough to justify buying from a poor dealer. You are the exception not the rule.
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Old 11-15-2007, 05:46 PM   #16
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For most there will come a time when you need the dealer, be it for an emegency appt., advise, borrow a tool, get a part in a hurry, handle communication with the factory etc etc. If dealers weren't important why doesn't Airstream just take orders online and deliver the unit right to your door? You've been lucky....so far..
I can assure you luck has nothing to do with it. In my case I can and have handled every aspect you have listed personally with fewer problems than dealing with a dealer. I am not saying it is not good to have a association with a good dealer, What I said was that the deal can be so good that the dealer becomes a non issue.

The fact of the matter is that an Airstream Trailer is a fairly simple piece of equipment and except for the body uses the same parts other trailers do. I have restored a 68 Globetrotter and found nothing amazing. I also have restored several English sports cars and 2 Sailboats, one 25’ and one 34’. I do not know if you have ever have has the occasion to work on Sailboats but that can be a challenge. My 34’ was totaled by Katrina. I had restored the boat 13 years ago and I am now doing it again. Here is example of what you may consider a challenge but is very routine in the restoration of boats. My boat has very large Barient Sefltailing Wiches which have been out of production for 20 years. I had a broken sefltailer due to a dock line which was caught in it during the storm. It took a little research to find the company in Australia who had bought up all the tooling to manufacture replacement parts. Two calls to Australia and the parts are at my door, somehow I don’t think I need a dealer to call the Airstream Factory on my behalf..
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Old 11-15-2007, 05:55 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by RBolton

Jim, Your situation is unique in that the dealer was going out of business and you have the ability and the willingness to suffer along without any support from the dealer - and the wherewithal to pick up and head for the Mother Ship if need be. I will relent and say that you can "generally" not save enough to justify buying from a poor dealer. You are the exception not the rule.
I agree, you have to know your limits. I am not sure I could ever duplicate the deal again.
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Old 11-15-2007, 05:56 PM   #18
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Dealer service significant ?

I would look at the over all package. Price first service and all the other aspects should also be considered. Service managers owners techs etc. all change. They change people, moods, time of the month, stress, economy you name it. One persons great experience and yours may be completely different.

I also tell the dealer or any other quotes I get for my business to give me your best price. I will not reveal the other prices and I think in the long run it works to the buyers advantage. You can modify that policy to work for you depending on the purchase environment. I also find that there is nothing wrong with making an offer even for retail purchases you would be surprised at how often sellers are willing to negotiate including dealers that need to or want to move something. Remember the feeling when you are selling something. I would always rather have an offer even if I don't accept it! But if you did not receive a no before you get a yes you may have paid too much!

Most important, enjoy the process.
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Old 11-15-2007, 06:07 PM   #19
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I think the thread was directed towards "most peoples" situations not necessarily if you happen be MacGyver. The important thing you said was "in my case". Heck if it's that easy maybe AS shouldn't even warranty new units. Just sell'em direct and offer parts when people call in and an advise line for instructions on how to complete the repairs.
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Old 11-15-2007, 06:21 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by RIstream'n
I think the thread was directed towards "most peoples" situations not necessarily if you happen be MacGyver. The important thing you said was "in my case". Heck if it's that easy maybe AS shouldn't even warranty new units. Just sell'em direct and offer parts when people call in and an advise line for instructions on how to complete the repairs.
I will take the MacGyver reference as a compliment as I sure you would try not insult me. Yes I used” my case” as I did think it was rather unique and not the norm. I certainly agree that a good dealer is a asset and he should make a profit. I also feel good deals are to be had if you are willing to take some risk. I happen to think the trailers are simple and that is appealing. You should present your business plan to Thor and see what they have to say as I don’t really care how they sell their trailers.
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Old 11-15-2007, 06:35 PM   #21
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Obviously it's a pretty poor business plan and no insult was implied at all. Just differing opinions. As you said your situation is unique and you don't mind taking a risk. That pretty much says it all. I think people can find great deals, have them backed by a good dealer and minimize their risk. It's not to difficult.
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Old 11-22-2007, 04:28 PM   #22
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I tend to think along the lines of Jim above. Frankly, I don't understand the importance of focusing on the dealer nearest you. He may end up providing you with warranty service for which Airstream pays him. But that doesn't mean you need to buy a trailer from him!

