Last summer we surveyed RVtravel.com readers about their experiences with emergency roadside service providers. Not only did we ask about different aspects of service, we bottom-lined with the most critical question: How likely are you to recommend your road service provider to your family or friends? Of the seven different providers we asked about, a whopping 74% of Coach-Net users said they would “definitely recommend” the company to others. This week Coach-Net sold out to Blue Compass RV, the second-largest RV retailing company in the U.S. Will Coach-Net’s legendary reputation continue?
What is Blue Compass RV?
If you’ve never heard of Blue Compass RV, you might be easily excused. It wasn’t until last November that Blue Compass RV even existed as such. In a move to “create a powerful, iconic RV brand around an exceptional customer experience provided by our passionate associates across America,” the company formerly known as RV Retailer, LLC, rebranded itself. Blue Compass RV dealerships have only begun to change signage within the last few weeks.
Jon Ferrando started up RV Retailer in June of 2018. If Ferrando is looking to become the new Marcus Lemonis of the RV retail industry, it could be said he’s well on the way. In less than five years, RV Retailer/Blue Compass has snapped up 106 dealerships in 33 states. The company website actively solicits “mom-and-pop” operations to get in touch to talk about selling out. Ferrando’s corporation is now the second-largest RV retailer in the country.
Coach-Net highly regarded
But the latest Blue Compass RV acquisition is that of Coach-Net, the highly regarded RV road service provider. Coach-Net has been around since 1987, and has built up a network of 40,000 roadside assistance providers covering the U.S. and Canada. As mentioned, Coach-Net has garnered high ratings from RVers. Not only is the company the most recommended company of its kind, it also ranked well in terms of ease of dealing with service dispatchers, and in low wait-times for service.
But will that change under the new ownership by Blue Compass? The big retailer says it’s taking a hands-off approach to Coach-Net’s operations. In a news release, Blue Compass said, “Coach-Net will continue to operate as a separate business supporting all customers of Coach-Net under its relationships with OEMs, RV rental partners, dealers and individuals. ‘David Ostlund will continue as president of Coach-Net,’ said Ferrando. ‘Under his leadership in recent years Coach-Net has excelled to provide the highest quality roadside and technical assistance products offered in the RV industry, while building a great culture aligned with ours to provide an exceptional work environment and customer experience.’”
Is this a Thor-eats-Tiffin situation?
What has occurred to some Coach-Net subscribers is this: Similar statements have been made about other highly-regarded companies when taken over by bigger outfits. For example, what happened to Tiffin RV when taken over by Thor is even now history in the making, as Tiffin’s towable lines have been killed off. The future of Tiffin’s motorhomes is an open question, with 25% of manufacturing staff laid off and questions about service running rampant. When Thor absorbed Tiffin, Bob Tiffin, the company’s founder, assured customers things would go well.
We made repeated attempts to contact Blue Compass RV management for their views, and just what their thinking on Coach-Net’s future might be. As of publication deadline, our phone calls were never returned. What we could learn about the company itself had both high and low spots.
What we could learn
In its RV Retailer incarnation, the company made major investments in muscling up the service side. The company has established training centers around the country, where their “RVR University Training Centers” educate service technicians to fill the void the industry is taking so much heat for.
On the other hand, Blue Compass/RV Retailer’s reputation among customers seems lackluster. Blue Compass RV is not an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau. Still, the watchdog group does accept consumer comments about the RV company. Out of 49 customer reviews, Blue Compass/RV Retailer received just 1.49 stars out of a potential five. Crowd-sourced reviews on Yelp.com for the Tampa, Florida, outlet show just two stars out of five, in 109 reviews.
So how will the Blue Compass RV acquisition of Coach-Net play out in terms of road service? At this point, it’s a wait-and-see. RVers are not in a long-term commitment to their road service provider. Our personal bet is to continue on with Coach-Net and see what happens in the future. Right now, Coach-Net still appears to be the best bet in the field, hands down.
How sad if their service changes. We used Coach-net a couple of months ago and their customer service was excellent. Actually, I was amazed at how good it was and hadn’t expected it because we’re in Canada, but that didn’t make any difference.
Jon will probably screw up Net Coach up just like Marcus screwed up Good Sam.
I hope the DeMaris’s do a series of follow-up reports/polls on this. We received a 1-year membership with our Winnebago View purchase, and it ends on 3/31/23. Had to use them once and it was excellent service.
