For recreational-vehicle brands like Airstream, one of the biggest challenges in handling the current industry boom in sales is to educate new buyers on how financing an RV is different from financing a car. So the Jackson Center, Ohio-based luxury brand owned by THOR Industries just announced a new partnership with Bank of America called Airstream Financial that sets up an online platform and other ways of communicating with customers about the ins and outs of RV financing before they go to a showroom to buy an Airstream — and take their confusion with them.
No doubt about it, the thousands of younger people and first-timers who make up a huge part of the stream of RV buyers these days are a great thing for Airstream and the rest of the industry, giving manufacturers and dealers a generational opportunity. If they play it right, this Covid-era phenomenon could go a long way toward lifting the RV business out of the customary boom-and-bust cycle that has afflicted it since its beginning a half-century ago.
Helping consumers understand how they can finance a purchase of vehicles that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars is key, Justin Humphreys, Airstream’s vice president of sales, told me. One reason it’s so important is that grasping this understanding almost always is good news for someone shopping for an RV. That’s because RVs qualify for tax deductions as a second home (as long as they’re not a third home), meaning that the daunting picture of paying for an Airstream over the long term may not be quite as daunting to a buyer who harbored wrong assumptions.
“You can get financing for up to 20 years for an RV, while with a car of course it’s under 10 years,” Humphreys said. “So there are some big tax advantages.”
And lenders including Bank of America, Wachovia and US Bank have been used to making RV loans for years. The problem, Humphreys said, is that RV dealers’ traditional approach has been to wait until the end of the sales process to discuss financing with buyers.
“It hasn’t been until the consumer buys the product and starts to go into the [finance and insurance] office that they learn about the advantages of financing an RV that they probably didn’t know about,” Humphreys said. “Our concern with that has been that, if they don’t know about financing options early in the buying cycle, they might not think they can afford the monthly commitment because they’re thinking about it in terms of a car loan.”
Check out the article from Forbes here.