Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Forest River MAP Pricing Policy … part II

Last time we looked at how Forest River has requested that their dealers strictly follow their Minimum Advertised Price, MAP, policy. This places an artificial floor on the bottom line price that any dealer can advertise on the internet. This in effect equalizes all the dealers web pricing, hiding the lowest available price from the consumer. This approach is backwards looking and counter to the environment that internet promotes. The state of Maryland passed a law that takes effect October 1st prohibiting MAP pricing policy. Expect more states to follow their lead...

The Wall St Journal
Apr 28, 2009

In a move that could lead to lower prices for consumers across the country, Maryland has passed a law that prohibits manufacturers from requiring retailers to charge minimum prices for their goods.

The law, which takes effect Oct. 1, takes aim at agreements that many manufacturers have been forcing on retailers, requiring them to charge minimum prices on certain products. The practice has surged since a controversial 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that no longer makes such agreements automatically illegal under federal antitrust law.

Under the new state law, retailers doing business in Maryland -- as well as state officials -- can sue manufacturers that impose minimum-pricing agreements. The law also covers transactions in which consumers in Maryland buy goods on the Internet, even when the retailer is based out of state. That could potentially affect manufacturers throughout the country.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

MAP Pricing

Forest River has instituted a new internet dealer protection policy that will force all dealers to only put the ‘Minimum Advertised Price’ on-line. They call it MAP.

The question is, does MAP have a place on the Internet and why would a manufacturer want to force their dealers to hide their pricing from the consumer?

An RV Manufacturer (RVM) has to have a fairly large base of RV dealerships across the US and Canada to take care of service and warranty issues. The RVM grants the dealership a territory and product line that they will not permit any other dealer within the region to market or sell. This allows the dealer the opportunity to harvest the market and invest in local advertising and marketing to drive business. Traditionally if was difficult for the consumer to go outside their demographic area for pricing – but the internet has changed that. Consumer’s can search, view and price a camper from a dealer located anywhere in the world. The regional boundaries have been effectively removed.

Brand Value

In the marketing world “Brand” is the perceived value of your product or service by the consumer. A strong brand is built by factors such as quality, price, materials, marketing and corporate perception. Often a manufacturer will impose MAP pricing on their premium product line to keep the consumer perception of the Brand high. For example, Cadillac. GM will never produce a $12,000 Cadillac for fear that the image/Brand that Cadillac is a premium auto will be tarnished. Conversely, GM will also demand a higher sticker for the Cadillac line of cars to maintain the premium perception.

The same can apply to the RV market. A Forest River Cedar Creek camper is the top of the line RV product with high quality design, parts and build. To maintain the overall Brand of Cedar Creek FR prices it accordingly and must maintain a price gap between Cedar Creek and the other non-premium brand RV lines. In theory, this is all in the best interest of the manufacturer, dealer and the consumer. The consumer benefits because the camper will hold it’s value on re-sell, the dealer gets a nice profit and the RVM can build a premium camper with quality parts and appliances.

Where MAP starts to fall apart is when dealer’s begin to take advantage of the program by pricing the camper too close to the MAP price to make a higher profit. They can do this because the actual price other dealers will charge for the identical product is ‘hidden’ due to the RVM’s MAP policy. The consumer ends up paying thousands more than they could have and the real problem comes in 3-4 years when they decide to upgrade to another camper. They are so far upside-down on the camper value that they can’t possibly trade it or sell it above what they owe. This shows the short-sighted approach the RVM and dealers are taking and how they are shooting themselves in the foot.

For the sake of the short term ‘kill’ they are killing the future RV market by selling campers at a price that will prohibit the consumer from making a future purchase in the next 5-7 years. We take calls every day from owners looking to trade up their RV and what they still owe exceeds what we are selling a ‘new’ camper for. It is then that they realize that they were taken advantage of by their ‘local’ dealer.

