Help Us Help Dealers Help You…

OK everyone, weird title, but here’s the deal:

We’ve been invited to speak to a gathering of RV dealers and salespeople as part of a Class B Training curriculum.  Our goal is to be “the voice of the customer”, and to provide them with insight into the Class B lifestyle.  And while we think we have a pretty good idea what’s important to you, our readers, it never hurts to make sure.

So we’ve put together a quick survey.  It should take you no more than a minute to complete.  Put yourself into the mindset of shopping for your next Class B RV.  As you head into the dealer, what do you want them to know about you?  How do you plan to use your rig?  What features are important and which ones don’t matter at all?  THAT’s what we want to hear from you.

The survey below is done using Google Forms, and will be open until October 26th, 2016.  Once we’ve done the survey (and completed the training), we’ll post back with the results.

Game on!

James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling certified coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he's also an IT consultant.

    59 thoughts on “Help Us Help Dealers Help You…

    1. Michael Soloway

      I have looked a lot into the Travato 59G because where you want hi end bikes under the bed I want musical instruments which are an essential part of my desire to travel in the B. You have customized into Lance most of what I crave in the 59g but that it does not have. First and foremost is the electrical system that you created. I saw the Homer Aktiv in Hershey and it had a great bed, all the storage that I needed under it AND the non generator approach to the electric system. The lack of an inverter or the ability to plug 110 things in without either a generator or a tether is a big issue with me and pushed me to look harder at the Hymer. Most of my instruments require that.
      I am not a mechanic and don’t know if I can do what you did – and I am not certain that Winnebago would customize for anyone else. So although I keep coming back to the 59G ($$$) I don’t know what to do about the electric issue. Finally something that only seems important to me is both hot and cold running water externally so showering outdoors in isolated spots becomes a possibility.

      Only on the 59g can I turn the dinette into a sleeper for my grandson and allow a whole new experience if he wants to travel with me/us.

      REALLY glad that I discovered your site through your review of the recent 59g ( already moving in the right direction) and your Lance that is absolutely perfect for all of my needs. Curtains were a work of creative art as well. Is there another Lance for sale somewhere.

    2. Joe Kalmick

      Think about it. An RV salesperson has nothing else to do when at work for their shifts – 6 to 8 hours 4 to six days a week, besides actually talking to customers.
      They have ample time to learn everything there is to know about every unit on their lot and every model of every line they carry. If dealer owners and management staff would hold their sales people to a standard even approximating the ideal, customers would be better served and they would all make more money. Stop selling the dream and sell the product.

    3. Dave

      We enjoy your videos. We bought a 2006 B used 3 years ago and are planning to trade. New or used again? We love state parks and National parks. I’m going to say what I would like to change. Bed is a electric roll down queen size couch. It is not to comfortable. We use a 4 in. foam pad on it and leave it down when extended travel a month at a time. I’m 70 and get up more at night so I would like a bed I can get out on the sides. 2. Bathroom shower comb. So small. Would like back bathroom next time. 3. We only have 1 house battery need more. Generator noisy. Why can’t they have a roll out in the back? We do love the size. We like to stay off the interstates. I Mercedes deisel is expensive and repair shops don’t like to work on them. What about the new Fords? Haven’t seen anything about them.

      1. James - Post author

        Winnebago has released a new Class B on the Ford Transit chassis. We did a live event for them when we walked through it. I am trying to get the video so we can put it on our YouTube page.

    4. john charles steinmuller

      My remarks are based on selling van conversions and van campers to new car dealers for 36 years. Most salesman have no idea what the customer wants and most do not care. It’s rare to find one who takes the time to get the knowledge to discuss details. Their only job is to find the price you are after and close the deal as quick as they can. I managed marketing for numerous van companies and I worked with dealers nationwide, and I’m pretty sure that attitude hasn’t change much today. Your best effort is to find a diticated dealer and sales team who want to spend time in listening to the customer. There are some, but few. If you published a list of those kind of reliable dealers I’m confident it would be valuable to your readers. Your expertise could be used in positive sales results for their dealerships.

      1. James - Post author

        OK. That’s actually not a bad idea. Sort of like a complement to our “Class B Manufacturer List”. My wheels are turning on that one!

    5. Tom Calabrese

      A big thing for Class B Dealers to hear is the need for a “full service” capability so that the Owner has only one place to go when service is needed on either the chassis or the coach, or both.

      1. James - Post author

        I think they’d also need to be chassis service centers to do that. Not sure how that works with the auto makers… But not a bad idea.

