Dealers or Manufacturers direct sales?

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I have been musing for some time - well it fills in Lockdown doesn't it.?

I have wondered how the Motorhome fraternity would feel about there being a sales route directly from the manufacturer.

At the end of this post I will be inviting posters to air their views but for the moment just keep open minds while I list how I see the differences it would make to buying and running a motorhome.

I will split it into roughly Sales and Aftersalea, but each will need looking at differently from the new and used market., also the used market needs comparing with private sales.

Then I will move on to speculating on a MH world without dealers, or at least without factory-appointed dealers.

A lot of the input here is from being on various forums and reading comments expressed about dealers. I am fully aware that bad news travels faster than good and factor that into my thinking.

SALES

First there is Viewing. Dealers do have some stocks of new models to view, but hardly any carry the full range and if the re is only one (or maybe two) dealers in the country it may be a long trek to see a model, which might not be the target model, but one gets a fell of build quality.

Alternatives for viewing are the big shows either in UK or Europe(better) or the factory showroom. These would still exist if there were no manufacturers tied dealers.


On the actual sales, the information one gleans from salesmen seems to be patchy ranging from 'knows half of the specification of the MH' to downright 'imagination and lies.' Getting a full manufacturer's spec for even the models that they have pre-ordered and want to get off the forecourt is hard and for other models probably impossible. Go on-line.

I am not going into negotiations, but the starting price of their pre-ordered MHs includes extras they decided on, which if you want them all may be a good price, but if not ....tough.

They will take your MH PX, very convenient at a price.

If you want to order a model not in stock, and with extras you want, at the dealer? I do not know if you get an actual earlier delivery than phoning the factory.4

Pre-Delivery Inspection? Seems to come with 95% down to 'That's how it arrived'

AFTER-SALES

This splits into Warranty and Other

The Warranty on a new MH is provided by the Manufacturer, of whom the Dealer is an Agent. Manufacturers/Dealers rules differ about which dealer(s) must do the warranty work. If there were no dealers one would have to go to the factory, which would be inconvenient, but maybe their workshops could not cope, or they would appoint service partners, but the spares would be probably readily available.

Later than warranty most MH owners could find cheaper and more local help through forums.

DEALERS MARQUES

Before I go onto dealers' used market function I just want o speculate on how various sized dealers cope with selling and servicing several marques. The best dealers may send their sale and technicians on factory course, but I doubt whether a dealer who is representing 6 marques can send all of them.

Therefore I wonder what the knowledge of some of the staff is on 6 marques, and how many models across all of them?

USED MARKET

We can look at the private sale market later, so let's concentrate on the dealer used market.

The dealer often does give a warranty, maybe his own or from a insurance company, but usually very short(6-12 months).

A buyer has in UK and most countries some statutory protection if one knows the ropes.

For the rest one is on ones own. Maybe being used from the factory, having taken in PX, they will provide more support to protect their reputation.



WORLD WITHOUT DEALERS

Obviously we are in a realm of speculation here, both from the point of manufacturers, and then of buyers.


MANUFACTURERS ADVANTAGE/DISADVANTAGES OF DEALERS

Geographical spread, known market, sales incentivised, increased sales? Increased local perception?

BUYERS ADVANTAGES/DISADVANTAGES

Buyers have less chance of views except at Shows, or wherever the manufacturers decide to set up some network.

Buyers would have to do more homework on specs

Warranty work might be further, or nearer, then dealer.

Prices for manufacturers could be lower. No warranty but with the price differnce they could get small problems fixed locally and big ones fixed by the manufacturer.

Cross-border sales disputes could be more complex.


COMPARISON WITH OTHER PRODUCT MARKETS

Many people will research products online and buy sight-unseen. from 'XXXX Direct'

OK they have right of return just like a MH, but more difficult with bigger item.

Could something similar work in the MH market.



I reaslise I have not covered everything but I just wanted to open up the subject and hear comments.

Please do not pick up just on individual points., I am asking views on the whole concept.

