It’s an old story: you go purchase a RV, find the one you want, and leave feeling like you’ve been had. . .
No one wants to feel like they’ve just gotten the short end of the stick. You want to have a positive buying experience that will lead to good times and good adventures in your new RV.
So what can you do to help ensure a positive buying experience? It really does begin with you!
When you show up at the dealership without a plan.
Write down your wants. We recommend using RV shopping checklists to layout the entire process. Know what your looking for, what you’re afraid of and what your ideal outcome is. Once you fore-arm yourself, you’ll be more confident and be able to approach the buying process logically.
When you can’t see yourself going to dinner.
The salesperson is there to sell you a RV, right? Whether it’s a Class A, Fifthweel, Van, Travel Trailer or a Popup they are there to “get you in that RV!” Well, that’s wrong. A scrupulous salesperson is actually there to walk with you through the process of identifying your needs and then finding the RV that meets those needs. You should be comfortable buying that RV, and you, yes you are the judge.
It’s all personal, and it’s all business. You and your Salesperson have to reach a rapport to get the job done. And by “you”, it’s you and your spouse too. If you don’t feel that your needs, fears, and concerns are being addressed and met, walk away. If your spouse has a gut feeling that something is not right, just take a break, go out for coffee and come back later. How can you trust someone who wants to get you into a 43 foot 5th wheel after you told him or her that you’re looking to simplify your camping lifestyle? On the other hand, are you being pushed towards the “best deal on the lot” when you’re in the market with a very specific vision? If the salesperson is trying to meet their own needs, or whatever rig the “manager” is trying to get off the lot, and is not listening to you, walk away. They won’t miss you, and for you, there’s always another dealership and another salesperson down the street.
For us, we needed to be able to buy from a person we could see ourselves sitting down with and having a great dinner and conversation. You want to work with someone you are comfortable with. But beware as well – you don’t want a “yes man”. If you’ve established the right relationship, that salesperson will point out the disadvantages to an RV you like, or where an RV doesn’t meet the needs you’ve laid out. So if everything is all smiles, remember to review your plan, and walk away. Go get a coffee nearby, and then come back. Time is on your side.
An RV can be a large purchase, or a really large purchase. Work with the salesperson to put whatever RV you’ve chosen through it’s paces. Have them hook it up to power, add water to the tanks, open the slides (all of them), close them, open them, close them again. Run the water, flush the toilets. Cook a couple burgers. If your salesperson is willing to spend all day with you, for as many days as it takes in the buying process, he or she, may be the one for you.
However, if the salesperson ever has to “call in the manager”, or starts looking at their watch, you may just want to leave right then and there. That feeling in your gut that you’re about to be played is right.
When you feel outnumbered.
Oh yes, it’s not just the salesman or saleswoman that you will have the pleasure (hopefully) of working with. Once you’ve shopped around for the right rig, you’ve verified (if you’re towing) that your truck can pull it and more importantly, stop it – or you’ve verified that it’ll fit in your driveway or next to the house and tree (Class A) – you get to talk to the financing and warranty guy! If you are fortunate to be able to buy outright, you will still be presented with a litany of warranty levels, Basic, Elite, Premiere. Or Gold Silver Bronze. Mickey, Goofy, Pluto! Know though – you can still walk away. If you are uncomfortable, don’t have enough information, or need time to figure things out, just walk away. The Financing and Warranty team need to know that you need to be educated and comfortable enough to make the sale.
If the rest of the sales team isn’t working with you in a manner that you’re happy with, put it back on your salesman to help push things through. He or she is motivated to have a happy customer that will return in a few years time for the next RV purchase.
When you feel the 5pm Pressure.
Finally, time is on your side. A dealership is motivated to move units off of their lot, but don’t let them pressure you. Even the best salesperson may start pushing you towards a decision too quickly. When we purchased our Travel Trailer and pickup truck, we were facing a very real and immediate deadline. I had a new job waiting for me out of state, and we needed to close the deal, and close it quickly. Our truck dealer was also pushing for a late sale at 5pm, but I countered that I had a month to make a decision, and didn’t need the truck. Well, we made the sale later that day, and the Travel Trailer the next weekend. We made mistakes for sure (excessive warranty that I couldn’t tell you today what it covers), but we were very lucky to have an excellent salesman who listened to our needs, and fears, and worked for us, and with us to buy our home on wheels.
If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed and not sure where to start, we recommend reviewing some of the RV buying guides. They will help you get your ideas and information organized and on paper so when you are ready to buy, you stay in control and avoid some costly mistakes.