By Greg Gerber
Editor, RV Daily Report
TUCSON, Ariz. — The Internet is such an important selling tool for Lazydays RV, the dealership is starting an Internet department that does nothing but handle online leads. That sales division will have its own exclusive managers and sales force determined to create an unbelievable experience for all customers shopping online.
Chris Trapeni, the dealership’s general manager, said he knows that consumers’ approach to sales has changed drastically since he started with Lazydays 16 years ago.
“People are researching what they want to buy when it is convenient for them,” he explained. “They are looking at specs, pictures, videos, reviews, warranty information, company history and everything else online. The sales experience must be online oriented if our dealership hopes to convert these shoppers in to buyers.”
While the sales department has been known to close many sales before a customer even sets foot onto the sales lot, Trapeni said the ultimate goal of the Internet sales team is to increase sales volumes by a more specific focus and to get buyers to visit the dealership. It’s the only way they can fully appreciate the Lazydays experience and understand how the company takes care of its customers, he added.
Visitors to the dealership generally start in the “history room,” which features a wall of pictures depicting the evolving story of the dealership from a pole barn in Florida into the largest single RV dealership in the world. It also describes Lazydays arrival into the Tucson market.
But, front and center in that room, is a big sign showing Lazydays mission statement, which states, “To make sure our customers feel so good about the product they bought and their decision to buy from us, that they become our customers for life.”
Scattered throughout the building are giant pictures showing various places people can visit in their RVs, and its distance from Tucson. The whole point being to get people excited about traveling and seeing the natural wonders and man-made historical places so relevant to that part of the country.
A team of 16 salespeople orchestrates activity on three sales lots where nearly 300 RVs are scattered around the compound. During winter months, when the snowbirds are in town, the inventory mix is roughly 50-50 motorhomes vs. towables. In the summer, that mix changes to 70 percent towable to accommodate the local market.
The main building was designed like a typical Spanish adobe structure with a water fountain in the center. Outside, a desert oasis, complete with a stream, directs people from the parking lot into the sales center where they are greeted and matched to a sales professional.
“We want to be good stewards of our customers’ time,” said Trapeni. “We don’t want them to walk right on to the lot and start going into RVs. They are welcome to do that, but we’d prefer that they sit down with one of our salespeople who can inquire about what they want to do and what their needs are for the RV they’re looking to buy.
“That way, we can help them zero into a motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer that fits their budget and their lifestyle,” he added. “There’s no sense in frustrating a customer by allowing him to fall in love with an RV that he can’t afford, or can’t tow with his current equipment.”
A fleet of 20 golf carts stands ready to shuttle customers around the 30-acre lot. Customers are given a tour of the grounds so they can understand how Lazydays plans to take care of them long after the sale is completed.
They are shown the training area where they can sit in on free RV driving classes, convection oven cooking courses and safety training. The same area is used every morning for training for the sales staff.
They are shown 48 climate controlled service bays staffed by trained and certified technicians who can fix anything from minor problems to chassis issues. Technicians even have the ability to pull out slideouts to repair those, if necessary — using equipment that not every RV dealer has at their disposal, said Trapeni.
Another 24 service bays and a down draft paint booth are located at the Lazydays body shop about two miles from the main facility.
Room to expand
The site used to belong to Beaudry’s RV, a mega dealership that rejected multiple attempts by Lazydays to acquire the site for years until the business itself when bankrupt and Lazydays snatched it from the bankruptcy court.
There was a Camping World accessory store on the premises until last year when Camping World moved to its own location a mile or two down the road. That lease has now expired and Lazydays is looking for ways to utilize that building to provide even more service to its customers, said Trapeni.
Right now, the parking lot outside the old parts store is used to display high-end pre-owned motorhomes and fifth wheels along East Irvington Road, a major street connecting to Interstate 10 a few blocks from the dealership.
The initial purchase of the property also included a campground, which Lazydays managed until it sold the site to Kampgrounds of America in December. Since then, the KOA-branded RV park has seen an uptick in camper nights.
“Running a campground just wasn’t our forte,” said Trapeni. “It wasn’t a big money maker for us, but we still wanted a campground next door, so the sale to KOA made perfect sense. When it comes to camping, the staff at KOA are the experts.”
