National Indoor RV Centers enhances the RV storage experience from drop-off to pickup.
By Mark Quasius, F333630
As an increasing number of RV owners become acquainted with National Indoor RV Centers, a new concept in customer service is emerging. The company specializes in storage, service, and sales of Type A, B, and C motorhomes. The concierge approach fits the company’s motto: “Our concept is simple . . . we do it all.”
The idea for National Indoor RV Centers began in 2007. But perhaps the story dates back to 1985 when avid RVer Brett Davis purchased his first motorhome, a Foretravel Grand Villa. As was true of many RVs around Dallas, Texas, at the time, the coach was stored at a local airport. This arrangement worked until the mid to late 1990s, when airport officials needed the room for additional aircraft and asked RV owners to remove their vehicles from the property.
Existing storage facilities in the area consisted of gravel lots surrounded by chain-link fencing, with no electrical power, dump facilities, or even high-pressure air available for tires.
And while Brett and his family loved RV travel, they weren’t keen about the amount of work involved in preparing for a trip. An entire day was needed to grab the coach from the storage lot for prepping. It smelled musty from being locked up outside; the batteries were either low or dead; the fridge had to be cleaned, cooled down, and stocked; and cargo needed to be loaded, among other tasks. Next came the drive to a truck stop and a wait in line to top off the tires; because the tires had warmed up from driving, obtaining accurate cold inflation readings wasn’t possible. After the trip, no one looked forward to unloading and putting the motorhome away.
Brett, an investor, wondered whether a market existed to serve the needs of other RVers facing similar hassles, and he decided to investigate this further. He was joined by fellow investors Angelo Prieto and Hal Kendrick, and National Indoor RV Centers was born.
Lewisville, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, was chosen as the company’s first location. Construction began in late 2008 during the low point of the market downturn and was completed in mid-2009. Initially, company officials said, it was unnerving to see only a handful of motor coaches parked inside the cavernous building. Potential occupants had their vehicles stored elsewhere, so it took time to fill. Within the first year, however, every spot in the building was leased.
The facility stores 300 motorhomes inside a heated building. Each motorhome is plugged into an electrical outlet to ensure that its batteries are kept fully charged. The floor of the building incorporates a 1.5 percent to 2 percent slope, so any water from washing it drains off, which helps to keep the floor clean and dry.
Four dump stations are located there. A wash house with 21-foot-tall ceilings allows staff to stand up while cleaning the roof of any coach, and the process includes a spot-free rinse.
Gated security fences are locked overnight, but gate codes allow an owner to gain access to the facility if needed. Full video surveillance and login procedures ensure close monitoring.
A pickup/drop-off service — a new concept that ranked high on the developers’ wish list — was established in Dallas. Owners select from among various levels of service, which range from basic cleaning and detailing to major service, even collision repair. Prior to a trip, an owner contacts National Indoor RV Centers via phone, text, or email to schedule the service and pickup time. His or her coach is cleaned and prepped as requested. Upon arrival, the owner simply drives off.
In the fall of 2013, the company added motorhome sales to its array of services. The main goal remains service, not sales. But as a dealer for various brands of motorhomes and components, National Indoor RV Centers now handles warranty work. This means the customer doesn’t have to drive to another location for warranty service, saving them valuable time and fuel expense. Newmar and Roadtrek were the first manufacturers to be represented at the Dallas site, and numerous others have been added since.
With the success of the Dallas location, the decision was made to expand into another market. Atlanta was chosen next. A temporary facility was leased in Lilburn, Georgia, while the permanent facility was being built in nearby Lawrenceville. After three years of permits and red tape, the Lawrenceville facility was completed. Entegra Coach was the first of many manufacturers to come on board there.
The state-of-the-art complex, whose grand opening took place in December 2016, also has storage for 300 motorhomes, plus a 14-bay service facility. It features a high-tech learning center that can host a number of field training events, such as Spartan Academy training sessions for RV owners.
