Aftermarket Expansion Keys Upcoming RVAA Conference
Engberg credits increased communication within RVAA for its recent growth the past two years. Last year, the Association added a print newsletter, as well as an e-mail newsletter, which has a 40 percent open rate by members.
“That’s an extremely high open rate a number of people taking in our message. We’ve already sent out 10 eNewsletters this year,” Engberg said. “I think we are communicating much better as an Association. People are starting to see the added benefit of joining RVAA. We’re finally starting to get some momentum. I think the aftermarket growth is starting to accelerate.”
The RVAA Executive Conference is poised to have its best attendance since 2005, when 239 individuals attended. Engberg expects 240 this year. Attendance levels dipped to below 200 during the past several years.
“Since the bubble burst, we’re finally getting back to attendance numbers that make sense,” he said. “We’re cramming right now. We didn’t expect that big of jump (in attendance), but I guess we’re doing something right.”
This year, RVAA will utilize its Executive Conference to take some initial steps in extending its communication efforts inside and outside the organization to foster better relationships between suppliers and dealers.
“We are creating a lot of programs to benefit the RV dealer specifically, since these are the companies RVAA members are serving each day,” he said.
At this year’s conference, RVAA will not split its roundtable meetings by individual member categories.
“We’ve found that splitting by member category is counterproductive. The members would talk about things that really needed feedback from the other groups,” Engberg said.
To improve communication further, RVAA also will add new member orientation during the Conference. Members will be introduced individually to the existing membership.
“We want new members to feel comfortable and also get involved. We want to see more participation by new members in RVAA and its committees,” Engberg said.
Perhaps the biggest change to this year’s conference will be the new Dealer Counsel – a panel of four dealers who will take part in roundtable discussions with members and vote for the aftermarket product of the year – another new program coming to this year’s conference. The dealers participating include:
- Ray Miller, director of parts and service for Colerain RV in Cincinnati, Ohio.
- Brandon Bretz, parts manager at Bretz RV in Missoula, Mont.
- Steve Roddy, director of parts and service for Lazydays RV in Tucson, Ariz.
- Joanne Oot, parts/warranty manager for Seven O's RV Way in Cicero, N.Y.
“We took a small step this year to invite a select group of dealers who were interested in helping us proceed with this initiative. I think in the future it will grow,” Engberg said, after emphasizing that the dealers on the council will not be actual RVAA members. “It only makes sense to get information and feedback from the people we’re trying to help.”
Engberg said RVAA is also excited about another new program that will potentially benefit dealers. On Wednesday (Aug. 22), he will introduce a dealer training initiative that will encourage RVAA members to create webinar-based training programs for dealers. More than 340 dealers have already signed up for the program.
“We’re going to go into more detail on this on Wednesday, but dealers and suppliers both stand to benefit.
RVAA will continue to focus on developing best practices among its membership at the Chicago conference. He said this year’s changes are setting the stage for RVAA to have a stronger presence in the RV industry aftermarket.
“Next year’s goal is to increase our outreach into aftermarket community – people outside of Association,” he said. “But first, we have take care of the foundation of RVAA.”