The fact is that the internet changes everything and any dealer or manufacturer that believes that they can ‘hide’ from the consumer is mistaken and will pay the price in the long run. The consumer is smart and the smart dealers will find ways around the MAP policy. It is in everyone’s best interest to price new RV’s at a price point that allows the dealer a fair profit and return on their investment. What the MAP policy does is protect the dealer that does not want to invest in internet marketing, price their product aggressively, and compete in the quickly changing internet market. Even GM is now getting it – they have begun to allow their dealerships to sell auto’s on … opening up the market to allow their more successful and forward thinking dealers to thrive.

As a final point what the manufacturer’s don’t realize is that unless every RV manufacturer instituted MAP pricing they are putting their product and dealers at a competitive disadvantage. There will be RVM’s that will not burden their dealer network with MAP policies and the consumer demand will shift over to their RV’s provided the quality, service and other factors are on par with Forest River’s. This shift in consumer preference for brand will continue to accelerate as more and more internet savvy consumer’s enter the RV market.

I spent two years working with Cintas, developing their website, to promote their products and services over the internet and support their ground logistics efforts. Through the internet Cintas has been able to expand their market efforts and grow / maintain service lines through what has been a difficult economic period. The same factors are working against the RV industry and unless the RMV’s work with the internet to grow their consumer base, they will find themselves behind their competition quickly.

Next: What Forest River should do, how their dealers are implementing MAP pricing on their web sites and how you can find the best deal on the internet…

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Canadian Dollar is way down - time to buy your RV!

This morning the Canadian / US Dollar exchange was at $1.145 … the lowest it has been this year.

Purchasing and importing your new RV from the US into Canada is easy. RV Nation can help you by providing all the paperwork and hand holding you thru the process.

To see just how easy it is – go here: RV Nation Canadian Buyers Assist Page

RV Nation sells dozens of new r-pods, travel trailers and 5th wheels into Canada every week. Call us at 513-863-7000 or email if you would like to learn more about importing your new RV back home into Canada.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Canadian Exchange is at a new low – it’s time to buy!

Now is a great time to get that new RV that you have been looking at. The exchange rate for the Canadian dollar has fallen to new lows every day for the past 10 days. Today, Friday – May 8th, it has reached the $1.16 level.

Purchasing and importing your new RV from the US into Canada is easy. Our dealership can help you by providing all the paperwork and hand holding you thru the process.

To see just how easy it is – go here: RV Nation Canadian Buyers Assist Page

Canadian Dollar vs. US Dollar Exchange Trend

5-8-2009 9-47-48 AM

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

XLR Toy Haulers by Forest River

Forest River produces one of the industries leading Toy Hauler fifth wheel RV’s on the market. The XLR line of Toy Haulers are known for their solid construction, premium interior packages and high re-sell value. To view the 2009 XLR Toy Hauler brochure click here.

Forest River also makes a v-nose lite-weight toy hauler that have either a kitchen or bedroom up front. The v-nose design opens up the front living area allowing for 10% more space within the floor plan.

There are 3 v-nose, lite weight floor plans available as shown below:


 Forest River XLR Model 40x12 Toy Hauler


 Fifth Wheel Exclusives - CARGO AREA
• 12’ x 8’2” Cargo Area with Beaver Tail
• 8 foot Ramp Door for Increased Accessibility
• 1” Thick Floor Decking
• Double Sealed, Vapor Door between Garage and Living Area
• Exterior Walk-in Door with Optional Dual Electric Beds Up or Down

Fifth Wheel Exclusives - CONSTRUCTION & EXTERIOR
• 12” I-Beam Steel Frame
• 6000lbs. EZ-Lube Axles
• 16” Tires w/ Stylish Aluminum Wheels
• Fully Enclosed Underbelly
• Front Power Electric Jacks
• Rear Stabilizer Jacks
• Powerful & Fast Hydraulic Slide Outs
• Back-up Assist Mirror on Front Cap
• 50 Amp Service
• Generator Prep w/ Transfer Switch
• Dual 30lbs LP Gas Bottles w/ Automatic Change Over
• Large “Clean” Pass through Storage
• Black Tank Flush
• Two Exterior Scare Lights- One on the Door Side & One over the Fuel Station

The Forest River XLR line competes with, and exceeds, the Keystone Fuzion, Keystone Raptor and other manufacturers toy hauler models. In addition, you get higher end components like Bose stereo system, Sirius satellite radio, leather caption chairs and other appointments – all at several thousand dollars savings for you…

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Salem – Wildwood and Cherokee Campers – what’s the difference?

