Buying an RV – Tactics and negotiations –

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source: rvingmyway.com    (Update 5/17/2020 Website seems to be offline and registration expired)

— Buying An Rv —

This is not about which RV to buy, I may discuss that later. This is about HOW to buy an RV. I will tell you now that I’ve argued some with RV salesmen about my method. They don’t like it at all. The importance of this method is in direct proportion to the cost of the RV you are looking for. A high end car, say for $50,000 is a low end RV. When you are getting ready to spend over a hundred grand on an RV, you want to be ready for battle. Remember one very important thing…it is your money and that puts you in charge of the transaction.

About the best deal any of us can hope for is one that falls somewhere between our greatest expectation and our worst fear. Use the techniques I use and you will be closer to your hopes than your fears.

First, the pressure is on the person selling the RV. They need the money more than you need that exact RV. Sure, you are going to buy one, but it does not HAVE to be this one. That is your decision. You must know that you have the upper hand. The person with the money always dictates the terms. If you are not happy, walk away. Walking away from a marginal to bad deal is not a technique, it is mandatory. Most often, they will catch you before you get off the lot and sweeten the deal.

My first technique is to know that the person who shapes the negotiation controls the negotiation. The person who controls the deal gets the better end…every time. You shape the negotiation by not answering any questions. Okay, give them your name, but only the first name. When pressed for your last name, tell them they have not earned it yet; make them earn everything. You are dealing with a sales person and that person has one agenda and that is earning a commission. They want to put beans on their plate and to do that they have to sell you an RV…any RV.

At this point a sales person will tell you that they really want a satisfied customer and only have your best interest at heart. The same thing was true when the dude in New York tried to sell me the Empire State Building. Don’t get me wrong; there may well be some good sales people out there who are truly altruistic. But we don’t know that until they prove it. Start with a belief that you are the only person on the lot that truly has your best interest at heart. If the sales person does well, you can buy your next RV from them or send a friend over. In the meantime, let’s make them earn those beans on their plate; you had to earn yours, didn’t you?

The person who answers the first question loses control. It is an issue of momentum. Police use this technique all the time. They start with easy questions, to get someone in the habit of answering. I won’t even admit that it is a nice day. “I don’t know, what do you think?” It may seem silly, but a question as simple as “Beautiful day, isn’t it? Is a ploy to get you to answer questions.

From the point of first contact you give your first name and then nothing else. You want to be the one asking questions, not the one giving answers. Each answer you give is a gift of information that further empowers the sales person. You know the drill, “How much can you afford?”, “Do you have a trade in?”, “What monthly payments can you afford?”, “How much can you put down?”, “Have you owned an RV before?”, “What kinds of RV’s?” I answer every question with a question. Do not let the sales person lead you to the row of RV’s in your price range. Ask this person to show you what you want to look at. “Can I see your Fifth Wheels Please?” Do you have any Class ‘A’ motorhomes?” If you ask the price of an RV do not go anywhere until you get an answer.

Even if it is very obvious that they have Class ‘A’s, ask them. Establish the pattern that you ask question and they give answers. You are sitting on top of the snow covered mountain. Buying an RV is like starting an avalanche. On which side of the mountain is the snow going to fall? You want to be in control. It is like a staring contest. The first person who answers a question is the one who blinks first. If they want to sell you an RV, they will have to do it your way.

I am not borderline rude. I am outright rude if I have to be. The third time they ask, “How much can you afford?” I tell them, “That is none of your business. I will decide what I can afford. Now, show me another RV.” If you doubt the importance of being firm, I’ve never been escorted off a lot. I’m a different kind of customer, but I’m still a customer.

Never go RV buying with your kids in tow. They just get in the way. They all like everything and will constantly break your chain of thought. They ask question after question that is irrelevant and will give away information you don’t want divulged. Yes, the spouse will be along. They should be involved from the get-go. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Men and women look for different things. It is good to have the added perspective. But, you must both be on the same page. If they will answer questions you will not, all is lost.

More and more RV dealers now have women sales reps on the lot. Why? It is harder for a guy to be rude to a woman. Well, I’ve been divorced. It’s easy for me. One young lady, (they are all young to me now!) kept trying to ask me questions, so I asked for her phone number and address. She looked shocked, but got the point. I never made a buy there, but only because they did not have the unit I was looking for. I never got her number either! Smart lady…..

When you see an RV you might like, ask what it costs. Never, ever accept an answer in the form of “so many dollars a month.” Great, so for how many months? At what interest rate? When you ask what they want for it, demand a cash price. You may assume that you will easily get 10% off that price. You may get 20% or more, but at least 10% is always built into the asking price. There are many reasons on a day-to-day basis where they may accept a better offer. But, if I see one I like and they ask $100,000, I will ask if $80,000 is acceptable, and I will stick to it for a while. About round three of this dance, if I really want it, I might come up to $83,000. I want them to budge first. I want to see how much they come down. I never come up as much as they come down at first. I want momentum in my direction.

A good warning sign to watch for is their asking $100,000, you asking if they would accept $75,000 and the salesman instantly accepts that amount. If it is too good to be true, assume there is something they know that you do not.

Here is something important to remember about price negotiating. They are stuck at $90,000 and you are at $85,000. That is close enough to make a deal. But you still have the advantage. It may look like they stand to give up $5,000, but they are into the RV for $75,000, they will lose $10,000 if they refuse to sell. Don’t offer to meet them in the middle. Never split the difference until it is so small as to not matter. I’d go for the $86,000 and if that is turned down be prepared to walk. I doubt they will let you make it to your car. They want to sell. They need to sell. Their need to sell is greater than your need to buy.

