Directions: Take a Trip into the RV Service Market
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Directions: Take a Trip into the RV Service Market

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With the RV rental market growing by a little more than 35% last year, coupled with a recent Hollywood comedy on RV life, the popularity of RV vacations has never been higher. And servicing these vehicles can become a niche market for your shop, providing you with more profits.

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RVing is Becoming Big Business
According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), there are more than 8 million RVs on America’s roads, and an estimated 30 million RV enthusiasts nationwide. U.S. ownership of RVs has reached record levels, reveals a 2005 University of Michigan study commissioned by the RVIA. According to their research, nearly one in 12 U.S. vehicle-owning households now owns an RV — a 15% increase during 2001-2005 and a 58% gain during 1980-2005. The survey also showed that today’s typical RV owner is a Baby Boomer — 49 years old, married, with an annual household income of $68,000 (which is higher than the median for all households). These RV owners are likely to own their homes and spend their disposable income on traveling — an average of 4,500 miles and 26 days annually.

One reason for the popularity of RV vacationing and attraction for Baby Boomers is that there is now enough technology out there to run an office or stay in touch with family while on the road. With advances such as Wi-Fi, satellite Internet hookups, Palm Pilots, e-mail and cell phones, RVers can now take the “office” with them.

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Although experts say Baby Boomers are largely responsible for the sales spike, there also are a surprising number of young families buying RVs in hopes of squeezing in more quality vacation time with the kids. Some in the industry believe it’s a way to move from the hectic, faced-paced daily life to a more relaxing vacation.

And don’t think high fuel prices this summer will slow the RVing spirit. The latest Campfire Canvass, a bi-annual survey of RV owners by the RVIA, reports that more than a third of RVers say fuel costs will not affect their RV travel plans. Even if adjusting to higher fuel prices is needed, 52% of RVers said they will just stay longer in one place and 45% said they would plan trips closer to home.

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Getting Started
If you are interested in seeing which RVs are available, you may want to check out www.RVTraderOnline.com, an online showroom of more than 85,000 recreational vehicles across the country. If you have the space, you may consider buying some pre-owned RVs and renting them to your customers.

You also may want to have one of your techs pick up technical training geared toward handling RV service at your shop. The RVDA-RVIA RV Service Technician Certification Program is a collaborative industry program developed by dealers, manufacturers and supplier representatives designed to create a network of qualified, professional RV technicians across the country.

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According to the National RV Dealers Association, there are more than 2,000 certified RV technicians at more than 500 dealerships nationwide. It might be worth it to contact some of the RV manufacturers and suppliers to see if they offer training for independent shops willing to service these vehicles.

For more information Service Technician Certification Program, visit www.rvtechnician.net.

RVing Hits the Silver Screen
Riding on the popularity and growth of the recreation vehicle market is RV, a comedy film that opened nationwide a few months ago. The Columbia Pictures movie stars Robin Williams as an overworked Bob Munro, his wife Jaime (Cheryl Hines), their 15-year-old daughter Cassie and 12-year-old son Carl who are in desperate need of some quality time together.

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After promising to take them on a family vacation in Hawaii, Bob abruptly changes plans without telling them. Instead of a week in a tropical paradise, they’re going on a road trip to Colorado in an RV. Dragging his wife and kids kicking and screaming into the RV, Bob’s togetherness plan (which is partly a ruse to keep him from losing his job) almost immediately hits a major speed bump. Everything that can go wrong, does. Bob’s lame attempts to navigate the unwieldy, oversized vehicle are met with silence and scorn from his resentful family. The RV life is a far cry from their comfortable life in Los Angeles, and every attempt Bob makes to get them into the spirit of the vacation threatens to tear them further apart.

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To view a trailer of the movie, visit its official site: www.sonypictures.com/movies/rv.

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