When I searched to buy a 25' safari SE in late 2005, I knew I would simply order one from some dealer. I called all over the country. Most dealers thought it was a big deal if they gave you 10% off MSRP. I ended up finding a dealer in California who cut 20% off the price. I never went back to the selling dealer after picking up the trailer. I use the dealer closest to me for service. Remember, the servicing dealer is not fixing your trailer as a personal favor to you. He is paid by Airstream and wants to do the warranty work. This is exactly where most people's thinking falls apart. They feel pressure to buy from the local.

From reading these and other forum comments, I can readily see that dealers can be expected to be tougher on pricing to local potential customers because the prospect thinks he needs to buy from him. When a dealer is talking to someone 500 miles away, he knows the transaction is based principally on price. Thus, it is easier to get to the lowest price possible. Why pay an extra $5,000 to make the local dealer happy? These trailers are not easy to buy. You have to do some work to get a good deal.
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Old 11-22-2007, 05:30 PM   #23
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An RV is built in a factory and has wheels but there the similarity with a car ends. Dealers are often the final step in the assembly line and engineering process. The cost of keeping an owner satisfied with their purchase is far more than Airstream provides in warranty reimbursement.

The PDI and ajustment process on a new Airstream can easily take 15 hours.

In the last week we installed laminate flooring to repair a flaw in the factory lino that we will likely be paid about $200.00 by Airstream the cost was $1200.00. A customer on their second trip with a new 34' had the disc brakes actuate slightly while going down the road. The Calipers and pads were ruined from excessive heat. Airstream supplied the parts no charge with no allowance for handling (I guess parts people should work for free). They paid none of the labor to replace 6 calipers and bleed the entire system. We had 15 hours of diagnostic time experimenting with different wiring harnesses and brake controls to find a combination that would not self actuate the brakes through the Denali's electrical system. As well we had to drive 3 hours out to rescue the trailer.

Recently a customer's fridge quit the day before they were to leave on vacation. We could not get a new one until after a long weekend which would really take a chunk out of their holiday. So we swapped a fridge from a new unit repaired their old one, sold it as used and then put a new one in the stock unit. Again warranty did not even the cost of the repair to their old fridge.

This sort of thing goes on all the time. At our store we spend over $200,000.00 a year on unfunded warranty on new coaches so of coarse a dealer that will never see you again can sell cheaper.

There is more to it as well of coarse. Finding people with technical skills is getting harder all the time and you have to pay them more to keep them. You have to keep them busy all winter so they will be there in the spring when your customers need them. RV service facilities are expensive to build and operate, after all RV's are big. Service alone can rarely pay the cost of building a good service facility so you have to subsidize it from the sales side. This is the oposite of the auto industry where the service subsidizes the sales department.

I thought this might help those that do buy close to home to justify why they do.

Thanks

Andy
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Old 11-22-2007, 07:07 PM   #24
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While any dealer should be able to handle a warranty issue or repair, you can be sure that if you get into a time crunch, the dealer you bought from is sure going to give preferential treatment to someone who bought from him. My dealer is busy and is usually booked days ahead of time if not weeks. I did take this into account and spent about $350 more at the local dealership than taking a deal at a dealership in Ohio. I've never regretted that decision.

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Old 11-22-2007, 07:36 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew T
An RV is built in a factory and has wheels but there the similarity with a car ends. Dealers are often the final step in the assembly line and engineering process. The cost of keeping an owner satisfied with their purchase is far more than Airstream provides in warranty reimbursement.

The PDI and ajustment process on a new Airstream can easily take 15 hours.