Now, if they are asking $200,000 and my budget is $125,000, I assume I won’t get it. But I still ask if they will accept something like $150,000. I negotiate a bit and then move on. It keeps them guessing as to what I might be able to afford. Be careful to never make a firm offer. That can be binding. Asking if they would accept something is a question, not an offer. It goes without saying that I never sign anything until the deal is done in my mind. If they want an offer in writing to take it to the sales manager tell the sales person they look bright enough to remember a simple number for the thirty seconds it takes to walk to the sales manager’s office. Remember, they do not get paid until you buy. They work for you. Make them earn it.

The technique of taking every asking price to the sales manager is called “Higher Authority”. Don’t buy into this. It is a sales person’s technique to make you think it is you and them against that mean old sales manager. It is a variation of the old Good Cop / Bad Cop ploy. The second time they do this ask the sales manager to come to you so you can negotiate directly. This will save everybody time. They won’t like it, but they may do it. Try to avoid going to the sales manager’s office. You cannot fight a bear in his cave. Make him come to your cave while you sit and he stands.

Always ask for more than you will get. This gives you cheap items to negotiate away to get what you really want. The technique is to never make a concession without getting something in return. Please, don’t feel bad about this. It is what they are doing to you. It is a basic negotiating ploy. All the pros use it. If they want the price to be higher, ask for awnings replaced or some other item you want.

I bought a used Class “A” from a Camping World once where they started by asking over $90,000. I got them down to $75,000, but agreed to pay for them to install some accessories I wanted. I got a new washer, a Direct TV antenna, slide toppers and a towing package. I needed those things anyway and would have to pay for them. Instead, I got them to lower the price on the RV and letting them make their profit on these accessories. Plus, I got the cost of these items in the overall price, so I could finance that and not use my cash capital. The RV I bought was on consignment, so the original owner had to come down in their asking price. The RV had been there for months and they were ready to get some cash, so they accepted the lower price.

I like negotiating the multi-tiered deals. By complicating things I keep them on their toes. Just be sure you do not lose track of the side deals!

After all the other negotiating is done and a firm price is set, you can see what their financing arrangement is. That is a whole new negotiation. They will offer terms through a lender as an agent for the lender. They will have less room to deal, as they are merely the agent for the lending company. They may also offer an extended warranty. There are varied opinions on these deals. I really have to study one to be sure what is offered. I figure I can fix most things on my own. It’s all part of the joy of home ownership!

Now, you may wonder why they work with me so well when I go in “rude”. They like to work with people who know exactly what they want and can structure a deal. In the end I bought from them. To this day if I go in there they are happy to see me because I might be ready to buy again. Yes, I am hard to deal with in one sense, but I do deal. I just insist on doing it my way. It is my money.

The hardest thing for most people to learn is that “No,” is a perfectly acceptable answer. When they ask $150,000 and I say “How about $110,000?” I do not expect an excited, “Yes,” any more than they expected me to say yes to their first price. If a deal is to be done, it will be somewhere in the middle. In the end, it will be a price I like or no deal. I accept that. It is fine for them to say, “No.” I only ask that we keep getting closer to a number we can both agree on.

One good reason to make a low ball “offer” is to see how they react. If they start at $150k and I come in at $100k and they then drop to $125k, I know I have more room to negotiate than if they come back at $145k. Try to always show the same level of interest in every RV you see. If you show too much interest in one RV, they will begin to push it on you. I was shopping RV’s once and showed a little interest in a unit and was told I need to act, as there was another couple interested in that RV too. So, I showed interest in another unit and sure enough, there was another couple interested in that one too. It became like a joke. I found it fascinating that so many couples showed interest in so many units, but there were no sales! Also, the first time you go back to an RV for a second look, they will know you are interested.

The last thing you need to know is to be patient. Do not buy the first RV you see the first day you go out. Take your time and make sure you have all your questions answered before you buy. Learn everything you can about the RV before you sign. I would take dozens of pictures of it and study those at home. Sometimes the camera sees things you don’t. You’ll want to see the slides go in and out. Make sure the refrigerator gets cold. Test the A/C and heat. Do not assume the stove top will work when there is propane in the tank. They sell propane, so make them put a few gallons in the tank for testing. Make sure everything is alright, and then go ahead. If there are repairs to be completed after the sale, get them in writing, signed by the sales manager.

Ask for and get a good walk-around with an RV Tech. You may know RV’s well, but may not know this RV. Learn all the nooks, crannies, fuses, breakers, hook-ups, switches, etc. It is somewhat expected that you tip this person $20 or so for their time. Do it with style and grace.

Once you buy the RV, it is yours. They will want it off the lost as soon as possible. This becomes an insurance issue and is reasonable. They will leave it “behind the fence” at their lot only as long as repairs are being done.

Finally, when everything is said and done, smile broadly, shake everyone’s hands and thank them for working with you. Make sure they remember you as a person who knew what they wanted and went after it. Their last look at you should be with a smile on your face. I never yell, wave my arms or raise a ruckus. I never call a man a liar to his face. However, I can certainly look at them like I recognize a line of bull when I hear it. In the end, most “lies” are very carefully constructed half-truths.

Remember, this is about you and your family. Be sure you are getting what you want and at a price you can agree to.

Now, was all this helpful?

I TOLD YOU!!! NEVER ANSWER QUESTIONS!! HA! GOT’CHA!

The best of luck to you in your search. But in the end, it is not about luck. Buying is a skill.

I’d love to hear your ideas and stories. Drop me a note at: email deleted

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