Baby it’s cold outside. For many, winter is just a terribly miserable season. That is…unless you have an RV to hop into and head south. During the wintertime, an enormous amount of people pack up their belongings and travel closer to the equator. The term snowbirds, as we’ve come to know them, is actually derived from workers who followed seasonal jobs in the 1920’s. By the late ’70s it was repurposed to describe the RV community that chases sunshine.
The snowbird community has become so large that the Canadian Snowbird Association now consists of somewhere around 80,000 members. And that’s just Canada! The road ahead of them is much longer than their neighbors to the south. So, imagine just how many people in the United States hit the pavement when the chill settles in. As a business owner, the mass migration is an ideal opportunity for RV dealers and automotive shop owners to chase sales that are low hanging fruit.
Private campgrounds, RV resorts, and state parks become flooded with an incredible amount of out-of-state traffic as snowbirds migrate into the Sunbelt. Mobile techs and RV outlets obviously reap the rewards from the maintenance requirements and essential needs. After all, and like anything else, RV’s always will need repair and updates. But they aren’t called snowbirds for nothing. And those RVs didn’t just fly there. They were pulled by pickups and SUVs, which also require proper upkeep and repairs. So, while automotive shops likely aren’t capitalizing on the RV labor, there’s no reason to ignore the influx of vehicles being towed along with the unit itself.
Dan Guyer, an outside sales representative for Keystone Automotive and now a crossover rep to help promote NTP-STAG product as well, recently expressed the importance of automotive shops taking advantage of an opportunity to boost sales and establish a new, and hopefully loyal, seasonal customer base. “There’s always a second vehicle. Always. If you consider the RV, however it is mobile, you’re either driving it and have something you’re towing behind it, or you’re towing it and then dropping it off so there’s a vehicle to drive around in. The RV industry is only focused on what you’re sleeping in,” continued Guyer. All the more reason for auto shops to lend their expertise to the snowbird travels.
HOW to Capitalize on Seasonal Sales
Usually, a campground has someone onsite to handle the RV needs of campers. At the very least, they’re quick to make solid recommendations to local dealers and shops with whom they have a relationship. But more often than not, the automotive side of things gets lost along the way. Guyer recommends for shops to build a rapport with the local campgrounds, RV resorts, and state parks. Educate the front office about the shop services, leave business cards, and remind them that you’re only a phone call away to provide their camper(s) with peace of mind when an automotive issue does need to be handled.
Above and beyond normal wear and tear, maintenance, and general repairs, this newfound relationship creates a solid foundation from which to build. The fact of the matter is, “if you talk to any reasonable RV dealer right now, they’re booked out the next six weeks. Their service bays are so busy they want to get that truck out the door.” They aren’t pushing Extang tonneau covers or Husky floor liners even though they should be. They likely aren’t even pushing necessities because their bread and butter is servicing the unit itself. And given this, Guyer suggests that the best business tactic is to try and establish some sort of relationship that both parties can benefit from long term. Get in touch with the campground and find out who’s taking care of the RV side of things. Maybe both operations can strike up a deal that benefits all, such as a referral kickback. Campgrounds are extremely tight communities. All the more reason for a teamwork approach. Trust us, there’s enough business to go around. Happy customers are repeat customers. It won’t take long for word of mouth to spread and a new and loyal clientele to develop.
What Are You Waiting For, Get Networking!
As a business owner, just going a little out of the way to tend to these demands really goes a long way. Yes, it’s a good opportunity to collect premium rates and add-on sales, but it’s also an opportunity to get someone out of a bad situation. These people are far from their homes and when things go wrong a sense of hopelessness can set in. Helping someone out of that rut is bound to go a very long way.