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Old 11-29-2015, 01:49 AM   #1
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To: Matt Miller… (proposed letter)

After a factory visit last July, I decided to proceed with a London Aire order.

This $$ half-million coach will be the only RV I ever own, so I’m making every effort to ‘buy my last coach first.’

The 4519 price sheet w/options was resolved quickly, but my list of ‘specials’ took much longer. I finally got them submitted Oct 22nd, even though I still had unanswered questions.

OBSERVATIONS ON THE ORDERING PROCESS -

> the process (sequence, timing) of requesting competitive bids from dealerships, submitting an actual order, submitting a list of specials, has been confusing

> I believe the traditional method is pick a dealer, agree on a price, & they submit your specials… one & done

> it didn’t happen this way for me - long story short, l never submitted an actual order with a deposit, even though I was ready & willing

> I was either told directly, or acquired a strong presumption (don’t recall which) that I could get the list of specials (mostly) resolved before committing to a specific price sheet order… this seemed logical, as a few of the price sheet options were contingent upon the outcome of the specials (eg, I asked if they could split each pass-thru basement storage tray, half out each side)

> most dealerships I contacted for a bid, wanted to submit my list of specials (lock in the order)

> I was advised to pick one dealership & submit thru them, even though I may very well buy from another

> I picked a dealer & sent them the specials and a pdf of the 4519 price sheet… about 5 weeks ago

> when that dealership learned I was seeking other bids, that may be when I became invisible

> I traded about 2-3 more emails directly with factory sales reps, and that became the end of it

> all along, getting answers to some of the ‘can you do this, can you do that’ type questions has been elusive & time consuming

> many questions never got answered - configuring the tv & satellite systems, changes to the kitchen under-cabinet lighting, changes to the basement slide trays, installing a soft water system, and others

> the tpms that comes standard on an Essex, why can’t that be optioned in a LA? (it’s the same chassis)

So, my 2016 London Aire 4519 order is stalled. Not sure who to call, or if to call. Due to the backlog in orders, I may be running out of calendar for a 2016. I may simply wait to see who offers what for 2017. This is not what I expected.

_________________________

That was background. Now the proposed letter -


Matt Miller,

Allowing your customers to make free-style changes on new coach orders makes Newmar ‘special’ among its competitors. We all hope you continue doing that.

My recent experience trying to get a London Aire order submitted, has not gone as expected. So, I have come up with these 2 recommendations for you to consider, with the goal of streamlining the ordering process.


RECOMMENDATION #1

> designate an office at the factory, that deals directly with the buyer, who’s function it is to resolve the list of specials with the buyer

> by eliminating the (sales person) middle man, and by allowing the buyer to simultaneously (and independently) work the specials with the factory and work his best pricing with a dealership, the entire order process moves more quickly, and my order spends less time in your ‘pipeline’

> having a designated office that can quickly & authoritatively answer the ‘can you do this, can you do that’ type question would expedite the specials process, and likely reduce disruption to the factory operation

> once a specific change request has been approved or disapproved, post it to a ‘specials’ web site (blog, forum) to avoid duplication of effort with other buyers

> assign an actual price to any approved change, so the next customer can determine if that change is worth it or not (separate the wheat from the chaff)


RECOMMENDATION #2

> designate an office at the factory, that deals directly with the buyer, who’s function it is to advise & install the various technology items available in today’s new coaches

> this office would be the single point of contact for both buyers & vendors, determining which tech items can, and cannot be installed on the various Newmar models

> the factory experts could keep up with the latest technologies, & determine suitability, function, etc.

> this could include -

- television systems - satellite receivers, DVR’s, sound systems, switching boxes, etc.
- internet systems - routers, boosters, network systems, etc.
- cellular systems - boosters, mifi systems, etc.
- chassis information systems - engine & chassis parameters, trip travel info, etc.
- collision avoidance & adaptive cruise control systems
- navigation systems - dash mounted, and mobile
- radio systems - Sirius, XM, cb
- lighting & intercom systems
- coach security systems - cameras, alarms, etc.
- remote control systems (control the coach from a cell phone, tablet)
- tire pressure monitoring systems, boosters
- dash & interior video recording systems
- water systems - additional filters, soft water, de-ionized water, R-O water, etc.
- pressure washer systems
- electrical protection devices - surge & low voltage protection
- solar power systems

Many of today’s technologies are intimidating, and the consumer is frequently befuddled. This would be an opportunity to take an industry-leading position providing a wide range of hi-tech systems in a manner accommodating to the consumer.