    6. Char OConnor

      We haven’t seen this problem in the above comments so far, but here it is: we like the outside “look” of the Leisure Travel B+ vans, but prefer the floor plan and interior of Winnebago small class C’s. We currently have a Winnebago Era 70X and love the sleek lines it has, but sure could use a bit more width inside. Winnebago’s Class C’s have a boxy exterior and the graphics on the sides are too much for us. A lot of the manufacturers use that boxy look on their B+ or C’s with wild graphics and the sleek stealth look appeals more to us. We have this “design wish” on our Christmas Wish List…….

    7. Devon

      I love the site with all of the great info and ideas to help me prepare for 3 to 12 week solo adventures after retirement in 18 months. 🙂
      Open floor plan with bed that can be left made up – if twin beds, use one as a bed and the other as a reading lounge/sofa.
      Water lines inside for 3+ season transition ease of use. No winter camping intended.
      Off-grid friendly but will use some hook-ups too.
      Carry electric bicycle and possibly a kayak.
      Low-key/covert sleek styling with privacy and personal safety features.
      No carpet, but maybe a slight inset or dedicated area inside door with removable, cleanable mat.
      Expandable table/work surface similar to flip-up counter top extension.
      Ease of operation & maintenance inside and out, including appliances.
      Remote tire-pressure monitor system.
      Microwave/convection oven.
      Screen door/s.
      Effective & efficient storage, even in small pockets of space for the organization freak in me.
      Separate space for stinky slinky outside.
      Minimize noise where possible in vehicle and appliances when moving or parked.
      Hope this helps!

    8. Gary Reysa

      Like your site (especially the tests).

      We are on our 4th RV — all class B and a small class C.

      On this last one we bought a 136WB ProMaster cargo van and converted it ourselves. It is a simple conversion with only the basics (beds/seats, galley, composting toilet, solar electric system and storage. Very open and airy. No shower, no microwave, no water heater, no generator etc. Good beds and an open airy feel are the things that really matter. Overstuffing small RVs with every feature known to mankind just makes them cramped, confining and miserable to be in — at least this is what 4 RVs has brought us to.

      Total cost of the project was $30K for the van plus $6K for the conversion. materials It drives, maneuvers and parks like a car, gets 20 mpg and is just a pleasure to use. Better than any of the overstuffed with features we never use commercial RVs we have had in the past.

      My point is that I don’t understand why the they don’t offer some really simple commercial RVs that would cost a whole lot less and be a better answer for a lot of people.


      1. James - Post author

        You should look at the Winnebago 4×4 concept we reviewed recently. They’re starting to move in that direction. AC is an option. Toilet options. Simple galley. Gear storage…

    9. Tsippi

      Smart salespeople treat solo women seriously and with respect. It’s stunning how many RV salesmen assume I can’t afford what I ask to see. I’ve had car salesmen do the same thing. It was literally their loss.

    10. CJScott

      You need more cargo space and we would like to be able to sleep another as many of us have grandchildren etc., and must least have more seatbelts as Class B’s are liked for us bc of their multi function, where you can bring people for long day trips to concerts, games, parks, etc. You have to have air conditioning, nice stereo is also nice. 4 wheel drive would also be really nice. But to make this very simple, JUST LOOK AT THE EUROPEAN MODELS. I cannot tell you how many Class B and Sprinter forums I have been on and most agree that the European models, such as Hymer get it right. They have large storage garage outdoor also, bc they raise the bed in the back, so you can actually fit bicycles, etc., I mean large storage. Just Google Hymer. I know there is a new Hymer through Roadtrek right now, which is similar to the Travato which is cool, they did the dinette better IMHO, altho not so sure about the cassette toilet. We like the one that Hymer and other European manufacturers do that have the large outdoor garage space. Many Class B owners are active, we like to bring bikes, chairs, grills, etc. We can use ours for a day trip, long weekends or even a week or so at a time. I know people that go even longer in their B.

    11. Ashley

      That first question in the survey was tough – I want everything but the stereo, TV equipment. It needs a comfy bed, plenty of storage & a functional kitchen & bath. Yes, I know that’s demanding a lot out of very little space:)

      1. Rebecca Siefer

        Functional Storage for packs and gear is so important. We choose a class B so we can get out and away from others and dry camp without being obvious or obtrusive. Therefore we are looking for a power system… Solar, batteries and inverter which will allow us to be off the grid. Like others we still want the larger capacity refrigerator freezer. The other thing that is essential our windows that open and provide a lot of natural ventilation throughout the rig.

