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About Web Site Management
In past 19 years the Internet has changed the way American businesses do business. And while this relatively new medium lends itself to benefit some types of businesses more than others, there’s no doubt that the Marine and RV industries are businesses that has benefited substantially from the Internet.

That’s true to a large degree because companies such as Web Site Management recognized early on the potential of the Internet for businesses in the Marine and RV industries. Web Site Management was founded in 1995 by RV industry veterans and started developing portal web sites for people interested in the RV lifestyle and began designing and building web sites for dealer businesses.


Don Magary


Dan Holt

RV News’ (an industry trade magaizine) publisher Dan Holt and then editor Don Magary founded Web Site Management. These entrepreneurs helped pioneer the Internet as viable adjuncts to RV companies’ businesses.

(Editors Update: In 2005 Web Site Management sold RV America On Line and its related RV-oriented web sites to Trader Publishing. Subsequently, Holt retired and sold his interests in Web Site Management and RV News to Magary. )

Web Site Management’s founders talked about the current state of the Internet as it relates to businesses and what they see as the future of marketing products and services on the Internet.

Dan Holt and Don Magary are not what you might expect as entrepreneurs in the Internet business, which is typically believed to be the domain of 20-year-olds or younger. While their hair is telltale gray, the sparkle in their eyes and the passion in their voices when you start talking about the Internet makes you aware that their spirits are young.

Holt said, "The Internet gave us both a new lease of life. I’d been doing RV News for 30 years and Don had been with me for almost 20 years. Even though we have a great love for the industry and are concerned about issues facing the industry, putting out a magazine every month gets routine after a while. When we founded Web Site Management, Inc., and started developing RV America On Line™ life got exciting again."

 

 

 

After these past several years of working with companies and developing business web sites what’s the most important thing a company needs to know of have success on the Internet?

"It’s a lot of things," Holt said. "A business web site has to provide all the information that a visitor might want to know about the products and services offered – if it isn’t there, the visitor will go someplace else where they can get the information. They also need to have an attractively designed web site that is easy to navigate, in other words, make it easy for people find what they are looking for. Then they need programs that will allow them to keep their web sites current and up-to-date. For example, if a dealer has inventory listed on his or her web site that is already sold, a visitor trying to get information on that unit is going to be disappointed. It’s a whole lot of different things."

Magary added, "When it’s all said and done, it’s about traffic – who’s coming to your web site and why? A company can have the greatest web site in the world, but if no one sees it then what’s the point?

"Back in 1995 when we first started developing the idea it seemed to us that as more and more companies developed web sites, it would be extremely difficult for individual web sites to stand out among the thousands and thousands of RV-related web sites. We reasoned that if there were a place where a large cluster of RV resources existed in one place it followed that people interested in the RV lifestyle would congregate there together.

"So we simultaneously started developing content for the portal site RV America On Line (www.rvamerica.com) and building web sites for RV companies."

The idea worked. By the time they sold RV America, on average more than a million visitors came to the RV America Network of RV-related sites every month.

"That’s an important point," Magary said. "RV America was more than a single web site; it was a network of more than 15 web sites. And our only goal was to bring people in and then give them the opportunity to find our clients’ sites."

Magary gave some examples. He said, "Take an RV dealer web site for example. If that dealer is our client, his or her web site is easily located in our various directories on RV America – the dealer directory, the parts and accessories directory, the RV service directory and if the dealership also rents RVs, in our RV rental directory. Potential customers can also search our site and access the dealer’s site. For example, if a visitor is looking for a Winnebago dealer, they can enter that search criteria and all the dealers in our client database that represent Winnebago are just a mouse-click away.

  

"But we didn’t stop there. We developed other standalone sites with just RV dealer (www.rv-dealers.com) information. So now there are three ways visitors using search engines can find that dealer – through the dealership’s own listing, the RV America listings, and the RV-Dealers-Dot-Com listing.

