As 2016 began, I was in full-on RV upgrade mode. And once I make a decision, I usually act quickly. 🙂
Since 2013, we had a 1996 Coachman Santara – Class A. It was a nice motorhome for us. Served us well. But, it lacked many of the conveniences we wanted, chief among them slide-outs.
My wife and I went camping together in the Santara right before New Years Eve. And by the following week, I was “on the market”.
This brings us to LazyDays.
Buy From A Dealer or Craigslist?
Now, the reason we went there wasn’t really to buy an RV. We were going mainly to look at their inventory and look at different floor plans so my wife could decide what she liked. I did want to check out a Winnebago Adventurer they had on the lot. It had already been sold, but I wanted to see the inside since that’s a coach that was on my “short list”.
I had not ruled out buying an RV on Craigslist. After all, you’ll almost always save money buying from a private party than through a dealer. But, it all depended on the deal. After all, if I bought private, I would also need to sell my Coachman privately.
And we know selling anything on Craigslist can be an interesting experience, what with all the scammers. :/
There was a Fleetwood Southwind I had my eye on down in south Florida, but the drive down there would be an all-day affair for us. Plus, the guy wasn’t exactly the most free-flowing with the information about it. Which was a red flag.
First Visit To LazyDays
So, heading into LazyDays, we got paired up with one of the sales guys. His name was Steve Kiray. Really nice guy.
We popped onto the golf cart and went over to the used RV lot. We saw the Adventurer I was interested in. Its a great coach, but my wife wanted more counter space in the kitchen.
We looked at a couple other coaches. Then, Steve said he had a newly arrived unit he could show us.
It was a 2002 Holiday Rambler Vacationer.
This coach was just traded in, apparently. I checked it all out. My wife was damn near giddy about it. 🙂 The counter space met her seal of approval. Plus, it had TWO slide-outs whereas our requirement was merely one.
Steve, being the sales guy, obviously told us it wouldn’t last long. He said LazyDays moves a lot of volume and he had no doubt the Vacationer would sell quickly. I know how sales scarcity works, but at the same time I know Lazydays does move a lot of inventory, especially in this price range.
We parted ways that day. We weren’t there to buy an RV, however that Vacationer really stuck out as a viable option. While I was looking at Southwinds and Adventurers, suddenly the Holiday Rambler Vacationer was a strong contender.
Time For A Second Visit?
I mulled it over. Steve sent me a PDF version of the manual for the Vacationer so I could check it out.
Couple days later, I emailed Steve and told him I’d like to come look at the Vacationer again. After all, my first visit to it wasn’t in “buyer mode”. I wasn’t looking at it as a potential buyer, but merely just gathering information about the models in general.
But, now I was seriously considering buying it. So, I needed to give it a closer look and take it for a drive.
My schedule wouldn’t allow us to get over there to check it out for a few more days. Steve and I communicated over email. A few things were instantly noticeable about it when I looked at it casually, which I asked him to look at preemptively. For instance, the generator had a starting issue and the entry steps were bent. Plus, I wanted to have the recalls checked (on the Workhorse chassis and the Norcold fridge).
When we could get over there, we went through the coach much more closely. And we took it out for a spin.
I’m not going to get into details about the Vacationer, but let’s just say it drives MUCH better than a Santara. 🙂
Reaching A Deal
Going into Steve’s office to talk numbers was where the fun began. 🙂
I knew their asking price for the Vacationer, but I came armed with a few printouts from Kelly Blue book and NADA on what the asking price should be. Honestly, they’re asking price was reasonable, however I thought there was definite wiggle room. They were on the high-end of what I would consider reasonable for this Vacationer.
Next up, trade-in value on our Coachman…
See, this was a definite factor for us. There is a definite value to my time, and the time it would likely have required to sell the Coachman privately on Craigslist had to be accounted for. There’s simply no guarantee it would sell quickly. It could have taken me months. All the while, my parking facility charges me $100/month for the spot.
Plus, Craigslist buyers can be real cheapskates. There’s no telling how many lowball offers I’d have to laugh off.
Lastly, this was a 20-year old motorhome. If a potential buyer came to look at it and expected it to look new, they would be disappointed. It was in fine shape for its age and I took good care of it. We had just recently taken this same RV all the way to Maine and back, so I knew it was mechanically sound. But, it had a few minor issues. And it had a visible defect on the back interior wall from some water entry around the window that I had to repair. It was structurally fine, but it didn’t look original any longer. So, these issues would make the “show quality” of the RV less and therefore potentially harder to sell.
Our target range for the Coachman was about $10,000.
Well, if I recall, their original trade-in offer on the Coachman was around $9,000 or so. Give or take. I actually don’t recall the exact offer.
