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How Larry’s RV Became a Community Staple

Larry’s RV in Jackson County, Mich., takes a multipronged approach to marketing: radio, TV, and print. And its efforts, such as appearing on Fox 47’s show Morning Blend in Lansing, Mich., takes advantage of the ever-growing interest in RVing.

“You’ve gotta have a budget that mixes all three of them together – I wouldn’t put more weight towards any of them. Whatever you can do to make yourself more visible,” said Jim Eccleton, owner of Larry’s RV. “Everybody needs a tagline or something unique. … It’s so funny that people can live in a community for so many years and not know that there’s an RV dealership there. That’s crazy.”

The Morning Show spots happen about twice a year and last three minutes. But it’s enough time to promote an upcoming show or talking about how Wildwood product floorplans can be very similar to some Jayco brands.

Such marketing efforts have proven a success for Larry’s RV. Originally, the dealership opened in 1969 and has had three owners before Jim Eccleton and his wife, Denise, took over in 2010 with their property management company. Last month marked their eighth anniversary. But before deciding to run an RV dealership, the Eccletons’ only industry experience consisted of owning a fifth wheel in the 1990s.

“We hit the ground running for sure,” remarked Jim Eccleton. It meant finding the right staff, learning the products, and coming up with a business model, like all RV prices including the cost of transporting units to the lot, to ensure the lowest rates in the region.

It also meant getting the word out that they were in business.

When the dealership began airing local commercials five years ago, Jim Eccleton tapped into the old “Where’s Larry?” theme, the answer usually being that he’s finding the best deals for customers. But the simplistic idea took, and now it’s not uncommon for people in Jackson County to occasionally call out to friends “I found Larry!” when they see Jim Eccleton walking around with his red, pinstriped shirt.

“So, you know the word’s getting out,” he said, laughing. It can happen multiple times per outing.

Additionally, the dealership’s website provider automatically uploads updates at midnight, preventing the homepage from feeling stagnant. The Eccletons have seen its benefits firsthand as customers come in, showing which RV they saw on their smartphone via the website.

And little touches, coupons for propane, will get people in the door that never knew Larry’s RV existed. Such marketing tactics can help others find Larry.

David MacNeal

David MacNeal is the former digital content editor of RV PRO Magazine.

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