youtubeTypically, Spring is an important time of year for RV sales. The weather starts to change, people want to get outdoors and the beauty of our geography is always a lure for the ability to go where you want, when you want. But the recent COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted that in the Pacific Northwest. If you were one of those who planned on purchasing or were considering an RV purchase in Spring of 2020, things are definitely different.

The good news is that Washington State Parks and private RV parks are starting to reopen sometime in May and there are current opportunities for camping in federal public lands if you are amiable to just an overnight or longer boondocking. The pandemic has also changed people’s views about vacations and traveling for the near future. A recent special report conducted by KOA indicates that camping ranks as the safest form of travel. This is above off-the-grid cabins, staying with friends/relatives, resort vacations and more. “Fifty percent of campers, 40% of non-campers and 45% of leisure travelers indicated they felt camping was the safest form of travel.”

RVs are a great way to escape the confines of home, fulfill the need to travel/vacation and enjoy the outdoors while being able to social distance. Everything you need is self-contained, easily providing temporary housing for both short- and long-term camping.

So with this optimism, how do you go about purchasing that RV with the ever-changing pandemic and social distancing impact on RV selling? And what can you expect that will be different in the selling process?

We reached out to local area Puget Sound RV dealers and asked how the pandemic has affected their business and how they are reopening during Phase I of Washington State’s reopening of the economy.

The majority of dealerships were either closed completely or were open only for service during most of March and April.  Sales personnel were available online to answer any questions as potential customers researched websites for new and used RVs.  If you did purchase online only, most deliveries had to be postponed until the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” policy was lifted.

Anticipating reopening in a phased approach, many dealerships took this time to implement changes in their retail stores and prepare for a safe environment for their employees and customers in the future.  We asked them, “What steps are you taking to keep employees and customers safe when you reopen?” Here are a few of the things being done and what you may anticipate from the dealership as you pursue a purchase.

At the dealership:

 ° Sanitary cleaning throughout the day

 ° Nightly sanitization

 ° Additional wash stations

 ° Hand sanitizer stations

 ° Mask and gloves requirement for employees

 ° Daily temperature taking of employees

 ° Issue and ensure strict department safety protocols

 ° RV units sanitized before and after every presentation and for delivery

One dealership indicated that they have installed touch-free faucets and toilets.

Customer Requests/Requirements:

 ° Social distancing policy foremost priority (minimum six feet between employees and customers)

 ° Request for customers to wear a mask at the dealership

 ° Limit the number of people in the store, number of people in customer group (usually 2)

 ° Set appointments for viewing/sale transaction/delivery

 ° Plexiglass at customer interaction stations

The RV dealers will be doing as much as possible remotely. You may experience walk-thru videos, on-line document signing, sales discussions and more to all happen either online or over the phone. Just like other retail operations, you may also need to wait in a staging area designed for social distancing while you wait for your appointment.

As for service, most have already reopened with many of the same safety precautions in place. Those customers who had previous appointments that could not be served will be serviced first for some dealers while others are opening up for all appointments regardless.

It’s always best to do your research before purchasing an RV and that’s important now more than ever.  If you’re a first-time buyer, here’s a video with questions to help you get started.  If you anticipate doing some boondocking (dispersed camping), here’s what you might want to consider. Once you’ve narrowed down your search, contact the dealership and get all of your questions answered, negotiate your purchase and make your appointment.  The more you can do online before you go, the easier and safer your buying experience will be.  The dealers are seeing pent-up demand for RVs since the pandemic outbreak and anticipate lots of interest in the RV lifestyle.  They are ready to provide the safest buying experience possible and send you off for outdoor rest, relaxation and family fun!

Cheryl Johnston
Author: Cheryl JohnstonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Editor
Cheryl Johnston is the Marketing Director for MHRV. She writes about anything that helps promote RVing and educate the public about the RV Lifestyle.

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