Get a Fair price!

Not everybody enjoys haggling for a fair price on a RV and some don’t even know that they have the ability to get a better price and end up paying that sticker or sales price. We have only purchased and negotiated on new units so we are unexperienced with trade ins. However I have an opinion I will share with that.

We negotiated on well over 30 RV deals in 2021 and we learned a lot during the process. We also made some connections that helped us better negotiate our way through that sales deal. We wanted to share a few things that might help you the next time you go to purchase a new RV. I will try to keep this as quick and to the point as possible.

Don’t be discount buffaloed

The conversation of pricing and discounts often stirs up controversy – none of us want to feel like we have received a bad deal and will justify the deal we received in any manner. We originally made our video to be private and shared it with people we met that were asking questions on what they should expect to pay. In 2021 many started to believe the narrative that the dealers were “selling” that there were shortages and demand was so high that discounts were not possible. I found that discounts were harder to achieve with inventory on the lot but not impossible – and I get it – with the demand up over 500% why sell to one person for less when the next person might and likely pay more.

How we still won in 21

Understand your MSRP. Manufactured Suggested Retail Price is similar to the price printed on a bag of Fritos when you walk into a major grocery store. In Walmart you wont pay that price printed on the bag but going to a corner gas station you can expect to pay it or sometimes higher. When you are shopping for your rig don’t believe pricing on any sales tag or pricing from a dealer. Build out your rig from the manufacturer. Many have websites or apps that allow you to build it out and price it completely. In this way you have the true MSRP so you have a starting point. Dealers use confusing terms to confuse their customer and mislead you in thinking you are already talking MSRP or getting a large discount when really you are talking dealer numbers. We asked our manufacturer for a build / pricing sheet and found that several dealers had mislead us and changed the pricing on the sheets they provided.

Work outside your target area. We may want to buy in our hometown but I didn’t want to start practicing my negotiating skills on where I was going to purchase and get trapped in a price box. On our first RV I started working with dealers just outside of reach but not so far that I wouldn’t really be willing to work with them if a deal came that I couldn’t resist. This does two things; it is a good exercise and gives you a good understanding of the discounts available on how to work with the dealer / sales person and gives you a backup. If you decide you are willing to move forward and work with your “choice” dealership and it doesn’t work out favorably then you can fall back on that dealer you practiced with. I suggest working with a few to get an idea of where the margin is and get comfortable with the process. This will set you up for success with practice and knowledge for when you start to work with your target dealership.

Customer build or inventory? If you are looking for a new build than this opens up all options. You can go to any dealer that carries the brand and start working the deal. If you are looking for inventory on hand this will limit your options a bit; pricing may be a bit more difficult to achieve and options on the unit may not be exactly what you want. A dealer can be less likely to make the best deal on in inventory as they have “carry costs” on that unit as opposed to a fresh order that will limit costs and an easier transaction for them.

Don’t let your local dealer scare you. There is a tactic dealers use to lock in their local buyers and is mostly a scare tactic but depending on your RV life plan might impact you. Dealers will tell you that if you do not buy from them that you will not get priority service or sometimes they will tell you they won’t service you at all. If you are living in a town and using your rig as a camping rig a few times a year this might be a strong consideration for you however there are still options. For us being Full Time we knew that we were not going to depend on our dealer. Even prior to going Full Time we weren’t dependent on our dealer and would use a mobile tech if necessary. I wouldn’t let a dealer bully me with that story and had a two RV service technicians in my home town that I could use. I would verify when looking at a brand that I could use those techs for warranty work if needed. When purchasing our Vanleigh our plan was to never return to the dealer so wasn’t a consideration. We planned on using Vanleigh’s third party repair center or a mobile tech. We have not been to a dealer since our purchase.

Decide your communication method. I primarily work all of my car deals and my RV deals over email. This not only gives me a documentation trail but gives you a moment to think through your response after being challenged or asked a question. It is all a game of chess! If you are on the lot and they get you to the table you are on their turf – they are trained to work that table. If you want to up your challenge go for it but why make things more difficult or frustrating. The email method can also leave them hanging if needed and you will find most sales guys will go into a panic.

Price time – likely what you have waited for. There are two methods that I have used and have had good success with both. Once is the more back and forth and I will use when I don’t want to back somebody in a corner and the other I will use if I really am going for it and is no sweat off my back if they turn me down. Either way always make sure you are asking for “out the door pricing”. Some dealers will start to add PDI, battery or other costs.

“The back and forth”. I ask for their best price. I will do this to get an idea of what kind of dealership or sales person I am working with. I have had several dealerships come into a pretty fair ball park price (at least the bench area) with that question and I knew they were worth working with. I have had others that would tell me that “their price is their price” and I know that I need to move on. Once they give you a price this is when you counter with %40 off the MSRP. Now you know the MSRP because you have already done that research so you are ready. I know this seems extreme but the goal is to get to at least %30 and often times you can get up to 35% without too much fight. However, if you don’t counter or if you don’t counter aggressively you wont know. Think about what 30% is off that unit and how much you have worked for that money – don’t lose it here. In some cases if a unit has been sitting around on a lot that dealer may cut deeper.

I once had a lady I met tell me she didn’t mind paying the extra as her sales guys has to make money too. Know this – the sales guy isn’t getting the extra dollars you are paying out – the dealership is.

“The straight ask”. I have decided that I am willing to pay 30% without issue and that is a pretty “fair” price. I have found success in calling a sales person and straight telling them I will buy the model for 30% off. Go talk to your sales manager and if he wants to talk to me have him call me.

Some things we need to cover:

There are some things you won’t be able to negotiate away like freight and doc fees however make sure doc fees are reasonable and that they are not charging some crazy prep fee as there should be none. If you are buying closer to the factory those freight fees will be less but if you are buying in Washington state and your rig was produced in Indiana it took a transport driver to get it there and somebody is paying him.

If the dealer is throwing in free things, hitches, cameras, sewer hoses during your negotiation just keep that stuff out. They throw that in as a shiny object and people get excited. Likely the most expensive thing the dealer will throw into the deal is a hitch and price that out at e-trailer and see what you should have saved with negotiating vs that hitch you just got. Keep it clean – just negotiate on the unit.

I never tell how I am paying. Dealers want you to finance as they get that kickback. I personally wouldn’t finance through a dealership and give them any control of that process. If you are financing come to prepared with your bank backing your for the purchase. We have paid cash for our vehicles and rigs but I do not expose my method of payment until we have the deal done. Only one dealer (Alliance dealer) in Texas couldn’t continue the deal we had made with a cash purchase and had to have financing for the discount.

Trades? I haven’t been involved in trades but I have been educated on folks in the business on how it works. Money has to come from somewhere so if you are getting a great trade and you feel good on it likely you didn’t get the best deal you could have on your purchase. If you got the best deal on the new rig you probably could have sold that trade and made more cash in a private sell or consignment. My personal opinion is that it muddys the waters and would keep them separated.

Negotiating properly on your RV will help you in the long run and put you in a better position financially now or when you decide to sell in the future.

We started our RV journey in 2019 and have traveled over 50k miles between our three fifth wheels. 2021 brought a new set of experiences for us selling our home and going full time in our Beacon and has been a bumpy road.

We are blessed to have each other and the support of our family and friends as we continue our journeys.

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