According to a 2022 report by Fortune Business Insights, the global RV vehicle market size was valued at $47.47 billion. In addition, it was projected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 4.03%, reaching $63.65 billion by 2030. These statistics indicate the presence of enormous growth opportunities in the industry, which is excellent news if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking to start your own RV business. However, despite being an exciting opportunity, running an RV venture can be a challenging experience. Luckily, below are several tips that can help you to launch and manage your RV business, thus ensuring its success.
Research the RV Industry
To succeed in business, you must first understand the industry you’re operating in. This understanding can offer valuable insights, which can be helpful when planning, launching, and managing your RV enterprise. Therefore, one of the first (and most essential) things to do when planning to start your own RV business is thoroughly researching the industry to understand what makes it tick.
One of the top areas to focus on when researching the RV industry is the factors influencing its growth. For example, in recent years, RVs have become increasingly popular due to the rapid expansion of tourism and the growing popularity of recreational activities. Changing demographics are also another top factor driving the RV industry boom. For example, according to Business Wire, the camping sector has seen an increase in younger campers, leading to more demand for RVs.
Besides growth opportunities, you must also research potential challenges you might face when planning to launch your own RV business. For example, seasonal sales fluctuation is one of the top challenges in the industry due to the seasonal nature of related industries like tourism and camping. In addition, according to Reuters, rising inflation in recent years has led to an increase in RV prices and higher interest rates on loans, leading to reduced spending on recreational vehicles.
Secure Funding for Your RV Business
Another major challenge you might encounter when starting your own RV business is the high initial capital investment. And it doesn’t help that the industry has been experiencing rising RV prices in the last several months. For example, according to RV Pros, the prices of motorized recreational vehicles rose by 7.1% between January and February 2023, while towable RVs increased by 3.5%. Therefore, unless you have a lot of cash, you must develop a strategy for funding your planned RV business.
One of the top ways to fund your RV business is to get a business loan from a bank or other lending institutions. This can be great if you have a strong credit history and a feasible financial projection plan. You can also get a business loan from the Small Business Administration, which offers several favorable loan programs to entrepreneurs.
Besides loans, you can find several other creative ideas for funding your RV enterprise. For example, you can use your savings with loans, investments, or donations from friends and family members. You can also use crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo, Wefunder, GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Crowdcube, Seedrs, SeedInvest, StartEngine, and others to raise capital for your business.
Decide on Your Business Model
The RV industry is vast, meaning you can find many excellent business ideas. Therefore, as you’re researching the industry, you should take note of the business concepts you think can offer excellent growth opportunities. You can then use them to create an excellent RV business model to manage and grow into a successful venture.
One of the top ideas you can use when setting up your own RV business is to sell recreational vehicles to customers. This can be either new RVs, used, or both. Alternatively, you can set up an RV rental, where you lease out your recreational vehicles to customers looking to use recreational vehicles for only a short period. You could also combine an RV rental with a dealership, renting out your vehicles for a few years before selling them to customers looking for used units.
An RV Park is another excellent idea if you want to start a recreational vehicle business. For example, you can start a motorhome park, where customers can pay to stay overnight, for a few days, or on a long-term basis in your RVs. You could even start an RV campground business, charging customers a fee for campsites and RV leasing. And the best part is that you can hire a property management company to handle RV maintenance and rentals, leaving you with enough time to manage other aspects of your enterprise.
Identify Your Customers
Customers are the core of any business; your enterprise can’t succeed if you don’t have enough customers. Therefore, the other essential thing to do when planning to run your own RV business is to identify who your customers are. Of course, this will largely be influenced by the type of business model you have chosen.
Fortunately, you won’t lack customers regardless of which type of RV business model you choose. For example, if you’ve decided to start an RV dealership, you can find many customers looking to purchase new or used recreational vehicles. According to the RV Industry Association, this includes young families that enjoy vacationing, retired adults who want to travel the world, and active adventurists engaged in outdoor activities. In addition, your dealership can also find several potential customers in young people (millennials and Gen Zs) looking to own a mobile home.
On the other hand, if you opt for an RV rental, you can find many customers like seasonal travers who vacation during various seasons. Others include campers, people looking to go on long road trips, tourists, family fun enthusiasts, and nomads. You can also target other unique market segments like musicians and artists fond of the RV lifestyle or music fans looking to go on musical tours.
Offer Additional Products and Services
People who purchase or rent RVs aren’t just looking for a vehicle. Instead, they’re looking to travel, camp, or, in the case of motorhome renters, live in style and comfort. Therefore, another excellent idea to consider when starting your RV business is offering additional products and services your customers may be searching for.
RV auto accessories are one of the excellent add-ons you can offer your customer, especially those looking to purchase a recreational vehicle. This can include electrical and plumbing tools like batteries, inverters & inverter chargers, electrical switches & outlets, solar panels, water pumps, faucets & fixtures, RV toilets, and more. Other accessories you can offer include RV tow bars, trailer hitches, chassis, and jacks. Lastly, you can offer comfort, camping, and entertainment accessories like TVs, awnings, camping gear, campervan roof tents, etc.
