The person that takes care of my RV listings is not with the company anymore. What do I need to do?

I don’t think I need to tell you the importance of listing your RV inventory on the internet, making sure that information is accurate and that each unit has pictures, pricing and a good description at the very least.  For many RV dealers, their online presence is the backbone of their sales department.  That’s why it’s so important for you to go through a process, that may or may not include a number of the items below, when the person in charge of your online listings leaves the company or is dismissed for any reason.

I’ll get to the “to-do” items in just a minute.  First I wanted to mention that you, as the owner of the RV dealership or General Manager, should have from your Internet Manager a list of all the websites he/she is advertising your inventory on, usernames and passwords for each of those websites, a flow chart of how your inventory gets from your website to the others, what email address the sales leads from each of those websites are going to, what number the phone leads are calling from each of those websites and your reps name and number for each website.  This doesn’t have to be anything fancy – below is an example I created in Word.
sampleinventoryinfo
Click Image to View Larger Format.

Having this information and keeping it up-to-date is going to save you a lot of time that otherwise would have been wasted trying to track it all down.

Now here’s your To-Do List when the person in charge of your online RV listings leaves the company:

  1. Get in touch with your main Inventory Listings source, in the example above RVUSA.com would be the main source, and have them change the username and password on your account.  This is VERY Important because this one source feeds all the other websites.
  2. If needed, change where the email and phone leads are going for each website your inventory is sent to.  Keep in mind, some of these websites may send out periodic stat reports, which may be sent to a different address than the email leads, so you’ll want to inquire about that as well.  If you do have them make changes, ask them to send you a test email through their system to confirm your leads are coming through to you correctly.

Sometimes when a new Internet Manager comes into the picture, they make changes to their online advertising campaign; cancelling websites, adding new websites, switching website providers, changing email address, etc.  If they don’t know how the current inventory data distribution flow is setup, this can cause real problems for your dealership that could take weeks or longer to straighten out.  During that time period you could be losing sales leads and sales.

MY EXPERIENCE:
A couple years ago an RV Dealership I work with dismissed their Internet Manager and did not change the login information for their Dealer Management Console before hand.  For whatever reason, this person deleted all their inventory listings without the dealers knowledge.  A couple days later when the dealer realized all their inventory was gone, they called me to find out what happened and that’s when we told them they had been deleted.  Unlike most providers, we run backups of our databases so we were able to retrieve the majority of his inventory and pictures.  If they were not using us, they would have had to re-enter all those units with pictures, which would have been at the very least 600 images to retake and upload.

Protect your RV Dealership by putting together this simple document.  An hour or two of work compiling this information is well worth the effort.

Cindy Spencer 🙂

NEXT BLOG:  What is Twitter?  Can Twitter help my RV Dealership?

Visitors on RVUSA.com are looking for Campgrounds & RV Parks

Since January 1, 2009, we’ve had 28,839 visitors searching on RVUSA.com specifially for a Campground, RV Park or RV Resort to camp with their families.  

As with the previous 10+ years, we expect that number to double in the next 2 months.  Then in June, July and August we are expecting over 100,000 visitors on our Campgrounds page.

     •   We have 5,800 listings in our campground category
     •   Our visitors can locate campgrounds by state, city and/or zip code radius 

We would like to make sure we have the most up-to-date information for your campground on our website and we need your help to do that. 

All you need to do is:

     •   Go to RVUSA’s “RV Parks, Resorts, Campgrounds” page
     •   Click on your state and locate your listing on that page (in alphabetical order)
     •   Review your complimentary listing
     •   If you have changes, email webmaster@rvusa.com so we can get it updated

You’ll notice on the Campgrounds page the map has orange triangles on it, which indicates a Member Listing in that state. 

If you click on one of those states, you’ll see the Member Listings at the top of the page with their name, address, toll-free number, local number, fax number, email link, website address link and a complete amenities list. 

The Member Listings gives us the ability to push the RVers on RVUSA.com to your website, where they can get more information about your campground and call or email to make reservations to vacation or plan an extended-stay at your facility.

Take advantage of the exposure we can offer your campground by signing up for a Member Listing. 

     •   It’s only $159 per year!!
     •   No contract required
     •   No setup fees required
     •   Credit Card and check payments accepted
     •   To get started, email us for an Insertion Form

Do you need a professional, easy-to-maintain website? 

We can get your website online quick and easy with our website solutions exclusively designed for campgrounds.

campgroung-templates

We are here to help you succeed online!!

