Now Is The Time To Enter Motor Home Market

12/1/2008
A window of Opportunity
by Bob Tiffin

Once or twice every 20 to 25 years there is a real window of opportunity for a retail customer to purchase a new motorhome. Right now we are in that perfect window because of several factors:
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(1) The barrel price for oil (Nov. 20) is down 67 percent to $49.80 from this summer's high of $148 (see my column in the Spring RIS), Pump prices have fallen significantly and will continue to adjust to the drop in barrel prices.

(2) The prime has dropped to 4.0 from 7.5 only a year ago, bringing consumer interest rates to their lowest point in many

(3) Motorhome inventories are high.

Now is the time to get into the motorhome market and buy that new Tiffin coach. It will be a long time before you see a window or opportunity as advantageous to the buyer as this one.

Because Tiffin Motorhomes has been in business for 36 years, we had the experience of seeing the financial crisis of 1979-01. Compared to our current crisis, the "Crisis of '79" for this company had notable differences.

When I visit with our customers at shows or here at the plant, they usually ask, "how are you doing?" Translated, that means "How is production holding up or how many are you selling?"

Getting to the point quickly, production is off 75 percent. But there are significant differences between now and 1979. Even though production is down 75 percent, at the same time our service and warranty activity is normal. That gives us a real good indication that business will pick up in the near future.

I base this projection on our past experience in August and September 1979. At that time, our service at the plant was non-existent. We were not shipping parts to customers or dealers, and our telephone literally quit ringing.

The retail shows in 1979 just basically went away, but this time the underlying foundations of our business - service and parts - are as strong as ever. This year the retail shows have been elaborate and well attended.

Interest is high, but confidence is down. A financial analyst on the evening news recently pointed out that the plunge in the stock market was in large measure controlled by emotion, and some have called it fear.

FDR's remedy has become an American legend: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

As the financial analyst continued to speak, he pointed out that all of the factors of a strong economy are still in place: a skilled labor force, incredible technology, plant capacity, and capital.

Fear is a four-letter word that is controlled by reason. When our rational minds take control, fear will go away and confidence will be restored.

When the market is down, savvy buyers begin to search, find, and snap up value stocks. They are the winners. But really, we all become winners when we follow the lead of the savvy buyers. The RV market in general, and Tiffin in particular, is at the same threshold as the stock market.

Our motorhomes are like value stocks. Now is the time to buy - the window of opportunity. We need the savvy buyers to step up the plate and lead the charge. It will only take a few hundred buyers to get the snowball rolling again. Current Tiffin owners need this company to be here for you now and in the future. Tiffin Motorhomes needs you to restore confidence in the market. Together we can do it!