        1. James - Post author

          Gear storage is turning out to be one of the main drivers in the survey. One more day and we’ll publish the results!

    12. Faith Senie

      On question 1, both storage space and good galley are equally important to me. But more important would be having some place to take it for service where they recognize we are travelers more than campers, and really can’t wait 4-6 weeks for them to bring it in just to diagnose a problem and then wait another week or two for them to get parts in for repair. Manufacturers would do well to have their own repair shops across the country. Would probably be cheaper for them in the long run, anyway, as they could control how much labor time went into warranty repairs.

    13. Cassie H.

      Hi Stef & James,

      When I retire several years from now, I intend to live full time in a class B. About a year ago, I came across your site and keep returning because the two of you are informative & entertaining! I try to remember to use the Amazon link on your site to help support your site.

      Sorry Stef, I like the Bell. James, You could record the bell sound on your phone and computer – granted not as much phone but harder to bury! 🙂

      Winnebago’s 4×4 concept model nearly hit all my wants for my ideal class B due to its smaller size, floor plan, storage, lithium batts, induction cooktop, cassette toilet, etc. Additional features that I desire (that their concept design lacked) were a B that does not require any propane, has a secondary alternator underhood for charging lithium batteries, and A/C.

    14. Stan

      Sleeping comfort, cooking and full fridge, dinette relaxing, and relieving, mostly for two people, but at times with three or four, is the priority I would lay out for a B lifestyle. This means the loud generator, the large and loud a/c, and the TV and its wonky antennae should be options (if at all). A 2015 59g is my first Rv.

      I love your stuff. Keep it up!

    15. Jeff Simek

      Comments will likely prove more valuable than the results of the survey, where are the questions are impossible to answer in a meaningful and thoughtful manner. What I want in a Class B is: A nimble, driver-friendly vehicle with a flexible and efficient layout. Dealers can best help themselves by insisting their sales staffs learn their product line and features and stop puffing about real-world fuel economy (in their minds Class As all get 10-14 mpg and Class Bs get mid 20s). Dealers need to understand that B purchasers are a different breed — more likely to be tinkerers and trail blazers who are curious about how things work and how to make them better. Some transparency in pricing would also help. Finally, service-after-the-sale –particularly during the warranty period — is largely a joke; until you’re “on the clock” at $125 an hour, they’re really not interested.

    16. Scott Baldassari

      Your survey is aggravating (or would be if I was the kind of guy that got aggravated).. 😉

      Those questions are nearly impossible to just “pick ONE” right answer… They should be rated by “order of importance”..

      I only get to have ONE most important feature?? They were ALL important: Bed, Galley,AND space for gear. I could care less about the TV, stereo, etc.. The Van has a stereo, and I can add a TV if I wish. 😉

      I also want the entertaining, sleeping AND seatbelts for additional people. 🙂 (I think the G has “Active Family B” covered better than any of the competition)

      I also intend to (and do currently) use my RV for ALL 4 options listed.

      As far as the information: I get my real world owner opinions from Blogs and facebook etc, the specs from the manufacturers website, Walk thru tours and lifestyle stuff from you tube, and only pricing info and physical walk thrus from the dealers.

      All four things you mentioned in the “influence purchase” question were important, but FLOORPLAN and DESIGN are the MOST important and you didn’t even mention them.
      Also, Features and amenities are very important: convection micro or oven? usability of bathroom, solar? generator? tank size’s, simplicity of use (no slide outs or electric beds/couches please) etc; It’s the COMBINATION of features that makes a difference.

      The Travato fits our particular travel life to the “T”! The new improvements have made it even better (no elec step, new awning, better rack and ladder).

      I guess if I could make any further changes it would be:
      Make TV/antenna/coach stereo optional (I would have deleted)
      Make Air Conditioning optional
      Have a choice between generator or 2nd alternator and Lithium (I would have upgraded)
      A longer warranty (or option for an extended warranty from WINNEBAGO, not the dealer)
      An inch more of clearance would be a great. 4wd would be nice, but not nice enough to interest me in a MB.

      As far as dealer training suggestions go: That’s easy. They need to get some.

      The only dealers that have any knowledge seem to be the ones that sell allot of Travatos (by accident probably). They are obviously learning by experience, and not by training. As mentioned above, dealer knowledge is “generally” pretty pathetic, and the Class B lifestyle is not very well understood either.