For more information on the complimentary listings, member listings and/or website solutions, please feel free to contact us.

Give us a call Toll-Free:  1-866-643-4625
Send us an email:  webmaster@rvusa.com 

provided by:  Cindy Spencer

Who should host your RV Dealership Website?

I think this topic applies to just about every company in the RV Industry, if not all.  I’ll focus on RV Dealers for now and then move on to other types of companies in a later post.

All RV Dealers, no matter how big or small, have the ability to host their website with a company like RVUSA.com, who provides website and email hosting as part of the package for listing your inventory on their RV Portal website.  There’s really only one other company that provides website hosting, inventory management and advertising to a large network of RVers and that’s RVTraderOnline.com.

Sure there’s other RV Industry “website hosting” companies that provide website hosting and inventory management, but they don’t have an RV Portal or RV Community website that drives RVers to your website.  They try to pick up that slack by doing Google Pay-Per-Click campaigns but that can get expensive and is only a temporary fix.  I’ve talked to some dealers who are paying double or triple what they would pay at RVUSA.com and they are only getting website hosting and an inventory manager.  They soon realize that their website doesn’t really get any traffic, it’s not optimized for the search engines, it’s not a custom website like they were told and/or the email leads have dwindled down to just about nothing.  Unfortunately, by the time they’ve found us they are locked into a 12-month contract.  At that point they have to signup with RV Portal(s) to stay in business, which ads more expense on top of what they are already paying their “website hosting provider”. 

I want you to spend your money wisely when it comes to website hosting.  Make sure your getting the most bang for your buck and take these things into consideration: 

  • What tools or features are the most important to you? 
  • What will help you save time and money?  
  • Have you compared all the hosting options? 
  • If so, are you comparing apples to apples or apples to oranges?

I know some RV dealers tend to host with their local Internet Service Provider, but there are pros and cons to that scenario as well.  Yes, it’s probably inexpensive hosting but…

  • Will your website get enough traffic to keep the email leads rolling in?
  • What is the up-time for the server your website will be hosted on?
  • Are they backing up your website on a nightly basis in case the server crashes and wipes out everything?
  • Do they have a plan of action when a catastraphic failure does happen to get your website back up and running quickly?
  • What is their customer service response time and are they friendly?
  • What is their technical support response time?

More often than not, if you do decide to host with your local company you’ll still have to sign-up with RV Portals to get your dealership and inventory out in front of RVers.  So unless you are a small RV Dealer who does not want to grow the business (and I’ve come across some of you) hosting your website with an RV Portal is truly spending your money wisely.

I personally don’t like companies that prey on those who don’t understand search engine optimization, website design and maybe aren’t as computer savvy as the next guy.  Integrity, honesty and just plain kindness has just gone right out the window with some of the RV hosting companies that I’ve been talking to dealers about.

My goal is to help individuals and companies in the RV Industry, whether they are a customer of mine or not.  I’m not going to blow smoke up your behind and/or promise you the moon and stars just to get your money – that’s just not how I operate.

If you have questions about website hosting, providers, etc., let me know.  I’ll be happy to help.

Cindy Spencer  🙂

NEXT BLOG:  The person that takes care of my RV listings is not with the company anymore.  What do I need to do?

The RV Trend – What is the season for online “lookers”?

There are a lot of RV Dealers waiting to list their inventory online on various RV Classifieds or RV Portal websites until they “feel” the 2009 season start.  They are measuring that by when they see sales go up, which is a common mistake that up until this year has not really been a factor because there have been plenty of RV buyers out there.  With the financing difficulty and other factors that deter folks from buying an RV now, your going to want to get your dealership and inventory out there in front of as many potential buyers possible.

Over the past 13 years, we’ve noticed there is definitely a marked trend as to when potential buyers start searching for their next RV to purchase.  The “looker” trend starts in November and continues through December, which is demonstrated by the amount of time the average visitor spends on the website.  During those months there is less traffic but they are spending considerably more time on the website.  Then from December to January the number of visitors on RVUSA.com increases by 50% or more and the “lookers” continues their RV search. 

Most RV dealers really start to see their sales increase in late March or early April, so that’s at least 2 good months for the “lookers” to find what they are looking for online and contact dealers for purchasing options.  If you’re one of those dealers who’ve waited until April to start your online advertising campaign, then you’re not even on the radar screen for all those visitors who’ve been searching the internet since January and are ready to buy. 