"And for rental dealers, we developed an RV rental portal standalone site – the RV Rental Network (www.rv-rentals.net). Now, there are four different gateways where potential customers can find that dealer."

Why do we list dealers other than our clients on these various sites. Holt explained, "When we decided to be a major resource for RV information on the Internet we incurred an obligation to those people who come to our site to find information. If they are looking for an RV dealer in Harrisburg, South Dakota, we want them to find that dealer whether they are our clients or not. Now unless that dealer is a client, the information is only basic: name, address, and telephone number. Our clients’ sites have full descriptions and links to e-mail and web site. But that visitor will be rewarded for their efforts and find what they are looking for.

"It’s more about serving the needs of the RV community than promoting a dealer that doesn’t pay for the service. Our belief is that if someone comes to the site and finds what they are looking for they’ll come back again and again – and that helps all of our clients.

"And that’s been our goal since the very beginning – helping our customers."

One of the programs Web Site Management pioneered was an efficient way to list dealer inventory on their web sites.

"We are all very proud of what we have done in this area," Magary said. "We call this program our inventory management module (IMM). We just released our fourth version of the program and it not only gives our dealer clients a way to upload their new and used inventory so it can be displayed dynamically on their web sites, it gives them other tools that allows them to control how the inventory is displayed and let’s them turn certain features on or off such as a payment calculator and disclaimers.

Holt added, We created another standalone web site called All RV Sales (www.allrvsales. com). This site takes the entire inventory from all our client sites and makes it available on All RV Sales. When a visitor to All RV Sales searches for a particular type or brand of RV, all the units that meet those criteria are displayed and when the visitor clicks for more detail, they are immediately in the dealer’s site where they can view other inventory from that dealer or visit other areas of the site.

"That same search technique is available from rv-dealers. com. We also have a web site in the Web Site Management Network called rv-classifiedads.com. This is where consumers can list their RV for sales free of charge. But since our goal as stated before is to drive buyers to our clients’ site, when the listings come up two separate sets of listings appear, the private party ads and ‘business classified ads.’ The business classified ads are those same units displayed on the dealer’s own site as well as those on All RV Sales. The only difference is that each site displays the information in different formats. A separate RV classified ad program comes up on RV America (www.rvamerica.com/classified_ ads/) and our site for the first-time RV buyer (www.firstrv.com)

"So now instead of just one or two places to find an RV dealership’s web site there are 10 or 12. And that’s why the Web Site Management Network is so valuable to businesses in the RV industry – and it’s all part of the service. In other words, we never charge extra for these extra programs.

"And it’s not just for RV dealers and/or RV rental operators. We have similar programs for RV manufacturers (www.rvmanufacturers.com) and RV parts and accessory suppliers and manufacturers (www.rvacessories.net)."

Innovation has been the driving force behind Web Site Management’s success. And RV America has been successful.

"One of our greatest joys is seeing our customers have success with their web sites," Magary said. "I remember shortly after we started Web Site Management Stalkups RV in Casper, Wyoming, became one of our first clients. Their site had been up for a couple of months and a lot of people were inquiring about their RV inventory, but so far no one had bought anything through the web site. I’d talk to Kim Bradshaw, Stalkups business manager, almost every day to see if they had sold anything yet. And when they finally sold that first RV to a customer that found them through their web site Kim called me and we were both overjoyed.

"I felt as proud as she did. It was as if we accomplished something together.”


Alan Libove,
vice president,
Hitcharama RV

But it’s not just one sale here and there. Some RV dealers have experienced phenomenal success. Hitcharma RV in New Jersey has seen the Internet become more important to its business. Alan Libove, coowner of Hitcharama told RV News, "The performance of our web site and overall web-based marketing effort is very important to our growth. For example, this year so far we have tracked just about 20% of our unit sales and 30% of our rentals to web marketing. Needless to say, we are very pleased with the absolute numbers and, especially, the cost effectiveness of this aspect of our overall marketing plan. The Internet is without a doubt the most cost effective marketing method we have available -- and, it is continuing to grow." And Alan thanked RV America and its staff for all the help in working with Hitcharma to achieve that success. "On the flip side of that, I am very disappointed when a customer decides to leave us for some reason. I always wonder if there might have been something else we could have done. I wonder whether they used the tools we gave them to the best of their ability. We build personal relationships with our customers and when one leaves, it’s like losing a friend.”

