By Greg Gerber
Editor, RV Daily Report
STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — NWAN, an affiliate of National Automotive Experts (NAE), has been quietly rolling out a new warranty program that promises to rock the RV industry in many ways with the introduction of a lifetime RV warranty called RV Warranty Forever.™
The RV Warranty Forever program is included on every new motorhome or towable sold by RV dealers who are granted exclusive markets. Dealers also have the option of adding the RV Warranty Forever program to gently used RVs which are current year or no more than two model years old.
The program remains in place as long as the buyer owns the unit. There is no deductible, and it covers 100 percent of parts and labor expense anywhere in the United States and Canada.
“Our company started in 1996 serving the auto industry and we have been transitioning toward the RV industry for several years,” Kelly Price, president of NAE, told RV Daily Report. “A few years ago, one of our clients who markets to automotive and RV dealers approached us about offering the exclusive Warranty Forever program in the RV industry. He felt it would revolutionize the industry, and we agreed.”
NAE has a history of game-changing product introductions in the automotive market. It caught everyone by surprise in 2001 when it introduced a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty when manufacturers were offering only three-year, 36,000-mile power train coverage. In 2005, when auto manufacturers started offering five-year and ten-year, 100,000-mile powertrain coverage, NAE took the terms and mileage limitations off of the program and branded it Warranty Forever.
The RV Warranty Forever program provides basic coverage within the components listed below:
- Water System
- Heating and Air Conditioning
- Kitchen Center
- LP Gas System
- Manual Leveling Jacks
Because NAE is a full product administrator, dealers can also offer the company’s extended service contract plans, paint and fabric protection, windshield coverage, as well as other products.
What’s the catch?
“One of the most common questions dealers get about the warranty is, ‘What’s the catch?’ The answer is, there isn’t one, nor are there any gimmicks,” said Price. “The warranty comes with the unit and buyers don’t have to do anything to ensure protection as soon as they drive off the dealership lot.”
All customers need to do is maintain the RVs based on manufacturer recommended intervals outlined in the agreement, Price explained.
“Being able to offer a lifetime warranty is a tremendous marketing and retention program for RV dealers,” said Price. “For consumers it is even better because it extends the 12 or 24-month factory warranty to as long as they own the RV. It is a powerful marketing and service retention tool.”
Available at select dealerships only
NAE is offering lifetime warranties through a very small select group of RV dealers — often just one to four dealers in every state, Price explained.
The company worked with major RV manufacturers to identify the top-selling dealers in every state, and then quietly approached the dealers at the Elkhart Open House and again at the RV Dealers Association expo in Las Vegas.
Many markets are already taken, but NAE is opening up the program to all dealers in hopes of having the entire country covered by the end of the year, said Price. They are looking for a total of 70 to 85 dealers nationwide to offer the program.
“We have offered the same exclusivity to auto dealers, but in a more narrowly-defined geographic market. For example, auto dealers have exclusivity for 30 to 40 miles,” said Price. “But, in the RV industry, customers are more willing to travel for the right RV and dealers will routinely ship units to customers, so we wanted to give our dealer partners more breathing room by expanding their exclusive market.
“We have taken a very calculated approach to work long-term with specific dealers,” said Price. “We want our partners to have a strong market advantage and service retention advantage that other dealers don’t have.”
The ability to offer lifetime warranties has a tremendous impact on a dealership’s bottom line, she added.
“There was an auto dealer in Texas selling about 150 cars per month at the time they began marketing the Warranty Forever program and within a few years, the same dealership was retailing close to 500 units per month,” said Price. “They attracted so much attention that the dealership was eventually sold to a public dealer group.
“As soon as the dealership sold, their competitor across the street, who wasn’t able to compete with them, immediately called our office seeking the opportunity to offer the Warranty Forever program to their customers,” she added. “When asked how they were going to explain the change of heart to their customers, they responded, ‘We’ll deal with it. We are just so delighted to be able to finally offer the product.'”
Delighted is an understatement
LaDonna Meadows, president of Tacoma RV Center, said when she got the news she had been accepted into the program, she was beside herself.
“It’s better than winning the jackpot — it’s dynamite,” she told RV Daily Report. “The ability to offer customers a warranty for the life of the coach as long as they own it is a huge advantage in this industry.”
She quietly rolled out the warranty during a fall RV show in October and customers were thrilled with the prospect of having a worry-free ownership experience, Meadows explained.
“When customers have narrowed their selection down to two or three units, the ability to get a lifetime warranty at no charge to them will make them feel very comfortable about their purchase and in working with us,” she added.
Triple benefit for dealers
Barry Bender, president of RV General Stores in Oklahoma, told RV Daily Report the policy fees charged to dealers are pretty reasonable, and even though he has to buy a policy for every RV on his lot — including good condition used RVs under 2 years old — he thinks it will pay back dividends to his company in three ways.
First, as a competitive advantage in the sales process. Second, by making money from customers required to ensure their RVs are maintained according to factory recommendations in order to keep the warranty active.
“Customers will have to do basic maintenance once per year, but NAE does a great job in contacting consumers a few months in advance to notify them of the required service,” he explained. “That gives us a chance to serve the customer and to make money while helping to keep their RVs in good condition.”
The third benefit to his dealership occurs when his salespeople can sell customers additional coverage that isn’t covered by the lifetime warranty, he said.
“We can still upsell customers on other coverage, like paint and fabric protection, extended service contracts which cover components like slide-out motors, hydraulic jacks, and much more and emergency road service, that isn’t included in the lifetime warranty,” said Bender. “Offering a lifetime warranty shouldn’t deter customers from buying a service contract to cover the other items, especially on larger RVs.”
RV General Store also rolled out the product at a recent RV show, and Bender said his dealership can attribute three sales in the first week specifically to the lifetime warranty.
“We had a couple in today to close on a unit. They saw the banner when they were shopping and told us that a lifetime warranty brought them back,” he added. “It’s a new product for us, and time will tell if it will be successful. But, it is already looking quite promising.”
Training the sales team to promote the features and benefits of the warranty was easy, Bender explained. “The night before our show started, the company came in and trained our employees. Our team did a great job introducing it to customers the next day at the RV show.”
Both Bender and Meadows said that the ability to offer something like this as the only dealership in their state or region is a big advantage — and one they encourage other RV dealers to explore.
“We had no hesitation jumping into this program,” said Meadows. “It’s a great thing for our customers. Any time we can do something great for our customers, we’re going to be all over it.”
For more information about the RV Warranty Forever program, dealers can call 877.222.1645 and ask for David Neuenschwander or visit www.rvwarrantyforever.com.
To watch a video about the lifetime warranty program, click here.