Geoff

[EDIT - I know too long. Even I fell asleep proof-reading it]
 
Jul 10, 2018
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The scope of your report has a wide spectrum extending from market scenarios to comparative pricing between major players, cost, and profit of the specified market regions. The numerical data is supported by statistical tools such as SWOT analysis, BCG matrix, SCOT analysis, and PESTLE analysis. The statistics are depicted in a graphical format for a clear picture of facts and figures.

The generated report is strongly based on primary research, interviews with top executives, news sources, and information insiders. Secondary research techniques are utilized for better understanding and clarity for data analysis.:unsure::tmi:
 

sallylillian

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I was sold on my Morelo, by Morelo's executives, not by a dealer. The German dealer I did buy from is large and has Concorde, Morelo, N+B & Phoenix among many others. I was talking with them about a Phoenix, when I told them that we were persuaded to buy a Morelo they said "we can sell you one of those". In point of fact if I had known that I could have done the deal with the factory direct at the time I would have, but instead bought from the dealer.
My experience with the UK Morelo dealer about 18 months previous had been shall we say disappointing, to the point where we moved on from the mark. We had a similar experience when we bought our Flair. Clearly my fault!!
So to the the thread's question. My choice would be the manufacturer. They know their product, they have the parts, they make the warranty decisions. If you are reasonably handy and can fix all the minor stuff with parts from the manufacturer then with the support of the chassis manufactures network you are covered. Whilst there will be a fair number of respondents on here with massive tales of woe in the scheme of things they are a small percentage. The manufacturers however do not have significant service and support infrastructures at their base having relied on dealers for so many years, but at Morelo for example this is changing with a recently constructed huge number of service bays, cannot remember the number but maybe 30. Someone will correct me. N+B collected my Flair on a low loader 3 times for a major paint issue agreed by me with them not the dealer.
For those who don't know their negative from their positive, dealing with the manufacture, likely at distance, will be impossible so they have to rely on the dealer and in the UK that is a test! I have never gone to the German dealers I have bought from although I have to say both did exemplary work on dealer installed extras like washing machines etc, but a short circuit to the manufacturer when the shit hits the fan is best in my mind. Organ grinder and monkey.

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funflair

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I have been musing for some time - well it fills in Lockdown doesn't it.?

I have wondered how the Motorhome fraternity would feel about there being a sales route directly from the manufacturer.

At the end of this post I will be inviting posters to air their views but for the moment just keep open minds while I list how I see the differences it would make to buying and running a motorhome.

I will split it into roughly Sales and Aftersalea, but each will need looking at differently from the new and used market., also the used market needs comparing with private sales.

Then I will move on to speculating on a MH world without dealers, or at least without factory-appointed dealers.

A lot of the input here is from being on various forums and reading comments expressed about dealers. I am fully aware that bad news travels faster than good and factor that into my thinking.

SALES

First there is Viewing. Dealers do have some stocks of new models to view, but hardly any carry the full range and if the re is only one (or maybe two) dealers in the country it may be a long trek to see a model, which might not be the target model, but one gets a fell of build quality.

Alternatives for viewing are the big shows either in UK or Europe(better) or the factory showroom. These would still exist if there were no manufacturers tied dealers.


On the actual sales, the information one gleans from salesmen seems to be patchy ranging from 'knows half of the specification of the MH' to downright 'imagination and lies.' Getting a full manufacturer's spec for even the models that they have pre-ordered and want to get off the forecourt is hard and for other models probably impossible. Go on-line.

I am not going into negotiations, but the starting price of their pre-ordered MHs includes extras they decided on, which if you want them all may be a good price, but if not ....tough.

They will take your MH PX, very convenient at a price.

