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Old 09-27-2010, 05:49 PM   #1
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Default Had an interesting conversation with a HI-LO Dealer

I had an interesting conversation with a HI-LO dealer I have known for quite a while. He is a very fair, honest fellow, and had some thoughts on the HI-LO brand. Early this year he actually ordered more HI-LO's than he usually does because they were able to turn their HI-LO inventory twice a year -- which they considered good.

According to him, compared to other new trailers, he thought HI-LO could do 6-7 things to their trailer interiors that would pull-in non HI-LO buyers -- which is key. He says that HI-LO had the highest owner-loyalty of any trailer on the market, BUT, he had trouble selling HI-LO's to non-HI-LO owners because the HI-LO's had issues competing with interior appointments -- in his opinion. For instance -- some of the newer HI-LO models have an outside flip-down table, and everyone else not only has a flip-down table, but a slide-out gas grill, or inside/outside sliding storage bin and water faucet. Another option that many small trailers have are slide-outs, whereas HI-LO only put tipouts in the large 25,27,28,29,31 units, and nothing in the smaller ones. Another idea he said was that other trailer manufacturers had large cabinets, and only in 2010 did HI-LO increase the size of their cabinets. He felt it was a step in the right direction, but still not enough storage to compete. He thought the plastic sinks were a bad idea, and many of the small trailers now include glass-top flush-mount kitchen sinks and gas stoves -- which would not only dress up the interior, but give you more usable space. I liked his ideas.

Another interesting fact that I was not aware of is that HI-LO measures trailer length from bumper to hitch-ball, whereas everyone else measures the actual usable trailer, and not the tongue. That means the 1810 is actually a 15' trailer, and the 1508 like mine is actually a 12' trailer. I measured -- it is12'.

He was optimistic that in the next 2-4 months someone may just pickup the HI-LO brand designs, and if so, he will be ordering once again - hopefully with some improved interior designs as he suggested are important to his customers.

Jeff
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Old 09-27-2010, 08:30 PM   #2
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...<snip>...
Another interesting fact that I was not aware of is that HI-LO measures trailer length from bumper to hitch-ball, whereas everyone else measures the actual usable trailer, and not the tongue. That means the 1810 is actually a 15' trailer, and the 1508 like mine is actually a 12' trailer. I measured -- it is12'.
...<snip>...

Jeff
Now I know why our 17-foot trailer fit into the 18-foot space at Yosemite with so much space to spare! Regardless, we bought it for the small "form factor" so we could use small National Forest campgrounds easily.

- Jack
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Old 09-28-2010, 12:39 PM   #3
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I had an interesting conversation with a HI-LO dealer I have known for quite a while. (snip for brevity)
Jeff
I used to build motorhomes about 20 years ago, all that stuff you talk about (nothing bad idea wise IMHO, since there is a market usually) But it all adds weight, lots of it.

The thing I kind of argue the other way (against the salesman sort of) is that the buyers have to make a decision: light easy pullable {with minivan or ligher pickups), still if you get serious about traveling, you will buy a beefier tow vehicle. I like to use what I would/could use daily, instead of that 1 ton sitting out back that cost thousands, to haul my Taj Mahal camper to the lake to go fishin. But that is just me I guess.


Still, I would say I'm easy and succeed his points a little, and
I think maybe they needed 2 lines, classic and light for one, and extravagant and heavy for others? Yeah if I wanted that big heavy wind sail to haul 300 miles, then there are nice and FANCY 5th wheelers and long bumper pullers out there, but I live and love the Hilo, which tucks up and pulls easier by hundreds of pounds, and half the wind resistance...
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:08 PM   #4
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Default Attracting non HI-LO Customers

I like your perspective also. I think the most important thing the Dealer shared is that HI-LO's primarily attract HI-LO owners -- terrific loyalty. The key is how do you expand the audience, because you can't keep selling to the same people -- there are not enough of us to buy 600-800 trailers a year. Probably most of us here have owned more-than-one HI-LO. I am on #4. I guess it is all a moot point unless someone picks up the brand and starts manufacturing them again.

Jeff
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Old 09-28-2010, 02:48 PM   #5
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I have always thought that Hi-Lo was very weak on advertising. The product has to be presented to the public and they have to become interested in it to the point that they will go seek out a dealer to satisfy their curiosity. A small spot in the back section of a Trailer Life magazine isn't enough. How many of you have had people tell you that they never heard of Hi-Lo? They had a mediocre website that was not kept current, as most of you probably know.