In December 2016, a third location was established in a temporary venue in Phoenix, Arizona. Company officials plan for the permanent site to provide storage for up to 600 motorhomes. Entegra and Jayco are represented at this location.
The company’s blueprint calls for placing additional centers in areas that align with the major travel patterns of motorhome owners. According to company officials, many additional locations across the United States and Canada are in the planning stages.
Officials at National Indoor RV Centers noted that the sales experience is focused on building lifetime relationships with clients, rather than garnering a quick sale. Staff members aim for honesty and transparency. They will explain the true cost of ownership of any coach a customer is considering, including projected future resale values.
The complete-service philosophy extends to major service and repair work as well. Technicians are equipped to work on any make or model of RV. As a platinum-level Newmar motorhome dealer, National Indoor RV Centers can self-authorize many warranty repairs to minimize coach downtime for the customer. The company also provides factory service for Spartan chassis and for components made by Aqua-Hot, Dometic, HWH, TracStar, and many others.
Collision repair and paint booth areas are also on-site. In fact, a large majority of the paint work performed on Prevost coach conversions comes to the artisans at National Indoor RV Centers’ Dallas location from all over the country.
Remodeling projects and coach upgrades are popular. Owners may want to redo or upgrade cabinetry, install the latest entertainment systems, update flooring, or replace that old propane fridge with a new residential refrigerator.
National Indoor RV Centers officials take pride in having a top-notch staff who have the customers’ best interests at heart. Techs work as a team. Each service writer is attached to a lead technician, who supervises five additional techs. The service writer and lead technician remain assigned to a customer for life. This allows the service writer to know both the customer and the coach, and to better serve that customer’s specific needs or desires. It also is more efficient, and improves communication.
Each tech is rated A, B, C, or D as specific goals and tasks are reached. One of the RV industry’s bottlenecks is finding good technicians. Rather than recruiting techs from other dealers, National Indoor RV Centers prefers to “grow” their own. The goal is to seek out individuals with the appropriate temperament and skills for the work. One good source has been former military personnel, because the individuals are motivated, disciplined, and adapt quickly.
Storage customers have 24/7 phone access to technicians, while the service centers are staffed six days per week. Eventual plans are to implement a seven-day work week so that a motorhome owner can obtain service on weekdays and weekends.
National Indoor RV Centers’ goal of hassle-free RVing seems to have been achieved. The coach is prepped free of charge every time it is dropped off and made ready for the next RV adventure.
When a customer drops off a motorhome for storage, he or she hands in a list of requested tasks to be completed. Again, a potential date for the next trip is provided. Holding tanks are dumped and rinsed, and a bar-coded sticker is placed on the windshield. Once the coach is parked and plugged in, a bar code on the power pedestal is scanned to match and record the vehicle’s location for easy retrieval later. Storage customers have access to their coach at all times.
Customer information is included in the company’s database. For example, the techs know the preferred air pressure in each tire; whether the customer wants the entire coach cleaned, or just the exterior; whether a towed vehicle should be cleaned as well; and any requested detailing. Other services are available, such as steam cleaning carpet, polishing tile floors, washing linens, dry cleaning bedspreads, refilling propane tanks, and refueling coach fuel tanks.
Indoor storage has its advantages. Because the facility is heated, motorhomes stored there never need to be winterized. Tires last longer, because they are protected from the sun’s UV rays. Because all repair work is performed inside as well, the owner doesn’t have to spend time and fuel to visit a distant service center. Every time customers are scheduled to pick up their vehicle, technicians inspect and adjust tire pressures, fill up the fresh water tank, turn on the fridge so it’s cold for pickup, and check battery water levels. The coach will be prepped free of charge each time it leaves the facility. Just call ahead and it will be ready for you when you arrive.
As National Indoor RV Centers employs its customer-friendly approach to motorhome storage, sales, and service in additional cities, it’s a good bet the company name will become even more recognizable to RV enthusiasts from coast to coast.
National Indoor RV Centers; (800) 250-6354; www.nirvc.com