Buying a van at a Motorhome Show? Then You Should Read This.
Motorhome shows are great for research and deciding upon the motorhome you want. At a show, you can look at a lot of motorhomes in a short space of time. You’ll find them all gathered in one large field or indoor exhibition centre. Hundreds of vans with just a few feet between them, rather than the many miles between dealers.
On the showground and in the exhibition hall, only in the most exclusive and expensive motorhomes, will dealers insist on accompanying you while you look around.
This is good, because during your research you’ll want to: bounce on beds, see if you can sit on the loo, stand in the shower, check how comfy the chairs are, lie on the sofa, see how easy the cupboards are to access, you’ll lower the bed, close the curtains, raise the bed, open the curtains, close the blinds, sit in the drivers seat, feel the steering wheel and pretend you’re driving in France, make a bed up, collapse the table, swivel the seats, etc, etc.
These things are easier to do when you haven’t got a dealer hovering over your shoulder, giving you a sales patter.
You need a checklist
When doing your research you will need a checklist to drill down to your ideal motorhome. But what do you have on this list if you have no idea what you are looking for!
Well first, you’ll have some non-negotiables, these will include things like Max Length, it must fit on your drive. Max Weight, you must have the licence to drive it. Number of berths, all the family will need a bed. Travel Seats, one for every person in the family. Payload, surprisingly tiny in some family vans. Along with anything else that you MUST have.
Once your non-negotiables are checked off, you can start looking at other aspects important to you but which won’t break the deal, these might include things like a garage, a rear lounge, separate toilet, etc.
Initially, you won’t really know what suits you. Mid kitchen, End washroom, Island beds, rear lounges, over cabs, front lounges, fixed beds, dinettes, there are literally hundreds of layout combinations.
When you first start looking they will all look pretty much the same, but more motorhomes you sit in, the more things you’ll notice, and you’ll start noticing the myriad of differences. You’ll notice that this layout has space for your Labrador, or this style will be great for family meals and games, then you’ll become a bit of an expert and spot other stuff. That is clever, I like what they done here, look at this!
It won’t be long before you develop a really good idea of precisely the layout you want, once you know this your motorhome hunting can become much more specific, and you can narrow down your search to find your perfect van.
So should you buy at a motorhome show?
I advise people to use shows for research rather than buying. But if your perfect van is there at show, and at the right price, you’ll buy it. But before you do, heed the following.
It’s a fact that most people sell their first and second motorhomes quickly because of things they don’t like, they don’t get it right until their third van. It doesn’t take much to imagine the money you can save if you get it right the first time. So don’t be rushed into buying at a show, the chances are that the salespeople at a show are on commission, they will compete to see who can sell the most, in this environment some sellers might promise things the dealership cannot deliver, so be careful.
Be wary of show deals that cannot be repeated once the show ends. This is pressure selling. More often than not, if they are happy to give you a Show Deal on Sunday, they will very likely offer you the same deal on Monday back at the dealership. Push back if you feel you are being unduly pressured.
Remember; the old Elvis song. “Only fools rush in”.
Stick to your plan.
At a show It is far too easy to get side-tracked, or excited by a nice looking motorhome coupled with nice sale persons patter, he’ll mention the “show price” He’ll tell you “this is the last one, when it’s gone, it’s gone.” And of course this is your last chance to get this particular layout“They won’t be making any more of these.” And there will always be competition “Two people already want this one.”
Everyone but you seems to buying! Don’t be swayed; don’t move to buy mode until you are absolutely sure in this is the motorhome you want. This is easier said than done, especially at a show. With so many motorhomes to look at, along with smooth-talking dealers, all doing what they can do to generate a bit of urgency and get you to commit right now.
Some “Show Offers” may well be genuine, but many are not; so don’t succumb until you are absolutely certain that you are looking at the vehicle that you want.
Don’t let your guard down at the show
A day or two at a show can exhaust you, both mentally and physically. If you find all the motorhomes and dealers become a similar blur and you are losing your objectivity, Stop! This is a dangerous time. You are very vulnerable at this point.
Plenty of people have made a purchase, late in the day at a show, only to seriously regret it later. Almost in a panic, they think if we don’t buy one today we’ll never buy one; they flop into the comfy sofa of a van they looked at hours earlier and convince themselves this is the one.