"And it’s not just me, our entire team feels that same disappointment."

Besides Holt and Magary, key members of Web Site Management’s team include Ali Gonzalez, vice president, administration; and Susan White, vice president sales and marketing.

"We’ve seen the understanding of how to market on the Internet evolve and many businesses, have grown their businesses and their profits by using the Internet in innovative ways. But even today some companies still don’t get it. The Internet has had a globalizing effect on business, and I’m sure that causes a lot of manufacturers and dealers to cringe. We’ve seen manufacturers try to restrict trade by imposing unrealistic restrictions on their dealer body, but none have been that successful. There is a downside to the Internet where brokers and "virtual dealerships" muddy the water. These types of operations are certainly not good for the industry, but a legitimate dealer with a place of business who stocks units should be able to sell to anyone who wants to buy from his or her dealership.

"Since 80% of our clients are boat and RV dealers we have a better understanding of what their needs are. Dealers come up with great ideas on how to better utilize the opportunities offered by the Internet, ideas on how to keep their content fresh and how to get the widest possible coverage for the opportunities.

"But there are still dealers today who don’t even have a web site and others who have a web site but have never taken the time to understand how to use it effectively. These companies will be the first to tell you, the Internet has little value and no future. And in the meantime some other dealer is selling new and used products to people in his back yard."


Dave Skogebo
General Manager,
World Wide RV

One of the best success stories is World Wide RV in Mesa, Arizona. Four years ago, when they first launched their web site, World Wide was a $9 million business. This year World Wide is on track to surpass $20 million, and David Skogebo, general manager, credits the Internet with a significant portion of that growth.

Magary said, "Of all of our clients Dave is probably the most innovative when it comes to seeing the potential of the Internet. Every week or so he calls us with another new idea Three years ago Dave noticed how consumers could go to a computer manufacturer’s web site and spec out a computer with all the options they wanted and get the price. He wanted to know if we could design a program so visitors to his web site could do the same with the RV brands he carried.

"Now that was a challenge because an RV is a lot more complicated than a computer – so many brands, so many floor plans, so many options. But we met those challenges and put the program together -- and as Dave believed, it has resulted in a lot of sales.

"Our customers have proved time and again that if they think about their web sites and focus on the leads it generates, they make sales that they probably would not have gotten if it weren’t for the web sites."

"What this says, I believe, is that we give our customers the tools they need to get the most of their Internet presence. And we couldn’t do that if we weren’t listening to our customers.

Holt added, "I think one of the reasons we have always led the way is because we’ve been in this industry for 30 years. We are not outsiders looking in, but people who have felt the pain of the bad times and experienced the joy of the good times right along with most of our customers. We understand the relationships and how each segment of the industry interacts, as well as how products get from the manufacturer to the consumer. We’ve served in leadership roles and on committees within many industry associations, visited hundreds of companies at their places of business and know people from the executive offices to production line or service department.

"Plus we know the Internet and understand how it works. Combining these two knowledge bases gives us more insight into what kinds of programs will benefit RV companies. Add to that, we listen to our customers. Many of the programs we provide our customers are the outgrowth of discussions with clients. When they say, "It would be nice to be able to have a place on our web site where we could make announcements about upcoming events" we go back and develop a news and announcements module."

Magary added, "But more than anything, we care about the industries we serve and the people in them. That’s because once you pull back the veneer of hardware, products and buildings, what you have left is people.

"I have never thought of it as doing business with companies, we do business with people – people who become our friends."



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