If you want to order a model not in stock, and with extras you want, at the dealer? I do not know if you get an actual earlier delivery than phoning the factory.4

Pre-Delivery Inspection? Seems to come with 95% down to 'That's how it arrived'

AFTER-SALES

This splits into Warranty and Other

The Warranty on a new MH is provided by the Manufacturer, of whom the Dealer is an Agent. Manufacturers/Dealers rules differ about which dealer(s) must do the warranty work. If there were no dealers one would have to go to the factory, which would be inconvenient, but maybe their workshops could not cope, or they would appoint service partners, but the spares would be probably readily available.

Later than warranty most MH owners could find cheaper and more local help through forums.

DEALERS MARQUES

Before I go onto dealers' used market function I just want o speculate on how various sized dealers cope with selling and servicing several marques. The best dealers may send their sale and technicians on factory course, but I doubt whether a dealer who is representing 6 marques can send all of them.

Therefore I wonder what the knowledge of some of the staff is on 6 marques, and how many models across all of them?

USED MARKET

We can look at the private sale market later, so let's concentrate on the dealer used market.

The dealer often does give a warranty, maybe his own or from a insurance company, but usually very short(6-12 months).

A buyer has in UK and most countries some statutory protection if one knows the ropes.

For the rest one is on ones own. Maybe being used from the factory, having taken in PX, they will provide more support to protect their reputation.



WORLD WITHOUT DEALERS

Obviously we are in a realm of speculation here, both from the point of manufacturers, and then of buyers.


MANUFACTURERS ADVANTAGE/DISADVANTAGES OF DEALERS

Geographical spread, known market, sales incentivised, increased sales? Increased local perception?

BUYERS ADVANTAGES/DISADVANTAGES

Buyers have less chance of views except at Shows, or wherever the manufacturers decide to set up some network.

Buyers would have to do more homework on specs

Warranty work might be further, or nearer, then dealer.

Prices for manufacturers could be lower. No warranty but with the price differnce they could get small problems fixed locally and big ones fixed by the manufacturer.

Cross-border sales disputes could be more complex.


COMPARISON WITH OTHER PRODUCT MARKETS

Many people will research products online and buy sight-unseen. from 'XXXX Direct'

OK they have right of return just like a MH, but more difficult with bigger item.

Could something similar work in the MH market.



I reaslise I have not covered everything but I just wanted to open up the subject and hear comments.

Please do not pick up just on individual points., I am asking views on the whole concept.

Geoff

[EDIT - I know too long. Even I fell asleep proof-reading it]
You "proof read it" here have this t Geoff ;) sorry I will read again after having a coffee and try to formulate a sensible answer.
.
 
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My choice would be to work with the manufacturer but In current market short answer for me is find a decent dealer with close working relationship with the manufacturer.

Longer answer below.
Direct to market approach will work for niche products, or products and services which are easily distributed.

It already works well for some lower ticket products - mountain bike market now has several direct to market companies. They rely on the mtn press (very good compared to Moho press) for honest product reviews and run try before you buy events. So the cost of sale is drastically reduced and This creates a lower sales cost to market but increased cost to the customer if there is a problem (i.e. return for warranty work). The result on product and service quality is very positive - social media would destroy these brands if customers were treated badly or the product functioned poorly.
But there’s not much to go wrong on a bike. Components are manufactured in such vast numbers that statistical process controls virtually guarantee zero rate of return. Bit different then from a moho.
The model has forced the mainstream market to reassess their pricing strategies.

For moho market I think it would have to be more like the Tesla shop model. So there would still be « dealerships » just factory owned. From a product management POV it would be easier to make the necessary root cause analysis for product improvement but based on the current market acceptance what market advantage would the manufacturer get? Would their increased cost of sale and risk coupled to their reduced geographical coverage but now superior product quality result in an increase in profit ? I would suggest that the ROI is too long to consider for the big players.

Another option that can work weis the sole agent approach. This can work very well for the customer for the right product but the cost of sale (for the agent) would increase as would their risk - what if this year’s product was a pup? And it requires manufacturer governance to protect shopping around to save the costs based on tax savings to protect the agent and manufacturer representation in the original market. A good agent is part of the furniture for a manufacturer and a valuable source of information and the conduit to the factory that the customer needs.

