RV Pro - Premier Coach Services

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RV Pro - Premier Coach Services
June 2006 •
•
Dealer Profile:
A “Boutique”
RV Dealership
Photos by Alexander Hogan
Pat and Linda Casey transformed their truck and trailer repair shop in Riverside, Mo., into a small but successful
RV dealership that’s made a name for itself in part by offering top-notch ser vice and distinctive business
offerings, such as an owner RV rental program.
BY DIRK VINLOVE
P
at and Linda Casey owned an overthe-road diesel tractor and trailer
repair business in the mid-1990s when
federal deregulation of freight rates in
the trucking industry put the hurt on
smaller fleet operators – the bulk of their
customers.
At the same time as smaller fleet owners
were going belly up, Pat Casey struck
up a conversation with a gentleman at a
party who couldn’t seem to get his diesel
pusher fixed. He had had his high-end,
late-model RV in and out of several different dealerships, each one giving a different answer, yet no solution to the pesky
engine problem.
“I told him to bring it over to our
service bay at the truck shop, and sure
enough, one of our technicians found the
problem inside of 45 minutes and took
another 30 to fix it,” Pat says. “I didn’t
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• June 2006
think too much of it more than helping
a friend with a problem … but then the
phone started ringing.”
And for the past dozen years, it’s been
RVs all the way. But by no means was
it a snap decision. In making the decision to get away from the truck service
industry to RVs, the Caseys hired a consulting firm to look at the feasibility
of opening an RV repair business. The
message was simple.
“We were told we could make money
at it, but to do that, we would have to
offer top-quality service,” Pat says. “We
were told there were a lot of players in
the RV service industry that were doing it
halfway, but the first to offer top-notch,
truly exceptional service in the four-state
area would have the advantage.”
It was a mantra they adopted, and
have found that the base assumption that
RVers talk about the service they receive
to be very true.
“If someone gets good service they are
very willing to share their story with fellow
RVers,” Pat says. “That first gentlemen
we did work for was telling everyone with
a diesel to bring it by our truck shop for
service. And they did.”
The “small boutique dealership,” as
Linda Casey coined it, was born. Today,
Premier Coach Services employs three fulltime technicians as well as two apprentice
techs. All are RVIA-certified, but are only
part of the family-owned business that
focuses on service.
Located just north of Kansas City,
Mo., Premier offers service, new coach
sales, insurance claim work, graphic
design, interior updates, installation of
slide outs, consignment sales, rentals and
storage in their business mix. Premier’s
Premier Coach Services, located in Riverside, Mo., just outside Kansas City, is
notable in part because of the services it offers, including a concierge service, an
owner RV rental program, consignment sales and on-site storage.
Premier Coach Services co-owner Pat Casey (left) exchanges a handshake
with a satisfied customer after Premier technicians were able to correctly
diagnose a problem with the man’s motorhome and get the unit fixed.
A former diesel tractor and trailer repair shop, Premier
has large service bays to accommodate all types of
units, including buses.
Technician David
Earl checks out the
internal workings
of a Class C unit.
Premier’s reputation
for high-quality service helps it attract
business from a large
surrounding area.
Linda and Pat Casey began Premier as a service shop and then expanded the
business to become an RV dealership. Premier carries Tiffin and Dutchmen motorhomes as well as various trailers and Play-Mor toy haulers.
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• June 2006
Dealer Profile:
present 20,000-square-foot building is
large enough to hold a service center
that can accommodate nine large motorcoaches along with office space. Perhaps
most interesting of the existing business
mix list is Premier’s concierge service
and the innovative owner rental program it spawned.
Concierge Service
“We had one gentleman who owned
a $600,000 RV that he stored on our lot
who asked us if we could go over it and
get it ready for him before he left on a
trip, then drive it over to his house for
his staff to load it up with supplies. I said
sure … but I’d have to charge him for
that service. He said fine and told us to
charge our regular shop labor rate.”
Then that same first customer wanted
his rig checked back in mechanically and
detailed out after a trip. Pat believes this
type of customer is not an aberration
for his business, but a growing trend for
the industry. The baby boomers everyone
talks about do exist, and they may not
be mechanically inclined or interested in
doing maintenance themselves.
Coupled with the empty-nest trend of
moving to newer housing developments
that do not allow RVs to be parked in
their high-density areas, it is a natural
growth for a full-service shop to offer
concierge service.
“It goes hand-in-hand with storage,”
Pat believes. “These customers are used
to doing business with you, and want the
convenience and confidence of regular
service, but lack the space, knowledge
and tools to do it themselves.”
Linda Casey saw how to take this
service trend further, and pushed for
what has become a good side business for
Premier, owner rentals via the Premier
Rental Management Program.
