An American Dream – Cooking With Gas

Episode 6:

(Forgot where we left off? Re-read Episode 5)

Once again, Bob found himself in front of a computer—this time, the one in his office at Robby’s RVs. The fluorescent panel lights hummed above him and the door was closed, with no beers or nephews in sight to mislead his common sense. Bob had already cleared all the bought emails off his list and added his personal contacts. Now he was working on adding his previous customers. That Mahar guy had said he didn’t need thousands of email addresses to have an effective email—which was good because Bob barely had a couple hundred and it had taken adding his plumber, his extended family, and a few guys he hadn’t talked to since college to get there. At least they knew him, unlike the strangers from his bought list.

After repeating the upload process that he felt like he was starting to get the hang of, Bob settled into creating his email. What did he want to say? What else had the email guy said…it’s better to say one thing than ten things. What one thing did Bob want to say?

“Come down to the lot, and bring your A+ credit rating with you?” No one was around to judge him for laughing at his own joke. It was after eleven and every part of the lot was dark except for his glowing little office.

What did he want? He wanted…he wanted the lot full again. He wanted to see the lot full of people, strolling the pavement, admiring the business Bob had built. And yeah, he wanted to sell some RVs. He decided to go with an old standby that almost always worked in the past:

FRIENDS AND FAMILY BBQ
Bring a friend down to Robby’s RVs this Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm for great food, good company, and no-pressure walkthroughs of our best selling models.
Plus! If you bring a new customer with you and they purchase an RV, you’ll get…

…What would they get? What could he afford? More than he could if they didn’t buy anything. He added an eighteenth tab to his browser and went looking for options. When he found it, he knew it was perfect.

If you bring a new customer with you and they buy an RV, you’ll get four America The Beautiful annual passes, good for entry into any National Park or Federal Recreational Land for an entire year.

There wasn’t much else to say after that, so Bob added a photo of the lot and one of a few national parks and called it good. He now knew better than to fire his email off at midnight, so he scheduled it for the next day.

“Hey Bob,” Jackson called from the grill set up on the side of the office. “Are there more hamburger buns inside?”

“Yeah, I’ll just—” A middle-aged couple Bob didn’t recognize stopped him to ask about the RV they’d just been looking at.

Angie peeled away from chatting with a group of women from her book club. “I’ll get them.”

Bob flashed her a quick thank-you grin and walked the couple back to the Winnebago View they’d been looking at. “This is a great model. One of my favorites. What kind of traveling are you planning to do?”

“My wife’s got breast cancer,” the man answered. “We’ve been staying in motels when we have to go into the city for her chemotherapy, but you never know what you’ll get with that, or if someone next to you will be noisy. I thought this could be kind of a home away from home.”

These were the sort of customers Bob lived for. The right RV could legitimately change their lives, taking a ton of the hassle out of an awful necessity.

The wife spoke up. “I told him it’s not necessary. Isn’t the gas on these things outrageous? And I heard they’re hard to drive.”

“For some of them it can be,” Bob answered. “You guys picked a good one though, for what you’re looking for. It’s a smaller model, perfect for two or three people, so it won’t drive that much different than a van. It’s also a turbo-diesel, so you’ll get better mileage without losing power.”

While the couple discussed that information with each other, Bob overheard Steve offering a similar explanation to a young couple with a child a few vehicles over. Behind him, Marcus was charming three young women who were planning a year-long road trip across North America, and Tony walking an older gentleman toward the office—presumably to fill out paperwork.

The barbeque was a success. Everywhere Bob looked, little clusters of people stood with sodas and hamburgers, catching up and talking about the trips they’d like to go on someday. Whenever Bob or one of his guys took care of one customer, a new one separated themselves out to ask a few questions.

“You don’t think it will be cramped, though?” The wife was asking. “You know how I get after the treatments. It’s bad enough sharing a one-room motel, but in a such a small space…”

Time for Bob to take over.

“One of the great things about this model is that you can actually close off the bedroom completely.” He gestured for them to follow him inside the RV, showing her how opening the closet door created privacy for the bedroom. “The kitchen table folds flat into a second bed, in case you need it. With a full bathroom and nearly full sized fridge and freezer, you can take a bath or keep popsicles—whatever you need.”

Her eyes lit up at popsicles and her husband laughed. “I think you just said the magic word. What kind of financing do you offer?”

“Let’s go in the office and we’ll figure something out for you.” Bob started heading that direction. “I’m prepared to take a bit of a hit if it lets you get home and healthy faster.”

As he opened the door for the couple, Marcus and the three women rounded the corner of the building.

“Perfect. Here he is!” Marcus said. “Bob, these lovely ladies were interested in the Vista LX we have, but they really like the options on the 35F. They’ve got some time before their trip, so they wanted to see if we could order one for them.”

“Of course. Do you want to have a seat inside, or go see if Jackson’s famous grilled corn is ready, while I help these folks real quick?” Even though Marcus had fallen back on an old habit of “see what you can sell” instead of “sell what you can see”, Bob couldn’t have wiped the grin off his face if he tried.

Steve was shaking hands with the man he’d brought to the office earlier and handing over a set of keys. Bob would bet his house on being able to work out something for the couple he’d brought to the office, and Marcus had sold stock they didn’t even have.

Three RVs in one day and it was only 2 pm. They hadn’t had a sales day this good in months, maybe years. With a few more like this, they’d be giving RV Superstore a run for their money. Bob walked the couple to his desk, already thinking up more emails he could send to all the new customers they’d seen today.

“All right, folks. Let’s get you that RV.”

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