Camp-Out RV, Stratford, Ontario, is a recreational vehicle (RV) Business that was started over 55 years ago and has grown from a small mom and pop company to one of the largest RV dealerships in Ontario.
The 6 acre property located on the outskirts of Stratford contains an expansive sales lot for both new and pre-owned RVs fondly named the ‘Field of Dreams’, offices for a sales a team of 8, service bays to repair and service RVs for 7 RV technicians, administrative offices, and the retail store.
As co-owner Sam Parks explains, “Campers are now looking for a buying experience and our Field of Dreams is meeting their needs.” The popularity of families seeking luxurious camping experiences, others wanting sporty eco-friendly RVs and the evolution of park-model RVs being used as vacation homes, has resulted in an increased demand for a larger variety of RVs that are generally much bigger with more options and upgrades.
Good news for the RV industry but challenging for Camp-Out RV.
“We were outgrowing our property but we recognized the value of the long established location ” explained Sam. In order to meet the needs of their camping customers, attract new ones and give employees the space and resources they required, Camp-Out RV needed to expand.
The solution was to leave the Field of Dreams and Sales Offices in the original location, permitting expansion to fill the entire space, and move the retail store,administrative operations and service bays to a new location that was ready for immediate occupancy and only a short distance away.
While giving every department room to grow, co-owner and Human Resources Head, Debbi Parks recognized there was a risk of losing employee interaction and engagement, as face-to-face opportunities between departments would be lost. Camp-Out RV has also increased its’ employee roster by 20% in the past two months and sharing best practices and developing the culture is going to be critical as they invest in training their new employees.
As a result, Debbi has initiated a Facebook secret work group page, aptly named InTheCamp, that allows all employees to freely converse, share ideas and update the entire organization in real time on activities at both locations and with employees on the road in service trucks, on factory runs and when delivering trailers.
“In the past we have relied upon email and text for staff to communicate and while we have depended upon Social Media such as You Tube and Facebook to attract and keep our customers for many years. This is different. Offering a platform for open dialogue between ourselves and our employees as we move our company into its’ new organizational structure and physical space is going a long way to alleviate stress, support a smooth transition, improve the owner- employee relationship and ultimately deliver a better customer experience” says Debbi Parks.
Lessons for Others
While it is still early days for this new communication avenue in the company, feedback from employees has been positive. There were 120 interactions in the first week alone and they look forward to increased employee engagement as their busy time of the year begins.
Smaller Canadian companies, such as Camp-Out RV, are recognizing that social media is another tool in their toolbelt they can use to improve employee engagement, increase satisfaction and reinforce the culture of their organization.
Name of Organization Contact: Sam Parks
Authored by: Judy Szolcsanyi
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