The past three months have been a rollercoaster for Dicar in Geel, one of the largest mobile home sellers and landlords in Europe. The family business, which sold approximately 2,600 stray cars last year, saw its sales drop to zero in one fell swoop on March 11.
“During the seven weeks of the lockdown, right in our peak season, we missed about 400 sales, good for 16 million euros in turnover,” says Dirk Van Eyck, who leads the company together with his three sons. “But as soon as the doors opened again, on May 11, we were caught off guard. We now sell twice as many mobile homes day after day as on a comparable day in 2019. If we can maintain this, our decline in two months has been offset. Also in rental – 5 percent of our turnover – we get more demand than we have on offer. ”
Van Eyck notices that the increased demand comes mainly from what he calls ‘Zaventem customers’: people who normally take the plane to a destination that cannot be reached by car. “They are clearly beginners, we notice that from the website visit. Normally we have about 1,000 unique visitors every day, these days this increases to 7,500. Many of those people do not immediately look for products and prices, but for the advice pages, the blogs with experiences and the question module of users. At the same time, we assume that customers who want to replace their motorhome with a new one have been postponing it for a while because of the economic uncertainty. ”
We get a lot of questions about financing. A motorhome costs about 3,000 euros per year, the purchase (on average 50,000 euros), the relatively high residual value and the taxes and insurance settled.
What attracts interested parties is clear, according to Van Eyck. “You buy your personal bubble on wheels, where you can keep hygiene under perfect control and which offers the flexibility to go where you want, when you want. In addition, the classic asset also applies: the comfort of a holiday home, with the freedom and adventurous of a tent. ”
Dicar, which has grown continuously by 18 percent per year in the past ten years and achieved a turnover of 115 million euros in 2019, was already surfing the growing success of mobile homes in precorona time. According to Febiac, more than 8 percent more stray vehicles were put into service last year than the year before.
What resistance does Van Eyck feel to novice motorhomers? “We get a lot of questions about the costs. On average you have to count on 3,500 euros per year, the purchase (on average 50,000 euros), the relatively high residual value and the taxes and insurance settled. You only have to add your fuel there. A second concern is where you can go and stand, and whether or not you rely too much on busy campgrounds and deadly parking lots. But at motor home parks, you will find everything to provide you with water and electricity. At the same time, today you can find farmers and B & Bs that open up their land via many apps. And you can stay overnight anywhere in Scandinavia. ”
If demand doubles, you should be able to track supply. Where does Van Eyck suddenly conjure up twice as many campers? “We have a stock of 700 cars in our branch in Geel, and another 400 in our four other locations. We can deliver them immediately.”
But if you want to order a model out of stock, you have to wait longer than usual. Van Eyck notices a delay in production at the manufacturer due to the corona measures. The cost increase from corona prevention in production will make motorhomes about 2 percent more expensive by 2021.