So, we went into negotiation mode. We were a little too far apart on our expectations and we told them so.
We countered. Steve got the manager.
The manager came talked to us. Spelled things out – and countered.
Some sweet-talking ensued. The manager spelled out his best offer, yada yada.
In the end, we got to a point where we were about $1,000 apart from our target. My wife was ready to walk away over it, but she wasn’t paying for it. 🙂 I talked to her privately and told her how I saw it. And I decided to take the deal. After all, if its a coach we want, I have better things to worry about than a thousand bucks.
All in all, we got them down on the Vacationer by a bit (maybe $1,000). And the Coachman trade-in right at our target of $10k.
Basically, I was happy to trade in the Coachman and get close enough to my target value for it. Plus, it saved me a ton of hassle. And I paid maybe a bit more than what I thought I could get the Vacationer for (according to my research), but the price was fair.
And that is the impression I was left with. Lazydays is a sales machine. If you’re expecting to get out of there getting a crazy low price, you probably won’t get it. But, the pricing was fair. Could you get a better deal via private party? Probably. But, there’s a TON of convenience that goes along with buying through a dealer. Especially when trading in.
And speaking of sales machines, they listed my Coachman for sale about two days later for about $6,000 more than they paid me for it. So, they make their money. 😉 Oh, and it sold quickly. What they got for it I’ll never know.
This place is a machine. Like anything, they’re job is to make the sale. Your job is to be educated about what you’re getting into and be willing to walk away.
After The Deal
Speaking of a machine, after you reach a deal on the RV, you go through what is basically a conveyor belt. You see several people, including the sales guy, the paperwork guy, the insurance guy, and a lady who gives you all kinds of Lazydays free bling and bonuses.
I didn’t much care for the bonuses, but it was slick in that they really go out of their way to make you feel like part of the LazyDays family.
And it is quite convenient. Like any dealer, they’ll take care of all the title transfer work which you would need to do yourself if you bought privately. They take care of the sales tax and plates. They even found us a better deal on RV insurance.
They took care of a remaining recall item. And they outright replaced the entry steps. That was a nice touch and I appreciated it since a set of entry steps can easily run you $500+.
Be An Educated Buyer
Steve was a great sales guy… but he is also a sales guy. His goal was to sell me a motorhome. So, it wasn’t as if he was going to go out of his way to point out flaws in the RV to me.
When buying a used RV, it is inevitable that issues will come up after the sale that you didn’t expect. I’m not new to RVs so this didn’t concern me much. But, I’ll point out a few little issues…
- Tires. The tires on the Vacationer needed to be replaced. I didn’t do my due diligence so I didn’t know in advance. I remember pointing out a little bit of dryrot on one of the tires to Steve and he told me they had checked the tires and they were about a year old. Well, that was bogus. I later found out one of the tires on this thing was 12 years old (inside dual, so you wouldn’t know until you took it off). So, know how to read a DOT code on a tire and check. I knew I was going to have to get tires eventually, I just didn’t know I’d have to do it shortly after buying.
- The Fiberglass. The Vacationer has a couple spots where the fiberglass has separated from the underlying aluminum frame. It isn’t the kind of setup which can lead to traditional delamination so it isn’t a big concern to me, however when I noticed it around Steve, he told me it was an aluminum exterior. It isn’t.
- The rig had an oil leak. I didn’t know about it. But, when the Lazydays guy was doing the walkthrough with me, we found they had left the oil cap off. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but it shows me they put oil in it. They had to have known it was leaking.
I’m not calling BS on LazyDays. But, one must keep in mind…
Their job is to sell you an RV. And they’re not going to go out of their way to point out issues with a used rig.
So, be educated. When you see an issue, point it out. Even if the unit is sold “as is”, it could be a point of negotiation for them to fix it to make the sale. That’s how I got the new entry steps.
All in All, I’m A Happy Customer
I wouldn’t have considered buying from LazyDays before all this. I would have immediately thought that buying from a dealer would automatically mean I pay way more than I would otherwise.
As it turned out, the experience was actually pretty good.
The deal I got was good. Not fantastic. I didn’t steal this thing, but I also didn’t overpay.
And I saved a lot of hassle going through them. I was able to not have to worry about getting rid of the Coachman, dealing with state paperwork, paying sales taxes, etc. It is just a convenient, time-saving experience over buying private party.
LazyDays is a sales machine, so know that going in. Be an educated buyer. Point out flaws you see, but be reasonable. A used coach is going to have issues, so don’t expect perfection. Wear and tear is normal, but if there’s a bigger issue you see, point it out. They may just fix it for you.
In the end, would I buy from LazyDays again?
Yep. 🙂 If the deal was right, I would.