I don't think that they got or used owner input in their design of new units either. I believe that Hi-Lo owners have very good ideas on how to improve or change the units to make them more functional and appealing.
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Old 09-28-2010, 07:05 PM   #6
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I have to say until I saw the used 94 I bought I had never noticed one before. Can't say whether I even saw one or not. That tells me their advertising wasn't that great. Never remember seeing a tv spot or magazine ad for them.

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Old 09-28-2010, 09:46 PM   #7
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I'm kind of the same opinion. We stopped one trip in Hatch, New Mexico at an RV dealership because that was when we were starting to think about getting a trailer and we needed the rest stop.

They had Hi-Los and this was the first we had ever heard of them.

The concept sounded wonderful. When we got back to Tucson, the only "collapsible" trailer we could find here was TrailManor. Somehow, it didn't seem quite the same.

By getting online, we ffound Hi-Los at Dillon's RV in Apache Junction and that was closer than Hatch. (We hoped to find a used 17-foot one, but that was not to be.)

But, these things were not "advertised" at all! How can a company stay in business if it doesn't advertise?

- Jack
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Old 09-29-2010, 10:54 AM   #8
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The HiLo Company really didn't have a great advertising campaign. I only saw them advertised in Trailer Life magazine and once in a while a HiLo would be a prize on The Price Is Right tv game show. I bought my first HiLo new in 1995 and am now on my second HiLo. No other trailer company can come close to offering the "HiLo experience".
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Old 09-29-2010, 01:58 PM   #9
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Default An answer why they didn't do much advertising

I agree with you all that HI-LO did little advertising. After visiting the first factory in Butler OH some years ago, and then visiting the current Factory in Bellville OH this past weekend during the auction, I think I have some insight into why. Given how modest the operation was, I am amazed that they were able to build such trailers, let alone be able to do much marketing, maintain a website to any degree, generate an annual up-to-date color brocure, handle warranty/parts, do major shows, design and implement major improvements, etc. I don't think there were even 60 people at HI-LO, and probably only 10 where non-hourly -- including Plant Manager, purchasing, finance, engineer, quality control, parts & service, President, secretary/receptionist, HumanResources. Those 8-10 people had to do everything BUT build the trailers. If you think about it, it was actually pretty amazing that they could get done as much as they did for so many years.

You know, FWIW -- I had an earlier post about a Dealer who had 6-7 suggestions for the HI-LO trailer design that would make them more competitive. Last night I was on the internet and was looking at pictures of a 2008 23' Classic for sale. It was an absolutely beautiful trailer, just as it was. Those mid-size 2002 and newer 'Classics' (in my opinion), were the most attractive trailers ANYONE has ever made, regardless whether they had the cool Flatpanel or a full outside kitchen, or full hardwall baths !

Jeff
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Old 10-06-2010, 06:52 PM   #10
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Back in 2003 or 2004, I talked with a salesman at American RV in Idaho Falls, then the nearest Hi-Lo dealer to us, and the only Hi-Lo dealer in Idaho. He didn't like Hi-Lo trailers, and didn't push them, because, due to owner loyalty, they never brought back repeat customers. He believed that having purchased a Hi-Lo, the buyer would never buy another trailer, apparently unlike other trailer brands. Hi-Lo had only a minor presence at American RV, but I wonder if this attitude was prevalent among salesmen at these more remote dealerships.

Jim
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Old 10-06-2010, 09:21 PM   #11
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That may be true. In spite of the problems we've had with ours (see my posts about tires, and weights), we really find the 17 ft trailer is perfect for our needs. I've recently upgraded the tires to 225/75R15 Load Range Ds and mounted 2500# rims too, so the weight to wheel max weight ratio is about 80% now. Can't do much about the axle, according to Dexter, so it's operating at about 100%.

Still, I think the weak point was the overloaded tires. So if this configuration works out, I won't be in the market for a new trailer either.

- Jack
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Old 10-17-2010, 06:47 AM   #12
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Default lack of exposure

Most of our camping is done below the Mason-Dixon line. When we enter a campground we get the strangest looks from people. One fella even joked that "You people must be kinda short huh" My wife told him to follow us to our site and watch. When people see us towing our 25ft. Classic (2006) with a Mercury Grand Marquis they are amazed and astonished when I tell them I'm getting an average of 16 mph. I used to carry a stack of the dealers cards because people asked me where they could go to look at them but alas the dealer went out of business. So I do agree that you can't sell them if nobody knows about them. As far as any changes, the more you add the heavier it gets and the main reasons for buying a Hi-Lo are lost
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