      And since we are talking about fairy tale wishes; how about dealers (or even better, Winnebago) getting a more realistic pricing structure. I firmly believe WGO loses a LOT of prospective sales because of the large MSRP mark up. I have communicated with MANY people who think WGO and RT are “almost the same” price (but they are often mistakenly comparing the top of the line RT with all the “eco” stuff) THINKING they are both about 100K, when the Travatos real price can be near HALF of a full dressed RT.

      1. Stefany

        Well you might be aggravated (or close to) but I’m smiling! Because feedback like this will be great to help guide our conversation with the dealers. Thanks, Scott! (And hi to Jennifer!!!) xoxo

    17. Michelle A

      We would want the key features we have now: TempurPedic twin mattresses (cut to fit); a head (that is, shower toilet combo sans shower curtain) that’s big enough for either of us; a slide-out pantry; compressor-based fridge & freezer; MaxAir fan; hydronic heat and H2O; house batteries so that we don’t need a generator; Diesel engine; washable hard-surface flooring (such as tile or vinyl) thru-out; to name a few 🙂 In other words, no less than we have now in our 2nd Class B RV…

      1. Stefany

        LOL! It’s awesome when you love your rig, isn’t it!?!? Thanks, Michelle for the comments! We’re working more to educate dealers on Class B lifestyle & mindsets rather than product development…but honestly both influence each other so it’s hard not to talk one without the other!

    18. Mark Rawdon

      1. Most important feature is a comfortable bed but a comfortable toilet is almost as important.
      2. The two person limit is great. It avoids extra riders. The only time that has been an issue is visiting elderly relatives (90 & 102) but we work it out for short distances or rent a car.
      3. We purchased for the specific purpose of visiting all 413 National Park Service sites and 150 American Byways. We figure a 3-5 year quest. It is important to note while it is comfortable long distance travel is the goal, the highest value is having your toilet and hotel room with you where ever you go.
      4. To be honest, you, FitRV sold us on the Travato, with support from our dealer in Forest City. The dealer chat and internet experience was important, as the local dealer could not answer questions. Now our FB Community is the primary source of information.
      5. All these contribute.
      6. Our pet was a motivating factor to RV. The manufacturer who provides a B with a remote monitoring system to watch the pet and environment will sell a bundle.

      The salesman we would like to have bought from was great on A and C’s, but did not understand the B mindset. “Why would anyone buy a Travato besides they are cheap,” I was told. Another dealer fallacy is that RV’ers are not high mileage vehicles – “I never took a trade in on an RV with over 100,000 miles.”

      Dealers need to forget about A’s and C’s. We think they are a bit obnoxious. We are NOT RV’ers or campers. We are road explorers. I expect 100,000 miles to come soon as we average 2,000 a month and only drive it for trips. I enjoy parking in just about any parking space, turning around on one lane dirt roads, and many other things just not convenient in an A or C. Our 26,500 miles have primarily been secondary highways. Not 10% was interstate. Looking at our peers I suspect we are average B owners, along with adventurer and fitness travellers.

      1. Stefany

        THIS…is exactly the voice, and the picture, we’d like dealers to see. Really appreciate your thoughtful comment, Mark. We’ll be sharing it!

    19. Ted

      I get most of my information from forums populated by old guys feuding over “Gas vrs Diesel”, “Sprinters vrs Promasters”, and preferred dumping habits.

    20. Matt

      Great idea. However the first question, you can have space for your gear (bikes) and a well designed and functional kitchen. The 4×4 adventure vehicle is a good example of that.

      Also the last question….price is always important, but so is new high tech features. Roadtrek has at least attempted to do lithium, second alternators, ect. to improve their tech features and boondocking abilities. Winnebago as they are the other major player in the Class B space, has some catch up to do in that department. Though with their volume in sales, I think they could do something high tech while keeping the cost down. Again, the 4×4 adventure van is a good start, but without a generator, you probably can’t rely on solar with an induction cooktop to keep the batteries topped off. Second generator is a must.

      I know I’ve been pretty vocal about the 4×4 adventure van, but with the new 2017.5 upgrades, the new travato is a serious contender for our first RV. Extended four season camping (as you said, it’ll never be marketed as a true four season van) REALLY makes me not want to wait on IF the 4×4 comes to market. Though if the 4×4 comes to market (and Winnebago, if you are reading this), I’d like to see a slightly smaller bathroom with a larger dinette table 😉

      1. Stefany

        Good points, Matt. We certainly didn’t want to imply you can only have one or the other…well-designed kitchen or storage or comfy bed, etc. We mostly wanted to hear what’s the MOST important of those for you, to sort of give the dealers a picture of how us B people roll and our preferences…which are VERY different than A people! And yeah, we agree if anyone can do a cost-effective coach with the high-tech features you describe, it’s gonna be Winnebago. Can’t wait to see that 4×4 myself!!!