Lazydays relies upon the campground so the dealership has a place to set up new RV owners to ensure they get off to a good start, and that everything works on their RVs. KOA, which has a reputation for helping new campers, takes extra steps to ensure that “newbies” are given a little more attention so their questions can be answered and the RVing experience is enjoyable from the start.
Each Lazydays salesperson is trained to sell every type of RV on the property — a daunting task considering the dealership represents dozens of companies offering everything from high-end motorhomes and fifth wheels, to park models, traditional travel trailers and even a few entry level models. The dealership also has park models on the lot, and serves as an order-taking facility for the manufacturers.
“Lazydays realized early in its company history that it wouldn’t be successful by selling just one RV to a customer,” said Trapeni. “The company could only be successful if it sold every RV to that customer.”
That means that the company’s focus on retention is huge. By treating all customers fairly and with respect, and maintaining regular contact with them, the sales team is often able to sell multiple RVs to the same families.
There is plenty of opportunity for Lazydays in Tucson, said Trapeni. Heavy demand from snowbirds fuels sales between October and April. Plus, the local community, which is home to several military bases, is big into RVs as well.
Lazydays has wanted a presence in the western states for years, Trapeni explained. Once the dealership acquired the Beaudry property, the staff worked to create a Disneyland-type experience for customers where exceptional service rules the day and RV owners and buyers can expect to be wowed, he added.
“Every RV dealership claims they are customer focused and nice to their customers, but Lazydays sets that bar at a level that few other dealerships could hope to achieve,” said Trapeni. “Like our store in Florida, we are making the Tucson location a destination that attracts buyers from all other the country, particularly from the Midwest.”
Lazydays just doesn’t talk the talk, they walk the line and deliver of their promises with sales up in every category this year. The dealership has enjoyed even more success in selling RVs more than $250,000 as well as thoseunder $50,000, said Trapeni, who called their rising market share in those categories as “unbelievable.”
Trapeni said sales are still up in the middle market, though not as much — something he considers a challenge for the staff to rally around. Still, the dealership’s total sales have more than doubled since he arrived in Tucson.
A blessing and a challenge
The success has come at a high personal price for the father of four daughters ranging in age from 5 to 16. All of his girls are competitive cheerleaders, and the three oldest are in heavily involved in their sport in Florida. So, the family opted to remain behind while he moved to Tucson in May 2011 to build business’ foundation.
That’s been a blessing and a challenge for Trapeni. It’s a challenge because he’s not a part of their daily lives; however, he got each daughter an iPhone and he frequently FaceTime’s them throughout the week. And he flies back to Florida once a month to spend time with his wife and invest in a little daddy-daughter time as well.
The situation is a blessing because it gives Trapeni more time to devote to managing the dealership and helping to build its presence in Tucson.
He said he has been blessed with two exceptional assistant managers, Jeff Agans and Bill Tickle, who have done a fabulous job in assembling and supervising the sales teams.
But, the entire staff has embraced the Lazydays mission of putting customers first, he added, noting the dealership hires and fires on that principle.
“Our commitment to customers starts right away in our training. Our consultants are trained they do not make a sale by getting what they want, they only do so after determining what’s important to a customer and why,” said Trapeni.
“Our customers are consistently treated with respect. They are made to feel valued and important. That makes them very comfortable doing business with Lazydays,” he explained.
But, even after the sale, the dealership’s commitment to customer service continues, he added.
“RVs break, and it’s easy for a dealer to hide behind the idea that the company sold it ‘as is,'” said Trapeni. “But we don’t turn our backs on our customers. They are too valuable to the long-term success of this business. As I said before, we can’t be successful selling just one RV to a family — we need to sell them all their RVs.”
Six core values
Lazydays is built on a foundation of six guiding values, said Trapeni. They are:
- Customer First
- Team Work
So, if the salespeople put the customers first in a professional manner, working as a team holding each other accountable, the customers will have fun and become part of the dealership family, he explained.
“This isn’t stuff we just hang on the wall to give an impression we care,” said Trapeni. “At Lazydays, we live it out every day.”
For more information about Lazydays Tucson, call 800.306.4011 or visit http://www.lazydays.com/RVExperience/About/Tucson.