Buyer’s remorse really hurts, never buy until you are absolutely certain that this really is the one. Once you have decided to buy, this is when the all important negotiation starts and the worst time to negotiate is when it’s late and you’re tired after crawling in and around motorhomes all day. Express your interest, but tell them you’ll see them in the morning.
If you are anything like me, any doubts you have about the van will surface at around 4am the next day and if you are still keen and really want it, you’ll know that too. Sleeping on it really works. This way you are fresh, excited and ready to negotiate. Negotiating for a motorhome isn’t as hard as you might think, and we have an article on it next month.
Meanwhile. we have made a form that will help you narrow down your motorhome searches you can download it here and print off a few copies.
A personal story about buying a van at a motorhome show.
We were at the Peterborough show a large outdoor exhibition. We owned a large European motorhome that was about 8 months old. There were 5 of us and a dog and we were going to go fulltiming for a while and had set our sights on an American RV, even though we knew very little about them.
If you have not been to Peterborough Show, you should know that this show at the time was absolutely massive with many hundreds of motorhomes for sale; there were lots of RVs on display.
We kept being drawn back to one dealer who had an RV that was in our price range and we like the look of. The RV was older than I would have liked, but it had everything we wanted, twin sofas, a large slide-out and an LPG conversion. I just thought it was a little expensive and maybe a little tatty.
The lady salesperson went to work on us, she was very charming, she realised early that I might be persuaded by the wife and kids and she worked hard on these. We were parked up in the general camping area and walked about a mile, with the salesperson to look at our motorhome so she could give us a part exchange price. We stopped for coffee on the way, she laughed and joked with the kids, she was very likeable.
As we strolled she told me that this particular style of RV with a slide and less than 7.5 ton was very sought after and she “sold them every day”, they were her “bread and butter sales”; she was very convincing. She did everything to get us to do the deal there, that day. She offered more money for our existing European than we had paid for it!
After seeing that I was still was not warming to the deal she knocked a bit off the price of the RV and added a couple of extras. However, she insisted that if they took it from the show unsold, then the deal she was offering could not be repeated later at their sales premises. The deal was special for the show only.
The pressure applied was heavy, my wife wanted the RV, so did the kids, after what was almost 3 hours, I said we would go away and think about it. Just as we left the stand we saw another family who we had seen express an interest in that RV earlier, they were coming back for another look! The pressure was on. The sun was out; we got a coffee sat and discussed it.
My concerns were that I had not researched that model and had no real idea of the price and I did not like the way the pressure was on to deal today, and anyway I would never do a deal before a test drive.
Then, like a lot of our family decisions, we put it to the vote. Three kids and my wife voted we put the deposit on it now before it was too late. It was just what we were looking for, the price seemed right; the saleswoman was nice and very genuine. I disagreed, put my foot down and said no. We went home in silence, the whole family was mad at me for not honouring the vote.
When we got home, there was a large parcel of “RV magazine’s” waiting for us on the doormat. (This was a UK publication, it’s not around anymore.) A week earlier I had ordered this magazine along with 18 months of back issues. I had never owned an RV before so I wanted to read up on them.
In the first mag I picked up I noticed in the RVs for sale section, the very RV we’d just been looking at! Being sold by the same dealer and for a couple of £k less than today’s asking price, then I saw that the magazine was 18 months old! Flicking through the other magazines I noted the dealer had advertised it in almost every issue, right up to the latest. My subsequent research showed that it was an unpopular make and too expensive for what it was, it had too many miles and far from being a bread and butter sale, they just could not sell it.
The sales lady was very close to getting that sale. If she had not made me suspicious with the pressure tactics we may well have bought that pup! But she couldn’t help herself, she really wanted to get rid of it.
The moral of this story is to never get pushed into a sale, rarely is a particular motorhome the only one for you. You should realise there is always another one just like it and probably cheaper too. A deal on the table today will always be there tomorrow, so don’t be afraid to sleep on it. Only fools rush in.
Before you part with your money do check out the Motorhome Dealer reviews on the site here . Motorhome Dealer Reviews