Baby, It’s (Soon To Be) Cold Outside

Why winterizing is key for protecting your customers’ coaches all winter.

It stands to reason that when you leave water outside in temperatures at or below 32 F, it will freeze. And it is common knowledge that frozen water, aka ice, takes up more space than liquid water. And we all know that that expansion is why pipes burst.

And burst pipes are an expensive bother, no matter if they happen in a home situated on a stable foundation or one mounted on a rolling chassis.

Naturally, we’re only going to talk about the latter.

Prevention is the key to happiness, according to Andy Mikesell, product manager at Valterra. If you winterize, you have a nice, happy RV to take out again in the spring, or later in the winter if you prefer.

If you don’t, your pipes may burst, the seals on your faucets may be damaged, and you may face a major repair bill, and lots of time with the rig in the shop rather than on the road.

The solution, of course, is winterization, which requires removing all the water and replacing it with biosafe RV antifreeze.

ValterraMost people reading this are well aware of these facts. So, why reiterate them here? Because proper dissemination of this information to your customers keeps you in touch with them, makes them feel looked after, and brings them (and their wallets) back into the dealership on a regular basis.

According to Mikesell, who was promoted to product manager in February after 17 years as a sales rep, the best way to make this happen is to carry well-made products that you can sell at a reasonable price to customers who want to do all that on their own. Or offer them access to your trained, reliable, expert staff who can do it for them – ideally as part of a multipoint annual inspection.

While Valterra sells the kit that owners can use to do it themselves, it maybe not be the best option for everyone. In fact, Mikesell said, “I second-guess myself every time I do it. And I have been doing it for 25 years.” That’s a strong endorsement for not going the DIY route that you can pass on to customers.

The pitch is basically “peace of mind.” The result is an increase in both customer loyalty and revenue.

The Importance of Being Proactive

Mikesell suggests inspection packages that encourage owners to be proactive. Some dealers bundle roof inspections and/or inspections of the seals around slide outs. He noted that roofs are a great option because very few owners ever climb up onto their roof. Most are not comfortable up there.

Once the coach is back in the dealership, the connection to the customer is strengthened, making them feel cared for and increasing the chances that they will purchase their next RV from you – and refer you to their friends in the meantime.

This is clearly a job for your marketing department. Email blasts, ads, mailings, phone calls, smoke signals – whatever you use to stay in contact with the people who have made a purchase with you is the best tool for selling a preventive maintenance program.

Stressing the importance of being proactive, the cost savings inherent in not having burst pipes or other emergencies, and whatever incentives you bundle into the package, will bring people into the service department and increase overall customer loyalty.

Perhaps you want to sell two years as a bundle: Purchase a winterization maintenance package this year and for next year right now, and save 10% on the whole thing.

Perhaps you want to offer multiple options for what you will inspect in addition to doing the winterization.

Your marketing team can create the type of options your customers will appreciate.Valterra

Mikesell suggests contacting everyone in your database soon – next year you might try to do so before Labor Day, when many weekend warriors start cleaning things and preparing for winter storage. That is the best time to offer winterization packages and it allows you to schedule more conveniently for customers and not overwhelm your service department when everyone suddenly realizes that summer is ending.

There are lots of dealers in states with colder weather who actively sell antifreeze but could also sell bypass and pump converter kits, Mikesell says.

For over 40 years, Valterra has been manufacturing faucets, fittings, heated water hoses, pump connector kits, blowout kits, hand pumps, and anything else needed to keep coaches safe through the winter.

“We know exactly what’s going on inside the coach and are dedicated to our dealers and their customers,” Mikesell says.

Now is the ideal time to start creating the marketing plan that will fill your service bays for the fall.

Lisa Dicksteen

Lisa Napell Dicksteen has been a writer and editor for more than 30 years, and has published on education, relationships, style, technology, theater, food, dance, literature, social action, religion, academic success, continuing education, the RV industry, and more. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, For Women FIRST, Newsday, Bride's, and numerous other consumer and trade publications. She holds a Master’s degree in teaching secondary English and currently teaches Media Writing and Business and Professional Speaking at UC-Denver. A native New Yorker, she has lived in Boulder, Colo., since 2007.

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