In the last week we installed laminate flooring to repair a flaw in the factory lino that we will likely be paid about $200.00 by Airstream the cost was $1200.00. A customer on their second trip with a new 34' had the disc brakes actuate slightly while going down the road. The Calipers and pads were ruined from excessive heat. Airstream supplied the parts no charge with no allowance for handling (I guess parts people should work for free). They paid none of the labor to replace 6 calipers and bleed the entire system. We had 15 hours of diagnostic time experimenting with different wiring harnesses and brake controls to find a combination that would not self actuate the brakes through the Denali's electrical system. As well we had to drive 3 hours out to rescue the trailer.

Recently a customer's fridge quit the day before they were to leave on vacation. We could not get a new one until after a long weekend which would really take a chunk out of their holiday. So we swapped a fridge from a new unit repaired their old one, sold it as used and then put a new one in the stock unit. Again warranty did not even the cost of the repair to their old fridge.

This sort of thing goes on all the time. At our store we spend over $200,000.00 a year on unfunded warranty on new coaches so of coarse a dealer that will never see you again can sell cheaper.

There is more to it as well of coarse. Finding people with technical skills is getting harder all the time and you have to pay them more to keep them. You have to keep them busy all winter so they will be there in the spring when your customers need them. RV service facilities are expensive to build and operate, after all RV's are big. Service alone can rarely pay the cost of building a good service facility so you have to subsidize it from the sales side. This is the oposite of the auto industry where the service subsidizes the sales department.

I thought this might help those that do buy close to home to justify why they do.

Thanks

Andy
AMEN Andy!!!!!!!!! Well said. Most of what I hear from people trying to justify why they make the decision to not buy locally is out of not understanding all that goes into what a dealer needs to do to keep them happy. I've said it before and I'll say it again you shouldn't blatantly overpay by alot just to keep a local dealer happy but if negotiated correctly and in good faith you shouldn't have to. For those of you out there who do not think that a dealer takes special care of "their own" customers and goes the extra mile for their customers then you're sadly mistaken. Even though the dealer is required to offer warranty service there are many ways he can take that to another level and does for his customers. As Andy above said dealers eat thousands of dollars per year in rejected warranty repairs. He eats it for his customers. People who think the factory just opens their wallet and happily fixes anything that's wrong has never been through a warranty audit or been involved in an hour long conversation with a factory rep convincing him that covering a repair is the "right" thing to do to keep the customer happy. I don't get paid by the hour to do this at my store. That's just a single sample of what a dealer does for his customer. At the end of the day it's the dealer that works hard on the customer's behalf, it's the dealer that has to face the customer when he's not happy, it's the dealer who works hard to make you a repeat customer and although he takes care of everyone who comes to his store he steps up that extra mile for "his customers." As a customer of mine you wouldn't expect anything less. I say these things from experience. My brothers and I have owned a Subaru dealership for 13 years so I've been through everything I said above at least a thousand times.
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Old 11-22-2007, 09:27 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Andrew T
An RV is built in a factory and has wheels but there the similarity with a car ends. Dealers are often the final step in the assembly line and engineering process. The cost of keeping an owner satisfied with their purchase is far more than Airstream provides in warranty reimbursement.

The PDI and ajustment process on a new Airstream can easily take 15 hours.

In the last week we installed laminate flooring to repair a flaw in the factory lino that we will likely be paid about $200.00 by Airstream the cost was $1200.00. A customer on their second trip with a new 34' had the disc brakes actuate slightly while going down the road. The Calipers and pads were ruined from excessive heat. Airstream supplied the parts no charge with no allowance for handling (I guess parts people should work for free). They paid none of the labor to replace 6 calipers and bleed the entire system. We had 15 hours of diagnostic time experimenting with different wiring harnesses and brake controls to find a combination that would not self actuate the brakes through the Denali's electrical system. As well we had to drive 3 hours out to rescue the trailer.