Respectfully,
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Old 11-29-2015, 06:42 AM   #2
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Where does the dealer fit in to your recommendations? The Dealer network would be a major point as I believe that is the weak link in the process. We dealt with Steinbring in Minnesota and the experience was superb but I repeatedly read other posts where the Dealer has let the customer down. Obviously, there are two sides to each story but it seems the Manufacturer would have great leverage to ensure and excellent customer experience, or else!
Great post though!!

Jeff and Lynn
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Old 11-29-2015, 06:47 AM   #3
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Sounds like our pricing and ordering experience may have gone a bit more smoothly than yours.

We knew of Michelle Howard and the service she provided prior to our starting Newmar specific research. I found mention of the "design center" on the Newmar web site and here on IRV2. I asked a dealer rep about it. You need to be referred to Michelle by a dealer (if she had to spend time with all the "tire kickers" she'd never have time to work with those seriously considering an order). At this point we'd not talked any specifics with the dealer other than the model and floorplan we were interested in (London Aire 4553). I did let the dealer know right up front that we would be requesting multiple bids (ultimately requesting and receiving 6).

We met with Michelle while we were up north this past summer. Michelle was a delight to work with and very helpful with décor choices and discussing possible changes to cabinets, fabrics and even electrical outlet locations. Some she knew would be approved based on past experience, any significant structural redesigns have to be approved by engineering and management (on a couple of upfit requests I heard it was a "matter of retaining some differential between brands"). For example, she knew they had already approved putting awnings on the driver side, but had to go through engineering/management for approval to put the King Aire bedroom design in our coach (it was not approved).

Michelle is not allowed to give us prices, that has to go through a dealer. I had her send the information to one of our dealer rep contacts (not the same rep or dealer that had set up our meeting with her by the way, as he had left that dealership in the meantime). That sales rep simply sent us a copy of the specials list with the dealer cost (the original was not itemized as to the cost of each individual change but the dealer rep was able to get that information for us).

Once armed with the specials information I was able to share that with all the dealers we contacted for bids. All knew we were shopping based solely on price at that time. A couple stood out and I reached out to both of them prior to submitting an order.

I agree with your suggestion of having a list available of what has been approved on past builds. I also agree it would be nice to be able to give you prices (so mark them up the same as the coach and show us retail, we'll work it out with the dealer from there) but I'm not sure that would be possible. For example, maybe changing up the cabinet design excludes that non standard sofa you wanted, or that sofa would change the engineering and design of the cabinets. A simple list of past approved specials with prices might not be applicable to your specific combination of requests.

I'm very happy about Newmar's willingness to customize our coach (even if disappointed about that bedroom). And I really don't have any complaints as to the way it has all worked out.
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Old 11-29-2015, 06:50 AM   #4
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You need to address your letter to someone else, I have read/seen several times where people have sent letters, made phone call, left messages for Matt, and he never responds?????? and of course, if trying to contact the owner of anything...........your problem is big.......at least to you.
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Old 11-29-2015, 07:07 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by palehorse89 View Post
You need to address your letter to someone else, I have read/seen several times where people have sent letters, made phone call, left messages for Matt, and he never responds?????? and of course, if trying to contact the owner of anything...........your problem is big.......at least to you.


Actually, they MAY get a response, because in THIS case, the purchase hasn't been consummated yet! Most of the posts I have read here where Matt Miller hasn't acknowledged the writer's existence have been after the coach has been purchased, and the buyer has had problems with Newmar fixing issues . . . .

Hey, they already have your money, right? Why should we bother taking time out of our busy schedule to respond to a customer?!?

