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RV Business
N.C. Firm's Videos Teach 'RV Education 101'
Jeff Crider
RV Business
Friday, October 8, 2004

When consumers buy a towable or motorized unit from Allsport RV Center in Fayetteville, N.C., they receive something unusual before taking the customary walkthrough: An instructional video that covers everything from weights and towing to campground setup, leveling and operating the unit's water, holding tank, electricity and LP gas systems.

Allsport RV Center is one of about 400 dealerships across the country that supplements its walkthroughs with Class A-, Class C- or towable-specific instructional videos.

Some dealers are selling the videos, while others, like Allsport President Annette Autry, offer them free of charge as a means of better addressing their customers' questions, both before and after they take delivery of their vehicle.

"It just solves a lot of problems out there and makes the customer a happy customer," said Autry.

Autry said the videos, developed by Mark Polk of Fayetteville-based RV Education 101, help her to provide a more meaningful and informative walkthrough experience. "It really prepares them," she said, "so they ask more substantive questions."

This approach, Autry maintains, ultimately helps her customers achieve a higher level of product knowledge. It also lessens the frequency of follow-up phone calls from consumers because the videos answer many of the questions they are likely to have.

"A good percentage of your complaints from customers reflect a lack of knowledge rather than a real problem," Autry said. "These (videos) allow them to have an understanding of the whole vehicle."

Polk said he came up with the idea for the instructional videos after working as a sales manager for a North Carolina RV dealership. "When we would sell a unit," he said, "we would give them a class. And then they'd get the unit home and they would call with questions."

Polk said the follow-up questions were understandable. "You can give somebody the best walkthrough I gave walkthroughs myself," he said. "But it's a matter of retention. And when you cram that much information in a two-hour period of time, they're probably only retaining about 25% of that. And if they don't go out and use that (information) themselves within a week of purchasing, they're not going to retain it."

Polk, who is entering his fifth year in the instructional video business, has broadened his offerings to include videos and CDs on renting, storing and winterizing RVs as well as e-books, all of which are available through his website at www.rveducation101.com.

Dealers feel that Polk's instructional videos and CDs are worthwhile. "They make our customers better educated," said Steve Schermaul, parts manager for Byerly RV in Eureka, Mo.

"They (the videos) work out well for us," said George Leduc, general sales manager of Longview RV in North Hampton, Mass. "We've had them for three years. And we try to make sure our customers get them before delivery.

"They find them immensely helpful. They (watch them) and write down any questions they may have. And then, when they come in for the orientation, they're light years ahead of where they would otherwise be."

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