There are several subjects worth writing about in this post such as; come hell or high water we are putting the house on the market no later than July, I already have enough hours in at work this year that I can leave anytime, getting the truck ready to travel, another garage sale and more. However, while it’s fresh in my mind I’ll pass along what I learned while negotiating a price and ordering a new RV. Hopefully enough of this applies to all RV brands and not just the one we ordered.
Negotiating a Price
First of all, I’m not very good at negotiating for the lowest price possible. Personally if the deal is fair to me and the other guy thinks so then lets come to an agreement. Just do the necessary homework so you have a good idea of what price with options to expect before entering negotiations. Of course there is always sticking to your budget to add a dose of sanity.
In my humble opinion the prices displayed at RV shows, particularly in the price range we bought within, are not even close to the bottom dollar deal. And in my experience RV show units lack some of the hidden options such as dual pane windows or an extra awning if you want them. In our price point 30% off true MSRP is possible when ordering from the factory and 35% (or better) off one already on the lot from last years model is possible.
For the Vanleigh Vilano we ordered I started off finding three dealerships within a partial day’s drive from home. I used the Owner’s Facebook page to research referrals for dealerships. And there was an online map of them provided by the manufacturer. Seriously, there was no need to phone anyone until late in the game. Emailing or texting back and fourth worked well.
I drafted a document outlining exactly the options we wanted on our fifth wheel. Here is that document if you are interested: Seneker Vilano 320GK
I then sent the document to each of three dealerships, having first sent them an email via their website which prompted a salesman to reply. Other than the local dealership where I’d gotten to know the Sales Manager and phoned him. I found out one dealership (the Kansas RV Center) gave up their Vanleigh dealership so I contacted the Vanleigh National Sales Manager via email and he recommend another dealership who turned out to come in second after it was all done.
Keep in mind we are going fulltime so a local dealership is not that important. We are leaning towards Texas as a domicile and as it turns out the dealership we ordered from is on the way there. And Vanleigh is at the top for customer service where you can go to the factory and have things fixed or options added the RV did not come with. If I was to purchase one off the lot I’d get a factory price sheet so I knew the actual MSRP based off the options on the RV. Then you would be able to compare apples to apples between dealerships who have the RV on their lot. Just make sure the RV has the options on it that can’t easily be added later and happen to be important to you.
It was hard to determine the actual shipping cost that is part of the MSRP until one dealership at least broke that down on their bid. After I had all the initial bids I emailed or phoned two of the three that were way high and simply said they had to do better to which they lowered their price substantially. Yup, it was as simple as asking for a better price. Then for the final blow I notified each dealership of what price they would need to meet to make the deal. I gave them an exact figure which I had already calculated to be 30% off true MSRP to include freight and dealership fees. One met it without hesitation and the other two came down yet again but not to my price. I warned them the one that met the price got the deal. The local dealership lost out and the Sales Manager complained (slightly) I should have given him another chance. To freaking bad for him. Keep in mind I’d decided all three dealership were worth buying from so just going at the low ball bidder was not part of the plan. I had a price in mind before I started.
I’ve met several other’s online who have or are ordering the same fifth wheel and now know I could have maybe done 1% better on the deal. But – the price we received was fair, I trust the dealership and it’s only four hours from our current home and a couple hours from family we frequently visit.
The Ordering Process
We are buying from Bob Hurley RV out of Tulsa Oklahoma. Our salesman is Terry Jelinek at 918-630-8304 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I noticed they deal in new Alpine, Cardinal and Cougar fifth wheel as well. They claim to be a top 10 volume dealerships with many brands.
The first price Terry sent me in writing combined everything into one total price and did not list freight separately. In other words the bid was not as detailed as I would have preferred but was based on the options I provided in writing. They asked for $1,000 down to place the order to Vanleigh. I thought that was fair given the dealership would be stuck with a custom trailer if I backed out. And using only open source search areas on the internet I found out Terry is from a town in Michigan near where Karen grew up. And I know he would most likely have to try and make it through Missouri if he went home for a visit. So it’s doubtful he would play any tricks! All jokes aside, Terry came down with the flu during the bidding process and I waited for him to get well before sealing the deal with his dealership. So far, he has been great to work with and his sales vocabulary must be limited to “Yes, we can do that and let me know if we can do anything else for you.” When I called back and asked for my price, along with the extra battery and whatever he sat the phone down, went to his manager and agreed to the deal.
I knew from contacting others on the Vanleigh Facebook Owner’s Group that the current lead time to build our trailer was 10 to 12 weeks. I also had the email and phone number for every vital person at the Factory involved in the process. After the order, the wait to get the conformation from the factory was next. That took too long so I sent an email to the lady that processes them at the factory and got our possible build date. Maybe two weeks later they sent the same information to the dealership who then forwarded the factory build sheet to me confirming all our options were correct. Then I told Terry I was happy so far and wanted to make sure there would be no surprises the day we pick up the trailer. He sent the price we agreed to in an email, including that was the out the door price and there would be no surprises from him.
I am to get with the dealership in a week or so before the trailer is ready at the factory, to work out a few delivery details and the paperwork. I know the dealership does their own inspection of the new trailers but I’m armed with my own, having received a Pre Delivery Inspection List from another owner. Here is a link to the PDI_Check_List (1) if you are interested. Karen and my inspection, along with the dealership walk-though, should take half a day.
Here is another version of a PDI as well. PDI Inspection List from Travel with the Tanners blog on Heartland Forums
When Terry notifies me of the delivery date that’s when I’ll let him know we should plan for a full day to get our inspection and delivery in. I figure he will know I’m taking the pre delivery inspection seriously so best have that RV is top shape when we arrive. There is a campground directly across the street from the dealership with pull-through spots. I’m sure we will be expected to take delivery at their lot before moving it across the street. Assuming there are no major issues during our inspection that will be no problem. If we find other minor issues that night at the campground I’m planning for worse case is the dealership will not care and want to schedule those repairs. And we already plan to go to the factory during the first year for repairs adding at least some more shelving.
So there you have it. This is what I have experienced so far when ordering our new home. We are planning our route home from the dealership to include maybe one fuel stop. Or we might just take a week off and do some camping along the way home. I’ll report back after we get it home. First time pulling anything that big so I’ve got the common concerns. YouTube videos are helping with what to expect.