Recently a customer's fridge quit the day before they were to leave on vacation. We could not get a new one until after a long weekend which would really take a chunk out of their holiday. So we swapped a fridge from a new unit repaired their old one, sold it as used and then put a new one in the stock unit. Again warranty did not even the cost of the repair to their old fridge.

This sort of thing goes on all the time. At our store we spend over $200,000.00 a year on unfunded warranty on new coaches so of coarse a dealer that will never see you again can sell cheaper.

There is more to it as well of coarse. Finding people with technical skills is getting harder all the time and you have to pay them more to keep them. You have to keep them busy all winter so they will be there in the spring when your customers need them. RV service facilities are expensive to build and operate, after all RV's are big. Service alone can rarely pay the cost of building a good service facility so you have to subsidize it from the sales side. This is the oposite of the auto industry where the service subsidizes the sales department.

I thought this might help those that do buy close to home to justify why they do.

Thanks

Andy
If i were to call your dealership tomorrow and tell you I'm going to by a new 34' classic, give you the specs, tell you i'm paying cash and will probably never be back again. Would you cut a closer deal than to a local who you know will be back multiple times with warranty repairs ???
pieman
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Old 11-22-2007, 11:19 PM   #27
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I think it's wise to talk to more than one dealer just to get an idea of the selling price of the trailer you're interested in. Then, if your local dealers price is within reason and they have good service, buy from them. If not, buy elsewhere.

With our first A/S, there were some warranty repairs that our dealer did that were very disappointing and I ended up having to take it to the factory to get the work done correctly.

When we were in the market for our current trailer, our local dealers offer was thousands more than the dealer we ended up getting it from. The trailer has some minor issues (black tank monitor not working, squeak in floor) and I wouldn't hesitate having our new dealers service people work on them but it's the same distance for me to go there as it is to go to the factory.
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Old 11-23-2007, 05:51 AM   #28
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Hi Pieman

On a hole our customers today have far less technical skill than they used to. The customers that do have technical skill are well paid in their trade so they do not want to spend a lot of time working on their units and peoples expectations of quality is very high. After all if their $20,000.00 car is almost perfect why not their $50,000.00 Airstream. It is not a fair comparison as the car is a hundred million dollars to design and then anything that someone can make a mistake doing is handled by robots. Airstream spends maybe $100,000 on a new design 95% of it is hand built by people that are bound to make mistakes. However fairness has nothing to do with it that is the standard people expect.

Back when the Canadian Dollar was weak we received a lot of calls from Americans that were under the misconception that they could purchase cheaper in Canada. This was becasue cars were cheaper in Canada, now they are less there. We generally told these folks there was no price advantage and that they should purchase from a local dealer. If I knew a local dealer with good service I would recomend that they purchase there. It is just that for us the customer that never needs you never seems to happen. You get the unit home to New Mexico and something goes wrong and we wind up getting a local person to fix it paying the invoice and recouping what we can from Airstream. It is hard to have two classes of customers if you have purchased from us we need to take care you.

I can't say we have never sold to a customer at a distance we sometimes do because people want something from a technical side that only we provide or someone is already a service customer.

I tell our people that we need to have phone skills like Fed Ex, cleanliness like Disney and service quality like Lexus. We are not even close yet but those are the benchmarks we have to reach. To do that we need great people and we need to pay them a decent living. The problem Airstream has is that they need to find dealers that understand that this is the standard they need to reach. When they establish an unprofessional dealer that does not want to attain high levels of service it brings us all down a notch.

For example you tell a friend how great your Airstream is and all the fun you have with it and he starts to think, you know maybe we should have one of these. Then in passing you mention that you had to take your new Airstream 1000 miles to Ohio for service. This person drives a Lexus and has never seen the service department at the store since they pick his car up when it needs service. That person may not say it to you but in the back of their mind they are thinking. Wow that Airstream was really expensive and he has to take it 1000 miles for service! We have lost a potential Airstream customer and don't even know it.

Andy
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