NUTS! too many companies have bought out too many companies to where I no longer know where my investments, ins policies, banks, etc. are. We have been with Coach Net since we bought our last RV. We use CN for all of our vehicles. We have used it just twice in umpteen years. I don’t want to go shopping for something else. I have stocked up on all of my favorite socks, shirts, and pants so I never have to go shopping again. And now out of the BLUE my sky may be falling!
Well, since they changed their name to Blue Compass due to being caught ripping people off, I’d say No, you want get the same service. Every article that has Blue compass in it should say who they were before.
Things will stay the same…. until they start cost cutting to finance the acquisition. Jon Ferrando uses other peoples’ money to grow his empire. In other words, the customers pay his acquisition costs. It’s business 101!
Ahhh, I can hear the song now being sung on Pandora, “Another One Bites The Dust”.
Being a skeptic by nature, any company that has grown as fast as Blue has to have squashed some little guys along the way. I have done business with a local RV retailer, RVONE, that was bought out by RV Retailer (Blue Compass) a couple of years ago. In the last 6 months, I have seen a noticeably less interested service department in booking any type of repair work.
I have been thru too many “purchases” in my career. I call “ “ on Blue Compass staying out of Coach Net’s business. Not going to happen, Blue Compass can’t make that kind of investment and think they do have a “better” idea of operating it. Hope I’m wrong.
Well, they have all the business school buzzwords down pat. And seems like they are on the modern day corporate mission of making sure all the shareholder value of the company is in the “brand”, product and service be damned.
Heard that hackneyed song sung too many times. Color me a sceptic.
NOT good news. Happily, there IS a great road service outfit out there, that few apparently know about. I’ve got GEICO insurance coverage on my rig, and that coverage includes roadside assistance. I’ve had to have my 40′ motorhome towed 3 times in the last couple of years, and every time GEICO has been exceptionally good. I’m sticking with them. If you’re a CN customer, you might keep that in mind.
Thanks Don, I also have GEICO with Roadside but have only used it for minor things. Your statement makes me feel better about my choice.
Yeah Don, I’ve switched last summer after 14 years with Good Sam RS to coverage provided by my Progressive Ins. policy, an additional $19.99 per year compared to ‘Sams’s $149.99.
Wow! Thank you! I had no inkling, but, thanks to RV Travel and the De Marises, I now do. I’ll play it year-to-year on roadside assistance, but I’ll definitely cast a wider net when looking for an extended service contract this summer. Our last one was through Coach-Net.
For the love of all that is holy, lets hope the owner does NOT aspire to be Lemonis.
Hopefully, but not bloody likely.
Please give an example in the RV world of when a conglomerate has bought out an independent and the purchased product line increased in quality.
It’s kind of an apples to oranges comparison: Blue Compass bought a local RV dealership here in ABQ where we bought an RV 2 years ago while it was still locally owned and an RV 2 months ago after Blue Compass recently bought it. Based solely on this experience, they can’t make Coach-Net free enough to make me depend on them.
I read these statements by businesses all the time – “Nothing will change.” However, they bought the other company because they believe they can use its assets (in this case, including its reputation) to make more profit than the other company was making. They could buy at a low price because the other company was underperforming, in their opinion. They won’t make more profit if they don’t change anything.
I’m not saying that they will wreck it. I’m just saying that there will be eventual changes, for better or worse.
And get large tax breaks along the way
Timely. Our CoachNet Service Contract is up for renewal in Jun. BTW, for us, it has more than paid for itself thus far. Will “probably ” renew. Looking forward to any follow up on the topic!
Thanks for reporting on this!
The tendency in our nation to monopolize does not seem a good trend to me. And I don’t think most folks realize the extent to which it is taking place across all industries. It does not seem to me to increase competitiveness, quite the opposite; nor does it bode well for consumer choice. I guess we will see what happens to Coach-Net. I will hold my opinion until there is some evidence to judge by…but I have little hope for a good result if it follows other similar trends I have researched.
Yep competition is one of the things that keep suppliers honest and trying harder to please customers. Eliminating competitors means you no longer have to provide quality service. I hate to say it but just what socialism teaches.
It’s what corporate greed teaches. In my profession-Plumbing &Heating- all the good, honest and stand by the contractors company’s have been bought up by corporate thieves It’s all about the quarterly bonus checks.
Exactly. But some see “socialists” hiding behind every tree, while allowing Wall Street and industry lobbyists pick their pockets all the while telling them it’s just business and the American way.
This is NOT “socialism”. This unrepentant, unchecked pure “capitalism”.
Edward, I agree. Yet regardless of the politics of whatever party is in charge, the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department continue to allow the trend.