A Match Made in Phoenix

Jul 24, 2013

While most RV dealerships with parts stores carry hitch products, Little Dealer Little Prices takes tow vehicle products a step further by offering a wide array of additional truck parts and accessories at two of its three stores. The strategy has helped the company establish a unique foothold within its market and facilitate additional sales, according to Trent Golomb, the dealership’s shell and cargo trailer manager.

“Bringing in the truck accessory buyers opens up a whole other segment of the market,” Golomb says. “A lot of times, RV buyers come in not knowing we offer truck accessories and camper shells. All of the sudden, they’re also outfitting their trucks. Offering truck accessories gives us a great opportunity for cross-marketing.”

Trucking Through Downturn

RV unit sales typically provide a higher overall profit margin, but truck accessories are a complementary product that RV buyers generally need, especially if they own a fifth wheel or travel trailer. Many of Little Dealer Little Prices’ customers are avid participants in outdoor sporting, and these activities often call for pickup trucks.

The dealership’s diverse book of business was especially helpful during the Great Recession, says Debbie Brunoforte, president and owner of Little Dealer Little Prices, which has been family operated since 1966. The company’s RV sales slowed during the downturn, but its parts and accessories business helped soften the blow. Meanwhile, hundreds of RV dealerships nationwide were forced to close under intense economic pressure.

Even in a sluggish economy, truck accessories have proven to be a necessity for many consumers of Little Dealer Little Prices.

“Our truck accessories keep our phones ringing,” Brunoforte says. “Truck accessories are not as discretionary as an RV, because people use them for work or want the security and privacy features they can add for their pickup trucks. During the recession, people kept using the RVs they already owned, but they weren’t really buying new ones. Most of our traffic that came in was for our truck accessories, and it kept us feeling busy.”

Desert-Tailored Selection

Popular truck accessories available at Little Dealer Little Prices include carpet kits, bed slides, carpeted bed rugs, and truck toppers. Truck toppers are the highest selling truck product at the dealership and folding tonneau covers are increasing in demand, according to Golomb.

Little Dealer Little Prices offers truck products that hold up to the Arizona heat, such as painted tonneau covers made of fiberglass. Folding tonneau covers, however, provide a simpler solution.

“On these flat tonneau covers, you only have about a foot and a half underneath for storage. But if you go buy a TV or barbecue grill, you just fold over a of couple panels,” Golomb says. “You don’t need to remove it off of your truck. You’re good to go on the road. It’s a simple process.”

Golomb finds that many people are interested in covers to protect the beds of their vehicles, which are becoming more sophisticated each year. However, increased safety appears to be the main reason so many people buy covers, he says. Theft also is a significant concern for pickup truck owners. Truck covers are the best way to keep their property safe.

“People want to cover their truck to keep everything safe and secure,” Golomb says. “Nowadays, you can’t even stop at a gas station without worrying that someone will stop by and steal something, so people need a lockable storage area.”

Of course, truck accessories can also add a touch of style to a vehicle, and Golomb has noticed that the market has opted for a simpler look. In the past, the coloring on the camper shells was slightly off, he says, but the hues are now a closer match. Running boards also show off a sleeker appearance with an improved functionality that helps with the sales process.

“Years ago, running boards took three or four hours to install on a truck,” Golomb says. “Now they only take about 40 minutes. It’s fantastic; they’re all predrilled and ready to go. It makes it easier to sell the product.”

Selling Rugged Fun

To promote its diverse line of products, Little Dealer Little Prices places a distinctive logo or decal on some of its truck accessories, like the camper shells and cargo trailers. That creates thousands of on-the-go advertisements that are seen all throughout town, Brunoforte says. Little Dealer Little Prices also relies on its website, www.littledealer.com, for product promotion, as well as its prominent geographic location to attract potential customers.

“We use our front-edge, drive-by space as an area to promote our products,” Brunoforte says. “We’re located in high-traffic areas on major interstates or major interior highways, so we dedicate some of that space to camper shells to allow people to see what we sell.”

Just 15 feet outside the store entrance, Little Dealer Little Prices employees display their personal trucks loaded with the accessories sold at the store, Golomb says. As customers enter the store, they are encouraged to look at and touch the vehicles.

Selling products that customers can’t see firsthand can be tricky, but this approach has given sales a boost, as it allows customers to get a better idea of how those truck accessories look in real-life applications, according to the company.

“Showing people what everything looks like on a truck really helps,” Golomb says. “They have to be able to visualize it. So many items are ordered that you’re basically selling air to customers, unless they can see or feel it.”

Golomb even recalls a time when he parked his personal truck in front of the store outfitted with about $5,000 worth of accessories, including running boards, a camper shell, a bed rug system, a roof rack and a bed slide. A customer saw the truck, and it made such a strong impression that he requested his vehicle be done just like Golomb’s. In the end, the customer ended up purchasing roughly $4,000 worth of accessories.

Once customers enter one of Little Dealer Little Prices’ showrooms, they become part of an atmosphere that is more than a typical retail environment. Little Dealer Little Prices decks out its stores in a campground theme-”complete with wooden animal carvings, log trim and trees-”that perfectly matches the RV lifestyle and promotes a playful feel, Golomb says. With such a unique setting, customers are more inclined to explore the store, giving greater exposure to a variety of products and increasing the likelihood of sales.

Multiple areas of the store also are filled with accessory retail displays and products prominently placed in end caps. The in-store marketing efforts encourage service customers to explore the store and make additional purchases while they wait for installations or repairs to be completed on their RV.

Little Dealer Little Prices also hosts an “extravaganza event” every month or two, where OE representatives present working product displays, Golomb says. Food and entertainment are provided and customers are able to interact with manufacturers to get a better understanding of how certain products work.

“The customers have a chance to learn more about our parts or see parts they’ve never seen before,” Golomb says. “Sometimes customers have heard about certain parts but don’t really understand how they work, so this gives them the opportunity to see the parts live and talk to the manufacturers.”