If you are a member of the RV culture, you likely have participated in one or more of the numerous online forums where folks comment on their RV experience. Scathing critiques of various dealers around the country are prominent in this arena, prompting the title of this writing, which is Latin for, “Let the buyer beware”. This axiom is particularly important when you make the decision to spend on a big ticket item such as a RV.
I am not a shill, in fact would not be good at it as I tend to bore in, recognizing excellence and castigating substandard stuff with little political savvy. I feel sorry for the folks who buy a RV from a dealership that considers itself a lot with trailers, hooks you up (in more ways than one) and sends you packing to figure out how to use what you just laid big bucks down for. Such is not the case with a family owned RV store in Carthage, Missouri, named Coachlight RV. Hop on line and the horror stories in this industry abound. It doesn’t have to be this way, and the guys at Coachlight are committed to a positive experience from beginning to end.
This business was founded in 1968 by Marty Lown. He is an affable guy who can still be found at his desk selling and “coordinating” as Fred Sanford used to refer to his management of Sanford and Sons. His son, Doug is heavily involved in the operation of this business and can be found on the lot on the days he is not appearing in Federal Court as a qualified expert witness in matters related to warranty and lemon law in the RV industry. These guys know RVs from the opulent, very expensive Newmar motor coaches to the smallest bumper pull trailer. They treat each customer, whether a picky millionaire wanting luxury in a coach or the rest of us with the same degree of respect. You do not win the prestigious Newmar Platinum Award for sales and service for some 23 straight years unless you are good at what you do. Their dealership consists of 12 bays capable of handling virtually anything within reason and service is the cornerstone of their existence.
Dealers today are (should be) a critical part of the ownership experience. Few dealers will meet you on delivery day with your unit completely hooked up in a delivery bay, and carefully walk you through each operation and nuance of the RV you are purchasing. This is after they have thoroughly vetted the unit. After your training day, they extend the courtesy of a night or two at their adjacent campground, help you set up and are available to walk down and assist you with anything that might require further explanation or their attention. New to this business? They will also have a tech help you hook back up and break down, taking as much time as is needed for you to grasp the “tricks of the trade”. Compare that to the RV “box stores” whose attention begins to drift after the check is written. We have shopped for RVs nationally, checking out the latest offerings from other manufacturers, and are now enjoying our third Grand Design, courtesy of this midwestern dealership who places service on the same level as sales. This is how it should be done.
At Coachlight, Steve, the service honcho, understands that everybody wants their work done yesterday. He works hard at scheduling one of his outstanding techs, like Cody, a military veteran who has twice been shot in the line of duty and Scotty, who is an old hand in this business. This industry has and is consolidating at a quick pace and the dealer is the linchpin of the RV culture. When you shop, shop for a dealer with all the diligence you reserve for the brand and type you buy. It is that critical.
Caveat Emptor, my friends!