So by covering multiple brands a dealer cuts their risk and ROI and reduces the market price.

Answer based on experience. I currently work for a FTSE100 company with a direct to market approach. Product quality and customer value are a fine balance when the next best alternative is considerably cheaper.
 

funflair

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Hi Geoff

Coffee to hand now(y)

Interesting concept, and of course one that operates now with some of the smaller specialist builders, if you want a PhoeniX, Vario-Mobil, Volkner or Wochner in the UK you are on your own, you would/could view at a major show in Europe but then you would be negotiating with factory sales staff. We did contemplate a PhoeniX and the fact that we would have no UK dealer/service partner was very low on the list of any concerns.

After saying the above I am well aware that it would not suit everybody and without a home country based dealership and service network some people would intentionally buy a home produced product to get the back up, maybe not a bad thing for our economy as well.

SALES

We didn't want to be "sold" a motorhome we wanted to "buy" one, you might think that is the same thing but what I mean is that we wanted to make up our own minds based on information gleaned from various sources and dealerships sales staff are not always the best at answering the sort of questions that I ask;) so yes for me factory sales experiences were much better.

AFTER-SALES

We bought a motorhome to use for the journeys we want to make rather than have to make ie going back to a dealer for every little nigggle, possibly this stems from previously running an older van or possibly just that 1. I like to fiddle 2. I consider I am technically able to fiddle.
I have used the factory service centre in Germany that Michael sallylillian mentions and it was a good experience (y) exactly how service should be as they have all the spares and skills on site so none of this "oh we will have to order than so you will have to come back next week" our manufacturer does have a technical "hot-line" and will support customers with advice via email so under a no dealer scenario I could only see this working better and better.

WOULD IT WORK

Yes I think so but it would completely change the whole model and possibly for the better, factories would need to be on the ball with their sales advice and after sales support, independent service centres would spring up and would live or die on their reputation rather than existing as the only dealership service centre in the country.
.

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Coolcats

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Dealers need to involve a technician in the sale in other industries they would be known as a pre-sales engineers someone with interpersonal skills but a true practical and technical understanding of a MoHo but also understating of a customers question and being a ale to research and provide a true answer.

The order takers at the dealers are just that order takers and with the volume of sales they have its understandable they are not expert in the way a single customer wishes them to be.

The OP mentions buying a pre-Orded MoHo and having to pay for the extras in this situation it’s the customer who has chosen to do this. We had the opertunity to do this but chose to have a factory order to our specification. You have to wait longer but would say the customer does then have a choice of a base MoHo or one bristling with extras.
 

funflair

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I was sold on my Morelo, by Morelo's executives, not by a dealer. The German dealer I did buy from is large and has Concorde, Morelo, N+B & Phoenix among many others. I was talking with them about a Phoenix, when I told them that we were persuaded to buy a Morelo they said "we can sell you one of those". In point of fact if I had known that I could have done the deal with the factory direct at the time I would have, but instead bought from the dealer.
My experience with the UK Morelo dealer about 18 months previous had been shall we say disappointing, to the point where we moved on from the mark. We had a similar experience when we bought our Flair. Clearly my fault!!
So to the the thread's question. My choice would be the manufacturer. They know their product, they have the parts, they make the warranty decisions. If you are reasonably handy and can fix all the minor stuff with parts from the manufacturer then with the support of the chassis manufactures network you are covered. Whilst there will be a fair number of respondents on here with massive tales of woe in the scheme of things they are a small percentage. The manufacturers however do not have significant service and support infrastructures at their base having relied on dealers for so many years, but at Morelo for example this is changing with a recently constructed huge number of service bays, cannot remember the number but maybe 30. Someone will correct me. N+B collected my Flair on a low loader 3 times for a major paint issue agreed by me with them not the dealer.
For those who don't know their negative from their positive, dealing with the manufacture, likely at distance, will be impossible so they have to rely on the dealer and in the UK that is a test! I have never gone to the German dealers I have bought from although I have to say both did exemplary work on dealer installed extras like washing machines etc, but a short circuit to the manufacturer when the shit hits the fan is best in my mind. Organ grinder and monkey.
Michael

