EDITOR’s NOTE: This column by RVDA Chairman of the Board Chris Andro, of Hemlock Hill RV in Planstville, Conn., appears in the current edition of “RV Executive Today” magazine.
Over the years, the term “new normal” has been used for many major events. All, unfortunately, were very difficult for America.
Before the pandemic, the last time this term was part of our everyday vocabulary was during the Great Recession. Now, the hardship of this pandemic we are living in has thrust this phrase back into our daily conversations. When I heard new normal in years past, I would look at my inventory and not sleep – or wonder who I would have to lay off that day. Cutting expenses was a daily occurrence in the new normal 11 years ago.
Now, in our industry, when we hear the words new normal, we start to think long lead times, product shortages, high demand and full campgrounds. There are many different hardships and losses we are all dealing with in this pandemic, but our RV industry has seen historic growth as consumers look to RVing as a safer way to vacation.
Recently, most major manufacturers have reported the largest backlogs they have ever seen. I’m still hearing that product is built but waiting for something before it could ship. Dealers are taking on different brands in hopes of filling voids where mainstream brands cannot. On a recent industry call everyone on the call from all outdoor industries only had 20-30 percent of needed inventory. Yes, this is our new normal in 2021.
Let’s not forget the lessons of our past. Our current growth is probably not sustainable for the long haul, but for the short term, and perhaps into 2022, we can all agree we will have plenty of opportunities.
Making sure our staff is educated and ready to handle opportunities in our new normal is our best defense against losing buyers to other recreational interests. The Convention/ Expo Committee is busy formulating education tracks that can provide valuable information and reminders of how to maximize profit in our current market conditions. I personally know many of the presenters and believe me, they remember the struggles of our previous “new normal.”
In a recent RVDA/Spader 20 group meeting our facilitator spent a lot of time discussing specific measuring tools to help stay out of our past errors and protect ourselves against what is to come, good or bad. Over the past 15 years or so, I have found the RV Dealers Convention/Expo to be the single most valuable event I have attended. Not having it in person in 2020, of course, was very hard for our association and me personally. Although the staff and committee did a fantastic job putting together our virtual event, not seeing old friends and meeting new ones was a huge loss. Networking with everyone to hear new ideas on what is working in their dealerships or just how someone handled a tough situation was greatly missed.
This year’s convention/expo will be a hybrid event with both in-person and virtual meetings. The format will allow more deal- ership personnel to participate and receive much needed educa- tion as our industry adapts to our new normal. I encourage all of you to support our association and our industry by either attending the virtual or in-person portion of the convention/expo.
I look forward to seeing you there! As always, happy camping and go RVing.