Besides accessories, you can also offer RV appliances that can come in handy for your customers. This can include air conditioners, furnaces (for heating), generators, refrigerators, water heaters, cooktops, microwaves, washers, dryers, and fans. You can even offer other products like propane for heating and fuel for running the generators.
Lastly, you can offer various RV services to assist your customers in case they run into trouble. For example, you can offer auto towing or roadside assistance packages to customers purchasing or renting recreational vehicles for road trips. Other excellent add-on service ideas include preventative maintenance, appliance installation and repairs, and RV maintenance courses for beginners.
Consider Starting an Auto Shop
RVs are like any other vehicle; they require regular maintenance and repairs due to wear and tear. And in some cases, recreational vehicles might suffer faster wear and tear due to factors like driving long distances, off-road driving, additional appliances, and outdoor storage. Therefore, one of the top ideas you can consider if you’re planning to start your own RV business is an auto shop.
You can find several ideas for an RV auto shop. For example, you can launch an auto repair business, offering RV repair and maintenance services to recreational vehicle owners or companies that deal in RV rentals. RV car body shops are another excellent idea you can explore for your business. For example, your body shop can offer collision damage repairs, restoration (for old motorhomes), RV conversions, and RV modifications.
Another excellent idea for an RV auto shop is to combine it with another business. For example, you can start an auto repair shop to offer maintenance and repair services to your RV buyers. You can also use your shop to sell spare parts and accessories for the RV models you sell, thus saving your customers additional trips to auto parts stores. Lastly, an auto shop can come in handy if you operate an RV rental, car park, or campground business; you can handle all repairs and maintenance in-house.
Hire Quality Staff
Managing your own RV business is not easy, and you can be quickly overwhelmed if you try to run your venture yourself. Therefore, you need to build a solid and capable team around you to assist you in running your business, thus ensuring quality customer service. Of course, the type of employees you’ll need to hire will depend on your business model and its size.
One of the best places to start when building a team for your RV business is to hire employees to handle general office tasks like front office duties, accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, etc. You may also need to hire RV maintenance people, such as auto collision repair professionals, body shop technicians, and RV repair technicians. These can come in handy during in-house RV repairs or if you plan on offering maintenance and repair services to customers. Lastly, as your business grows, you might need other employees like lawyers, marketers, and sales professionals.
Of course, acquiring and retaining talent is not always a cakewalk; according to IDS-Astra, this is one of the top challenges facing many businesses in the RV industry. Fortunately, you can weather this problem by leveraging various aspects of your business like a good salary, a positive brand name & image, and job security. Other top ideas that can help attract and retain talent include a good training program, a friendly work culture, employee recognition, rewards, and benefits.
Hire Essential Business Services
Besides employees, essential business services are another aspect to consider when planning to run your RV business. These services will help support your venture’s day-to-day operations, while others will free your time and resources, allowing you to focus on the core activities of your enterprise. Consequently, this will improve the quality of your business service delivery, leading to increased customer satisfaction.
The type of business services you need will depend on your business model. However, an excellent example includes insurance services, including business insurance and insurance for your RV vehicles, equipment, parts, accessories, etc. Fleet management is another essential service you can hire, especially if you’re running an RV rental business.
You can also hire various professional services to assist you in running your RV business. For example, you can hire accounting and bookkeeping services if you don’t have any qualified in-house staff to handle these duties. Other services to hire include payment processing solutions, legal services, business cleaning solutions, waste disposal services, and storage solutions.
Invest in a Robust Marketing Strategy
Marketing is another resource that can be invaluable when running your own RV business. With a good marketing strategy, you can increase your enterprise’s reach, thus targeting and attracting more customers to your business. Consequently, this will lead to more sales and revenue, which can help drive your RV venture’s growth and expansion.
You can use several marketing strategies to promote your RV business. An excellent place to start is with a business website, which you should optimize for mobile devices, thus giving your business an excellent online presence. Another excellent idea is a Google Business Profile, which can increase your business’s visibility to customers near you, thus growing your local customer base. Digital marketing techniques like SEO, email marketing, PPC advertising, copywriting, and social media marketing are other excellent ideas that can help to generate more leads for your business.
You can also find several other creative ideas to promote your RV business. For example, you can partner with influencers, which, according to a 2022 HubSpot report, is one of the most effective marketing techniques with a high return on investment. You can also promote your RV business through virtual tours, video marketing (on platforms like YouTube and Tik Tok), leveraging reviews, and partnerships with campgrounds, recreational businesses, and tourist attraction sites.
The RV industry is booming, making it one of the perfect sectors to invest in. However, despite the growth opportunities, running your own RV business can be a challenging experience. Fortunately, the information above can help you to efficiently run and manage your RV venture, thus guaranteeing its growth and expansion.