I kid myself that we pretty much think alike on MH matters, as for the tales of woe which as you say there are a few with all brands, don't you think that these would get fixed quicker and more efficiently if the manufacturer didn't have the opportunity to fob you off to the dealer that you bought from?
.
 

sallylillian

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Michael

I kid myself that we pretty much think alike on MH matters, as for the tales of woe which as you say there are a few with all brands, don't you think that these would get fixed quicker and more efficiently if the manufacturer didn't have the opportunity to fob you off to the dealer that you bought from?
.
You are probably right on both counts Martin ;) , however neither N+B or Morelo attempted to do so with me. It would be red rag to a bull with me; like when you find a product that will solve a need, you speak with the manufacturer and they give all the guff and you say great I'll have one. Sorry we don't sell to the public! Please go to a dealer. Call dealer, yes we can sell you one of those we think, we don't have it in stock send us the money and we will order it for you. Said order arrives direct from the manufacturer in the post! What a pathetic waste of my time and more importantly my money in the dealer margin for a dealer who did not even carry stock! Motorhome dealers are not like high end car dealers who are "forced" by the manufacturer to meet standards of training, service staff levels, stock etc. And a smart 5* hotel valet service. Dealers don't have enough skin in the game. One day you will get a call from the motorhome manufacturer of your new motorhome asking about your purchase experience and the dealers bonus (aka Money) structure will depend on those responses, like when you buy Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Range Rover et al.

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Dealers need to involve a technician in the sale in other industries they would be known as a pre-sales engineers someone with interpersonal skills but a true practical and technical understanding of a MoHo but also understating of a customers question and being a ale to research and provide a true answer.
I think this is a very good idea but a technically competent MH Salesperson is quite a rare animal and many of the others are quite convincing and still deliver BS in large helpings, hard to see how it would work for inexperienced purchasers.
 
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With AI it's all going this way wether we like it or not, direct sales are here already, offered by third hand companies at the moment. Motorhomes and house sales are close to being an online offering.
Dealers overheads are crippling them day by day, probably too small a market for Amazon!

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Ever since Mother was a lad.
a technically competent MH Salesperson is quite a rare animal and many of the others are quite convincing and still deliver BS in large helpings,
Indeed, competent sales engineers are a rare breed.
When my manufacturing company was bought by an American blue chip outfit they decided in their cost-saving wisdom to replace the teams of sales persons and of engineers with Sales Engineers. It was a disaster as we ended up with Sales Engineers with order pads who were either technically disinterested salesmen pursuing their bonuses or technically motivated 'boffins' with screwdrivers in their top pockets unconcerned with getting orders.
 

funflair

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I think this is a very good idea but a technically competent MH Salesperson is quite a rare animal and many of the others are quite convincing and still deliver BS in large helpings, hard to see how it would work for inexperienced purchasers.
On our search for a van we talked to a guy at Dusseldorf show on the PhoeniX stand, he was a dealer but only ever had a bout 1 van at a time, we talked about issues of having no dealer in the UK he said "this is the only time you will see me in a suit I am usually in the workshop, they also build overland vehicles so are well versed in telephone support and he certainly knew his way around the product I would have happily bought a van off them.
 
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On our search for a van we talked to a guy at Dusseldorf show on the PhoeniX stand, he was a dealer but only ever had a bout 1 van at a time, we talked about issues of having no dealer in the UK he said "this is the only time you will see me in a suit I am usually in the workshop, they also build overland vehicles so are well versed in telephone support and he certainly knew his way around the product I would have happily bought a van off them.
He sounds like a good find Martin but as a contrast on our last visit to Dusseldorf we were also on the Phoenix stand and the guy we spoke to didnt even quote the dimensions correctly. We were fairly impressed with the Phoenix but when we later visited one of their main dealers we walked out.

