Yes, I still love RV Shows!
I must admit that I love going to RV Shows. Even though I’ve worked at more than I’ve actually attended as a buyer. Even when I’m on my feet for ten hours in my little Hensley booth, it’s just fun being out with people who share my love of the outdoors and RVing. You do meet some characters, though. You’d be amazed at how many people attend the same show every year, wearing the same hat, and telling the same stories. Perhaps I’ll try that in my retirement. Or I could just set up my own booth and call it “Free Advice.” That would save me the walk, though probably not terribly profitable.
I do get the opportunity to walk through the show and check out all the new trailers. If you think we grow immune to the allure of the latest improvements, you’d be wrong. Every year I call home to my wife, practically bursting with excitement, and tell her about the really cool trailer I’m standing in. “It’s got an outside kitchen! Outside! Yeah, and a TV that rotates from the living room to the bedroom!”
She calmly reminds me that we’re in the RV business, which rarely finds any of its companies in the Fortune 500, and need to stick with the ten year old Sunnybrook, at least until we can see stars through the roof.
Caution: Don’t go in without a Plan
But that goes to show you how easily we get pulled in at the RV Show. Scientific studies (I asked on our Hensley facebook page) show that most people buy a trailer larger than they had intended and about $5000 more than they intended when they go to a show. But they got a free flat screen TV for signing TODAY. While financial advice isn’t the point of this here blog, do yourself a favor and chisel a number on a stone budget before stepping into the combat zone.
Here are a few more things you’ll want in hand before the ever-so-friendly RV salesman approaches you at the show:
1. How many people will be sleeping in your trailer? (Comfortably…your six year-old may not like the drop down table when he’s sixteen).
2. How much time will you spending inside your trailer? (Living in it or is it just home base between hiking trips).
3. Will you be cooking inside or outside? (If it’s one thing that is often overlooked, it’s counter space).
4. Do you need a TV? (I know, this is America, but you’ll be amazed how little you’ll really use that thing).
5. How long will your trips be? (Weekends=little closets, Snowbirding = big closets).
6. Will your kids bring friends? (A tent makes a great “guest room,” by the way).
7. What tow vehicle will you want to be stuck with 365 days a year? (Important! If you don’t want to drive a 3/4 ton on your daily commute, stick with the travel trailer).
8. How long will you own this trailer? (Most people want a different lay out once the nest is empty).
That’s the short list. Your job is to sit down (together, married people) and come up with your own list. What’s important to you? A microwave at eye level? A shower with a low wall to step over? Outside storage? If you’re armed with a list like this, you’re not as likely to be swayed (pun intended) by a smiling RV salesman who wants to be your BFF. If some new gimmick, like the outdoor kitchen, is not on your list, then keep moving. Trust me, the best way to hate your trailer is to spend more than you can afford, especially when you’re writing a payment check in January. By the way, if you can spend cash, you can knock off another couple thousand. The smell of fresh currency is intoxicating to RV dealers.
Talk to an RV Show Veteran
You probably know someone who’s already been down this road. Ask them about their experience and what mistakes to avoid. Another note of caution here, though: your uncle Joe will insist you buy a 5th wheel because that’s all he’s ever owned. Take his advice but with a grain of the proverbial salt. RVers tend to stick with what they grew up with. A lot has changed since Uncle Joe bought his first trailer in 1968. Especially tow vehicles and trailer hitches. Get several opinions.
And if you need one more, we’re here to help. We’re a bit unusual at Hensley Mfg. We actually participate in the lifestyle we sell. I can’t imagine going into business if I wasn’t passionate about it. We’ve all been RVers for many years and have worked at or attended dozens of RV shows. We’ve talked to the salesmen. We know how this works. If you have any questions at all, feel free to leave a comment here or on our facebook or Google+ pages. Or you can even give us a call.
Now get to work on that list before you find yourself unarmed at the show! See you under the awning.