Not only do you have to figure out what motorhome to buy, but you need to decide where to buy it. This really isn’t a simple task. You need to be concerned with more than just price. The quality of the dealer prep, how well the dealership understands and can teach you to use the motorhome’s systems and the service after the sale are all important considerations.
When I purchased my last motorhome, a 2005 Winnebago Aspect class C, I went with a local dealer. I assumed that the close proximity would facilitate better service and I was busy with a full time job. As a result, I knowingly paid more than I could have bought a comparable rig elsewhere. It also turned out that the delivery was done by someone with less knowledge of the operations of the various systems than my experience and the after sale service while OK in quality, took forever to be completed.
This time around, I had more time, more buying experience and I wasn’t constrained by location in any way. Since I intended to travel full time, after sale service would be done wherever I wanted and needed it to be completed. The entire country was my shopping ground. The internet was my catalog, buyers guide and consumer reference source.
I needed to order my motorhome custom made to my specification. The Tiffin Motorhome company provides listings of all of the options for each model along with the Manufacturers Suggested Retail price (MSRP). All you have to do is ask. Using this list, I marked off each of the options I wanted, picked the colors and finishes and added up the costs. I now knew what I wouldn’t pay. Anybody that buys without this knowledge is probably going to pay to much. All RVs are marked up extensively.
I used the options listing in a request for quote from various dealers recommended by the consensus of internet users on various forums. Each of the dealers I sent a request was generally well thought of by other buyers. Only one dealer didn’t respond. The others were all within a thousand dollars.
I selected Sherman RV in Sherman Mississippi to buy my new home. They were the most responsive to my questions, they understood the peculiarities of internet buying and were very easy to deal with. I placed the order at the beginning of July and the long wait began. It would be 3 long months until I took delivery.
My motorhome arrived at the dealer in the 3rd week of September. They sent me pictures and we agreed on a delivery date of October 5th. It had been a long wait. I had hoped to be able to get down to the Tiffin factory in Alabama to see the actual construction of my motorhome, but I wasn’t able to get away. Finally, let the adventure begin.
I left New England on Friday morning October 2nd heading south with a massive rain storm between me and my destination. My Honda CRV was packed with everything I’d need to test systems and live in the unit as I brought it back north. I got a late start at about 10am. So much for my desire of getting as far south as I could before the rain caught up with me. I ran into rain in Connecticut less than 200 miles into my journey. The first night was outside Harrisburg PA, about 150 miles short of my rough goal for the day.
Saturday started with fog and rain. It was difficult driving all the way down the Shenandoah valley of Virginia. Thankfully, the traffic was light. Once into Tennessee, the weather improved, but the traffic got horrible. I got off Interstate 40 in Knoxville to try and avoid an accident that had traffic completely stopped. Instead, I got stuck in University of Tennessee football game traffic. I’ve never seen so much orange in my life, cloths, cars, flags, you name it, it was in orange. Eventually, I stopped for the evening just west of Knoxville. It was difficult finding a room as University of Tennessee fans or their opponents had a lot of rooms booked.
The next morning I was traveling in all new territory, I’d never been south of Knoxville on I-75. Sunday was an easy travel day as I navigated around Chattanooga, into Alabama, through Huntsville and on to Red Bay Alabama. Red Bay is the home of the Tiffin Motorhome company. It’s a little town dominated by the motorhome manufacturer. While I couldn’t get down to see my motorhome built, I took the opportunity to understand the lay of the land so I’d know what to do and where to go should I come back for service on my motorhome.
My final destination for Sunday was Tupelo MS, about 60 miles from Red Bay. I got there in the middle of the afternoon and got set for the night. In the morning I’d complete my journey to Sherman, the next town to the west of Tupelo.