    21. Andre Menard

      James and Steph,

      I really enjoy your videos…awesome…I loved the bit with the bell. Three dings for the bell. I really look forward to getting your email every week. Keep up the good work.

      I did fill in your survey, but what was most import to me was missing…

      I am 6’1″. What is important to me is being able to walk in the RV without being hunched over or bumping my head on low hanging fixtures…The second most import is having a comfortable bed that is long enough for me to lay down on.


      1. Stefany

        Hi Andre! Thanks for the nice words! And yeah, good point about the height issue, that’s a tough one with all vans. Interesting, this came up quite a few times at the Pomona show. We met various tall guys shopping for a B van having your same issues. The consensus seemed to be the spaciousness of the Travato K was the best out there for tall guys (and actually one 6′ 5″ gentleman and his wife were about to purchase!)…especially because the passenger side twin bed is extra long. Anyways! Thanks for doing the survey!

    22. Jody Rath

      Should be a top to bottom reboot of the sales process. Class B’s should be sold by a division of REI or Cabelas and yanked from the old-school network of chain-smoking used car dealers. Eliminate the haggle pricing by switching to an order/build model. Give us a bare-bones model price, and let us add to it. For $100k, we’re willing to wait a month or two. And for the love of Pete, change the after sale support. Salesperson should still be main point of contact so they can learn some of the common problems and how to address for future models. Get a fleet of mobile techs. Buyers don’t have the time/patience to schedule a repair 2 months out, bring back to dealer and let it sit for a week or two. Engage more use of video tutorials and how-to’s.
      But unfortunately as evidenced by the recent comments of the Owner of Camper World, more money is made on the service side, extended warranties, and associated products. So while I would love to see a change, I’m not very encouraged. But a man can dream…….

      1. James - Post author

        You’re not the only one we’ve heard from regarding the Camping World CEO interview… I suppose if you consider RVs just as a business, the perspective changes. Not saying that makes it right or wrong either way. Just different.

        But I LOVE the idea of mobile techs. Scheduling service is a major bummer for a lot of folks. And an order/build model is interesting.

    23. R. T.

      One thing about class B RVs. The price is going through the stratosphere, with every RV maker leapfrogging the others. A few years ago, $100,000 could net you a decent model. Now, you are looking at a quarter mill, and average rigs costing $150k.

      Yes, there is money to made by selling Mercedes and Maybachs, but it would be nice to see RV makers sell some pedestrian Toyota models. The Winnebago Travato is the -only- model sold that is reasonably priced, with the next step up, the RT Zion commanding $30-40k more.

    24. Ginette

      Being able to use it in winter and off grid is very important to us. Unfortunately we are not has handy and mechanicaly inclined as James

      1. James - Post author

        That’s a tough one.
        Manufacturers are very hesitant (and rightly so) to claim true “4-season” capability. It requires a certain level of knowledge on the part of the end user to pull it off properly, flip all the switches, drain what needs draining, etc.
        They’d wind up with a lot of warranty claims from people who forgot something and burst a pipe – and in the end, nobody would be happy.
        As a winter RVer, I understand the desire. Bt for the foreseeable future, I think it will be a largely DIY venture.

    25. Bob Bedell

      Agree with Don. Dealers need to recognize that most customers today, with all the info on the manufacturers’ sites and the info/discussions on places like Facebook, are very knowledgeable and, sometimes (often?) know more than the salespeople. Nothing turns off a customer than a salesperson who does not know what he is talking about. Salespeople need to do their homework.

    26. Don

      One thing that would help to let dealers know is if they don’t know the answer to a question just to say so or alternatively have someone on staff who is “the expert” that they can go and get. In our search many dealers would give the wrong information out. That is why the Facebook groups and Blogs such as were invaluable.

      1. seth ostrander

        as above commented…it seemed that i knew more about the Roadtrek than the salesperson and walk thru person even though this is my 1st class B…
        also with walk through, they didn’t have time for me to have the “hands on”
        during that time….i prob should have been more firm and requested someone

        1. James - Post author

          We actually expected to hear this a lot. I think dealers underestimate the amount of research and information gathering that perspective B-owners undertake before making a purchase.
          I wonder if there’s a statistically significant inverse relationship between rig size and pre-purchase research.

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