That's the way it seems at least from the posts that I have read . . . .Sad really
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Old 11-29-2015, 08:21 AM   #6
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After sending out my 2015 Dutch Star options list to several dealers, I then picked the one that I felt most comfortable with and who provided me with a fair price. I then made an appointment with Michelle Howard in Nappanee to go over all my specials. Michelle will either know what is acceptable or not or she will submit them on your behalf to get them approved. Most of the items only took 24 hours to find out what's been approved. If I needed to make any changes to my specials, which I did, I submitted them to my dealer and he forwarded them on to Michelle. It was quite simple and streamlined (for me).
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Old 11-29-2015, 08:54 AM   #7
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I suppose it makes a difference just how much customization is going to occur, but I think it works pretty well to get competitive bids and close the deal based on the standard options first. We did that for our 2015 Dutch Star, with an agreed discount for any further customization that occurred through Newmar (Michelle Howard). We did do quite of bit of further customization, and our dealer (North Trail) lived up to their side of the bargain to discount those customizations by the agreed amount. I can understand why Newmar has to be careful about getting between the customer and their dealers.
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Old 11-29-2015, 09:48 AM   #8
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I suppose it makes a difference just how much customization is going to occur, but I think it works pretty well to get competitive bids and close the deal based on the standard options first. We did that for our 2015 Dutch Star, with an agreed discount for any further customization that occurred through Newmar (Michelle Howard). We did do quite of bit of further customization, and our dealer (North Trail) lived up to their side of the bargain to discount those customizations by the agreed amount. I can understand why Newmar has to be careful about getting between the customer and their dealers.
X2 and 3. We have special ordered two Newmars and have used this very same approach with good results. Our current order is through Albany RV and they agreed to how the "specials" will be priced when we negotiated the order. After we "made the deal" our salesman Mike Siy was very familiar with the customization process. We next had our meeting with Michelle Howard who walked us through the changes we wanted to make. She was able to easily guide us through what the factory can/willing to do. Newmar sells only through dealers and Michelle Howard and other Newmar factory reps do not quote price directly to retail buyers-- so you really do need a committed order through a dealer who can then get pricing from Newmar. The process is a bit time consuming for Newmar and the dealers, so most dealers will only work this process when they know they have a firm order in hand.
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Old 11-29-2015, 10:39 AM   #9
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Interesting thread... For those of you have special-ordered, is the "discount" on specials the same percentage as that as the over-all unit discount? Or __________???
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Old 11-29-2015, 10:41 AM   #10
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Interesting thread... For those of you have special-ordered, is the "discount" on specials the same percentage as that as the over-all unit discount? Or __________???
I don't think I was clear in my earlier post, but it was an agreed percentage. I'm not sure how the $$$ could be pre-specified for specials.
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Old 11-29-2015, 11:10 AM   #11
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Seems like the entire system could be streamlined.

Reading (interpreting) the thread I find it confusing the factory can tell you what upgrades are available but cannot tell you the price while the dealers can tell you the price but not what upgrades are available.

I must make the ordering of a new coach very confusing, time consuming and prone to errors in the final order.
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Old 11-29-2015, 12:24 PM   #12
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To the OP
Sounds like your suggestions for Newmar would add significant overhead. Only thing I would be concerned about is they are already one of the pricier brands in a field of plenty of competition. That increase in overhead would have to find it's way into the pricing of every coach.
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Old 11-29-2015, 01:41 PM   #13
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When I bought my DSDP, we agreed on a price for the base MH plus the options. All options and
specials added after the agreed upon price were added at dealer cost.
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Old 11-29-2015, 03:22 PM   #14
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Interesting thread... For those of you have special-ordered, is the "discount" on specials the same percentage as that as the over-all unit discount? Or __________???
Our process was pretty simple. We filled out the option sheet establishing a retail price for the coach and options. We then sent our request to a number of dealers asking for their best price and allowing us to add "specials" at cost.

We received a number of favorable quotes and ultimately chose Transwest. At the same time I worked on getting approval for a large number of specials with Ken Williamson. We then went to Nappanee for a visit with Michelle Howard, to make final decisions on interior appointments and outside colors.

We found that some of the specials we requested were really options on other models, so those became options and Transwest gave them to me at the same discount.

When the specials were agreed upon, the prices were sent to Transwest and we agreed to go for it. We had to sign all the prints and and return them to Newmar before the order was finalized.

We chose our dealer on March 7. We visited Nappanee on April 20. Finalized the specials and approved the order by April 30. Production began mid June. We took delivery on Aug 31 at the factory.

We are very satisfied with the process and extremely pleased with the result.
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