Owner Rental Program
In its third year, the owner rental program offers owners a chance to make
money renting their rigs. Premier carries
the insurance, offers free storage to the
owner/renter, and maintains an aggressive maintenance program complete
with records. On top of that, perspective renters are screened before any unit
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• June 2006
leaves the lot.
“Pat pooh-poohed the idea at first, but
said we could give it a try, and what do you
know, it worked great,” Linda says.
The second year Premier offered the
program, the size of their owner rental
fleet doubled, as did the receipts. Besides
the tax advantages for the owner, Premier
splits the profits.
“It was a little hard at first to convince our owners this was a good deal
for them, but once they tried it they saw
the cash, tax and maintenance benefits
and they loved it,” Linda says.
The tax advantages to the owners are
often enough to bring them over to the
program.
Most owners use a five-year depreciation schedule along with deductions
for incurred expense for the operation of
the vehicle along with the interest paid
on the bank loan and depreciation of
the vehicle itself. Internal Revenue Code
Section 179 allows business taxpayers to
offset large amounts of ordinary income
for RVs used in their business.
“These end up being very easy miles
on the RV, and once the owner sees that,
they are very enthusiastic about the program,” Linda says. “It also allows us to
offer Class A rentals, which are not found
in many rental companies.”
Besides floating successful business
ideas, Linda is the driving force behind
keeping the Premier website running.
She credits the Internet for most of the
company’s advertising success, a trend she
believes will only get stronger as years go
by. Besides the web, Premier also does
radio advertising in the four-state region,
and this year added television to the mix
as well.
“Still, the No. 1 source of advertising
for us is word of mouth,” Pat says.
A Reluctant New Dealer
While expanding service was somewhat
easy for the Casey’s, the move to carry
new rigs was a slow one.
“We looked at a lot of manufacturers
and for one reason or another were not
impressed with either the product they
sold or the way they backed it up,” Pat
says. That changed when they started
doing a lot of service on area RVs manu-
factured by Tiffin Motorhomes. Premier
finally found a manufacturer with the
same service philosophy.
“We were impressed by what we saw
from Tiffin, but when we first approached
them to become a dealer, they said ‘no,’
their existing dealers were selling all the
units they could build,” Pat says.
A year later, Tiffin decided to expand
more in the four-state market and called
Premier back. Jerry Brown, their Tiffin
rep, was great in guiding the Caseys
through the first new dealer setup for
Premier. This dealership partnership
capped the chain of services Premier
Coach Services offers to its customers,
many of whom were first suggested by
the customers themselves.
“We not only listen to our customers,
we want to help them make the best
choice to fit their needs,” Pat says. “Sometimes that means directing them to a
product we don’t carry, but that’s OK
because we know we will continue to
see that customer.”
Besides Tiffin, Premier carries
Dutchman and Dutchmen Express Class
C’s and various trailers and Play-Mor
toy haulers.
Smart Growth
Keeping the customer focus means Pat
doesn’t see the point in growing Premier
a lot larger … but is very interested in
growing it “better.”
“We know on the service side, we still
have room to get better,” Pat says. “We
have a great group of people here, and to
Linda and I, the point is getting everyone
here to a spot where the business can be
run successfully whether we are here or
not. I believe we are very close to that
point today. We have never had the desire
to be a ‘mega dealer.’”
Dealer Profile:
A somewhat smaller-sized dealership, Premier sold about 60 RVs in 2005, of which
about half were new units, 30 percent were sold on consignment and 20 percent
were used or trade-in models.
Premier keeps its inventory of commonly used
repair and treatment products like cleaners and
sealants stocked so that it’s able to have exactly
what the customer needs.
Receptionist Sandy Hughes makes sure customers are
attended to quickly and professionally. Premier prides itself on the level of customer support it provides.
Technician Jim Bithell checks a Class C motorhome’s awning to make sure
it’s functioning properly. Premier employs three full-time technicians and
two apprentice techs at the business.
Premier’s 20,000-square-foot facility includes service
bays that can accommodate nine large motorhomes at
one time.
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“Satisfaction
is more than just
a promise; it’s
our way of doing
business.”
Large enough to
take care of your
every need; small
enough to care.
Voted Kansas
City’s “Best RV
Service Center”
Greeted
with a smile
- coffee’s
always on!
Service Depar tment - RVIA Cer tified Technicians
Sales Depar tment - Both New and Pre-Owned
Consignment Sales
Rental Depar tment - Clean, well maintained units!
Storage Facility
Concierge Service
Custom Adaptations & Slideout Installation
Dump Site
PREMIER COACH SERVICES, LLC
3423 NW Tullison Rd., Riverside, MO 64150
816-587-1500 Office
816-587-3450 Fax
866-426-2247 Toll Free
www.premiercoachservices.com
June 2006 •
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