The good news is that from February to March the traffic numbers on RVUSA.com increases another 50% and then fluctuates a little each month until about September or October.  As an RV Dealer, your website probably follows the same basic traffic trend.  That brings my next question to mind. 

Do you have access to view your website traffic stats month-to-month?
How often do you check your website stats?
How many visitors did you get to your website last month?
How long did those visitors stay on your website?
How did they get to your website?
What are your top 10 most popular pages?

Then you’ll want to watch your specific website trends for each of those topics to see if they are improving or not.  It’s nice if the process of compiling your monthly stat report is automated and emailed directly to you, which is a feature that I implemented this past week on all of our hosted RV Dealer websites.

The bottom line is you have to get your dealership and inventory out in front of RVers in order to make sales.  If you are unsure which websites you should signup with you can check out one of my previous blogs on that subject:  http://cindyatrvusa.wordpress.com/2008/09/27/which-rv-industry-websites-you-should-advertise-on/

Let me know if you have any questions.  I’m here to help you succeed online whether you are a customer of mine or not.

Cindy Spencer  🙂

NEXT BLOG:  Who should host your RV Dealership Website?

Pros and Cons of linking to the RV Manufacturers websites

Typically when an RV Dealer sets up their website they will include a Showroom page to display the NEW models they carry from each RV manufacturer.  They will also link those images or model names to the manufacturers website so that visitors can check out floor plans, decor options, standard and optional equipment, photo galleries, etc.  Adding all this content to your website would be very, very time consuming and maintaining it would be a full time job, so adding the links to the manufacturers websites just makes sense. 

As with everything else in life, there are pros and cons that I wanted to let you know about when it comes to linking to the RV Manufacturers websites:

Pros:

  1. As long as the manufacturers maintain the model information on their website, your visitors will have access to the most up-to-date content.  (Example:  http://www.lonestarrvs.com/showroom.asp)
  2. Reciprocal links between your dealer website and the manufacturers website will help you both increase your popularity and rankings in the search engines.

Cons:

  1. If the manufacturers don’t keep the model information up-to-date on their websites and your visitors are looking for the new models, this link would be worthless.
  2. Most manufacturer websites have a “Locate Dealer” button / link that allows visitors to search and possible buy from another dealer – and your website sent them there.
  3. Your visitors will have access to all the models the manufacturer makes even if you don’t carry or sell them all, which could lead to frustration or confusion for your visitors.
  4. When the manufacturers change their website design most often the model links change, this means the links you have on your website will go to error pages or Page Not Found.  (You’ll notice this problem on http://www.lonestarrvs.com/showroom.asp – click on the Sportcoach models in the top line and you’ll see what I mean.)

Does the search engine bump you get from reciprocal links with your manufacturers outweigh the cons listed?  Also, I’ve noticed some of the manufacturers websites have the dealer links buried so far into their websites that the search engine spiders can’t reach and index them.  This makes them useless to the dealer whose linking to them for the search engine bump.

You do have alternative choices.

  1. You can link those models to your NEW inventory page.  So if you have Fleetwood Bounder on your Showroom page, you would like visitors to your new inventory page and list on the Bounders.  This would keep visitors on your website and allow them to shop what you actually have in stock.  (Here’s an example of a Dealer that links directly to their Prowler models:  http://genuinerv.com/new_rvs-p594-prowler.asp.)
  2. You could download the PDF brochures for each model from the manufacturers websites and then link the model images on your website to their corresponding brochure.  Once again this keeps visitors on your website and gives them all the new model information they would typically find on the mfg’s websites.
  3. If you are an RVUSA.com Dealer Partner, you could use our SpecBase tool.  It’s a huge database of all the NEW model information gathered directly from the mfg’s websites including:  floor plans, photo galleries, standard features, optional features, interior color choices, exterior color choices, specifications and PDF brochures.  You can set SpecBase to show the most current model year on your website but many of the models have archive information, which your visitors will be able to access as well.  All this information is maintained by my team – all you have to do is login to the Dealer Management Console, click SpecBase and then mark the models you carry for each manufacturer.  The changes you make there are instantly reflected on your website.  Here’s a dealer that’s using our SpecBase tool on their Showroom page:  http://www.beilsteincampersales.com/showroom-p903.asp and here’s another:  http://www.houseofcamping.com/rv_showroom-p623.asp

If you have any questions, please let me know how I can help you.

Cindy Spencer  🙂