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funflair

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He sounds like a good find Martin but as a contrast on our last visit to Dusseldorf we were also on the Phoenix stand and the guy we spoke to didnt even quote the dimensions correctly. We were fairly impressed with the Phoenix but when we later visited one of their main dealers we walked out.
You know I like nothing better than a good old factory tour, we say down with "the man" at PhoeniX and discussed a layout I had in my mind and by the time we had finished coffee we had a CAD drawing of a van with our name on it.
 
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You know I like nothing better than a good old factory tour, we say down with "the man" at PhoeniX and discussed a layout I had in my mind and by the time we had finished coffee we had a CAD drawing of a van with our name on it.
I dont think you would get that from many of them, out of interest how does it compare to what you ve ended up with? ( as supplied) I'm guessing the bed is the biggest difference .
 

funflair

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I dont think you would get that from many of them, out of interest how does it compare to what you ve ended up with? ( as supplied) I'm guessing the bed is the biggest difference .
Very similar to be fair, we were chasing the less than 8.5 metres rule that Jen imposed and we wanted to incorporate a wardrobe in the bedroom bathroom area which a lot of PhoeniX models don't do, in the end the Palace gave us everything we wanted except for an extra 190mm.
.

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DBK

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Some of the smaller PVC converters sell directly, for example Murvi and East Neuk Campers. I guess one reason is they don't have to split the profit with a dealer! It works at a small scale and with Murvi each van is made to the customers specification for everything from engine size, the colour of the upholstery, worktop etc to extras from a wide range. ENC might be the same.

But I don't think this would work so easily for the volume manufacturers. With Murvi there are no dedicated sales staff, you deal with the people who make them. At a larger scale there would need to be sales staff and in a sense they would just create their own dealer type organisation.

For those who aren't sure what they want a large traditional dealership will have a wide range of MHs to look around. If buying directly from the manufacturer as we did, you need to be sure the vehicle they have is the one you want. :)

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Some of the smaller PVC converters sell directly, for example Murvi and East Neuk Campers. I guess one reason is they don't have to split the profit with a dealer! It works at a small scale and with Murvi each van is made to the customers specification for everything from engine size, the colour of the upholstery, worktop etc to extras from a wide range. ENC might be the same.

But I don't think this would work so easily for the volume manufacturers. With Murvi there are no dedicated sales staff, you deal with the people who make them. At a larger scale there would need to be sales staff and in a sense they would just create their own dealer type organisation.

For those who aren't sure what they want a large traditional dealership will have a wide range of MHs to look around. If buying directly from the manufacturer as we did, you need to be sure the vehicle they have is the one you want. :)
I frequently cringe when newbies say they've bought new, how can people with no experience expect to specify what best suits their needs first attempt.
 
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Raw materials to retail is lovely if it suits your product and is good for punters as there are less dickheads to blame when anything goes wrong

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ceejayt

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Our first motorhome was an N and B Flair bought from Hymer in Blackpool. Took about a year to sort out the problems but in the end was a great vehicle. However, the endless trips back to the dealer (whole day off work each time) and arguing about warranty made me determined not to buy from a dealer again if I could possibly help it and it had to be within relative;y easy driving distance.

So, my last three vehicles have all been direct from the manufacturer at RS in Retford (about an hours drive from me). Any problems generally quickly resolved, no middle man, you can see the vehicle being built, talk to people who generally know what they are talking about and be on first name terms with the manufacturer.

You also avoid the dealer mark up on the sale so generally more bang for your buck IMHO. Overall pretty happy with cutting out the middle man.
 
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I frequently cringe when newbies say they've bought new, how can people with no experience expect to specify what best suits their needs first attempt.

Our first van, and we bought new. We wanted to make sure (as best we could) that this will be our first and only purchase.

5 years ago we muted the idea. 2 years ago we started looking seriously. Hours of research and visiting lots of dealerships and shows. Trawling this site relentlessly.

Ordered last January, took delivery in September. (y)
 
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