We are often asked this question by callers and emails to our dealership. Forest River, the manufacturer, is basically the same as General Motors – and their Chevrolet and GMC truck lines. GM is the manufacturer, Chevy and GMC are ‘brand divisions’. Forest River is the manufacturer – Salem, Wildwood, and Cherokee are the same – brands and divisions. By leveraging items like the furnace, refrigerator, tires, and even the floor plan – Forest River can produce a wider array of campers at a lower cost.

For example, most of the Salem and Wildwood floor plans are exactly the same, there are few that are unique to each. There are subtle differences such as interior color, small appliances, TV type and model, etc. that distinguish the two brands. Salem is the more established brand, it has a longer history, is more popular and is the lead brand for Forest River in their market space. Salem out sales Wildwood and Cherokee combined...

Cherokee has several overlapping floor plans, but tend to be smaller and lighter campers. Their slides are not as deep, thin slides, 18” slides rather than a full 36” slide.

Typically, a dealer represents either Salem or Wildwood, not both. As a buyer, you should review all your options and find the dealer that can offer you the best price, service and options on the camper floor plan that you like.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Salem Travel Trailers by Forest River

The Salem line of travel trailers and fifth wheels is Forest River’s most extensive brand. There are currently 61 different floor plans available from lite-weight trailers, to toy haulers, travel trailers, fifth wheels and all the way up to park models.

2009 Salem Product Brochures

2009 Salem LE Brochure
2009 Salem Sport
  2009 Salem XL/PT Brochure  2009 Salem LA Brochure
 2009 Salem Cruise Lite Brochure
(Click images to enlarge and view specifications)

XL Toy Haulers
23FLSRV Enlarge 266FLSRV Enlarge
286FBSRV Enlarge 356SRV Enlarge
27FBSRV Enlarge 376SRV Enlarge
376SRVBS Enlarge

LE Toy Haulers
26FBSRV Enlarge 27SRVS Enlarge
32SRV Enlarge 32SRVP Enlarge
  29FBSRV Enlarge  

LE Fifth Wheels
24BHSS Enlarge 26DDSS Enlarge
26FBSS Enlarge   28BHSS Enlarge

LE Travel Trailers - Non Slide
19BH Enlarge 27RB Enlarge
27RBEC Enlarge  

LE Travel Trailers - SlideOut
26TBSS Enlarge 26TBUD Enlarge
28DDSS Enlarge 29BHBS Enlarge
29QBBS Enlarge 31QBSS Enlarge
28FBSS Enlarge 28RLSS Enlarge
29FKSS Enlarge 29FLSS Enlarge
30BHBS Enlarge 30QBSS Enlarge
31RLDS Enlarge 32BHDS Enlarge
36BHSS Enlarge 37BHSS2Q Enlarge
36BHBS Enlarge  

LA Travel Trailers
272BHSS Enlarge 282RLSS Enlarge
292FKSS Enlarge 302QBSS Enlarge
292FKDS Enlarge 312BHBS Enlarge
312QBBS Enlarge

LA Fifth Wheels
246RLBS Enlarge 316RKBS Enlarge
336BHBS Enlarge 336QBDS Enlarge
326RLBS Enlarge 336RLDS Enlarge
346BHBS Enlarge 356RBDS Enlarge

XL Travel Trailers
352FLFB Enlarge 362FKDS Enlarge

Park Trailers
392FBRB2Q Enlarge 392FKDS Enlarge
392FLFB Enlarge 392QBEC Enlarge
392FKRB Enlarge 392RLDS Enlarge
402-2B Enlarge 403FB Enlarge

Floor plans and specifications are based on the latest product information.
Forest River, Inc. reserves the right to make changes in drawings and
specifications at any time without notice and assumes no responsibility for any errors in the site.
The model number does not necessarily reflect the overall length of a particular unit.